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It’s hard to say who was more surprised when Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays was renewed by the CBC.That could include the stars, the critics who championed the show, perhaps even the network itself.After all, Season 1 of the Canadian Screen Award-nominated...

CBC’s Michael: Every Day returns to very different TV landscape | Toronto Star

It’s hard to say who was more surprised when Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays was renewed by the CBC.That could include the stars, the critics who championed the show, perhaps even the network itself.After all, Season 1 of the Canadian Screen Award-nominated...

CBC’s Michael: Every Day returns to very different TV landscape | Toronto Star

It’s hard to say who was more surprised when Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays was renewed by the CBC.

That could include the stars, the critics who championed the show, perhaps even the network itself.

After all, Season 1 of the Canadian Screen Award-nominated series aired in 2011. The show, about the relationship between a therapist and his patient, was generally favourably received, except audience numbers were dismal, averaging about 250,000 with a low point of 153,000 viewers.

Having the premiere of the show go up against the season finale of Survivor probably didn’t help. But the format, a half-hour serialized dramedy, didn’t exactly fit in with mainstream network expectations.

The CBC is hoping that the advent of shows such as Orange Is the New Black and Louie have conditioned audiences for thoughtful comedy. Or at the very least comedy without a laugh track.

Season 2 debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. as Michael: Every Day.

“When we were first approached by the CBC, they wanted to take it in a more cable-like direction, but it clearly didn’t work,” says star and co-creator Bob Martin, known for the Tony Award-winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone. “It was a different flavour for the network. It never really gained a foothold so the show never had any legs.”

Produced by a talented team of Canadian producers, including Don McKellar (Sensitive Skin) and star Matt Watts (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), the series looked at the neuroses of patient Michael (Watts) as he went to see his therapist twice a week.

The second season shifts from the neuroses of the patient to that of the doctor. Martin, perhaps best known for being the omniscient Man in Chair in TheDrowsy Chaperone, is still the man in the chair as a therapist in the second season. But he’s also shifted more toward the couch as he tries to deal with his own issues. This time, he has his own therapist in the form of a delightfully crunchy performance by Ed Asner (Lou Grant).

“I think it’s ultimately a show about how you can deal with your own issues and that everyone does have issues. But it’s also incredibly destructive when you deny you have those issues,” says Martin.

Doctor and patient are reunited years later after Michael returns to Ottawa for help when he has a panic attack trying to board an airplane. Cold, bureaucratic and buttoned-down Ottawa is very much a part of the character of the series. The city of civil servants is presented in all its urbane, clean-lined glory, but we all suspect the angst lurking underneath the pristine surface.

“We like to think that everyone has issues with these kinds of anxieties, whether it’s flying or avoiding elevators. It’s the small things that can really add up,” says Watts. “But that day-to-day stuff lends itself to comedy that is more naturalistic.”

Michael: Every Day would likely not get greenlit by a conventional broadcaster obsessed with gaining a foothold in the millennial market. Two middle-aged men talking about their problems in a therapist’s office is not the obvious way to ratings success. It certainly wasn’t the first time around. But CBC is taking a second shot five years later.

“We really never did anything with an audience in mind. If I did something that I thought people would watch, I don’t think I’d do anything interesting,” laughs Martin. “I think if you do something personal, it becomes universal. If you try to formulate something that will appeal to everyone, I don’t think it will be interesting.”

Watts, who collaborated on The Drowsy Chaperone with Martin, says that was exactly the approach they took with both the musical and their current project.

“You want the general audience of strangers to laugh, but you also really want your peers to say ‘that’s really good,’ ” says Watts. “At the end of the day, you’re writing for each other. But by being personal you hope people will see the humanity in your comedy.”

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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