By Dexter Brown
Weâ€™ve set our time machine back to 1985 and switch on CTV, Howard Bannister and the gang is on. This week on Rewind, we check out Check It Out!
Watching supermarket sitcomÂ Check It Out!Â (CTV 1985-1988) in 2012 is a wild mind trip to televisionâ€™s past. The show is complete with the typical 80s sitcom antics right down to the decadeâ€™s signature massiveÂ hairdos. UnabashedlyÂ retro, Check It Out!Â appearsÂ to be completely oblivious to the fact that it was setting itselfÂ up to look very dated very quickly.
At first glance, Check It Out! Â may simply seem to be aÂ vehicleÂ for Get Smartâ€™s Don Adams. This time instead of playing a spy, Adams takes the role of the store manager of a large supermarket chain.Â In a typical episode ofÂ Check It Out!Â you’ll get to see Adams’ character Howard Bannister interact with various fellow dim-wittedÂ employees and some difficult patrons. DespiteÂ its ho-hum premise and the predictable writing (compared to todayâ€™s television), it lasted a solid three seasons on CTV and even made it onto the USA network and syndication in the States.
Personally, I found it a bit jarring seeing Adams staring in a little Canadian show likeÂ Check It Out!Â but it was the 80s; Bea Arthur, then star of the popular seriesÂ The Golden GirlsÂ was even doingÂ commercialsÂ for Shoppers Drug Mart back then. To have American stars show up so prominently in the Canadian homegrown scripted TV business seems to be a less common phenomenon now. It’s rare to see a big-name American celebrity staring or guest starring on Canadian TV.Â ExceptionsÂ to the rule include FelicityÂ andÂ Mighty Morphin Power Rangersâ€™ Amy Jo Johnson who now stars in CTV’sÂ FlashpointÂ and Ed Asner ofÂ Mary Tyler MooreÂ andÂ Lou GrantÂ fame who made a few guest appearances onÂ Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The series shares someÂ similaritiesÂ to TBS’Â 10 Items or LessÂ which was canceled way back in 2009.Â 10 ItemsÂ felt much like a remake of Check It Out!Â done in a similar style to NBC’sÂ The OfficeÂ and also added the improvisational style ofÂ Curb Your Enthusiasm. It too lasted three seasons on American cable. NeitherÂ 10 ItemsÂ norÂ Check It Out!Â seemed to click with their audiences. My theory is that supermarkets aren’t the most exciting eventful places in the world and they often don’t produce the most exciting characters. But then again, CTV’sÂ Corner GasÂ was set virtually in the middle of nowhere with some average middle-of-the-road characters and it turned out to be one of Canadian television’s greatest hits.
If youâ€™d like to catch up withÂ Check It Out!Â youâ€™ll find it over on Comedy Gold.