By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
There’s no mistaking the smell of gas on Canada Day, but this year it won’t be merely barbecues and outboard motors.
Monday, July 1 is the day CORNER GAS ANIMATED returns for Season 2, with back-to-back new episodes, starting at 8 p.m. ET on The Comedy Network. The Season 2 debut is preceded by a Season 1 marathon on Comedy, which begins at 8 a.m. ET.
Here’s what creator Brent Butt had to say about the new 11-episode campaign, which brings back the beloved main cast - voiced by Butt, Fred Ewanuick, Eric Peterson, Nancy Robertson, Gabrielle Miller, Lorne Cardinal, Tara Spencer-Nairn, and Corrine Koslo - alongside guest stars such as Michael J. Fox, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chris Hadfield, Russell Peters, Jann Arden, and EPIC MEALTIME's Harley Morenstein.
Q: In the first episode of the new season, the animated Brent character is referred to by the following terms: Tubby, Flabby, and Mary Blobbins. Do you have a self-image problem that we need to worry about?
Brent Butt: “No, I'm all good. Why would suggesting I'm heavy automatically be a bad thing? Why do you take it to that place? Maybe I'm bragging.”
Q: Fair enough. But the person who called you all those names was none other than Michael J. Fox. Who knew he could be so aggressive?
Brent Butt: “That was really the impetus of the whole thing, when we were first talking about it in the writing room. We had this notion that Brent was having these recurring dreams that somebody was trying to kill him, and we thought it would be funny to have somebody really nice and beloved, so Michael J. Fox came to mind.”
Q: It must be fun for your guest stars to play against type in an animated world.
Brent Butt: “Yeah, and it's also just easier to get somebody to agree to be in it. I can come to where they are with my recording equipment, or we can just set up a studio near where they live. We're not trying to convince people to get on a plane and come to Saskatchewan for a couple of days. Logistically, it's just easier to get people to go, ‘Yeah, that's going to take 40 minutes, sure.’ ”
Q: Do you write any of your core characters differently for the animated version than you did for the live-action version?
Brent Butt: “No, I don't think so. If you could watch it happening, the actors are acting. It's not like they're just sitting there with a cup of coffee in their hands, reading. They get in character. They occupy the situation. The only difference being, you don't have to do the actual walking if it's a walk-and-talk. But they're into it. They're pros, man.”
Q: You must be pleased by how much the settings in the animated version look amazingly like the live-action version.
Brent Butt: “That was important in the project right from the get-go, with the design of the show. It's tough when you're taking a known, beloved project and trying to convert it, as opposed to creating something from scratch. The thing I like is, we’ve had a lot of people say that about five minutes in, they forgot that it was an animated show, and they just felt like they were watching an episode of CORNER GAS.”
Q: For fans who liked Season 1 of CORNER GAS ANIMATED, what message do you want to give them about Season 2?
Brent Butt: “We spent a lot of Season 1 just building the machine and learning how to do this. In Season 2, we had that infrastructure in place, so we were able to really focus on the creative end. We invested a little bit in the animation, so things are a little smoother that way. Overall, it’s just a step up. Everything in Season 2 just feels tighter, smoother, funnier.”