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I came to Chicago on the trail of my fathers killer...
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About the Show
Minor Story Spoilers
Character
Mounty.
The world of television is a big place. With thousands of programs spanning multiple genres, discovering new programs to watch is pretty difficult sometimes. Sometimes having too much choice is worse than having little choice.

For many years, I had little interest in crime/police programs, but my mother recommended this particular show because it wasn’t your average cop show. After all, it was my Mother that got me into programs like Northern Exposure, Knight Rider and Star Trek Enterprise, so she has got a good track record. So did I like it? Read on and find out.
Quote Constable Benton Fraser is part of the royal Canadian Mounted police. In the pilot, his father Bob Fraser is murdered in Canada, which leads Fraser journeying to Chicago to hunt down his killers. Because of complications of solving the case, Fraser is assigned to Chicago indefinitely. He befriends a cop named Ray who helps him with his “enquiry” anyway he can. Because Fraser is stuck in Chicago, he decides to help Ray with any cases he has open, which they solve with a big success rate.

In essence, you have a Mountie in Canada, partnered with a typical Chicago Cop. Two very different types of characters and great chemistry between both actors works brilliantly. Ray is a loud mouth cop with little manners who sticks to his tricks and his short temper frequently buts some cases in jeopardy. Fraser on the other hand is kind, generous, and has his “unorthodox” methods of crime busting. Coupled with Ray's know how of the street, they solve hundreds of crimes over the course of the series. But with Fraser in completely new territory, Fraser needs time to adjust to life in Chicago. Thankfully Ray is there every step of the way.

Sounds like a “normal” crime show so far hey? Well, there is more too it than that. I can't mention the main cast without mentioning Diefenbaker. Like KITT from Knight Rider, one of the best aspects of the show is how he is treated like a main character, just like Fraser and Ray. Diefinbaker is Fraser's Wolf, who has stuck by his master's side since Dief saved Fraser's life in sub-zero conditions in Canada.

Being also deaf (or is he?) Dief is present in most stories, and even being the focus of a few episodes. These offer something a little different, and keeps Due South from going stale. I still reckon that Dief is the best trained and most entertaining animal on show I have seen. With Dief performing new stunts and more tricks as the show progressed, no wonder he was the first cast member to receive fan mail! (Remember fan mail?)

While Fraser's faithful companion is an animal, Ray's in contrast isn't - it's a car. One man and his car, man and machine, can have a strong bond. This shows with Ray with his 1972 Buickek Raivea. It gets blown up, shot at, and stolen at various points, but Ray won't hesitate to use it in pursuit of the bad guys, with some cool car chases over the years. That is unless Fraser wants to drive it, where he can’t stand other people driving his car. With me being an avid viewer of Top Gear, it didn't take me long to appreciate the car.
[Due South]A mounty, a American cop and a 1972 Buickek Raivea. Sounds like the start of a bad joke doesn't it?
So let's recap: A polite Canadian, a rude American, a deaf wolf, and a similarly indestructible car. You think the show can't get weirder than that? Well you would be wrong wrong if you said no. Here comes the clever part. Remember at the beginning of the pilot, you see Fraser's father getting shot? Well that isn't the last we see of him. And no, this doesn’t mean flashbacks, as there aren't any in the show. Fraser's father reappears as a ghost.

We think. While it's never fully explained, Fraser's father only appears to his son at random points. There is never a pattern on when he appears, so each episode there is always the question at the back of your mind: “will his father appear today?” One thing that is guaranteed is it's always memorable, either by his comments or the point he makes his entrance. To make things even weirder, Ray or other characters can't see him, so it always looks like Fraser is talking to himself. But to complicate things even more, Frasier’s father can sometimes be seen by specific characters, with no explanation. What a clever way to keep a character in a series...

One of the worst things that could befall a TV show is when one of the main stars either leaves or can't/won't return to the show. It's happened countless times, and generally the results are usually… less than impressive. Due South had this same predicament at the end of the second season. The original actor of Ray (played by David Marciano) could not return, so how does the show go on from there?

Well the answer was in the form of Callum Keith Rennie, who took over the role but he would be playing the same character. Eh? I hear you say. This isn't just a recasting or a Doctor Who Time Lord way of doing it, it’s more clever than that. The original Ray goes into a long-term deep cover assignment and so new Ray takes on old Ray. With the same job, partner, car and “family”, he lives out Ray’s life as closely as he can. This new dynamic brings something different without changing the format of Due South too drastically.

The last season of the show does feel a little different, but in a good way. The stories are still strong, there's still loads of great moments between Fraser, Dief and Ray, and most of the characters from the first two seasons make a comeback. Fraser's Father, Lieutenant Welsh and Francesca have bigger roles, which works in the show's favour. With the series semi-rebooted, it doesn’t lose any of its original charm.

It's more impressive when you delve into the show's history. It aired for three seasons, but we were lucky to get that. You see, CBS cancelled the series after the first season, because of poor ratings. But with fan support and some extra funding, season 2 got underway. The show then got cancelled a second time, but this time a number of other broadcasters (including a little company called the BBC) backed the show. How many shows do you know that got cancelled twice and still managed to come back? This show just refused to die...


Closing Thoughts
Classic Classic
Due south is one of my favourite TV shows of all time. I have never come across a TV show with such consistent quality. Every episode manages to hit the mark every time, either through good stories or great interactions between it's characters. No matter what season or episode you watch, you are always guaranteed slightly “wacky” adventures with a Mounty and a Cop in Chicago. This is a prime example of a show knowing when to end, before the quality drops...

My One Big Highlight
SpidermanAfter a little thinking, it was obviously going to be one episode. An episode that showcases the best of what the show has to offer more than any other - All the Queen's Horses. With Buck, Fraser, Fraser's Dad and Inspector Meg Thatcher all on board a train that gets high-jacked, its up to all of them and Ray to stop a major disaster.
Elephant In the Room
elephantDue South is an excellent TV show, and there is very little I can say bad about it. The niggle I can come up with is the lack of episodes. How did such a clever different take on the crime show get cancelled… twice? I just don't get it.