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Due South

This article concerns the television program. For the television listings magazine, see Due South Magazine

Due South is an award-winning Canadian television police comedy-drama created by Paul Haggis and produced by Alliance Communications (now part of Alliance Atlantis), first aired in 1994. It followed the adventures of fictional Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Constable Benton Fraser and his half-wolf companion, Diefenbaker, living and working in Chicago. Fraser's methods, usually more sensitive and understanding than is typical for police work, gave the series a reputation for well rounded characters.

Being overly polite, Fraser's probably best known short quotes were: 'thank you kindly'; when he found himself in trouble – an understated 'oh dear'; and when faced with contradictory circumstances from other characters – an all knowing and eloquently stated 'understood'. Another humorous angle of the show was that his sidekick wolf, Diefenbaker, though deaf, could read lips.

History

Due South originally debuted as a made for television movie aired on CTV in Canada and CBS in the United States. After higher than anticipated ratings Due South was turned into a continuing drama series with its first season launching late in 1994. It was the first Canadian-made series to earn a prime time slot on a major US network.

After the 24 episode first season CBS cancelled the series but due to the show's success in Canada and the United Kingdom the production company raised sufficient money for a second 18 episode season which ran from 1995 - 1996. The show was once again shown on CBS in late 1995 (CBS ordered an additional five episodes but aired only four of them) but again in 1996 CBS refused to renew the series.

After a one year hiatus CTV revived the series in 1997 with international investment (from the BBC, Pro Sieben AG in Germany, and the French company TF1) and it ran for two further seasons until 1999. In the United States seasons three and four were packaged together as a single third (26 episode) season for syndication. The post 1997 episodes could be considered a spin-off from the original series but were in fact titled as Season Three and Season Four of the original series. Despite critical acclaim and a consistently warm reception by American audiences Due South never became a huge hit in the United States; however it was one of the highest rated regular series ever aired on a Canadian network and remains highly regarded and popular in the United Kingdom where it was aired on BBC2 between 1996 and 2002 and on ITV3 from 2006.

Story overview

The basic premise of the series centers on an Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) constable named Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) who travels to Chicago to solve the murder of his father; this is how he first meets his soon-to-be partner, Ray Vecchio (David Marciano), a tough, streetwise cop. Accompanied by his half-wolf Diefenbaker (who adopted Fraser after saving his life, and is deaf, but can read lips), the investigation leads Fraser to uncover a plot by a company building a dam that is slowly killing the environment. This leads to the dam being shut down and many people losing their jobs. He also implicates corrupt members of the RCMP in the affair. This along with the loss of so many peoples' jobs makes him persona non grata in Canada, and he chooses to live in Chicago. This plot line is referred to repeatedly during the series, and from season 3 on he introduces himself to many by saying:

I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father and, for reasons which don't need exploring at this juncture, I have remained, attached as liaison to the Canadian consulate.

Benton Fraser is the archetypal Mountie, dogged, polite, and compulsively truthful; the themes of the series often featured his rigid moral code being tested by the realities of Chicago life. A little more unusual is his encyclopedic knowledge of virtually everything, however obscure (this is attributed to his grandparents having been librarians), a range of uncanny abilities, most notably his ability to sniff and lick refuse from the streets to gain clues about crimes, the way he can fall into a dumpster or other waste heap and emerge looking like he was 'hand laundered,' and the way every woman he encounters falls madly in love with him, including his boss Margaret (Meg) Thatcher and Ray's sister Francesca; his total obliviousness to this, and the fact that he rarely pursues any of the offers the ladies extend to him, is part of his charm.

The show falls somewhere between a cop show and a comedy show. Although superficially following the police drama format, the comedy derives from outrageous plots, the self-deprecating Canadian and the American stereotypes, and the occasional fantasy elements such as the regular visits paid to the Mountie by his father's ghost, whose advice varies between observant and helpful, to so maddeningly useless that Benton is moved to ask 'Are there any psychologists in the afterlife? People who can help you?' The acting is played deadpan by the actors. Much of the comedy, as well as setting much of the tone of the show, was provided by Fraser's supernormal detective ability. For instance, in one episode, Fraser tracks down a suspect by smelling the breath of a rat to detect which brand of cooked ribs it had been eating. Another recurring gag is Fraser standing guard outside the consulate, always with someone messing with him because they know he can't move or speak during this duty, or trying to talk to him because they don't understand that.

Marciano, the original Ray, did not appear in the post-1997 episodes, save for the first and last episodes, but was replaced by Callum Keith Rennie as Stanley Raymond Kowalski, a detective who was under orders to impersonate Vecchio while the real Vecchio was undercover. Marciano did return for the series finale, in which Vecchio ran off to Florida with Kowalski's ex-wife. In the last episode, the ghost of Benton's father finally solves his wife's murder. With no further crime fighting advice to give, it's time for him to depart for good. The series ends with Benton and Kowalski in search of the graves of the Franklin expedition. (This missing expedition to the far north is immortalized in Canadian folk song by Stan Rogers: 'Northwest Passage', which Paul Gross sings in the episode.)

Cast

Main characters

Guest appearances

  • Leslie Nielsen appeared as Fraser's father's partner in the RCMP in an episode each of season 1 and 2, as well as the series finale, Call of the Wild.
  • Comedian Steve Smith is in the first episode of Season 2 though listed as "Red Green" in the guest star credits.
  • Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity in The Matrix) guest starred in the season 2 episode 'Juliet is Bleeding' as Irene Zuko, the sister of a Chicago crime boss.
  • Paul Gross's wife, Martha Burns, played a Russian spy in the season three episode "Spy vs. Spy" before playing Benton Fraser's mother in the series finale.
  • Melina Kanakaredes played Fraser's love interest Victoria Metcalf - the only women he ever loved - in three episodes; Victoria's Secret: Part 1 and 2 and Letting Go (1995).

Other notable appearances

Both Maria Bello (reporter Mackenzie King in season 2 episode 'One Good Man') and Ryan Phillippe (Del Porter, the son of the getaway driver in Season 1 episode 'Gift of the Wheelman') went on to star in films.

Amanda Tapping appeared in one episode working for a secret government organization looking for extra terrestrial life, and later went on to star in Stargate SG1, a science fiction program about a secret government organization fighting aliens.

Mark Ruffalo portrayed Vinnie Webber, a mixed-up father, in the season 1 episode 'A Cop, a Mountie, and a Baby.'

Jane Krakowski, who portrays Jenna Maroney on NBC's 30 Rock appeared in the season 1 episode 'An Invitation to Romance'

Michael Hogan, who portrays Colonel Saul Tigh in the new Battlestar Galactica, appeared in the season 3 'Mountie Sings the Blues' playing a business manager for country star Michelle Wright.

Colm Feore in 'The Duel'

Diefenbaker

Diefenbaker (Dief for short) is one of the major characters. He is part dog, part wolf, originally from northern Canada, who now lives in Chicago with his owner, Fraser. He is named after former Prime Minister of CanadaJohn George Diefenbaker. He has several puppies, two of whom are named Sunshine and Buster, by a husky named Maggie.

Diefenbaker first met Fraser when the Mountie found him in an abandoned mine. Diefenbaker later pulled Fraser out of Prince Rupert Sound, saving the Mountie's life, but also bursting the wolf's eardrums - which resulted in, according to Fraser, Diefenbaker's deafness. Whether Diefenbaker is actually deaf, and not just suffering from selective hearing, is up to the viewer. Diefenbaker is apparently able to read lips, in both English and Inuit. Diefenbaker has stayed with Fraser ever since and has gone wherever the Mountie is posted.

Diefenbaker is extremely loyal to Fraser, if sometimes disobedient, and will attack someone if required to defend Fraser. He is usually quite laid back - for a wolf. Since moving to Chicago (for which Fraser's friend Detective Ray Vecchio forged him a special "wolf permit"), Diefenbaker has developed a taste for junk food, much to Fraser's despair.

The role of Diefenbaker was played in the pilot movie by a mixed breed named Newman, then in the rest of seasons 1 and 2 by a purebred Siberian Husky named Lincoln. When the show was brought back for seasons 3 and 4, Lincoln was replaced by another purebred Siberian Husky named Draco, whose sister, Cinder, did most of his stunts. A variety of stunt dogs were used throughout the series, and fake dogs have also been used in some scenes.

Diefenbaker received the first fan mail for the series. Draco appeared on the officially licensed merchandise t-shirt of Diefenbaker.

Naming this character after a famous Canadian particularly appeals to the Canadian audience of the series. Aniko Brodroghkozy asserts in an article in Hop on Pop:

The only reason why the use of these… names would be funny to Canadians… was because such references would be unknown to Americans who Canadian viewers knew would be watching the show in the United States.

Production

Filming was mostly done in Toronto, Ontario, which was used as a stand-in for Chicago. In many episodes a Toronto Transit Commission bus can be seen to pass by in the background. In others, prominent city landmarks such as the CN Tower and the Union Station can be glimpsed.

Soundtrack

The producers of Due South sought to showcase various Canadian artists within the show's episodes, with many of the featured tracks eventually being released on to CD soundtrack. The original theme for the show was written and composed by Jay Semko, after which, working with Jack Lenz and John McCarthy, he went on to score the first two seasons of Due South. In November 1996, the first album was released containing 17 tracks, one of which was an in-character soliloquy by Paul Gross on the subject of bravery, taken directly from the episode An Eye For an Eye.

When the show returned for its third and fourth seasons Semko returned once again to complete the second soundtrack. The second soundtrack album was released in June 1998 containing 16 tracks from the final two seasons. Both albums are filled largely with the vocals used in the series; most of the incidental music has not yet been released on CD.

The final scene of the series was set to Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage', a classic Canadian folk song which has been referred to as an unofficial Canadian anthem.

Awards

Over the four-season run of the series, Due South and its cast and crew earned a number of awards. Most significantly, the show earned 53 Gemini nominations, winning 15 in total, including Best Dramatic TV series three years running (1995-1997). Paul Gross won Best Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role two years running (1995-1996) and creator Paul Haggis won Best Writing in a Dramatic Series the same two years running.

The following table summarizes awards won by the Due South cast and crew:

Character Actor/Actress Seasons
Constable Benton Fraser Paul Gross 1-4
Detective Raymond Vecchio David Marciano 1-4
Diefenbaker Draco 1-4
Lieutenant Harding Welsh Beau Starr 1-4
Elaine Besbriss Catherine Bruhier 1-3
Detective Jack Huey Tony Craig 1-4
Detective Louis Gardino Daniel Kash 1-2
Francesca Vecchio Ramona Milano 1-4
Inspector Meg Thatcher Camilla Scott 2-4
Detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski Callum Keith Rennie 3-4
Detective Thomas E. Dewey Tom Melissis 3-4
Constable Renfield Turnbull Dean McDermott 2-4
Sgt. Buck Frobisher Leslie Nielsen 1-2,4
Sgt. Bob Fraser Gordon Pinsent 1-4
Winner Award
Paul Gross Gemini, Best Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (1995)
Gemini, Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (1996)
Gordon Pinsent Gemini, Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series (1996)
Gemini, Earle Grey Award (1997)
Brent Carver Gemini, Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role Dramatic Series (1998)
Wendy Crewson Gemini, Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role Dramatic Series (1998)
Production Awards Gemini, Best Dramatic TV Series - (Paul Haggis, Kathy Slevin, Jeff King) (1995)
Gemini, Best TV Movie - (Paul Haggis, Jean Desormeaux, Jeff King) (1995)
Gemini, Best Writing in a Dramatic Series (Kathy Slevin and Paul Haggis for The Pilot) (1995)
Gemini, Best Dramatic Series - (Paul Haggis, Jeff King, Kathy Slevin, George Bloomfield) (1996)
Gemini, Best Writing in a Dramatic Series - (Paul Haggis and David Shore for Hawk and a Handsaw) (1996)
Gemini, Best Direction in a Dramatic or Series - (Jerry Ciccoritti for Gift of the Wheelman) (1996)
Gemini, Best Sound - (Brian Avery, Allen Ormerod, Keith Elliot, Michael Werth, Jann Delpuech for Victoria's Secret) (1996)
Gemini, Best Dramatic Series - (Jeff King and Bob Wertheimer) (1997)
Gemini, Best Writing in a Dramatic Series - (Paul Gross, Robert B. Carney, John Krizanc for Mountie on the Bounty - Part 2) (1998)
Gemini, Best Visual Effects - (Jon Campfens, Barb Benoit, John Cox, Mark Savela for Call of the Wild, Part 2) (1999)

Cultural references

The series was known for its extensive use of in-jokes for character names. The characters who appeared over the course of the series included Dawn Charest (an allusion to both Don Cherry, iconic ice hockey commentator, and Jean Charest, who for most of the show's run was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada), an RCMP inspector named Meg Thatcher (alluding to Margaret Thatcher), Doctor Esther Pearson (an allusion to Lester B. Pearson), newspaper reporter Mackenzie King, and a trio of police agents named Huey, Dewey and Louis. As well, Stanley Kowalski's wife was, unsurprisingly, named Stella. When Fraser was asked by an official for his mother's maiden name, he answered, 'Pinsent.' In the episode 'North', Steve Smith appears as a ticket agent in a small Canadian airport playing a character reminiscent of Red Green, Vecchio angrily calls him 'Mr. Funny-hat.' Finally, Fraser's pet Diefenbaker is named for a Canadian Prime Minister.

The radio and television series Sergeant Preston of the Yukon was an influence on writer Paul Haggis; Diefenbaker's being named after a Prime Minister may be an allusion to Sergeant Preston's dog, who was named 'King.' There are also significant resemblances to Corporal Carrot and the werewolf Angua of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

The names 'Fraser' and 'Frobisher' are references to Canadian explorers, both connected to the search for commercial passages to the Pacific. Simon Fraser journeyed from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in 1808. However, the Fraser River (named after him) turned out to be unusable as a trade route. Sir Martin Frobisher was a 16th Century explorer who attempted three voyages in search of a Northwest Passage, but did not make it further than Northeastern Canada.

Published media

Books

Due South: The Official Companion by Geoff Tibballs was published in May 1998 containing basic information on the series and cast and brief episodes synopses up to the end of the third season. Another illustrated companion, Due South: The Official Guide by John A. Macdonald, was published in December 1998. It contains some interviews with the characters and bios of the cast.

A number of paper-back novelizations of a selection of episodes by Tom McGregor were later published including, Death In The Wilderness based on the pilot movie, An Invitation to Romance based on the episodes An Invitation to Romance and Gift of the Wheelman, All The Queen's Horses based on All the Queen's Horses and Red, White or Blue, and Vaulting North based on North and Vault.

Videos

The pilot two-hour movie was originally released on VHS in 1996, but individual episodes had been released prior to this throughout 1995 on VHS with two episodes per tape. Finally, in 1998, the season three and the season four two-part finales were released. In November 2002, the Due South Giftset was released containing the pilot movie and episodes Mountie on the Bounty and Call of the Wild.

DVDs

In 2002, Alliance Atlantis began releasing the series on DVD, starting with the first season in Canada, followed by releases in the US. The final season was released in Canada in 2005, and part of the season three and four combination in the US. In the UK, the first season was released in January 2006, and the other seasons followed later that year, including some special features such as a new documentary Ride Forever. Note that the UK release entitled Due South: The Complete Third Series does in fact contain all 26 episodes from the third and fourth seasons. Note that the US DVDs are allegedly of poorer quality than the Canadian releases; the pilot episode is included on the first season Australian, UK and US release but on the third season Canadian release.

DVD Title Region 1 (US) Region 1 (Canada) Region 2 Region 2 (France) Region 4 (Australia/New Zealand)
Due South: Season 1 May 20, 2003 November 26, 2002 January 30, 2006 February 7, 2008 August 16, 2006
Due South: Season 2 January 27, 2004 August 5, 2003 May 29, 2006 February 7, 2008 September 29, 2007
Due South: Season 3 October 19, 2004 September 21, 2004 September 4, 2006 N/A N/A
Due South: Season 4 September 27, 2005 September 27, 2005 N/A N/A
Due South: The Complete Series May 6, 2008 May 6, 2008 October 23, 2006 N/A N/A

Episodes

The following is a list of titles of the broadcast episodes broken down by seasons:

Pilot Movies

  1. Pilot (Beautiful Songbird), Part 1
  2. Pilot (Beautiful Songbird), Part 2

Season One (1994-1995)

  1. Free Willie
  2. Diefenbaker's Day Off
  3. Manhunt
  4. They Eat Horses, Don't They
  5. Pizzas and Promises
  6. Chinatown
  7. Chicago Holiday, Part 1
  8. Chicago Holiday, Part 2
  9. A Cop, a Mountie and a Baby
  10. The Gift of the Wheelman
  11. You Must Remember This
  12. A Hawk and a Handsaw
  13. An Eye For an Eye
  14. The Man Who Knew Too Little
  15. The Wild Bunch
  16. The Blue Line
  17. The Deal
  18. An Invitation to Romance
  19. Heaven and Earth
  20. Victoria's Secret, Part 1
  21. Victoria's Secret, Part 2
  22. Letting Go

Season Two (1995-1996)

  1. North
  2. Vault
  3. Witness
  4. Bird in the Hand
  5. The Promise
  6. The Mask
  7. Juliet is Bleeding
  8. One Good Man
  9. The Edge
  10. We Are the Eggmen
  11. Starman
  12. Some Like it Red
  13. White Men Can't Jump to Conclusions
  14. All the Queen's Horses
  15. Body Language
  16. The Duel
  17. Red, White, or Blue
  18. Flashback

Season Three (1997-1998)

  1. Burning Down the House
  2. Eclipse
  3. I Coulda Been a Defendant
  4. Strange Bedfellows
  5. Mountie and Soul
  6. Bounty Hunter
  7. Seeing is Believing
  8. Spy vs. Spy
  9. Dead Guy Running
  10. Perfect Strangers
  11. Asylum
  12. Mountie on the Bounty, Part 1
  13. Mountie on the Bounty, Part 2

Season Four (1998-1999)

  1. Doctor Longball
  2. Easy Money
  3. A Likely Story
  4. Odds
  5. The Ladies Man
  6. Mojo Rising
  7. Mountie Sings the Blues
  8. Good for the Soul
  9. Dead Men Don't Throw Rice
  10. Say Amen
  11. Hunting Season
  12. Call of the Wild Pt. 1
  13. Call of the Wild Pt. 2

International

  • In Australia, the show was seen on the Seven Network.
  • In Austria, the show was seen on ORF under the title Ein Mountie in Chicago.
  • In Brazil, the show was shown on AXN as 'Rumo ao Sul'.
  • In the Czech Republic, the show was shown on TV Nova as Směr Jih.
  • In Denmark, the show was shown on TV 2 as 'Chicago Kalder'
  • In Finland, the show was shown on YLE TV1 as Chicagon ratsupoliisi from 1996 to 2000.
  • In France, the show aired on TF1, TF6 and as of May, 2006, on NT1 under the title Un tandem de choc.
  • In Germany, parts of the show have seen several re-runs on ProSieben under the title Ein Mountie in Chicago.
  • In Hungary, the show was shown on Viasat 3 as Fraser és a farkas.
  • In India, the show was shown on Star Plus and later on Star World.
  • In Iran, the show was shown on Channel 3 as به سوی جنوب.
  • In Italy, the show is shown on various networks as Due poliziotti a Chicago.
  • In Japan, the show was shown on NHK as 騎馬警官.
  • In Montenegro, the show was shown on NTV Montena, as "Pravo na jug"
  • In Poland, the show was shown on Polsat and TV4 as Na południe.
  • In Slovakia, the show was shown on JOJ and also on Markíza as Smer juh.
  • In South Africa, the show was show on SABC
  • In Spain, the show was shown on Antena 3 as Rumbo al Sur
  • In Sweden, the show was first shown on Kanal 5 in 1996 as Uppdrag Chicago, and there have been subsequent re-runs, mostly in late night/early morning time slots.
  • In UK, the show was originally on BBC Two, also Sky One. Repeats can now be seen on ITV3.
  • Russia, The show was shown on 1 channel, tvc as "Строго на Юг"
  • In México, the show was shown on AXN as 'Directo Al Sur'.
  • In Kazakhstan, The show was shown on KTK channel, tvc as "Строго на Юг"

Show information

  • In the series pilot, Benton's RCMP uniform used fireman's buttons.
  • In episode 17, The Blue Line (Season 1), the sign on the arena reads 'Copps Coliseum', in Hamilton, Ontario.
  • During the first two seasons, Benton Fraser's brown Service Dress tunic has two stars (service badges) on the upper left sleeve, indicating ten years' service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while his red serge tunic has three, indicating fifteen.
  • Episode 11, Season 1 leads Benton and Ray to a robbery of a National Guard armoury. As the 5-ton truck full of weapons is driving from the premises, a row of Canadian Iltis, MLVW and LSVW trucks is seen. Along the same line, episode 11 of Season 2 takes Ben and Ray to a US Army base near Roswell, Illinois. But as Ian MacDonald's tour bus crashes the gate and drives into the base, the vehicles are Canadian LSVWs, and the helicopter, a Canadian CH 135.
  • In Season 2, episode 7 - Juliet is Bleeding, during Detective Louis Gardino's funeral, the Chicago Police Department's Honour Guard performs Canadian drill movements during the firing salute. Also, when the command 'Ready!' is given, the Guard already have their weapons at the 'present' position, and they did not re-cock their weapons between volleys, which they would have had to do were they firing blank rounds without a blank firing attachment. As well, Benton is wearing his Stetson hat while carrying the casket, which for a person as meticulous about detail as Fraser, seems highly unlikely, as the RCMP, following the British tradition, do not wear head dress while carrying caskets.

In the Season 2 episode "North" Steve Smith is seen as he appears in The Red Green Show (Seasons 1 - 3 and 8 - 15) and The New Red Green Show (Seasons 4 - 7) of said series.

References in other media

  • In the MMORPG City Of Heroes, budding superheroes can take missions from a 'Detective Frasenbaker', an apparently superhuman Mountie who moved to the fictional Paragon City while on the trail of his father's killers. Listening closely at the door of his temporary office will reveal the distinctive bark of a large dog. His presence is an in-joke and artist's signature by Canadian developer and longtime fan Melissa Bianco (aka 'War_Witch').
  • In the Vinyl Cafe story 'Cousin Dorothy', Dave's relative (albeit not technically his cousin) Dorothy comes to Toronto from England to attend a 'Friends of Due South' convention.

Notes and references

External links

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