Made in Canada

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Made in Canada
Starring Rick Mercer
Peter Keleghan
Leah Pinsent
Dan Lett
Jackie Torrens
Country of origin Canada
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 65 (list of episodes)
Production
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Release
Original network CBC Television
Original release 1998 – 2003

Made in Canada is a Canadian television situation comedy, which aired on CBC Television from 1998 to 2003.[1] Rick Mercer co-created the program and starred as Richard Strong, an ambitious and amoral television producer with Pyramid Productions. It was produced using a single camera setup.[2]

Mercer began the show while also appearing as a cast member in the sketch comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes; he left 22 Minutes in 2001. It was in development for four years before Mercer and co-creator Gerald Lunz pitched it to the CBC.[3]

In the United States, Australia and Latin America, the show was syndicated as The Industry. In France, it was syndicated as La loi du Show-Biz.

Plot[edit]

A satire of film and television production, the series revolves around Pyramid Productions, a viper's nest of creative incompetence, savage greed and hysterical backbiting.[4]

Alan Roy, the head of the company, follows whatever is trendy in the production world, whether it be owning his own cable channel or having a designer office. His decisions are usually idiotic and occasionally impossible to fulfill. They constantly lead to extra work for his employees, who must either fulfill his wishes, or deal with the consequences of them. The employees, Richard, Victor, Veronica and Wanda, manipulate each other and sabotage each other's projects in order to earn more money, get promotions or work on better projects. None of the employees appear to have issues with breaking the law and seem to have no sense of morals. They generally only cooperate when they have an opportunity to destroy another company or a mutual enemy. Each episode usually deals with one major problem or event, which normally does not carry over to the next episode.

The company's projects also provide storylines for the series, as the staff of Pyramid try to manage the inevitable complications provided by the casts and crews of their film and television productions. The company's cash cows are two series, The Sword of Damacles (sic), a parody of mythological adventure series such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,[4] and Beaver Creek, a parody of Canadian period dramas such as Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea.[4] They also face complications with their low budget, poorly made movies, such as Vigilante's Vengeance.[4] Many of their movies fail and end up either not being produced or going straight to video in foreign countries.

Episodes commonly begin and end with brief asides to the camera, breaking the fourth wall.[4] These are usually done by Richard but occasionally by Veronica or Victor.

Characters[edit]

  • Richard Strong (Rick Mercer), the central character, is an ambitiously Machiavellian employee trying to navigate and scheme and backstab his way to the CEO's chair; in the show's very first episode, he schemes his way from a junior script reader position into a job as a television producer by collaborating with Siobhan Roy to get Ray Drodge fired. Although ruthless and amoral, he's also better at his job than most of his colleagues. Richard will stop at nothing to get promoted; in addition to getting Ray (his own brother-in-law) fired in order to take his job, he also ordered a violent attack on an actor and used insider trading to make a fortune on the stock market. Richard has had relationships with Veronica Miller, Lisa Sutton and Siobhan Roy, but generally as an opportunity to manipulate people rather than out of love. The character was partially inspired by Ian McKellen's performance in the 1995 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Richard III.[4]
  • Alan Roy (Peter Keleghan), the firm's CEO, is a charismatic but intellectually questionable womanizer who often succeeds more by accident than skill, and much more often fails miserably. He is frequently mystified that his management style — a combination of bad production ideas, offbeat health fads and slogans he picked up from management books but largely fails to understand or to apply correctly — fails to rouse office morale. His first film was entitled Prom Night at Horny High. While it appears to be a very lowbrow and racy film, it was very popular and made Alan famous. (This plot point is apparently a reference to Keleghan's early starring role in the 1983 sex comedy Screwballs.) Alan is fired in the series finale by the studio's new owner, a dairy farmer.
  • Veronica Miller (Leah Pinsent) is a production accountant. She is generally overworked, doing the jobs of several other employees but is still forced to do idiotic and degrading tasks for Alan. She occasionally becomes fed up with her poor treatment and sabotages a project or event. This usually leads to Alan improving her working conditions and meeting her demands. She often acts as the problem solver of the office. She is generally an ally of Richard's, but isn't above double-crossing him too when necessary. She and Richard marry in the final episode, and start their own company after being fired from Pyramid. They have a son named Victor. It seems that Veronica once had relationships with both Alan and Victor, which she intensely regrets.
  • Victor Sela (Dan Lett) is a producer and general office sycophant, willing to do almost anything Alan asks of him no matter how demeaning it is. He is usually very positive about Alan's schemes, almost acting like Sancho Panza to Don Quixote. However, in a test of loyalty, Victor is proven to be the least loyal. He extorts money from Alan with the help of Alan's old business partner. In the final episode, Victor becomes the head of the studio after the firing of Alan.
  • Wanda Mattice (Jackie Torrens) is the office secretary, who shrewdly uses her role in the day-to-day workings of the office to attain more power than her role in the corporate structure officially holds. She also knows when it's to her advantage to act dumber than she really is — in one episode, Alan promotes her to more senior positions several times without ever actually giving her a raise or a change in her real job duties, and she consequently decides to take the fall for a costly mistake she had nothing to do with so that he'll "demote" her back to her existing job as office manager. In the series finale, she succeeds Victor as head of Pyramid. She has a teenage son and a pet cat. She frequently dresses strangely and appears frumpy. Despite this, Alan is still attracted to her, frequently having relations with her in the office. At the end of one episode, she is seen being arrested at the border after attempting to smuggle Viagra for Alan.
  • Lisa Sutton (Janet Kidder) is a producer, and Victor Sela's girlfriend. Richard considers her a threat to his power, while Alan dislikes her as she ignores and/or refuses his attempts to seduce her.
  • Raymond Drodge (Ron James) is a producer. Formerly the head of television development, he is fired in the pilot after Richard and Siobhan set him up to appear as if he sexually harassed Siobhan. He is later rehired in a much more junior position after Richard gets his old job. Due to Richard's manipulation, Raymond's marriage falls apart and he begins to believe he is an alcoholic.
  • Michael Rushton (Alex Carter) is the dimwitted but egotistical star of The Sword of Damacles. He also plays Hamacles, Damacles' evil twin brother.
  • Siobhan Roy (Emily Hampshire) is Alan Roy's daughter, and one of the stars of Beaver Creek. Fully aware that being the boss' daughter gives her job security, she freely schemes and manipulates people to get whatever she wants.
  • Brian Switzer (Chas Lawther), nicknamed "Network Brian", is an executive with the television network that airs Beaver Creek, who acts as the network's main liaison with Pyramid.

Notable guest stars[edit]

  • Megan Follows, the real-life star of Anne of Green Gables, appeared in one episode as Mandy Forward, the former "Adele of Beaver Creek", who returned for a reunion movie and discovered that after her previous Beaver Creek movie, Alan had kept the sets up for two more weeks to produce an Adele of Beaver Creek porn knockoff.
  • Shirley Douglas and Margot Kidder both appeared as fading Hollywood actresses making guest appearances on Beaver Creek.
  • Colin Mochrie appeared in one episode as Alan Roy's mentally handicapped brother who, as part of an elaborate tax dodge orchestrated by Alan, was revealed to be the true CEO.

Production[edit]

Filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the series was both produced by and a parody of Salter Street Films.[5] The show in fact used Salter Street's real offices as its main office set in the first season, shooting primarily on evenings and weekends,[4] and Salter Street CEO Michael Donovan joked that he looked to Alan Roy as a clue to what Mercer and Lunz actually thought of him personally.[6]

The first season was cowritten entirely by Mercer and Mark Farrell.[7] The show was commonly compared by critics to Ken Finkleman's The Newsroom.[6]

The program used The Tragically Hip's "Blow at High Dough" as its theme song.[4]

While the first season of the series was in production, two real-life Canadian film and television studios, Alliance Communications and Atlantis Communications, merged to create Alliance Atlantis.[4] This merger was parodied in Made in Canada's second season premiere, when Pyramid merged with a company called Prodigy and became known as Pyramid Prodigy;[8] Alliance Atlantis later purchased Salter Street Films.[9]

The show was a two-time winner of the Gemini Award for Best Comedy Series, in 1999[10] and 2001.[11] The cast also won the Gemini for Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series in 2001,[11] 2002[12] and 2004.[13]

The first season and many of the subsequent episodes were directed by Henry Sarwer-Foner, for which he received two Gemini Awards for Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series.

After Made in Canada[edit]

Mercer ended the show's planned five-year run in 2003. In fall 2003 he hosted a Just for Laughs comedy tour across Canada,[14] before launching the new series Rick Mercer Report on CBC in 2004.[15]

Though rarely shown on television it is currently running on the Canadian channel Bite.[16]

Entertainment One released the first season on DVD in Region 1 in 2002. This release has been discontinued and is now out of print.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The quality of Mercer". Ottawa Citizen, April 21, 2003.
  2. ^ "At last, a Canadian sitcom that just might be a hit". Toronto Star, October 5, 1998.
  3. ^ "Nasty business ; Meaner, funnier and Made In Canada". Toronto Star, August 1, 1999.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Rick Mercer's razor wit cuts his bread and butter". Toronto Star, September 28, 1998.
  5. ^ "Mercer leaving CBC show". The Globe and Mail, September 10, 1998.
  6. ^ a b "Biting the hand that feeds him: The star of Made in Canada uses a TV show about the TV industry to take a swipe at the business and the culture that helped make him a household name in this country". The Globe and Mail, October 3, 1998.
  7. ^ "Rick Mercer: A real made in Canada kind of guy". Kingston Whig-Standard, October 3, 1998.
  8. ^ "Biting satire? It's Made in Canada: Rick Mercer's fine series unveils sophomore season". Edmonton Journal, October 4, 1999.
  9. ^ "Salter Street Films sold for $63 million". Peterborough Examiner, February 13, 2001.
  10. ^ "Gemini Awards: the winners". Vancouver Sun, November 8, 1999.
  11. ^ a b "Da Vinci's Inquest, Nuremberg big winners after three-night Gemini fest". Whitehorse Star, October 30, 2001.
  12. ^ "List of Gemini winners". The Western Star, November 5, 2002.
  13. ^ "Human Cargo miniseries major winner at Geminis". Prince Albert Daily Herald, December 15, 2004.
  14. ^ "Rick Mercer hosts cross-country Just for Laughs comedy tour". Prince Rupert Daily News, October 24, 2003.
  15. ^ "Rick Mercer gets his rant back; A long 2 years for 22 Minutes alum: His new Report airs January". Toronto Star, November 1, 2003.
  16. ^ "Rick Mercer's Made in Canada Comes to Bite - Bite.ca". Bite.ca. Archived from the original on 14 April 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  17. ^ "Made in Canada: Season One [Import]". amazon.ca. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 

External links[edit]