The theme song to Mr. D repeats the phrase “I'm awesome,” but Gerry Dee has a policy of not kidding himself about his own show.
“I get tired of people tooting their own horn in this business,” said Dee, whose sitcom Mr. D kicks off its third season Monday, Feb. 24 on CBC. “I don't toot our show's horn. I just think it's a good show, nothing more than that. There are some really funny parts, for sure. Maybe we're very good for 'Canadian sitcom world.'
“But I read what other people say about their own shows, 'Oh, I can't believe our ratings are so low, I can't believe we got cancelled, our show is brilliantly funny.' And I'm like, 'Uh ... no.' For me, when you're talking brilliantly funny, you're talking about the British version of The Office, and there aren't many shows you can list in that sentence.
“If you have your own show, as an EP or a showrunner or a creator or a writer or an actor, often when you're immersed in it, you just think it's great. I prefer when people can be honest about their shows. And I also prefer when critics are honest, I really do, because otherwise it does the industry a disservice.”
Okay, speaking honestly: Mr. D, which stars Dee as teacher Gerry Duncan, usually makes me chuckle at least three times per episode, which is WAY above average for me with current sitcoms. They say the main element in comedy is surprise, and Mr. D can surprise me.
That said, I wish some of the scenes ended better, especially heading into commercial breaks. Not that you need “Who shot J.R.?” every time, but sometimes the scenes saunter out, rather than punch out, and it can put a bit of a "memory blur" on how funny the segment actually was.
Nestling between CBC's coverage of the Olympics and the Stanley Cup playoffs, the third season of Mr. D has only eight episodes. Prior to the season-three debut, there's a hidden-camera special called Gerry Dee: The Substitute, in which Dee goes undercover at a private school in Nova Scotia. Hey, in this atmosphere, you gotta make your time count. And Dee promises he never will stop trying to create the funniest sitcom ever, while at the same time grading his progress honestly.
“I say to myself, 'We have a good show, there are some really funny moments, there are some weak moments, some episodes are funnier than others,' but I'm honest with myself, because we're not the British Office, and that's how I live in my world creatively,” Dee said. “I understand how fortunate we are to get a third season. With most sitcoms, it's one or two years and out. We're trying to build something and we have a big following on social media. But it's a competitive challenge for me.
“I'm not comparing our show only to other Canadian sitcoms. I'm comparing us to the British Office, to the American Office, to Modern Family, the best of the best. I'm always striving to get there. I won't, because I'm not Ricky Gervais. But if you're trying to get there, that's not a bad process.”