Everything about Package Deal, eh?

Package Deal and Meet the Family cancelled by City

It’s the end of the road for Package Deal and Meet the Family.

On Monday afternoon, Vancouver’s Craigslist posted the following “Huge Set Sale”:

“Tons of chairs, bar stools and tables, banquettes, theatre chairs, church pews (!!) couches, lamps and other lighting, furniture, kitchen items, tea shop and bar paraphernalia, glassware, carpeting, clothing (no kids clothes) and those ever present knickknacks!

April 22nd, 23rd and 24th from 10am — 4pm (NO early birds)

Location: Unit 1B — 2350 Beta Avenue, Burnaby (Street Parking Only)

Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to grab some amazing deals!”

Those listed items are the contents of the apartment, tea shop, courtroom and offices featured in the original sitcom during the last two seasons.

City confirmed Tuesday afternoon that both Package Deal and hidden camera sketch series Meet the Family would not return.

“Despite the strong teams behind both series and critical acclaim garnered to date, Package Deal and Meet The Family were unable to connect with the audience needed to continue,” said Nataline Rodrigues, Director of Original Programming of Rogers Media, in a statement. “We remain committed to Canadian originals, and we are proud to have provided our viewers with two fun seasons of both series; it was a real pleasure and privilege to work with the immense talent on these shows – on and off the screen.

Package Deal starred Randal Edwards as Danny, a successful lawyer who met and fell in love with Kim (Julia Voth). The problem? Danny’s two brothers, ne’er-do-well Sheldon (Harland Williams) and fastidious Ryan (Jay Malone), don’t like that Kim is taking Danny away from them. The multi-camera series was created by Andrew Orenstein (Malcolm in the Middle, 3rd Rock from the Sun) and shot in front of a live audience. Never able to score decent ratings (it was down to 72,000 viewers in mid-October) the second season finale was broadcast in December, and had the feel of a series finale to it.

The news comes the same day that Package Deal‘s production company, Thunderbird, announced both seasons are available for streaming in the U.S. on Hulu starting Tuesday.

Produced by Frantic films and based on the successful U.K. series, Meet the Parents threw unwitting folks into a uncomfortable situation: meeting the downright odd family of their girlfriend or boyfriend. The series starred Terry Barna, Liz Best, Hannah Hogan, Theresa Tova, Don Berns, Heather Hodgson, Ralph Small, Nicole Maroon, Peter Keleghan, Chris Wilson, Miguel Rivas and Matt Bernard.


City: Bland name, brand comedy

It was a dark day in Canadian TV when Citytv cancelled Murdoch Mysteries back in 2011. Five seasons is a long run for any show but with ratings and creative juices still fresh, the decision seemed like part of that eternal mystery: why are Canadian series so expendable?

Rogers executives grumbling about the cost of producing original series pointed to one possible answer. Their then-recent purchase of the FX brand seemed like another. Canadian broadcasters like to spread their original programming across all their channels to cheaply fulfill CanCon requirements, but Murdoch and FX went together like peanut butter and purple. Luckily, CBC stepped in to the rescue and Murdoch continues on its merry ratings-grabbing way there.

Fast forward four years and City — as they’re now simply known, in a branding move I have to assume was to make themselves entirely un-Googleable — has a small new slate of original programs with a definable tone.

They define that tone as “intensely-local, urban-oriented, culturally-diverse television programming.” Um, sure. [P.S. -ly adverbs don’t take hyphens after them. Signed, Intensely Grammatically Nerdy.]

Forget about the odd OLN series such as The Liquidator that pop up on the mothership network — for their first-run series, City seems to be carving out a niche in comedy.

Now I’m not saying all their comedies are winners, or that their scheduling and marketing were stellar, but the two seasons each of Seed and Package Deal were valiant attempts to fulfill the urban-oriented part of that brand verbiage, anyway. Before they claim “intensely local” and “culturally diverse” for their scripted series, instead of their programming as a whole, they should probably be more blatant about setting and have cast photos that aren’t exclusively or predominantly white but … quibble.

This season, City seems reborn with the delightfully off-centre Sunnyside and Young Drunk Punk out of the gate, and a partnership with CBC that will have them airing Mr. D after it’s been on the public broadcaster. They don’t seem to be ponying up more money for original programming, but a focus on half-hour shows and partnerships gives them more to spread around, at least, while remaining focused on their brand.

So with my rose-coloured, intensely urban glasses on, City seems determined to prove that Canadian comedy isn’t dead – despite what some people say. Now all they need is for one of their brand-name shows to be the kind of hit they had with Murdoch Mysteries.


Review: Package Deal says goodbye

I’m suspecting it’s the end of the road for Package Deal. Of course, things may change and a third go-round may be ordered, but I’m betting that won’t be the case. Moved to at least three different nights and timeslots since Season 2 bowed last fall, one could argue City attempted to find a night and spot where the Canadian sitcom could attract a larger audience (like right after 2 Broke Girls for a few weeks), but I never saw a commercial promoting Package Deal. If I wasn’t following several of its cast members and the show itself on Twitter I would have lost track of it long ago.

And that’s too bad. Aside from the friendly cast and crew I met while on a set visit for Season 1, this sophomore season has been tighter, funnier and more raw. Sunday’s back-to-back season finale, “The Break Up” parts 1 and 2, plunged couple Kim and Danny into truly stressful territory for the very first time by throwing marriage into the picture. (“This can’t be happening. He’s so young, to be cut down in his prime,” wailed Sheldon. “There’s so much more for you to experience. You haven’t even slept with an albino.”)

The fact that they both waffled independently over the prospect of advancing their relationship to the next level was a departure from the usual light-hearted weekly bickering and allowed actors Julia Voth and Randal Edwards the opportunity to play some very serious moments and heartfelt emotions … at least until Harland Williams’ Sheldon or Jay Malone’s Ryan jumped in to say something ludicrous.

The ensuing break-up that concluded the first instalment made for several interesting moments that carried to the second script, written by creator and executive producer Andrew Orenstein. Danny and Kim both re-entered the dating market and while Danny was disgusting gals with his “dump stink,” Kim found a paramour in TJ (John Dore), the produce guy working at his local market. The addition of Dore ramped up the laughs thanks to his hippie views on life, a stark contrast to Danny’s lawyer profession.

The conclusion of “The Break Up” certainly could have kept Kim and Danny apart–setting up a cliffhanger–but I’m glad that didn’t happen. If this is indeed the final episode of Package Deal, I’d much prefer the pair to be a couple than apart. Thanks, Package Deal, for two seasons of laughs.


Tonight: Package Deal, Lost Girl

Package Deal, City – “Breakup” two-part season finale
Part One – When Sheldon (Harland Williams) and Ryan (Jay Malone) learn of Danny’s (Randal Edwards) intentions to propose, they hijack a bachelor party to fulfill their own agenda to change his mind. Meanwhile, Kim (Julia Voth) accidentally learns of the forthcoming proposal, but – unsure of her feelings – tries to avoid it at all costs.
Part Two – When Danny (Randal Edwards) and Kim (Julia Voth) break up, Sheldon (Harland Williams) tries to get Danny to move on by picking up other girls. Meanwhile, Ryan (Jay Malone) accidentally sets Kim up with a new love interest, an eco-hippy who has everything in common with her. Later, a guilt-ridden Ryan, tries to undo what he has done.

Lost Girl, Showcase – “Big in Japan”
Bo and Tamsin protect a Japanese warrior with a hit on his head. Lauren deals with death threats of her own.


Review: Priestley pumps up Package Deal

I miss Call Me Fitz. The HBO Canada award-winner about a morally-bankrupt used car salesman named Richard “Fitz” Fitzpatrick (Jason Priestley) isn’t officially dead, but it’s as close as you can be without the press release shovelling dirt on it. I loved how Priestley blew his Beverly Hills, 90210 past out of the water by embodying a man who drank too much, chain-smoked, bedded women by the hundreds and elevated personal insults to new levels of atrocity.

And while Fitz may have moved on, Priestley isn’t totally over playing him. The actor chewed up every piece of scenery available as weatherman Storm Chambers in Monday’s episode of Package Deal. Storm may not share the same last name as Fitz, but he was full of his DNA. Smarmy charm? Check. Double-entendre jokes? (“Did you hear the news? There’s a storm brewing’. Down south,” he said to Kim.) Check. A taste for booze? You got it.

“The Imperfect Storm” brought hurricane Storm into Danny, Kim and Sheldon’s lives when Ryan saw the superstar meteorologist blow into the gang’s watering hole. Ryan was star-struck, Kim was repulsed and Danny was irritated, mainly because Storm had once reported sunshine on a day that downpoured on him. No matter; Ryan dropped everything and was at Storm’s beck and call. Late nights, drinking and over-laughter hid a side of Storm that was only revealed when Danny–attempting to make amends for not defending Kim during a robbery at the tea shop–informed Storm that no one really liked him. Shattered, Storm returned to the airwaves on the verge of suicide and only Sheldon’s foster puppy could brighten his day.

I had the chance to see Priestley work a room when he appeared in an episode of Spun Out last year and he’s a pro at it. That showed in “The Imperfect Storm”: he elevated the script to new levels and pushed his co-stars to up their game. The result? A great episode.

Package Deal airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET on City.