Due South: The Complete Second Series


Reviewed by: Merlin Harries

The hit US show Due South was originally the brainchild of Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) and proved to be a huge commercial and critical success in Canada and the UK upon its original release in 1994.

Like most US TV shows, Due South initially aired as a made-for-television movie and was well received, leading to the initial series release. Although the first season proved to be something of a smash hit in critical circles, it had a tepid reception from American home audiences, which led to it being cancelled after just one season. It was only through its huge ratings and burgeoning fan base in Canada and the United Kingdom that CBS sought to raise finances for a second season, which ran from 1995 to 1996.

The best detective series have been founded on great partnerships and Due South is no exception. Like Cagney and Lacey, Starsky and Hutch and Caruso and Franz before them, Benton Fraser renews his well-worked partnership with Ray Vecchio for the all-important second season. Like all memorable TV cop duos, Fraser and Vecchio exude near polar individuality yet seem to manage to work in total symbiosis as they thwart crime on the streets of the Windy City.

By using the archetypal cop duo image as a barometer for the respective successes and failures of a TV detective show, Due South ranks among the all-time greats. The undeniable chemistry between Paul Gross' Mountie and David Marciano's tough street cop is the foundation for what is an increasingly funny and consistently individualistic show.

Although based superficially on the TV conventions of such a show, the thrills and spills of Due South are founded entirely on the often outrageous plots and subsequent hilarity. Some of the more notable episodes include North, which pitches a temporarily blind Fraser and understandably bewildered Vecchio in the Canadian wilderness. Following a plane crash, they must track down an escaped murderer using only Fraser's keen nose and encyclopaedic knowledge of the surrounding forests, with Ray acting as his eyes. This proves to be the perfect start to Season Two and lays down a marker for what is a thoroughly enjoyable series. The hilarity of Vecchio, carrying a temporarily blind and paralysed Fraser around on his back, is only succeeded by the ghosts of their fathers, who cynically berate their every move.

North is among good company in 18 unwaveringly pleasurable episodes that embody the originality and comedic verve of its predecessor. Juliet Is Bleeding is a good example of the show's propensity for, not only humour and adventure, but introspective human warmth.

In the seventh episode, we find our heroes embroiled in a civil coup among the Chicago Mafia ranks, as Ray chases his childhood sweetheart Irene Zuko, the sister of the local Don Frank Zuko. This perilous task is further complicated by the Don's right-hand man Michael who is planning to overthrow his boss by staging a hit on Ray and laying the blame at his door. This goes tragically wrong and results in the murder of Ray's close friend Detective Louis Gardino, prompting the local CPD to take down Frank Zuko at all costs. As Ray sinks ever deeper into his quest for revenge, Fraser sets about proving that Michael engineered the hit. The clues and evidence he manages to uncover all rely entirely on his own keen Mountie skills and fail to convince his seething partner, who seeks to forcibly remove Irene from her brother's clutches. This scene sparks a gunfight where, among the random fire, Irene is mortally wounded. Having suffered such a great loss over a petty desire for vengeance, Ray is forced to reconcile his differences with Don Zuko in memory of his lost love.

The Second Season is a resounding success in developing the central characters and providing fresh ideas. It avoids the pitfall of repetition and monotony that so many other shows fall prey to and thrives in bringing the characters forward. If you are an ardent fan of Due South, you will find that Season Two lives up to all your expectations. Should you be a greenhorn, it gives you the prefect taste of what was surely one of the most lively, original and humorous TV shows to come out of the US in the Nineties.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2006
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Due South: The Complete Second Series packshot
A Canadian Mountie with superhuman detective abilities, a hard-nosed street cop from the Windy City and a deaf wolf. Together, they fight crime!
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Director: Richard J Lewis, Malcolm Cross, David Warry-Smith, Jon Cassar, Gilbert M Shilton. Paul Haggis, George Bloomfield, Steve DiMarco, Larry A McLean

Writer: Peter Lefcourt, David Shore, Jeff Vlaming, Paul Gross, Phil Bedard, Larry Lalonde, Paul Haggis, George F Walker

Starring: Peter Lefcourt, David Shore, Jeff Vlaming, Paul Gross, Phil Bedard, Larry Lalonde, Paul Haggis, George F Walker

Year: 1995

Runtime: 945 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada/US


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