CW Comedies – Blame Canada [TELEVISION REVIEWS]

(L-R): Roman Pesino as Leo, Zoriah Wong as Khia, Rakhee Morzaria as Camille, and Andrew Phung as Andrew Pham in "Run the Burbs." Photo courtesy of Pier 21 Films.

TV New, Now and Soon

So many shows, so little time. Some of these new series you will have already heard about and maybe even seen; others are about to appear with or without fanfare. All of these are Canadian so the content comes with a slight accent, eh? It’s cheaper to buy ready-made and audience-tested content than make it yourself, so expect more foreign English language shows to follow. 

The CW is launching a family friendly lineup on Mondays that I like to call “Blame Canada.” First up:

“Son of a Critch”

Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Mark Critch in “Son of a Critch.” Photo cortesy of Project 10 Productions Inc.

“Son of a Critch” is based on the memoir of Mark Critch (credited as a creator and writer on the show) that follows his coming of age in the 1980s as young Mark tries to navigate a middle school world of bullies, nerds and nuns in St. John’s Newfoundland. Throw in a family that is the very definition of off kilter, in a good way, and you have the makings of an enjoyable comedy.

Enrolled in Catholic school after being homeschooled, he is a deer in the headlights as he’s targeted by a  not-very-bright group of bullies, the Foxes, who have tormented the Critches for years. A new Fox, a mean girl, has joined her brothers who continue to harass those in the lower grades because they never seem to advance while their victims age out.

Mark’s family is of little help and he must rely on his eccentric grandfather, with whom he shares a bedroom, for advice. Gradually Mark makes his way in this strange new world with a reluctant ally, Ritchie, a Filipino-American just trying to escape notice.

Benjamin Evan Ainsworth plays Mark with sympathy and the eyes of a fugitive trying to escape notice. Mark Ezekiel Rivera is a sly, more-than-meets-the-eye Ritchie and Mark Critch, himself, plays his own father Mike. The coup de grace is Malcolm McDowell who plays Mark’s grandfather, Pop. He adds just the right touch of crazy to empathy and understanding.

Created and run by Mark Critch and Tim McAuliffe, this is a series that has something to offer everyone in the family.

The first two episodes previewed on Monday July 24 at 8:00 with subsequent episodes appearing weekly on Monday evenings at 8:00.


“Run the Burbs”

“Run the Burbs” is a modern day take on life in a subdivision. The Phams, an Asian-Canadian family own their small corner of suburbia. It’s summer and time to gather their neighbors for the annual “Blockbuster” block party. Their friends are game and all pitch in but what the Phams weren’t counting on was the officious HOA representative (are they never not officious?) who declares them ineligible for a permit. Only one permit per day is allotted and the permit for that date has already been given to…the local biker club. The ingenious ways in which the Phams try to circumvent the rules, while technically coloring within the lines, is indicative of the clever scheming and “never give up” attitude that everyone in the family exhibits.

Andrew Phung, known as an improv comedian, actor and star of “Kim’s Convenience,” and Scott Townsend, a documentarian and cameraman, created “Run the Burbs.” If the first episode is any indication of what’s in store, you can look forward to a comedy for the whole family.

The casting is delightfully diverse and full of actors who really bite into their roles, led, of course, by Andrew Phung as Andrew Pham. He plays Pham with so much gusto, it’s impossible not to smile. Rakhee Morzaria is his wife Camille and her eyes practically dance with larceny. Their positive attitudes are reflected in their children who, even though teenagers, seem quite pleased to be part of this family unit and go along with their father’s crazy schemes. How refreshing! Even the menacing biker gang is fun.

Premiering Monday July 31, it is part of CW’s new family comedy night.


“Children Ruin Everything”

“Children Ruin Everything” is the third wheel, literally and figuratively, of the CW’s new comedy schedule. Unlike “Son of a Critch” and “Run the Burbs,” “Children Ruin Everything,” now in its third season in Canada, is that routine family sitcom that breaks no new ground but still manages to be somewhat offensive in its effort to be inoffensive.

(L-R): Aaron Abrams as James, Logan Nicholson as Felix, Meaghan Rath as Astrid, and Kikayla Swaminatham as Vivian in “Children Ruin Everything.” Photo courtesy of New Metric Media.

Astrid and James, still trying to hold on to their pre-kid relationship and life despite the fact that their two kids have changed that dynamic. Hello? It’s called parenthood. Astrid, who pressed pause on her career to get her kids on their way, is now considering a return to the workforce. James is okay with that…rather he is uncertain about that while recognizing that it’s her choice. Astrid keeps wavering every time she spots a mother with a new baby, unable to decide what she really wants. There’s nothing wrong with ambivalence. It’s often very difficult for parents (I was going to say moms, but dads have a say too) to return to the workplace when they still have young children. It’s called work-life balance for a reason. As a running theme throughout the show, however, Astrid’s indecision could get very tedious.

Everyone is a charming “type.” Mom and dad are sympathetic, the kids are cute, Astrid’s mother is impossible and interfering, her holistic sister and brother-in-law are exaggerated stereotypes (so over the top that you hate them but are in on the joke) but in an endearing way that somehow always undermines everyone else. You get the picture. Nothing much happens and, unlike the two other Canadian comedies, you really feel that Canadian niceness coming through (and I don’t mean that in a nice way) with everyone apologizing for everything. 

There’s nothing overtly wrong with this show but there’s nothing that hasn’t been explored better by others. At least neither mom nor dad is an idiot. If bland is what you’re looking for, this is your show. Meaghan Rather is Astrid and Aaron Abrams is James. Sympathetically played but they are capable of more than they’ve been given.

Having previewed with a double episode on Monday July 24, the series settles into its regular Monday night comedy slot on July 31.



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