Created by Paul Haggis
No. of seasons 4
Final episode date 14 March 1999
Number of episodes 67
Genre Comedy, drama
Country of origin Canada
First episode date 23 April 1994
Number of seasons 4
|Starring Paul GrossDavid MarcianoCallum Keith Rennie|
Composer(s) Jay Semko (and theme)Jack LenzJohn McCarthy (not credited in the revival seasons)
Writers Paul Gross, Paul Haggis, David Shore, Kathy Slevin
Cast Paul Gross, David Marciano, Callum Keith Rennie, Beau Starr, Gordon Pinsent
Similar Night Heat, The Chicago Code, Cold Squad, Flashpoint, Forever Knight
Kaye ballard in due south
Due South is a Canadian crime series with elements of comedy. The series was created by Paul Haggis, produced by Alliance Communications, and stars Paul Gross, David Marciano, Gordon Pinsent, Beau Starr, Catherine Bruhier, Camilla Scott, Ramona Milano, and latterly Callum Keith Rennie. It ran for 67 episodes over four seasons, from 1994 to 1999.
- Kaye ballard in due south
- Story overview
- Recurring themes
- Historical Influences
- Notable guest appearances
- Season 1
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Season 4
- DVD releases
- Due South The Original Television Soundtrack 1996
- Due South Volume II The Original Television Soundtrack 1998
- Critical reception
- Fan conventions
Set in Chicago, the show follows the adventures of Constable Benton Fraser (Paul Gross), an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who is attached to the Canadian consulate but works with Detective Raymond Vecchio of the Chicago Police Department to solve crimes, assisted by Fraser's companion Diefenbaker, a deaf white wolf. From season three, Fraser works with a Detective Stanley Kowalski (Callum Keith Rennie), who is placed in the department to impersonate Detective Vecchio, who goes on an undercover assignment.
The premise of such a working relationship is established in the pilot episode when Fraser is temporarily posted to Chicago to assist Vecchio in the investigation of the murder of Fraser's father, who was also of the RCMP. In the process, he also exposes an environmental corruption scandal involving some members of the RCMP, causing much embarrassment and loss of jobs in his native Northwest Territories, which leaves him persona non grata in Canada and within the RCMP and posted permanently to Chicago.
A police comedy-drama, it plays on the stereotypical differences between Canadian and American culture, and in particular, Fraser's extremely polite persona and exceptional tracking and detection abilities, contrasted with Detective Vecchio's lack of manners and corner-cutting methods.
Due South originally debuted as a television movie on CTV in Canada and CBS in the United States. After higher-than-anticipated ratings, Due South was turned into a continuing drama series in 1994. It was the first Canadian-made series to have a prime time slot on a major US network. However, CBS moved its time slot continuously after its first season and often preempted it with other programs, so maintaining an audience was a challenge.
After the 24-episode first season, CBS cancelled the series, but the show's success in Canada and the United Kingdom enabled the production company to raise enough money to mount a second 18-episode season, which ran from 1995 to 1996. The show was once again shown on CBS in late 1995 after many fall shows had failed (CBS ordered an additional five episodes but broadcast only four of them), but CBS did not renew the series.
After a one-year hiatus, CTV revived the series in 1997 with international investment (from the BBC, ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, and TF1), and it ran for two further seasons, until 1999. In the United States, seasons three and four were packaged together as a single 26-episode season for syndication. 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 most highly rated regular series ever broadcast by a Canadian network. The show remains popular in the United Kingdom, and became one of the few non-British shows to have a prime-time weeknight slot on BBC One. In the UK, Due South was broadcast on Tuesdays from May 9, 1995, earning critical acclaim with comparisons to Northern Exposure and ratings of over eight million, until a switch in June to Fridays, being pulled from the schedule in July, and returned to Tuesdays in September. Season two was broadcast on Saturday nights from July 27, 1996 and fared similarly well, but was pulled from the schedules in October with five episodes of the season remaining. These were shown in January 1997. The BBC co-financed the third season but struggled to find a suitable slot on Saturday nights for it, and only five episodes of the series were shown in May and June 1998 with the remainder in daytime slots over Christmas 1998. The final season, broadcast from May to November 1999, was moved to BBC Two and consistently performed well, with ratings of over two million viewers, regularly appearing in the top-ten weekly shows for the channel. Upon the end of the series in 1999, BBC Two immediately began to screen repeats, and the series was also rescreened on ITV3 in 2006, and again on BBC Two from October 18, 2010. A rerun on digital channel True Entertainment began on October 10, 2014 with the pilot, with regular-series episodes following on weekdays from October 13.
The premise of the series centres on a 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 meets his soon-to-be partner, Ray Vecchio (David Marciano), a tough, streetwise cop. Accompanied by his deaf lip-reading half-wolf Diefenbaker (whom Fraser adopted after Diefenbaker saved his life), 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 finds himself stationed in Chicago. This plot line is referred to repeatedly during the series, and from season three 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.
Marciano, the original Ray, left the series after the second season; however, he appeared in the first and last of the post-1997 episodes. His replacement was 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 returned to Chicago to break up a weapons-smuggling ring, and eventually ran off to Florida with Kowalski's ex-wife, Stella. Also in that episode, Benton and his father's ghost finally solve Benton's mother's murder, resulting in Fraser Sr.'s departure to rejoin his wife. The series ends with Benton and Kowalski in search of the graves of the Franklin expedition, immortalized in the Canadian folk song "Northwest Passage", which Paul Gross sings in the episode.
Benton Fraser is the archetypal Mountie: dogged, polite, and compulsively truthful. The series often featured his rigid moral code being tested by the cynical realities of Chicago life. Being overly polite, Fraser's 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". More unusual is his encyclopedic knowledge of trivia (attributed to his grandparents having been librarians) and a range of uncanny abilities. These include 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 completely spotless and unwrinkled, and the way many women he encounters fall madly in love with him, including his boss Margaret (Meg) Thatcher and Ray's sister Francesca. 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 assertive 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 helpful and absurdly useless. The tone of the show and much of the comedy is derived from Fraser's supernormal detective ability. For instance, in one episode, Fraser tracks down a suspect by smelling the breath of a rat to determine the brand of barbecued ribs it had been eating. Another recurring gag is Fraser standing guard motionlessly in front of the Canadian consulate, while a passerby attempts to make him move or speak.
Amongst other themes are Vecchio's (and Kowalski's) growing annoyance with Fraser's unorthodox style, and Vecchio's fondness of the 1972 Buick Riviera, of which he has owned three (the first two having been blown up during the earlier seasons. The car is often incorrectly referred to as a 1971 model). During season 1, prior to the first appearance of his father's ghost, Fraser was often seen reading from one of the senior Fraser's journals, usually a passage with some relevance to the plot of the episode.
Several guest characters have names similar to former Canadian and British Prime Ministers, such as John Diefenbaker, Margaret Thatcher, MacKenzie King, Louise St. Laurent (a play on Louis St. Laurent), and Dr. Esther Pearson (a parody of Lester Pearson).
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 is apparently an allusion to Sergeant Preston’s dog, who was named ‘King.’ There are allegedly resemblances to Corporal Carrot and the werewolf Angua of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch from Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
Notable guest appearances
A number of high-profile actors have made a guest appearance in episodes:
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 Canada John George Diefenbaker. In the season 1 episode, "The Wild Bunch", he fathers several puppies or cubs, two of whom are named Sunshine and Buster, by a husky named Maggie.
Diefenbaker 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 Inuktitut. Diefenbaker has stayed with Fraser ever since and has gone wherever the Mountie is posted. In the final minutes of Pizzas and Promises, Fraser mentions that Diefenbaker has his own savings account, and that he (Fraser) doesn't like to touch Diefenbaker's money.
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 disdain.
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 season 3, 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.
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 in the background. In others, prominent city landmarks such as the CN Tower and the Union Station can be glimpsed. The U.S. Consulate in Toronto was used for exterior shots of the supposed Canadian Consulate in Chicago. In a move typical of the production, Chicago was used in one episode to represent Toronto. Part of the series was shot in Banff National Park, Alberta.
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.
Four paperback novelizations by Tom McGregor were published in the UK; these were:
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. 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.
Alliance Atlantis released all 4 seasons on DVD in Canada only. The pilot episode is included on the third season release as a bonus feature.
In the US, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment released the series on DVD in 2005. Seasons 3 and 4 were released together as Due South: Season 3. They also released a series set on May 6, 2008. IN 2014, Echo Bridge released an eight-disk set of all four seasons, allegedly with inferior video quality to the original releases.
In Region 2, Network DVD released the series on DVD in the UK. Seasons 3 and 4 were released together as Due South: The Complete Third Series.
In Region 4, Madman Entertainment released the series on DVD in Australia. Seasons 3 and 4 were released as Due South: Season 3.
The producers of Due South sought to showcase various Canadian artists within the show's episodes, with many of the featured tracks released on CD soundtrack. Sarah McLachlan's music was most prominently featured with no fewer than seven songs over the full run of the series; other recurring artists included The Headstones, Loreena McKennitt and Colin James. "The Blue Line" (episode #1.16) featured "Hockey Night in Canada", the longtime theme song of CBC's sports programming.
The show's theme was written and composed by Jay Semko of The Northern Pikes (who recorded a version of the song with lyrics, played during the shows closing credits) working with Jack Lenz and John McCarthy. Semko also scored the first two seasons of Due South. In November 1996, the first album was released, including 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 season, Semko returned to complete the second soundtrack. The second soundtrack album was released in June 1998. Both albums are filled largely with the vocals used in the series; most of the incidental music has not yet been released on CD.
Due South: The Original Television Soundtrack (1996)
The final scene of the series was set to Stan Rogers' "Northwest Passage", a classic Canadian folk song that has been referred to as an unofficial Canadian anthem.
Due South: The Original Television Soundtrack was a soundtrack album for the Canadian television series Due South, released in 1996.
- Jay Semko, "Due South Theme"
- Spirit of the West, "Bone of Contention"
- Jay Semko, Jack Lenz and John K. McCarthy, "Cabin Music (Original Score)"
- Sarah McLachlan, "Possession (Piano Version)"
- Jay Semko, Jack Lenz and John K. McCarthy, "Horses (Original Score)"
- Kashtin, "Akua Tuta"
- The Guess Who, "American Woman"
- Figgy Duff, "Henry Martin"
- Paul Gross, "Ride Forever"
- Blue Rodeo, "Flying"
- Jay Semko, "Due South Theme (Instrumental)"
- Holly Cole Trio, "Neon Blue"
- Jay Semko, Jack Lenz and John K. McCarthy, "Victoria's Secret (Original Score)"
- Klaatu, "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft"
- Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Elmer Iseler, Roy Thomson Hall Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Davis, "Eia, Mater (from Stabat Mater)"
- Paul Gross, "Fraser/Inuit Soliloquy"
- Jay Semko, Jack Lenz and John K. McCarthy, "Dief's in Love (Original Score)"
Due South, Volume II: The Original Television Soundtrack (1998)
Due South, Volume II: The Original Television Soundtrack was the second soundtrack album for the Canadian television series Due South, released in 1998.
- Junkhouse, "Oh, What A Feeling"
- Captain Tractor, "Drunken Sailor"
- Paul Gross, "Robert MacKenzie"
- Vibrolux, "Mind"
- Jay Semko, "Mountie on the Bounty" (Original Score)
- Sarah McLachlan, "Song for a Winter's Night"
- Dutch Robinson, "Slave to Your Love"
- Single Gun Theory, "From a Million Miles"
- Trevor Hurst, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
- Mythos, "November"
- The Headstones, "Cubically Contained"
- Michelle Wright, "Nobody's Girl"
- Ashley MacIsaac, "Sophia's Pipes"
- Jay Semko, "Western End of the Trail" (Original Score)
- Tara MacLean, "Holy Tears"
- Jay Semko, "Due South Theme '97"
Over the three-season run of the series, Due South and its cast and crew earned a number of awards. Most significantly, the show earned 53 Canadian Gemini nominations, winning 15, 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.
Fraser's methods, usually more sensitive and understanding than is typical for police work, gave the series a reputation for well-rounded characters. It was named as one of TV's most underrated shows by The Guardian
A number of fan conventions were organized by Due South fans during the 1990s, the biggest and best-known of which was "RCW 139", so named after the license plate number that recurred throughout the series. RCW 139 was held annually in Toronto between 1996 and 1999, attracting approximately 300 fans from more than 10 countries in both 1998 and 1999. The convention featured games, discussion panels, a formal dinner, and guest panels. Numerous cast and crew members have attended, including David Marciano (1998), Paul Gross (1999), Gordon Pinsent (1998), Tom Melissis (1997, 1998, 1999), Tony Craig (1997), Catherine Bruhier (1998, 1999) and Jay Semko (1998, 1999). Draco (Diefenbaker) and his trainer, Gail Parker, were guests in both 1998 and 1999.
After a nine-year hiatus, the convention was revived in 2008, with guest panels from David Marciano, Jay Semko, Tom Melissis, Catherine Bruhier, and Gail Parker with Cinder, Draco's sister and stunt-double. Another convention was held in August 2010, with Paul Gross, Jay Semko, Tom Melissis, Camilla Scott, Tony Craig, Catherine Bruhier, and Ramona Milano.
RCW 139: From a Million Miles was held from August 17–19, 2012 in Toronto. This event included tours and dining in the Distillery District of Toronto and the Patrician Grill, both of which were frequently used for location filming.
RCW 139: Thank You Kindly was held from August 15–17, 2014 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Due South. Catherine Bruhier, Ramona Milano, Tom Melissis, and Tony Craig, along with guest star Lisa Jakub ("Chicago Holiday" [#1.07/1.08]), appeared on the cast panel; assistant directors Michael Bowman and Woody Sidarous, costume supervisor Alex Kavanagh, and prop master Craig Williams formed the crew panel. Paul Haggis made an appearance via Skype chat. Included in the activities were a tour of the Distillery District, a bus tour of filming locations, a game of "Due South Jeopardy", and a charity auction of props, scripts, costume pieces, and other series memorabilia. This was the first Due South convention to be webcast for the benefit of fans unable to attend.