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Butt looks back as Corner Gas wraps up animated version

"When I first wrote the treatment for this show at a gas station in Saskatchewan, I didn't think anybody was going to watch it. Here we are, 17 years later," said Corner Gas creator Brent Butt
Corner Gas Finale Brent Fix Ruby
After six seasons as a live show and four season as an animated show, Corner Gas is coming to an end. The series finale sees a kitchen fire cause major damage to the Ruby Café.

TISDALE — After 17 years, the brainchild of a comedian born and raised in Tisdale is coming to an end.

The animated version of Corner Gas will be having its series finale on Monday, Nov. 1.

In an interview with the East Central Recorder, Brent Butt said CTV told him they wouldn’t be renewing the show, which focuses on a gas station in Dog River, a fictional town in rural Saskatchewan.

“Psychologically, you get to prepare yourself, but it’s still very bittersweet. It's one of those things. We’re sad to see it go but at the same time, we had this amazing run that none of us thought [possible]. When I first wrote the treatment for this show at a gas station in Saskatchewan, I didn't think anybody was going to watch it. Here we are, 17 years later,” he said.

“It's been an amazing blessing and one that none of us anticipated, but it's still sad to see it go.”

Butt said they learned about a third of the way into production of the fourth season that CTV wouldn’t be renewing the show. When they learned of that, they asked CTV for an extra episode, which they granted.

“We thought that the show deserved the proper send-off and we wanted to write an episode that really wraps things up in a nice way.”

In the series finale, the Ruby Café, which is located next to the gas station Butt’s character owns, suffers serious damage from a kitchen fire. Lacey, the owner of the café, isn’t sure if she’ll rebuild or even stay in Dog River. Butt’s character has to decide whether to confess his true feelings and convince her to stay.

Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds will be guest starring as himself. Butt said he’s a fan of Reynolds and was somebody he hoped would go on the show.

“We just reached out to his people basically and I kind of thought that we would get a polite rejection. Instead he said right away, ‘Yeah, I'd love to do it. I'll record this stuff.’”

The script was sent to Reynolds, who said he’d get the recording done right away.

“He had his recording session done before we could even turn around, it was so fast,” Butt said.

“Then he sent me a really nice DM [direct message] on Twitter – because he follows me on Twitter – and he just thanked me for inviting him to be on the show and congratulated us on our on our on our run. He was honoured to be a part of it.”

Being able to secure cameos like Reynolds, Michael J. Fox, Kim Coates and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are much easier in an animated format compared to a live-action show, Butt said.

“It was easier to get the people to say yes because they could do it in 40 minutes.”

Butt said that animation was a different beast that doing a live show, but he had fun learning how to do it. 

“When we first did the live show, I'd never done a TV series before. I'd always just produced one-off television. To do a TV series was a different animal, I had to learn so much. Going into the animated, that's a whole different other production animal.”

He said animation studio Smiley Guy Studios in Toronto educated him about animation, while he educated them about comedy.

Being animated was also a benefit when faced with restriction from the pandemic, Butt said, because it lends itself to being created piecemeal if needed.

“A lot of live action shows had to shut down production for a while and we've never had to shut down at all. We had to kind of pivot and adjust how we did things, but we were able to keep going and we were very fortunate that way.”

After six seasons as a live-action show and four animated, Butt said he’s not sure what the legacy of Corner Gas will be.

Butt said the sitcom was the No. 1 comedy in Canada – and the only one made in Canada that attained that position. He said he’s been told by others in production that because of Corner Gas’ success, Canadian broadcasters were willing to listen to pitches about new Canadian sitcoms.

“Hopefully that'll be the legacy of Corner Gas, will be that it showed that Canadians will watch Canadian shows in big numbers.”

As for Butt, he said he’ll continue to do stand up. He’s also completed a novel and he’s talking to agents and publishers about getting it published.