Corner Gas Countdown, #2

#2: Tax Man
This is pretty rare for a television series: the second episode (and the first one filmed) being the second best episode overall. In a story you've all heard many times before, this episode was filmed first, so that the strength of the guest star (Kids in the Hall's Kevin McDonald would carry the cast through the efforts of bonding. Well, it paid off. A single story with a variety of sources of humour, excellent acting, and a memorable kick start to the series. Within the first hour of filmed episodes, Corner Gas was at its stride. Anyways, a representative from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency arrives to audit Corner Gas's financial records from last year. Since this early in the show's run Oscar has recently retired, the taxman is looking for him. He's a little sensitive, concerned over abuse received by CCRA representatives from people like Oscar. We see the beginning of Wanda's smarter-than-thou behaviour on the subject of proper article use (ie. "a taxman" and "the taxman" are two very different thing), Lacey's fish out of water character, and Hank and Oscar's combined scheming forces. It's also the debut of Oscar's "jackass" catchphrase, which has to rank up there for something. Oscar can't find the files he needs for the taxman, and Emma as usual has all the answers if only anybody will listen. Several great moments in this one: Lacey and Marvin having a brief romantic moment before she learns where he works, "can I buy you a drink, bearing in mind I'm not gay" / "I could use a drink, bearing in mind I'm not an alcoholic", and Oscar's telephone conversation flashback. The "Elliot Ness" flashback was an early sign at how inventive the producers could be by showing us part of a scene and then later letting us know there was more to it. Contrasting big city and small town coffee prices was a good opener to the series as well. As I said, if they can hit the ground running with episodes like this, its a good sign.

Honourable Mention: Block Party

A replica of Dog River in the form of LEGO is the best thing to remember about this episode. Actually the best thing by far is Hank's LEGO-created Corner Gas in the dream he had during his construction efforts. The lego storyline really drives the episode: the Wanda birthday subplot was pretty lame (as so many Wanda subplots are) and Karen's static apnea was downgraded by the lame jokes Lacey (and the producers) kept torturing us with. However, Hank's struggle for artistic integrity with Davis, Emma chastising Brent for not playing with his LEGO, the burning down of the shed, and the two hundred year old flashbacks were also episode highlights.

#106: Bean There
Ugh, now we're starting to scrape the bottom of the Corner Gas barrel. This episode features not one, not two, but three painful storylines. First off, truckers invade The Ruby until Lacey insults them. Fortunately Davis is so enamoured that he helps her out with an unfunny "she's dying" rumour that gets overplayed fast. Oscar gets tied up with the truckers and eventually figures out a way to go for a ride. This summarizes unfunny storyline #1. Unfunny storyline #2 features Brent/Emma/Karen conspiring to do a Jelly Bean contest to help the kids playpark (various fake unfunny scenes of playpark disintegration to follow), but without actually counting the beans and instead making up a number. Of course, they apparently never decided on a fake number and ended up telling everybody in town different answers. This summarizes unfunny storyline #2. Unfunny storyline #3 is actually summarized in-storyline by Wanda: Hank pretends that she owns a Lamborghini to get them invited to a Lamborghini-owner BBQ, and various annoying scenes where they try to talk their way out of the embarassing gag. It wasn't funny on Full House, it wasn't funny here.


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