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Rent-a-Goalie Is As Heart-Filled As It Is Fart-Filled

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Lucky for me, you can't see a blush over the radio.

When I mentioned that Christopher Bolton, creator, writer, executive producer, and star of Showcase's Rent-a-Goalie would be a guest on the TV, eh? Blogtalkradio show, the reaction from women familiar with the series was hilariously universal. So when guest interviewer Denis McGrath and Bolton started discussing how the fart-joke-filled, testosterone-laden show resonated with females, I felt the need to add my voice on behalf of the double X chromosomes. Turns out, though, it's surprisingly awkward to tell someone "they think you're hot." I'm afraid I conveyed it slightly less coherently than that.

That's not the entire reason, of course, and I threw in something about his character's vulnerability and efforts to do right. As McGrath clarified: "Women love the reformed bad boy."

Rent-a-Goalie, which just finished production on a third season set to air in the fall, is an ensemble comedy centred around Cake, a recovered-from-every-imaginable-addiction hockey nut who runs his replacement goalie service out of Cafe Primo in Toronto's Little Italy. Cake lives by The Code, his personal philosophy on life that keeps him out of trouble. Almost.

Speaking of a moment in season one when Francesca, the coffee shop owner's wary daughter, recognizes a sweetness in Cake, Bolton explained how the show is able to slip heartfelt moments into the often crude comedy. "It would be saccharine in any other show, but for some reason in this one because it's surrounded with big beefy guy jokes and poo jokes, we get away with it."

In the early stages of creating the show, he warned the network not to focus too narrowly on the beer-swilling male demographic. "Do not discount the women because I think this is a guy — and a bunch of guys — that even though they're real boys' boys, I think this is a guy women can relate to, or want to relate to," he asserted.

Cake's best friend is a woman, and his will-they-or-won't-they-(again) relationship with Fran is based on and complicated by respect, loyalty to her father, and his ever-present Code. "In a guys' guy show, Cake would be chasing Francesca without consideration of anything, because she's drop dead gorgeous."

The appeal of the series to men isn't quite so difficult (or embarrassing) to define. Yet besides the obvious appeal of the laddish humour, there's a lot of heart there, too. "One of the drivers behind creating this show was male relationships – male/male relationships," Bolton explained. "They're super-important to me as a dude and I wanted to show all the different possibilities."

Cake's relationship with rival O'Malley is one of his favourite examples, and was modeled on an unlikely but inspired source. "My influence was the sheep dog and Wile E. Coyote. Two guys who could check in for the day, beat the crap out of each other, and then check out and have a beer. And that's really hockey culture, too. I can fight my best friend on the ice and really we can punch the living daylights out of each other and then shake hands and go for a beer. That's hockey code: you leave it on the ice."

Speaking of the sport, hockey stars like Paul Coffey and Phil Esposito show up in Rent-a-Goalie, and we occasionally get to see Cake's motley group of goalies get off their coffee shop stools and play a game. Still, hockey itself isn't a huge part of the show. "It's definitely a character-driven workplace comedy," Bolton said. "I was paying homage to Taxi when I created this show."

He patterned Cake after Judd Hirsch's "den mother" Alex Reiger and claims he had never considered the similarities between Cake and Cheers' recovered alcoholic, ex-baseball player Sam Malone until it was pointed out to him. Though he added: "It's so freakingly, glaringly obvious, it's amazing I didn't."

With all those influences, though, Rent-a-Goalie is very much its own show with its own unique tone. Fortunately for those who have missed it so far and are intrigued by the blend of heart and fart, reruns play on Showcase, full episodes are available to watch online, and the season one DVD with loads of behind-the-scenes extras is available now in Canada.

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About Diane Kristine Wild