CBC was delivered a one-two punch to its primetime comedy lineup when Schitt’s Creek and Kim’s Convenience both ended. Thankfully, the huge holes left by those two wonderful series are being filled by equally special projects this winter, Son of a Critch and Run the Burbs.
Debuting Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem, Son of a Critch—co-created by Mark Critch and Tim McAuliffe—brings Critch’s childhood to life in a hilarious and truly relatable way. Based on the award-winning, best-selling memoir by Critch, the comedy tracks 11-year-old Mark (played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as he heads off to a new school in 1980s St. John’s, Newfoundland.
As a child of the 80s, I was immediately drawn in and related to Young Mark and what he was going through. What kid hasn’t felt out of place in his own skin, and tried mightily to fit in? Throw in a rocking soundtrack of 80s tunes complemented by music from Keith Power and Alan Doyle, a cast that includes Critch as his own father, Mike, Claire Rankin as his mother, Mary, Malcolm McDowell as his grandfather, Pop, and Colton Gobbo as his brother, Mike Jr., and Son of a Critch is instantly enjoyable.
“It was very strange,” Critch says of being on the set of the television show for the first time. His family home, torn down in the 1990s, was recreated from his sketches and memories. And parts of his wardrobe, as Mike Sr., were his father’s.
“I remember looking down at one point and seeing my grandmother’s wicker chair in my peripheral vision, the radio that I listened to every day during the winter to see if it was going to be a snow day and wearing my Dad’s jacket and thinking, ‘I’m inside a memory.’ And then looking over and seeing Malcolm McDowell and saying to myself, ‘You sick fool, you should be talking to a therapist about this!'”
McDowell is just the tip of the iceberg in a stunning cast assembled for Son of a Critch. It all starts with Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, who puts everyone else on his back to carry the series as Young Mark. The British actor, who most recently appeared in The Haunting of Bly Manor, pulls in viewers with his large, soulful eyes and sensitive performance.
“I’ve never seen anybody better than Benjamin,” Critch says. “I’ve never had that Hollywood experience, where he was doing his audition and I said, ‘Stop, we need to get that guy. Here are my keys and my house, just get that guy!'”
Son of a Critch airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.
Images courtesy of CBC.