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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Due South 1x12 - Hawk and A Hacksaw

This might seem like a bit of a jump -- popping from House to a show like Due South.  In fact, one might think they have absolutely nothing in common.

And they'd be wrong.

You see, what we have here is a 58-Page "Revised Blue" Draft dated December 7, 1994 with Story by David Shore and Teleplay by David Shore & Paul Haggis (download here).  Breaking it down, it's got a Prologue (a pre-Teaser Teaser) and four acts (7/10/12/15/14).

For those of you who may not remember this show, or what it was aboot (honestly, I've never met a single Canadian that says 'aboot'...), it essentially boils down to a Canadian Mountie who comes down to Chicago on the trail of the people who killed his father.  After solving that crime (and embarrassing his superiors back across the border) he decides to stick around and help out the Canadian Consulate (read: He gets disowned by the RCMP and is permanently posted to Chicago).

What's most interesting about this show -- and specifically, this script -- is how they portray the main character Benton Fraser.  Compared to the street-level, rough and tumble American cop/partner Ray Vecchio, Benton is practically akin to a God.

But a benevolent, Canadian God.

You see, he's patient, he's kind; incredibly observant, strong, tenacious, caring, compassionate... if it wasn't for a certain basic naivete and a penchant for unvarnished (but tactful) honesty, I'd think he'd be unstoppable.  Add into the fact that he's got a Wolf companion named Deifenbaker (who only deigns to work with Fraser) and you've got a fun, if sometimes campy, show.

This episode, specifically, starts off with Ray going in for a mandatory psych eval and bringing Fraser along with him for... moral support, I guess.  While they're at the Hospital some crazy guy tries to commit suicide -- or so it seems.  Turns out that he's out there looking for some long-dead friend -- and, without a word, Fraser is out the window and onto the ledge with him.  During said rescue, Fraser lies to the jumper that he saw the person the guy was looking for back inside.

Long story short, this brief interaction, combined with Fraser's lie to the crazy guy (who Fraser does not actually believe is crazy) sets the whole plot underway.  Fraser decides, then and there, that he's going to find the man that said crazy guy was looking for.

And they're off.

Oh, and pretty much all of that happened in the Teaser.  By act one, because of his keen mind, he's already hot on the trail -- he overheard an orderly talking about said crazy man being admitted by a bus driver... five year ago... and so he's off to the Transit Authority to track said bus driver down.

Which he does, within the first half-page of act one.

Yes, if there's one thing that this show does pretty decently is keep the momentum -- keep the story -- moving forward.  There's a touch of humour, a touch of drama, a bit of fun... and that's a wrap.  It's all kind of quaint.

It ends up that Fraser hits a roadblock in his investigation, trying to find out who this guy was... and so he gets himself committed into the mental ward.

Ahhh, remember those days?  When you could just have your lead character committed to an asylum and nobody bats an eyelash?  To the writers' credit though, they do actually make it an entertaining scene.
Mr. Shore and Mr. Haggis obviously had fun with this conceit, but at the same time they did try and work in some 'edgy' drama as well.  Ultimately their investigation reveals a pretty sketchy female drug rep who's experimenting on the patients with a new (not-yet-FDA-approved) MAO inhibitor that... causes some patients to want to commit suicide but 'mostly seems to work'.  She's scheming with the head psychiatrist at the hospital, covering up the suicides in hopes of getting her drug through FDA approval.  
It's quite a bit one-note in its approach, with no real message attached to the episode or the motivations.  It's a one-and-done story. 

All-in-all, to look at this script and judge it now, in our post-9/11, jaded, cynical world... it's just not fair.  This script is a product of its time -- hell, a different world.  It's a fun, quick dash of light entertainment.  If you don't think too hard about it, just read on and enjoy it for what it is... it's perfectly fine.

If nothing else, it's kind of a neat stroll down memory lane, to a simpler time -- oh, who am I kidding?  This is still far more complex than anything the Kardashians have put forward.

Tomorrow I'll be checking out Smallville 1x01 - Pilot.  I'm pretty sure I've never seen that one.

Until then!

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