Editorial – A Graceful Exit

One of the most interesting things in the news this week is an article about the hit Canadian television show Corner Gas.

Yes, I know. Protests on the Olympic torch relay are wreaking havoc; the price of oil keeps climbing; the RCMP deputy commissioner, Barbara George, has been found in contempt of Parliament; and we’re all going to hell in a handbasket.

But then this tiny, refreshing breeze wafted across the dreary landscape of headlines. After five seasons, the creator of Canada’s beloved glimpse into the fictional town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, is making a graceful exit. At the height of its popularity, the show will take a bow, exit stage left, and leave ?em wanting more.

In a different age, knowing when to leave probably wouldn’t seem so remarkable. But overload is the order of the day, and in the stampede of excess, all too often quality is trampled and left to choke on the dust of quantity.

Wannabe supermodels argue, cry, and squeeze every moment of personal struggle they can onto the screen. Face time is golden time, no matter how embarrassing it may be.

Pop stars and movie stars, even when they’ve had wildly successful careers, just don’t know when It’s time to step out of the limelight. Their careers are on a downslide, the studios are no longer calling, but instead of quietly taking stock and regrouping?perhaps coming back stronger and better than ever?they keep forcing themselves stage front, exposing every cringe-inducing moment to the cameras, just as long as those cameras keep flashing.

As far as TV shows go, the slide from popularity can be oh so long and slow, and It’s a rare thing for producers or creators to know when to dim the lights. Usually, it starts with a string of B-list guest stars. Then come the musical segments: when a once-popular sitcom or drama starts trotting out the cameo musical appearances, you just know the end is nigh. And when aging hard-rock stars try to trade on their former glory by exposing their family life on a reality show . . . well, enough said.

Which makes the decision to end the incredibly popular Corner Gas that much more elegant. As the Toronto Star reports, the show ?has been a ratings juggernaut for CTV for years, snagging numerous Gemini awards along the way.? It’s also in international syndication, popular in countries such as Finland, Australia and the U.S., where ?it outperforms shows like Heroes and Prison Break on the cable channel Superstation WGN.?

So why say farewell? The show’s creator sums it up nicely:

?Comedy is nothing if not timely. There’s that moment around the 45-minute mark, where you know you could go an hour . . . and around the one-hour mark, people start looking for their coats. And Corner Gas is too special of a thing for people to start looking for their coats.?

Classy move, Brent Butt. Classy move.