Corner Gas Animated Revs Up for a Series Finale

After four seasons, a CTV Comedy favourite nears its final laughs

After four seasons, a CTV Comedy favourite nears its final laughs

With just two more episodes left of Corner Gas Animated, it’s hard to believe that the feel-good sitcom about the good-ish townsfolk of Dog River, Saskatchewan, is really, finally coming to an end. “I thought it would go on forever, and I kind of hoped that it would, too,” admits star and creator Brent Butt. “We were having a lot of fun telling these stories.”

Indeed, this week’s Halloween episode, where Brent’s movie night turns into a ghost hunt with humorous consequences, originally looked like it might have to serve as an abrupt series finale, after CTV Comedy passed on a fifth season; luckily, Butt and his writers talked the network into greenlighting one additional episode to really give longtime viewers the farewell they deserve. “The show was significant in a number of ways and we wanted to give it a proper finale,” says Butt. “It’s difficult to say goodbye, so we want to say goodbye in a way that gives people comfort and satisfaction and brings it full-circle.”

The series ender, which will air on November 1st, harks back to the very first episode of the live-action series, wherein Lacey (Gabrielle Miller) moves from Toronto to Dog River after inheriting the local café from her aunt Ruby. “She turns that restaurant into the Ruby, and the episode is called ‘Ruby Reborn,’” says Butt. “We came up with the title for the final episode [of the cartoon], ‘Ruby Re-burn,’ because the restaurant that she took over and renovated in the first episode of live-action catches fire and is badly damaged in the finale.”

The fire puts Lacey in the financial and emotional position of being able to leave Dog River and start over elsewhere, if she so chooses. “Maybe the universe is giving her some signs. Like she says: ‘It’s hard to not take it personally when the universe burns your vision board,’” Butt quips. “She’s a city gal. She wasn’t born in the small town like the other characters. She seems like somebody who could spread her wings more easily than anybody else.” This also puts Brent in a tough spot. “It’s like the old adage: If you love something, let it go,” says Butt. “That’s what he’s wrestling with in this episode, because he wants very much to do the right thing by Lacey.”

To truly end things with a bang, the upcoming series finale includes a cameo from Vancouverite Ryan Reynolds. “We’ve always done the cameo thing and had fun with it throughout the live-action and animated series and the movie,” says Butt. “Most of the time, they happen organically, like in this season, where Kim Coates was the special guest. He’s an old Saskatchewan boy like myself, so we reached out.” Reynolds’ appearance was more of a long shot, but ultimately a great get. “First of all, he’s as big as a star gets, but he’s so naturally funny and he’s a good Canadian boy. So, we sent him the scene and he just said, ‘Yeah, this is great. I’ll record it now.’ To me, it was a great example of, ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person.’ He recorded the thing, sent it off to us, and we were like, ‘Holy hell, we got Ryan Reynolds!’ ”

Since Corner Gas premiered in 2004, Butt has shepherded the concept through the live-action version, a feature film and now the cartoon. But this is where the buck stops, according to the showrunner. “I think there really is the risk of going to the well too often,” he says. “One of the reasons I pulled the plug on the original live-action series is that I didn’t want the show to wither and die on the vine. I felt like I owed the show the dignity of not letting it become sick and frail and wobbly and falling on a sneeze in front of everybody. So, we wrapped it up after 107 episodes… and then we got to do the movie. That was great. But now it’s like, ‘OK, we’re saying goodbye.’ ”

For cast and crew, after 17 years together, that goodbye is sort of like bidding their own family farewell at Thanksgiving. “We’re probably not going to talk every day, but whenever something big happens in any of our lives, we let each other know what’s going on just like family would,” says Butt. And like most families, this one has made a huge impact on all involved, viewers included. “We were doing a show that really touched people,” says Butt. “We would hear from people how the show got them through rough patches of their life or helped them forget dark things that were going on. They talk of Dog River as a place where they go for comfort. That’s one of the things I always found really interesting, and really touching—that people don’t just talk about Corner Gas, they talk about going to Dog River. I think we all took a lot of pleasure and pride in that.”

Corner Gas Animated airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CTV Comedy