We waited a long time for the final series of Due South in the UK, funny how a show that had debuted in prime time spots and captured the public's imagination ended up stuffed away on BBC2. Funny, clever and with heart, Due South is definitely in my top ten TV series.
The third series was different to the first two series though, in terms of cast, tone and production. The series opens with the replacement of the superb David Marciano with Callum Keith Rennie, taking the old conceit of having a new actor take over an old role and having Fraser aware it had happened, only to discover that the old Ray is undercover and a ringer has replaced him. Sets had been lost so Fraser's apartment building is burned down, and there is a definite sense of a new start to the show. The relationship between Ray and Fraser is different to what we had before. Ray Kowalski is riddled with insecurity, which sometimes comes off as a caricature, but also arrogance, while Fraser has become more of a superman figure than ever. Sometimes it works really well and sometimes it grates.
Apparently Paul Gross felt that the show needed to exploit the comedy element in its nature and that the darker elements that made such memorable episodes as Victoria's Secret or Juliet is Bleeding didn't fit in his view of the show. I think that while he has a point, this also results in series three not having any episodes to match the gut-wrenching nature of those stories. The shows are often as funny as they used to be, but sometimes they go too far and end up a little hokey.
Still, that comes of measuring the show against what came before. As it stands the show is still well-written and very well acted, although it takes a little time to find its feet and recognise that the new Ray isn't the old Ray and should be played differently. The final episodes are a nice resolution to the show, although they suffer from too many explosions and mounties, as does Mounty on the Bounty (and the fact that both are reprises of the much better two parter Gross wrote in series two) but the appearance by Leslie Nielsen is, as ever, very welcome, as is the return of David Marciano, even if he's under-used and subsequently sidelined.
Listen to me, I'm being hard on what is a fantastic show, but that's because I love it. If you've not seen it, start at the beginning. If you have, what are you waiting for?