CBC Pilot Burn-Off Time | The Good Germany

The CBC has rarely, if ever, made government bureaucracy seem funny.  Not My Department, In Opposition and Rideau Hall left three craters in that field years ago.  The Good Germany (CBC: Frantic Films, 2008) has left a smaller crater than those nadirs of Canadian television, unless this show is/will become a regular series.  Either way, I don’t want to see this show ever again.

The town of Germany, Ontario is rather poorly run, but that fact is only established a few minutes into The Good Germany.  Without this bit of information, the title makes little sense since Germany isn’t the most evil place on Earth right now.  If the show was called The Good Toronto and set in Alberta, that would make more comedic sense.  Then again, it’s hard to ask much from a show that uses a Rita MacNeil fat joke in its first minute.

Jack Mackay is the town’s newly elected mayor, trying to fix former mayor Gordon Verlaine’s various messes.  A motley crew of incompetent councilpeople, including Verlaine, try to impede Mackay’s progress.  Wayne Robson and Chris Leavins are among the show’s castmembers, and they’re better than the material they’re given.

A scene in The Good Germany underlines how bad the show really is.  It’s based around an impotence joke – Jack Mackay has not been able to fill “ink in his pen” since his wife died, a phrase councillor/manchild Pete misinterprets.  A normal show would throw this joke away in four, five seconds, tops.  The Good Germany tries to flog the same joke for a minute’s worth of material, except that the buildup makes the bad joke worse.  Another scene has Pete failing to repeat a spittake he made earlier in the episode.  It’s one thing to tell bad jokes, but this show repeatedly extrapolates on them.  Amazing.

The subplots are eminently believable.  Toronto city liaison Ellen Tremblay is the spitting image of Mackay’s dead wife.  Was The Good Germany honestly trying to milk a whole season out of this implausibility?  There’s also the matter of Mackay’s son dating Verlaine’s daughter.

Mackay got on the cover of Maclean’s for saving an infant from a burning building, which led to his becoming mayor.  Mackay’s too perfect, Verlaine schemes ineffectually and the city councilpeople are one-note ciphers.  No wonder CBC didn’t give this show any fanfare.

Show creator/writer Garry Campbell has written for shows like Less Than Kind, Blue Collar TV, MADtv and The Kids in the Hall.  He was also a member of The Chumps, which as a comedy troupe had a CBC Radio program in the mid-1990s.  With a pedigree like Campbell’s, I can’t believe this is the best he can do.  If this show has more episodes than the pilot in the can, for the love of God, keep them in the can!

C. Archer
Le Social