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?
on 3 March 2010
This box set contains all 26 episodes from season 3 (or seasons 3&4 depending on where you are in the world). The show's great fun, kinda insane sometimes.
Quality of the image isn't all that good sometimes, especially when there's movement. It could be chalked up to the age of the series, but I'm still wondering if something could have been done to improve it.
The only audio is English and there are no subtitles.
There are a few extras: some trailers, season 3 featurettes, TV spots, the 'Ride Forever' documentary, audio commentary from Paul Gross on 'Call of the Wild' (both parts) and interviews of Paul Gross from 'Fully Booked' and 'Mashed'. I haven't watched them so I can't comment on them.
Sadly, this is one of those packagings where it's difficult to remove discs from the box. Maybe you need larger fingers than I have to be able to push effectively on the thingy in the center of the disc, but I have difficulties with it. I really wish they could have gone with a different packaging.
I hope this review was helpful to you.
on 8 March 2009
After months of searching online and in numerous stores, I finally found the complete 3rd series - which includes the 2-part finale Call of the Wild - on Amazon's website.
Much as I enjoyed the first two seasons of this terrific show, I love series 3 and 4 even more. However, when first broadcast by the BBC, I was so put off with the macho posturings of the new Ray that I didn't bother watching it any more. How wrong I was!!
While the original Ray Vecchio - played by the terrific David Marciano - was a wonderfully earthy, street-smart character, his Chicago cool providing a perfect foil for his idealistic Mountie partner Benton Fraser, the new Ray in this third series - played by the brilliant and rather delectable Callum Keith Rennie - has an altogether different energy. Ray Kowalski's back story is that, before he was filling in for the now undercover Ray Vecchio at the behest of his superiors and the FBI, and despite already having a quietly successful career with the police, Ray Kowalski's sense of identity was left wanting. This despondency was exacerbated by his also having suffered a failed marriage. Now, however, he has been forced to step into another man's shoes, and quite frankly likes the feel of them. This way, you see, he can forget his own insecurities and nagging sense of personal disappointment while pretending to be someone else - even if it is for just a spell.
Where Ray Vecchio was a little more laid back, all Italian suits and slicked back hair, smooth and coolly organised, Ray Kowalski is slightly punkish and twitchy, with spiky blond hair, sunglasses, tee-shirt, casual - sometimes leather - jacket, and slightly forced strut - an image from which we get the feeling that he's putting on a front. Ray K wears his heart on his sleeve, and seems to be a bit of a loose cannon, especially regarding police procedure and authority. All of this gives Ray K a dangerous, and very sexy edge. And when he has to deal with Fraser's fiercely efficient, old-fashioned politeness and ultimately self-assured professional manner, it pushes all the wrong buttons, causing personality clashes in every episode.
Rennie's deeply perceptive, sensitive portrayal of the frequently volatile, multi-layered character of Ray Kowalski ensures the sympathy of the viewer from the get-go. While, like his predecessor, he has his own special brand of street smarts, Ray K's emotional complexities, hangups, recklessness and myriad communication problems with the more genteel Fraser provide an even more colourful dynamic. This 'rebel-without-a-clue' is indeed a welcome addition to the show.
Paul Gross once again does a smashing job as the lead. Constable Benton Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a lovely character, and the glue that holds it all together. He seems to have stepped right out of a romantic novel: tall, dark and handsome, upstanding, decent and polite to a fault. His smart red uniform takes the fantasy further, and of course has several females fluttering after him - to which he seems somewhat oblivious. His fiercely determined adherence to the rules and regulations of the office he holds causes no end of irritation for his more laid-back Chicago colleagues, and provides plenty of comic situations with the many criminals of whom is in hot pursuit. He is extremely likeable, but has his faults, although we have to dig a little deeper to find them under that gung-ho, dutiful, 'thank you kindly' exterior.
Fraser's other partner is his constant companion, his lovely dog Deifenbaker - so called because he is deaf. However, being a wolf-husky cross, he is just as hardy as his master. Fraser has also taught him how to lip-read, and has a very comic way of talking to Deif - as a human partner. Sometimes the seemingly one-sided arguments and discussions between Fraser and Deif are just hilarious, and simply add to the overall quirkiness of the show. Deif gets his point across all right, just in a different way that's all. These scenes in particular are very endearing and Deifenbaker's utterly adorable - and a helluva lot smarter than he makes out.
I loved this final series. It's still wonderfully quirky, but a little faster-paced than the previous two seasons, and the more intense characterisation of Ray Kowalski allows for a deeper study of relationships in general. Therefore, this gives the final series an even richer, more rounded flavour. So, if you like your drama to have a mixture of action, intelligence, quirkiness, comedy, and pathos, look no further. This Canadian classic is a masterclass in how it's done.
on 7 April 2012
While the series was mixed in quality, not helped by Vecchio being displaced by Kowalski and often changes of character don't really work, it was still very enjoyable and good. Kowalski was a decent stand in for Vecchio, but some of the other characters lost their ooomph and while Francsesca grew in her own right, Elaine and others were sorely missed and it just lacked a little something.
I would also like to shoot whoever made the decision to constantly have Fraser go into his "I first came to Chicago................" explanation, or others, which was pointless, tedious and frankly annoying. You can't beat "I coulda been a defendant" for awesome plot and finale, the decision to use "Brother In Arms" as the music was genius and this ranks among my favourite ever episodes.
Series 2 was always going to be a hard act to follow it was so brilliant, maybe that is partly why I'm being a tad critical. In terms of ratings it's like comparing a very very good footballer to Messi. I had only intended buying series 2 which is why it's taken me so long to buy series 3, but I don't regret it. It is a shame this had to be the last series, I'm sure there was plenty of scope for another series and while I do believe a lot of comedy, other series and indeed films overdo it, for example I think Big Bang Theory has lost its way, this definitely had another series or more left in it. What can happen is a while down the line they try to make another series or film and it isn't as good because they left it too long.
Still there is Monk which you can check out if you aren't already a fan.
on 1 January 2007
I watched Due South back in the day when it first aired on the bbc and I loved it! Sure the first two series were good; funny and charming. BUT the last series were sooo much better. I get why people miss the ray v but ray kowalski was just a much deeper character. And the relationship between Fraser and RayK is a more endearing one - rayK, who's completely insecure and lonely, finds his place in the world through his friendship with Fraser whilst Fraser, charming but distant, finally understands that you need to be adaptable (emotionally) to be able to truely connect with people. Lol, okay, so maybe I've completely overanalysed their characters but I like these last two series the most because as well as the crimes faced each episode it's the relationship between the two front men that is important. I think the chemistry between the characters of Fraser and RayK and the actors Paul Gross and Callum Keith Rennie are much better than of the previous partnership.
Haven't bought the dvds yet - but AS SOON AS I have the money, it'll be sitting pride of place on my shelf next to House MD and Spooks. Lol.