I received a distressing piece of news Sept. 15: Showcase, one of Canada’s specialty networks, opted not to renew the television series Almost Heroes for a second season. This, considering it was one of my favourite shows within the last year, quickly prompted me to tweet my displeasure like any other self-respecting new media junkie and classify it as a blunder on par with Fox cancelling any show that was ever worthwhile. Please see Firefly, Dollhouse and Arrested Development for further reference. At this point I imagine, though, that you’re questioning what it is I’m blabbering about.
Almost Heroes was a television series eight episodes in length that aired during Showcase’s summer schedule, airing Thursday nights at 9 p.m., preceding Spencer Rice, of Kenny vs. Spenny fame, and his new show Single White Spenny. Almost Heroes starred comedian Ryan Belleville, who co-created the series with his older brother Jason, and Paul Campbell. The show also featured the infamous Colin Mochrie among the cast. The story was about two brothers who don’t necessarily get along, but who have to come together out of necessity once their father dies. Otherwise, their dad’s comic book store–called the Silver Salmon–will go under. Peter (Belleville) was very open about his geekier qualities, while taking up his father’s mantle as store owner. Terry (Campbell) was the Harvard business school drop-out who came back to help his brother drag the store (literally) out of the red, all the while being a closet geek himself. The two naturally clash, but work well together because in the end, they’re brothers. The end result was a story which explored the dynamic of the brotherly relationship and all the hijinks that ensue, combined with the comic book element set on a strip mall featuring a boutique and sports store; the employees of each shop interacting in a cool, funny comic book universe in what I like to refer to as a geekier version of Clerks.
I actually got to interview both Ryan and Jason, the co-creators of the series back in July prior to the final episode of the series. The one thing I got from them was very simple and direct. This was a show and an idea that was truly a labour of love, and the end result was the show they absolutely wanted to make and are proud of. I remember one thing that stood out in both interviews, namely when I spoke to Jason and he said his favourite memory of the series, beyond working with a great crew, was being able to turn around at any given point and be able to see his brother there. That aspect of their own relationship translated over to the show’s characters and made it that much stronger conceptually.
The show not only found its appeal because of its comic book related content, its off-kilter hijinks or geek jokes or its hilarious cosplay, but it was simply a funny show. So much in fact that even my girlfriend, who is hardly a comic book aficionado, enjoyed the show. And really, that’s all that matters in the end, is whether it was a good show. Whether it was funny. It just so happened that it was comic book themed to boot, which is a bonus.
I’d suggest heading over to Showcase and watching the episodes which are still available online, and if you like them, definitely buy them on iTunes or on DVD once released.