Set on the mean streets of Chicago, Due South premiered on the CBS network in September 1994 and lasted three seasons.
Filmed on location in Toronto, Canada, this lively comedy/adventure series marked the first time an American network had produced a prime-time series featuring a Mountie since Sergeant Preston of the Yukon starring Richard Simmons in 1955. Although the premise of Due South is relatively straightforward, it’s the execution that gives this series it’s quirky charm.
Constable Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) is a polite by-the-book Mountie from the frozen North who is paired with Ray Vecchio (David Marciano), a wise-cracking Chicago cop with a flexible sense of morality. Brought together in the windy city by a mysterious murder which has personal ramifications for both men, these unlikely new partners must find a common ground amidst overwhelming differences. Due SouthJoining them is Diefenbaker, Fraser’s dog, who is part wolf and also happens to be completely deaf.
Other characters who are introduced into the series include Captain Welsh (Beau Starr), Ray’s precinct boss; fellow detectives Louis Guardino (Daniel Kash) and Jack Huey (Tony Craig); Elaine (Catherine Bruhler), the attractive dispatcher who has eyes for the handsome mountie. During the third season of the series, Ray Vecchio goes on a deep undercover assignment and detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski (Callum Keith Rennie) is called in to protect his cover and serve as Fraser’s new partner.
A comedy of errors predicated upon the foibles of human nature, Due South is a character study of differing styles and attitudes conjugated for the common good. Fraser is the “knight in shining armor” who can’t leave a crime unpunished or a wrong not made right; whereas Ray is the street smart cop who always bends the rules to achieve his means. The tongue-in-cheek quality of the series particularly endeared viewers to the show. The producers made fun of American stereotypes of Canadians and Canadian stereotypes of Americans and managed to weave spoofs of almost every television genre into the stories. Canadian audiences particularly enjoyed an in-joke involving Fraser’s deaf, lip-reading pet wolf, Diefenbaker. The latter is named after a former Canadian prime minister.
Canada – USA / CB/ – Alliance – BBC / 1×100 minute episodes 61×50 minute episodes / 15 September 1994 – September 1998
Creator: Paul Haggis / Executive Producers: Paul Haggis, Jeff King, Kathy Slevin
PAUL GROSS as Con Benton Fraser
DAVID MARCIANO as Det Ray Vecchio
CALLUM KEITH RENNIE as Det Stanley ‘Ray’ Kawalski
BEAU STARR as Lt Harding Welsh
RAMONA MILANO as Francesco Vecchio
TONY CRAIG as Det Jack Huey
TOM MELISSIS as Det Thomas E. Dewey