“Constable Benton Fraser. I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father; and for reasons that don’t need explaining at this juncture, I’ve remained, attached as liason to the Canadian Consulate.”
Back in 1998ish, I was a young married gal still grinding away at school. We were poor, had no car, and spent most of our time doing homework. Life was pretty crappy, but at least I had Due South reruns on TNT. I taped as many of them as possible, so I could escape to … Chicago? Sounds kind of strange in retrospect. I guess I’d have taken any form of escapism I could get.
I recently reviewed the episodes again and a few things really stand out. One is the good looks of all the guys on the show — let’s face it, between David Marciano, Paul Gross, and Callum Keith Rennie, a girl could stay very happy for a very long time. And even though the writing was sometimes very silly, there was an essential humanity to the characters that appealed. Paul Gross notes it on the DVD commentary for “Call of the Wild” — the late 90s was a time of cynicism and contempt on television. I know that, because the other show I obsessed about then was “The X-Files.” But “Due South” wasn’t cynical or contemptuous. The bad guys did bad things, but they were always punished, even if it was by Mounties coming out of the sky with maple-leaf parachutes.
And, of course, the music. Paul Haggis, creator of the show (and director for the first season), set a high standard for the music. I’m sure that “Due South” wasn’t the first show to feature contemporary music, but for some reason I remember really noticing it — sometimes the music was like a secondary character. I think Haggis meant it that way. And in spite of an unfortunate dependency on Sarah McLachlan (which we all had back then), almost all the music he featured was both great and Canadian. This was before the Canadians took over the musical world; how many people (besides you, J) listened to Glueleg, Moist, Blue Rodeo, Lhasa de Sela, or Klaatu? (Well, who was still listening to Klaatu?) Canadian alt or alt-rock in the late 90s truly was outside the American box.
Therefore, I salute the pre-Crash Haggis for his musical taste, which ranged from industrial (Machines of Loving Grace) to electronica (My Brilliant Beast) to pre-alt-country (Headstones) to straight-up alternative (Moist), and I remind you that thanks to Due South, some of the following fantastic songs still stick around in pop culture memory. Thanks, Canada! You guys rock!
[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if youâ€™d like a copy of #1, #2, or #5.]
Headstones – Cubically Contained
Machines of Loving Grace – Butterfly Wings
The Tragically Hip – At the Hundredth Meridian [not available anymore]
My Brilliant Beast – Rinse Myself Dry (Space Ace remix)
Moist – Creature [not available anymore]