Saturday, December 29, 2012

Penelope Corrin Deserves Her Own Series

Has it really been all of five years since I first interviewed the new girl on Royal Canadian Air Farce, Penelope Corrin?
"Yes, that seems right," Corrin is saying on the phone about the time she joined RCAF as the latest farceur joining a TV cast that included veteran founders Roger Abbott, Don Ferguson, Luba Goy as well as newcomers Alan Park and Craig Lauzon and Jessica Holmes.
And most of them are back at it again with the annual Air Farce New Tear's Eve special returning to CBC Monday December 31 at 8 p.m.
Abbott passed 18 months ago. And Holmes has gone out on her own to excel in Christmas pantomime.
Corrin says "It's good to get going again" but like a lot of Canadians out there she misses the weekly outings on CBC that ran for over 25 years before an abrupt cancellation.
Joining the cast this year there are guest bits by Paul Henderson, Olympic gold medalist Rosie MacLennan, Victoria Duffield, Yannick Bisson and Dragon's' Den star David Chilton.
Justin Trudeau was sheduled as well but had to bow out at the last moment.
Without the RCAF to weekly deflate our pompous politicians and cast merriment on national stories what's a harassed Canadian viewer to do?
For Corrin it's been a time to broaden her acting horizon. She tried stand up weeks ago, something she plans to get into although with all the texting and tweeting being done by audiences these day keeping their undivided attention is a real challenge.
And she'd like to do more drama --she tried out for a part on Rookie Blue but was far funnier than the director expected.
"I also want to do more outside things with Craig. We were lamenting we only get together once a year."
In Vancouver she was on Stargate SG-1 (2005) and had a running part on Kingdom Hospital (2004).
In the latest RCAF outing she shines as Paulina Gretzky, a comedy caricature that's full of fun.
And in a parody of Murdoch Mysteries opposite Yannick Bisson she contributes solid laughs.
"Yannick was very helpful in getting the language straight. And we also rib his commercials for CIBC. I think it really works."
As with all RCAF specials the preparations start weeks early will the filmed sketches  --there's a particularly great commercial take off on a possible Canadian Hobbit movie that has Corrin in full costume.'
Other highlights: In a viral video Craig Lauzon praces around as a repentant Stephen Harper. Lauzon also plays a fruity Don Cherry matching trampoline moves with MacLennan.
I watched this with the studio audience and I wondered how Lauzon could be standing after his jumping and cavorting.
Park as usual nails Barrack Obama --it helps they have the same shaped faces but Park also captures that annoying voice inflection.
Corrin says in past years the troupe would "over tape" by several sketches --there are two shows done on consecutive nights and enough material that didn't make it for an entire second hour.
"We were more conservative this season with few skits completely discarded. Instead some got parred down."
And at the end there's the inevitable F-Bomb routine which can end up in a great big mess for studio viewers in the first few rows --one reason I always sit high up.
I became a Corrin fan after watching her ace Nancy Grace in one of her first RCAF appearances. RCAF needed a temporary replacement for Jennifer Holmes and Corrin scored so highly she quickly became a regular --a bit ironical since she remembered Holmes as a fellow student from  Ottawa's Canterbury High School.
But I'm suggesting it's Corrin's turn to get her own CBC series perhaps a subversive sitcom opposite Park --Ferguson has his own production company working away on projects. So how about it?
For now there's the New Year's Eve show well up to RCAF's high standards to remind us what Canadian TV satire is all about.
MY RATING: *** 1/2.

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