Dirty dangles, sweet snipes and sick cellies, boys, Letterkenny is back with some of the finest chirping you'll ever receive.
The Canadian television industry got an early Christmas present, and it has been re-gifted to TV viewers all over the nation.
The hit program Letterkenny ran its six-episode course on CraveTV with no public indication that it would live beyond those half-dozen nuggets. The call for more was so loud and the ratings so strong that Crave's owners, Bell Media, got the message. They mailed one right back to Canadians in the form of a television Christmas card. The next six-episode suite of Letterkenny shows begins on Dec. 25 just to show fans how strong the relationship is.
The Prince George area has a special family connection to the show. Actor Dylan Playfair played hockey and formed a creative mentality in his hometown of Fort St. James. He learned to skate in show-biz with an award-winning performance in the kids' show Some Assembly Required, then playing Marty Howe in the movie Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story, and another award-winning turn in the darkly dramatic short-film Never Steady, Never Still. He is also a regular cast member in Letterkenny, playing one of the slacker hockey player buddies alongside Andrew Herr. Together they are the inseparable dummy duo of Reilly and Jonesy.
He called The Citizen from his family's winter home in Phoenix (his father is a coach with the NHL's Coyotes) to say happy holidays and don't forget to get your 'kenny cravings met on Christmas Day.
And, as an extra gift, he announced that he, Herr and the entire cast would be heading right back to the set in Sudbury to film yet another set of Letterkenny episodes.
The reason for Bell's (and the audience's) confidence was the writing, he said. He's never had such a good time and never had to work so hard to convey the scripts handed to him by the show's star and creative founder Jared Keeso (co-written by Jacob Tierney).
"It's quick, fast-paced, quippy dialogue," said Playfiar, but it is streaked with adult verbiage so it can't be done justice in a family newspaper. It translates perfectly, though, in the on-demand television universe and YouTube where Letterkenny was first tested on audiences. The words rattle from the mouths of the characters like machine gun nests trading bursts of fire. It is sarcastic, rapier, raw and underneath it all a gleaming reflection of the small-town Canadian experience.
"Jared is the only one I've ever seen who writes standing up. He has a stand-up work desk, and he paces a lot while he writes. I asked him about it and he said you had to think on your feet," to achieve this torrential kind of dialogue, Playfair said.
"It's cool to see a lot of reviews from the past year have come out in praise of the dialogue. I think it's important that that gets recognized. We are only as funny as the writers allow us to be. We each have our own flare, our own energy, that we bring to the characters but you're saying the words the writers have made for you so if those are funny, it gives you a lot more real estate to work with."
But you can't forget a line or only deliver the gist of it. The script is stacked like jets circling O'Hare and Keeso is the air traffic controller. If you mess up one little word, the whole thing turns into a crash. Lines fall like dominoes.
"Andrew and I will, on average, rehearse a scene from four to six hours," Playfair said. "It's probably the most dialogue rehearsal I've ever done, because the jokes are so fast and the scenes are so dialogue-dependent. In most other worlds you have the freedom to flub a line or two, or to get the point of the scene across with a little bit of improvisation, but on this show, you can't do that."
The two-season free agent re-signing of Letterkenny by the Bell Media team at CraveTV means that Keeso and Tierney could afford to bring in another seasoned comedy writer. They got one of the scribes from Trailer Park Boys to join the creative team, since that show also had a strong Canuck personality and a mature colour to the scripts. Playfair sees it as a perfect fit to take some pressure off the two principals.
The extension of the Letterkenny life means the show is officially becoming a franchise. What could be coming next? A dictionary of Letterkenny terms? Letterkenny official apparel like overalls, plaid shirts, short-shorts, hockey jerseys and sunglasses? Since the plot all unfolds in a few tight spaces (the camera is largely stationary at a roadside produce stand, a bar, a church hall, a nightclub, a barn, etc.) it even lends itself to a potential theatrical production. The more the viewers meet these extreme examples of prototypical small-town Canadians, the greater the future possibilities, and those discussions are already underway.
There is a wide open future also on Playfair's personal horizon. He is involved in a number of projects not yet on the public market yet (a zombie film called It Stains The Sands Red starring Brittany Allen and Juan Riedinger, the TV movie Gorgeous Morons, the thriller Still/Born with notables like Sheila McCarthy and Michael Ironside).
The one coming quickest to global screens is the Disney movie project Descendants 2 that is already sparking fan excitement. It's aimed at a youth audience and looks into the offspring of iconic Disney characters who, a generation later, have to deal with new drama together that sometimes relates back to the epic stories in which their forebearers were entwined. Playfair has a significant role as the son of Gaston from Beauty & The Beast.
Letterkenny is one beauty already hot on the grill. Tarps off, boys. No pumpin' the brakes. It's go time! Pull out the guns... safeties off. It's better'n watchin' kids fall off bikes all day.