Eugene Levy and son Dan Levy co-star in the CBC’s new original comedy, Schitt’s Creek, which premiers tonight on the Corporation.
Levy’s SCTV pal Catherine O’Hara is also along for the ride as the mother figure in a wealthy family that sees their assets seized and their lives relocated. The Rose family – which also includes Annie Murphy playing daughter Alexis – is forced to move to an actual town called Schitt’s Creek, which the elder Levy’s character apparently purchased some time ago… as a joke.
“I had this idea of a family losing their money and exploring it in a way that had never really been explored before,” said Dan Levy, who shares creator credit on the show with his dad. “What would that exploration be? What would this family look like without all their belongings? There was something sort of fascinating there.”
(Certainly, the idea of having the Roses move to a small town is at least different than the plot of Arrested Development, which followed an almost identical opening synopsis, and premiered in 2003.)
The show has reportedly been picked up to air in the United States on TV station Pop, a re-brand of TVGN.
So far, Schitt’s Creek has pulled up with mixed reviews in its pre-debut screenings, but the Hamilton Spectator‘s Tony Wong says its success is vital for the CBC.
“The comedy is one of the CBC’s most important offerings this year as it tries to retool a tired lineup of shows that have been struggling in the ratings,” he writes. “As a result, Levy and the cast are in Hollywood with a full court press to promote the show…”
In Wong’s article, linked above, Levy says the network was “intent on rebranding themselves” when he and Dan approached them with the show, even putting aside the tongue-in-cheek vulgarity of the name Schitt’s Creek, if that’s offensive to someone out there… anywhere, anymore.
Levy also told Wong the idea for the show’s main act, which sees the Rose family move to the little town they own, was inspired by the financial folly of actress Kim Basinger, who purchased the town of Braselton, Georgia in 1989 for $20 million, and later filed for persona bankruptcy.
“My wife had an idea for a television show about boomers not having money or moving in with their kids,” he said. “Their situation was described as being up sh**’s creek. It just made us laugh.
“She (Basinger) was hoping that film people would come to the town to use it as a location area and she lost a lot of money. The idea of wealthy people buying a town went back to the Schitt’s Creek idea.”
In his negative review of the show, the Globe and Mail‘s John Doyle acknowledges some of the glowing testimonials Schitt’s Creek has received in Canada, but calls the pilot “droll” and “dead on arrival”.
“There is no edge to Schitt’s Creek,” Doyle writes. “It’s cozy comedy and perhaps the tightness of the ensemble – bound by family, old alliances – blinds then to the lack of hilarity in what they’re doing. Comedy is hard and the show is soft-core comedy.
“Many viewers will approach Schitt’s Creek with advance affection. They will relish seeing Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara working together again. They will savour the father/son dynamic between Eugene and Dan Levy. That’s peachy too. But it will camouflage the fact that the show is as anodyne and polite as the feel-good remarks made by its stars when asked about it. It’s nice and it’s droll, but it fails.”
Conversely, the Winnipeg Free Press‘s Brad Oswald was a little more complimentary…
“Happily, the in-your-face-ness of the series title’s without-a-paddle punchline is in no way representative of Schitt’s Creek‘s comedy, which quickly shows itself to be smart, sharp and fully worthy of having a couple of Canadian comedy legends in its cast,” he writes.
“It’s a very good show – so good, in fact, that CBC announced on Tuesday that a second season has been ordered, a full day before the first season even begins.
“In terms of forward momentum, I’d say that’s more than enough paddle power to keep Schitt’s Creek moving.”
VIDEO: Extended Preview: Schitt’s Creek – Episode 1