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What is due South?

Due South is a Canadian-made television program produced by Alliance Communications. The show originally debuted as a made-for-television movie, but when the Pilot episode earned better ratings than expected, the networks decided turn it into a new drama series. due South began its first season on CBS in the Fall of 1994, and was the first Canadian-made series to earn a prime-time slot on a major U.S. network.

The show began with a 'fish out of water' premise as Constable Benton Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police begins his new assignment at the Canadian Consulate in Chicago, Illinois. How did Fraser arrive at such a post you ask? Well that's kind of a long story, and it takes exactly two hours to tell. Please see the Pilot Episode Guide for a more detailed account of that story. It's pretty safe to say that Fraser is not exactly accustomed to city life. In fact, his previous post was in a very remote part of the Northwest Territories. Coming with Fraser to the United States is Diefenbaker, a deaf, lip-reading (self-taught, of course) wolf. Diefenbaker saved Fraser's life in the past by dragging him out of the frigid waters of Prince Rupert Sound.

Fraser is not completely alone in his new post. On his first posting to Chicago, he teams up with a Chicago detective named Ray Vecchio. Over the course of the first two seasons, Fraser's association with the cynical Chicago cop grows into true friendship. The pair couldn't be more different. Fraser is very quiet, reserved, and observant. Ray on the other hand is extremely outspoken, obnoxious, and tends to charge right into any situation. Together, however, the two make a perfectly matched team as they solve several crimes that can only be described as 'interesting.'

Starting with the third season, things changed a bit. Detective Ray Vecchio was written out of the show as he was sent deep undercover with the mob in Las Vegas. To cover the switch another Chicago detective, Stanley Kowalski, was brought in to pretend to be Ray Vecchio. Diefenbaker also got a new look when a new dog was brought in to play the wolf. Detective Huey received a new partner to replace Louis Gardino who was killed in season 2. Elaine leaves the show early in season 3 when she graduates from the Police Academy and moves on to another precinct. To take Elaine's place, Francesca Vecchio takes over the position.

due South has had a rocky life. CBS cancelled the series after the first season. Due to its success in Canada, Alliance fought to keep it alive and managed to come up with enough money to fund another season. The show got a second chance in the United States when CBS's 1995 fall line-up bombed and the network ordered more episodes. Unfortunately disaster struck again when CBS refused to renew the series for a second time in 1996. Just when it looked like the show was done for good, Alliance was able to secure funding for a third season, thanks largely from contributions from international sources.

due South, while technically a drama, is full of comedic moments thanks to the different styles of the main characters. There are also lots of inside jokes in the show; just look at many of the character's names. The show also explores some of the stereotypes that exist between Canada and the United States and tends to poke fun at them.

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Copyright 1997 by William R. -- All rights reserved, mileage may vary.
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