Due South: The Final Season
Sale Price: CAD $18.87
Retail Price: CAD $26.95
The second season of Due South's return to television after a year-long hiatus in 1996 was also the series' last. While fans have complained that the pre-'96 shows are superior to those in The Final Season, there is still a lot to love about this program, especially when Due South gracefully winds up loose ends in its concluding episodes. As with the previous season, displaced Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable Brenton Fraser (Paul Gross) is still in Chicago and working with the detective pretending to be his former partner, Ray Vecchio (David Marciano). The real Vecchio is working undercover on a hush-hush assignment that becomes clear when he turns up in Due South's two-part finale. In the meantime, the faux "Ray," whose real name, improbably, is Stanley Kowalski (Callum Keith Rennie), continues to offer Brenton genuine friendship and loyalty in a highly volatile battle with crime in the strangest of places. These include a minor league baseball team ("Dr. Longball") that Brenton asks Stanley to infiltrate--letting him know only after the fact that, as part of his cover, the coach expects Stanley to hit .380. Stanley's also there in "Easy Money," which finds Brenton's childhood mentor (Tom Quinn) under siege for taking on a corporate tycoon out to despoil the old man's native environment.
Brenton is likewise supportive of his partner when the latter seeks to prove the innocence of a woman (in "The Ladies' Man") facing execution after Stanley arrested her years before. These plots might sound moderately interesting. But what makes Due South still an exciting and very funny show to watch is its playful storytelling, the way a segue between scenes can be a three-second comic explosion rather than a gentle passage, or those instances the series indulges in magic realism and pronounced absurdity. At the same time, there is a lot of deep feeling in these episodes, including the regard that gruff-but-lovable Lieutenant Harding Welsh (Beau Starr) has for his cops, and the unspoken emotion Brenton and Francesca (Ramona Milano), Ray's sister, feel for one another. The two-hour finale, "Call of the Wild" (co-starring Leslie Nielsen), brings Brenton back to his first love--the northern plains of Canada--as he and Stanley set out to seek justice for the death of Brenton's mother. Few television series have ended with as much imagination as Due South, which doesn't merely disappear into TV history as slide into permanent myth in fans' hearts. --Tom Keogh
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