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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bob and Doug McKenzie are back

Canadian hosers return to TV in animated form

Randy Boswell
Canwest News Service

Nearly 30 years after hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie achieved iconic status, the actors behind the famous "Great White North" comedy sketch -- Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis -- have signed on with Global TV to resurrect their beer-swilling characters for an animated series.

The half-hour show, to be set in the fictional Canadian town of Maple Lake, will feature the starring voices of Toronto-born Moranis (Bob) and Thomas (Doug), who will also serve as executive producers.

The series is to begin airing next year.

A Global spokesperson told Canwest News Service on Friday the series has been "greenlit" but scheduling has not been finalized.

The 58-year-old Thomas, a St. Catharines, Ont., native, will also lead a team of 12 writers working on the series through his California-based production company, Animax Entertainment.

"Animation today is all about the writing," Thomas said in a statement Friday.

"The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy are famous and successful because of the clever writing."

He added the scripts being prepared by his team are "as good as anything on TV."

In announcing the return of Bob and Doug as cartoon characters, Animax said the brothers will "get a chance to go beyond" the confines of their spartan SCTV talk-show set -- a makeshift studio with a map of Canada for a backdrop, a couple of chairs and ever-present stacks of beer cases -- and interact with the good citizens of Maple Lake.

"There, Bob and Doug mix it up with their addled mom, their cousin Rupert and his girlfriend, Mary Beth, their rivals and arch enemies, the LeDoux brothers, wanton neighbours, and even a raging reverend -- to name a few," Animax revealed.

"And we finally get to see where Bob and Doug work and hold court -- at the Skate N'Bowl."

The statement added: "Bob and Doug will be produced and animated entirely in Canada by award-winning Canadian animators."

The origin of the Bob and Doug segment on SCTV -- the long-running sketch-comedy program that began on Global in the mid-1970s, and later migrated to CBC and NBC -- is the stuff of Canadian pop-culture legend.

Asked by the CBC to create some identifiably Canadian content for the program, the perturbed Thomas and Moranis decided to parody every Canadian stereotype they could think of in a two-minute, ad-lib routine at the end of every episode.

The result was that the improvised banter between the McKenzies -- who wore parkas and extolled the virtues of beer, hockey, beer, moose, beer and any other cliche Canadianism that came to mind -- became SCTV's signature sketch.

Thomas, later a co-star on the hit U.S. sitcom Grace Under Fire, and Moranis -- who went on to film roles in Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids -- gained a Canadian cult following as Bob and Doug.

They recorded an award-winning comedy album featuring a hit song with Rush's lead singer, Geddy Lee, and starred as hoser-heroes in Strange Brew, one of greatest movies ever made about, uh, beer.

*© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008

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