Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Robson Arms: REMINDER and REVIEW

Just in case you forgot to set your VCRs. Special airing of Robson Arms, tonight, right after American Idol.

From John Doyle's review of tonight episode:

Robson Arms (CTV, 9:30 p.m.), back for its second season, has been running on Saturday nights. That's a safe slot for a series that's not easily defined. People who know it and like it will seek it out. But, like anything airing outside of CBC's schedule on that night, it's up against the local juggernaut of Hockey Night In Canada.

In tonight's episode, slacker Hal (Zak Santiago) finds that his employment insurance has run out, he owes his roommate Nick (Corner Gas's Fred Ewanuick) money, he's managed to kill his only source of income -- selling pot -- and even his own dad (Joe Flaherty) declines to help him out. Meanwhile, Nick happens to have acquired a new best pal, Wayne (Peter DeLuise). That makes Nick question his relationship with the great slacker Hal. After all, this Wayne guy is a bit exotic and Hal's something of a loser, just waiting for his next opportunity to get stoned. Maybe Nick should move out?

The episode is a serious take on issues of adult responsibility, jealousy and growing up, but it's done with a light touch. The addition of Flaherty as Hal's dad is a stroke of genius.

In its first season, Robson Arms quickly established itself as TV entertainment of the highest quality. Deftly made and smartly entertaining, the half-hour dramas were set among the tenants of a Vancouver apartment building. The series was written with a unique tone -- wry observations about life and all manner of relationships. It was material aimed at grown-ups. It also featured some outstanding work from an array of Canadian actors in semi-permanent roles or guest-star turns. The early episodes of this second season had more emphasis on comic farce. They seemed less knowing and whimsical, more emphatically broad and reaching for slapstick.

As this season progresses, its strengths emerge again. It's still light, but skittish and crisp, asking a little more of the viewer. Tonight's episode underlines all those merits. With any luck, enough Idol fans will see it and be charmed, as they should be.