Last night something revolutionary happened. My teenage son wanted to see a show on CBC.
The show is called jPod, and it airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m.
This hasn't happened since, well, never. Credit CBC's on-air promotion department for getting the word out. Credit also the teen magnet subject matter: the show is about a group of young gamer geeks designing software for kids like my son. It is aimed straight at Wii-heads, and scored a bulleye last night.
The hour-long series is based on the Douglas Coupland bestseller and stars David W. Kopp as Ethan, a game dude who works for a B.C.-based company called Neotronic Arts. He's surrounded by four other game boys and girls (played by Emilie Ullerup, Steph Song, Ben Ayres and Torrance Coombs) who videotape bios of each other and boast cool nicknames like "Cowboy."
Ayres, as Cowboy, stole scenes left and right in the pilot as the chain smoking ladies man of the quintet. His constant puffing next to his own private ventilation hose was a nice touch. His favorite cough medicine? Chuggatussin.
As eccentric as the podsters all are, they seem downright Republican next to Ethan's wack job parents, played for laughs by TV veterans Sherry Miller and Alan Thicke. They run around like teenagers, cultivating pot in planters, scoring chicks on sets and generally just embarrassing the hell out of their surrogate parent son.
Thicke, in particular, has fun sending up the stiff, "Father Knows Best" kind of sitcom dad he played for years on Growing Pains. His sleazy character, for example is a little disappointed when the drugged out chick he brings home turns out to have been an old classmate of Ethan's. "Really? Damn, I was hoping she'd be younger than you," he says. "Why?" says Ethan. "I dunno--it's hotter," says Dad. Gulp!
He gets to chew on some snappy dialogue here, too. (Give some credit to Coupland, also a producer on this series.) After telling Ethan that his new gal pal snacked on mom's pot plant, which she heated up in the microwave, dad says, "That big boy went down steamin'!"
Mom's a little out there herself. She doesn't need Ethan's help with the groceries--she needs his help hiding the body of the gangster she zapped in her basement.
Sometimes eccentric gets old fast and jPod at times felt a half hour too long last night. But the relationships between the five game designers was neatly summed up as each took turns shooting introduction videos for their new "boss guy" Steve (Colin Cunningham), the creepy "vice president in charge of vision." Their back stories all have legs and should keep viewers hooked for months. It's certainly recommended if you are into new shows like Chuck or Reaper or miss short lived gems like Wonderfalls, which also featured a daft collection of misfits.
My son, for one, can hardly wait to see the next episode, even though it runs smack up against the U.S. ratings juggernaut American Idol. That's because my son, bless him, hates American Idol. So he'll be watching jPod--it might even pry him away from Wii.