Dan For Mayor has settled into CTV’s post-Olympic schedule and made itself at home, reaching over a million viewers in its first two outings and bringing a familiar face into Canadian homes in the less familiar role of star.
“It’s the first show where my character has been the central character,” agreed Fred Ewanuick, formerly Hank on Corner Gas, while pointing out there’s a core ensemble to the series. “I’m used to being the wacky guy who gets the laughs and not the guy who’s holding the story together.”
There are familiar names behind the show, too, in co-creators Mark Farrell, Paul Mather, and Kevin White. “At one time or another each one of them was the showrunner for Corner Gas, and now they’re all in charge here, which is kind of weird,” Ewanuick laughed. “I’ve worked with all of them for so long that I kind of know what they expect, and they know what they’re getting with me, so it’s working out pretty good so far. Unless they’re holding back and not telling me stuff.”
He joked that my subsequent interviews with the writers would reveal the awful truth about him (“they’ll tell you the truth: ‘He’s horrible, I don’t know what we were thinking'”), but they had nothing but praise for their star.
“Fred sets a great tone on set and that’s really important,” said Farrell, who also produces 22 Minutes for CBC. “He’s in a good mood, he’s prepared, he’s fun to be around.”
“We were really fortunate with Fred to anchor the series,” White claimed. “It’s a more contemporary role for him. Hank felt a bit like a Jughead-y character on Corner Gas. In this, he feels like a more well-rounded person.”
Mather was my last hope for dirt, and he failed miserably to provide it. “Fred is so fantastic. On Gas, we always wanted to have more Fred. I always knew he could be a lead. He’s such an intelligent actor, and he knows our writing so he gets our intention. We’re really lucky that we’ve got this pillar to support our show.”
Besides Ewanuick, the series also stars Paul Bates as his best friend, Mary Ashton as his ex-girlfriend Claire, and Benjamin Ayres as her new fiancÃ©.
“If it’s going to be a success, people will have to fall for these characters, and amongst all that they’ll get some chuckles and laughs,” said Ewanuick. “If I don’t come off as likeable we’re kind of hooped. Hopefully my pretending skills â€“ because I’m a goof in real life â€“ will sabotage them into thinking I’m a pretty decent guy.”
(Mather even cleaned up that dirt: “He’s not really a goof, he just pretends to be a goof. He’s a pseudo-goof. He’s got his shit together, that guy.”)
Ewanuick’s take on his character is that Dan is a goof trying to reform. “He’s got that college mentality, with beer bottles all over the house, playing video games. His only serious girlfriend announces she’s getting married to someone else. He decides, well, I’m going to be grown up too â€“ I’m running for mayor. That’s how it all starts. He doesn’t want to look stupid so he keeps going through with it. That’s the underlying story, but it’s more about the relationship he has with his ex-girlfriend and his best friend and his ex-girlfriend’s fiancÃ©.”
With the show’s pedigree, and coming the year after Corner Gas ended, it has inevitably been compared to that successful, long-running series. Ewanuick sees some similarities in the humour, but says “at the same time, the characters have relationships. I go on dates and have girlfriends. You know, real world stuff. People like each other. It’s different in that. There still will be that tone where anyone in the family can watch and moms and dads won’t have to cover ears.”
Dan For Mayor airs Mondays at 8:30 on CTV.
– Diane Wild