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DVD Review: The Red Green Show: The Delinguent Years (1997-1999)

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The long running Red Green Show was hands down one of the funniest programs of the past 20 years. I think the only thing that stopped it from attaining mass commercial success in the United States was the fact that it was a Canadian series, shown mainly on PBS here. Talk to anyone who tuned in during that original run, and their eyes tend to glaze over. The Red Green Show was a true cult classic.

The Acorn Media Company have been issuing full seasons of The Red Green Show in three-season, nine-DVD box sets. The first, The Red Green Show: The Infantile Years 1991 – 1993 covered seasons one, two and three. Next came The Toddlin’ Years 1994 – 1996, which held seasons four, five, and six. The latest edition is The Delinquent Years 1997 – 1999, featuring all 47 episodes produced for seasons seven, eight, and nine.

Altogether, The Delinquent Years features 19 and a half hours of classic Red Green material. In fact, it could be argued that this middle period of the series was their finest. The earlier shows were hampered a bit by budget constraints, according to the bonus “Notes From Steve Smith” feature. When they were picked up in 1997 by the CBC, things really began to jell, and the programs were uniformly hilarious.

The tweaking of the format included dropping some segments and expanding others. The most notable bit that has been excised was the humorously named “Male Bag,” where Red (Steve Smith) answered viewer mail. This has been replaced by longer (and funnier) pieces from “Handyman’s Corner,” and the ever popular “Adventures With Bill.”

For the first season under the CBC‘s wing, the series is introduced as The New Red Green Show in the opening credits. There is really nothing new about it though, just the continuing exploits of the guys up at Possum Lodge. The season ran through 1997, and featured 17 episodes.

Some highlights include “The Running Of The Bulls,” where minks are substituted for bulls to chase the men through the streets of Port Asbestos. Another great one has the town up in arms when Colonel Klink himself – Werner Klemperer decides to buy a house there. Turns out, he is Red’s favorite actor. Besides celebrities invading peaceful Port Asbestos and Possum Lodge, the men are even forced to deal with yuppies. When Possum Lake freezes over, and everybody is ready for some great hockey action, the sweater-wearing, broom-totin’ yuppies turn up and want to curl – as it is so much more civilized a sport.

Season eight reverted back to calling the show simply The Red Green Show. The season ran for 14 episodes this time around, collected on three DVDs. Although the season is somewhat abbreviated, it was one of the funniest ever for The Red Green Show.

“The Cult Visit” is hilarious. Evidently aliens from outer-space see an aerial view of the Possum Lodge grounds, and decide it is to be their home on Earth. Also in this season, Red decides to run for mayor, against incumbent Wally “Kick-Back” Kiddler. Red Green’s very first Christmas show arrived this season also, under the guise of “It’s A Wonderful Red Green Christmas.”

In 1999, The Red Green Show consisted of 16 total episodes, again collected on three DVDs. Thankfully, pre-Millennial fever did not engulf Possum Lodge this season. No worries about the Y2K bug grounding Port Asbestos to a halt. There were some big changes to the program this year however.

During the first episode, “Harold’s Job,” Red’s nephew and co-host Harold (Patrick McKenna) gets a job in the big city. According to the bonus feature “Steve Smith’s Notes,” Harold’s move was necessitated by McKenna’s move to Los Angeles. Harold’s new job enabled the show to move outside of the Lodge, which happens for the first time in “The Fishing Derby,” when Red visits Harold at his office. Also, for the first time in the series’ run, animated bits were included such as Ranger Gord’s “Tree Holes.”

During “The Date Auction” the guys take part in a date auction for charity, and only uber-geek Harold gets chosen. Then comes “Angel” when Red and Dalton narrowly escape being crushed by a falling tree. Dalton believes Red has a guardian angel protecting him.

Interspersed with each program’s main story are some great reoccurring bits. “Quality Time” is always fun, in which one of the Possum Lodge members teaches his young son a new (and very unique) skill. Red also takes a moment in “North Of Forty” to spread wisdom to middle-aged guys.” This is similar to “Ask The Experts,” when Red and his cronies answer a viewer’s question. “The Possum Lodge Word Game” is sort of a Red Green version of Password, which the characters somehow manage to accidentally get the word right at the last second. “Mike’s Teen Talk” is pretty funny too, especially when he tells teen-aged boys that they need to pull their pants up higher.

“Adventures With Bill” has been around since the very first episode, and is a Red Green classic. This is the black and white, silent segment narrated by Red – of what he and his friend Bill (Rick Green) got up to over the past week. The piece is pure slapstick, and remained one of the most popular throughout the series’ run.

My personal favorite ongoing bit is “Handyman’s Corner.” This one really sums up the surreal appeal of Red Green. Every week, Red tackles a new project, and does it on a budget. One had him showing us how to build a homemade snowplow. In this case, he took the Men’s Room door off the hinges at the lodge, (as it had never been used) and duct-taped it to the front of the Lodge’s ancient cargo van. Just like that, no more snow-shoveling.

Another great (and useful) “Handyman Corner” found Red making his own riding lawnmower out of junk around the Lodge. Red took a beat-up $100 Pontiac, duct-taped a ceiling fan to the undercarriage, and all of a sudden, he had what he dubbed a “Lawn-Tiac.” At the end of each “Handyman Corner,” Red recites some words of wisdom: “If the women don’t find you handsome, at least let them find you handy.”

The DVD extras include the previously mentioned notes from Steve Smith, plus character files of the principles of The Red Green Show – featuring Red, Harold, Edgar, and Gord.

Along with the helping hand of the CBC in 1997, came a new closer for the Red Green Show. In a take-off A.A. the Lodge members adjourn to start their Mens Anonymous meeting as the closing credits roll. Their Serenity Prayer goes like this: “I’m a man, but I can change if I have to, I guess.”

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