- The Basics -|
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What is the Red Green Show?
The Red Green Show is a North Woods comedy that Smith himself describes as a "themed
sketch show" that is "a fishing show, a fix-it show, and a men's advice program all rolled into
about 3/4". The humor found in the show is usually very dry and subtle. The most famous segment
of the show is 'Handyman's Corner', where unusual contraptions are built with stuff found laying
around (and lots of duct tape).
Other popular segments include 'Adventures', silent (narrated by Red) B&W outdoor films which
usually involve the accident-prone Bill injuring himself, Red, passers-by or Red's van; 'The Experts',
where Red, Harold and the cast answer mail & give (often misguided) advice; and 'The Possum Lodge
Word Game', where the contestant has to guess a word from clues by Red, often revealing more than
we need to know about the contestant's personality.
Who are the show's stars?
The show stars Red Green, the host of the show and Leader of Possum Lodge. The show also co-stars
his nerdy nephew Harold (the show's former Producer/Director/Special Effects Wizard) and accident-
prone adventurer Bill. There is a whole menagerie of offbeat characters, and a description of them can
be found here ("Who are the characters and the actors that portray them?").
Where does the show come from?
Red Green goes back to a Canadian outdoors/fishing show from the 70s called 'The Red Fisher Show.'
Red Fisher hosted the show from "Skuttlebutt Lodge" where he sat in an easy chair in front of an
obviously fake fireplace, shot the breeze with guests such as Bobby Hull (a Great Canadian Hockey
Player) and narrated silent 8mm home-movie type films of fishing trips. (If you ever saw John Candy as
"The Fishin' Musician" on SCTV, this was also done as a parody of Red Fisher.)
Steve Smith always admired Red. As Steve put it: "Red Fisher was the King of television. He had an
attitude that nothing would bore you. The dark glasses - even his eyes were none of your business.
He'd just stand there in the forest and read you a poem, and I thought, wow, you gotta envy that
kind of confidence."
Meanwhile, Steve was also involved in producing shows on Canadian TV. His first show was 'Smith
& Smith' which ran for 8 years ('78-85) and co-starred Steve's wife, Morag. Next came 'Me & Max'
for 1 season which included Steve's 2 young sons. Then came Comedy Mill which ran for 3 seasons.
These shows featured sketch comedy, and one of the sketches was Red Green. Typically, Steve would
wear a big fake beard (which is looking remarkably like the big real beard that he currently sports on the
show!) and hunting cap, sit in a canoe and tell about the goin's-on up at the lodge this week. So he's
really been doing Red for a lot longer than 15 years.
Kent Brodie met Steve at a PBS fundraiser and got this explanation of how it all came about:
"The whole gig started as a parody of the Red Fisher show... we had the
ideas... and the character, and I even stole his first name- "Red".
What we needed, therefore, was a last name, and tried to come up with the
STUPIDEST last name we could possibly use... Later, it turns out I was a
genius, as every stop light is now a promo for the show!"
The Red Green Show was created in 1990 at CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario (an independant station)
as a low-budget 'filler' program for the station. In early March 1993, CHCH ran into some budgetary
problems and cancelled production, even though ratings for the show were increasing.
By this time, however, the show had developed a very dedicated following. As Red says: "You either
hate The Red Green Show, or you tape it." To give you an idea of the devotion of some of the fans,
when CHCH cancelled the show, someone in Hamilton put up a billboard that said:
FORGET THE WHALES,
SAVE RED GREEN!
Steve had had the foresight to purchase all the rights to the show from CHCH when it was cancelled,
and now was in a position to produce the show on his own and market it through Canada, the U.S.
A few months after the cancellation at CHCH, production started again at the studios of CFPL-TV
in London, Ontario in conjunction with the YTV cable channel in Canada and the show entered its
third season. The major changes you can notice include Red's beard getting bushier, the suspenders
going to two-tone, and fewer of the regulars appearing on the set.
Then in Fall 1994, production returned to the CHCH studios and The New Red Green Show was born.
S&S Productions even purchased the airtime from the Global/Canwest network in Ontario and sold their
In the Fall of 1997, the taping moved to CBC studios in downtown Toronto and S&S Productions
(Steve's company) took over production. It is in syndication, and can be seen across most of Canada,
many PBS stations in larger US cities and a few dozen countries around the world.
Where does the show take place?
The show is situated in a fictional place called 'Possum Lodge', which is up in the North Woods somewhere,
near 'Possum Lake'. During the course of the show, you can typically hear the far-away sound of chainsaws
in the background. According to Red, Possum Lodge is "168 Beer Stores north of Toronto".
The show is actually filmed at CBC studios in Toronto, and before Fall 1997 at CHCH studios in downtown
Hamilton, Ontario. Outdoor scenes come from a variety of places.
The scenes with the old barn and farmer's shed (usually during outdoor Handyman Corner scenes and
Adventures with Bill) are done at a farm near the town of Ancaster, which is just west of Hamilton.
Scenes where there is a cliff or a campground with cabins are done somewhere on the Niagara Escarpment,
which runs from Niagara Falls, north through Hamilton and ends by dividing Georgian Bay from Lake Huron.
Rick Green (Former RGS Director and "Bill") has been known to load the crew into the Possum Van
(yes, folks in the vicinity of Hamilton have spotted the real Possum Van on the road), drive around
until he found a place he liked, do some filming and scram. Shots of the Possum Van trucking along
the road shows what the area just surrounding Hamilton looks like.
Possum Lake is actually Lake Rosseau, which is about two hours north of Toronto. It is rumored
that the owner of the marina where they film at has taken to calling his place "Brackston's Marina".
Ranger Gord's fire tower (the later episodes, not the early ones where it was a kid's tree fort) also
is in the area of Lake Rosseau.
What's this about a Red Green Movie?
In early 2000, after many years of rumors, it was finally announced that a Red Green movie would
be made, called "Duct Tape Forever". The movie captured the adventures of Red, Harold and Dalton
as they travelled from Ontario to Minnesota to enter their giant Canadian goose duct tape sculpture in
a contest, in a bid to win the third place prize of $10,000 to save their beloved Possum Lodge
from foreclosure. The film was shot in 2001 with a budget of slightly under $4 million, and opened
to the general public on April 12, 2002. Most movie critics weren't exactly kind, but the movie boasted
rave reviews from RG fans. The movie was released on VHS and DVD in August 2002.
Next section: 'The Episodes'
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