'Bill and Sons Towing': Vanderchucks not your average family

Sean Fitzgerald, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:01 PM ET

Families come in all shapes and sizes, right? We’ve certainly seen that through television, as hundreds of shows, from The Brady Bunch to Modern Family, have given us different versions of the family unit.

Well, I’ve got a new one for you.

Bill and Sons Towing, a funny web series set in Hamilton, Ont., throws viewers into the dysfunctional lives of Bill Vanderchuck and his four thirtysomething sons – each of whom has a different mother. And when Bill suffers his second heart attack, he turns his floundering tow truck business over to his squabbling sons. Hilarity ensues. So does profanity.

“I was developing this idea for TV, but hadn’t even gotten around to pitching it,” says executive producer and co-creator Mark De Angelis, who reached out to his pals in the talented Canadian sketch troupe The Imponderables to star in the project, which ended up becoming a web series. “And the more we talked about it and started to flesh out the characters, the more excited we got by it.”

Bill and Sons Towing began in 2012, after De Angelis and his producing partner Charles Ketchabaw received funding from the Independent Production Fund (IPF), which supports indie web shows in Canada. They kept costs down by shooting during slow periods in the Canadian TV and film industry – which also gave them opportunities to work with veteran Canadian actors like Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest), Sonja Smits (Traders) and Gabrielle Miller (Corner Gas).

The series, which is currently nearing the end of its second season, often shows the four Vanderchuck brothers arguing over the direction to take the struggling company, or how to raise funds. The most buzz-worthy episode from the first season focused on the brothers trying to shoot a bikini calendar by using models of “all shapes and sizes” – including a model with no arms, which led to some hilariously awkward moments.

“When we sat down to write the second season, we were like, how do you even begin to trump that?” says De Angelis with a laugh.

He decided to unveil the identity of one of the character’s mothers in the Season 2 premiere – using some naughty Polaroids and a masturbation scene.

“I was like, well, what if Tony (unknowingly) j---ed off to pictures of his mom? And then it was like, okay, everybody’s on board for that one.”

Both De Angelis and co-writer Eric Toth – who also stars as the neurotic older brother Eric Vanderchuck – have day jobs in the traditional Canadian TV industry, but find that the online format gives them creative freedom to push the envelope with content and episode lengths. The episode that debuts this week will be the shortest one yet, coming in at only three minutes long.

“Because we aren’t really restricted by a time slot, or a network, or beholden to any advertisers, we feel pretty free to go wherever we want,” says Toth. “So, that’s a really nice feeling.”

De Angelis agrees, emphasizing that their low-budget approach allows them to tell the story of the four surly Vanderchuck brothers in any way they want.

“When there’s more money and more interests involved, there can be too many cooks in the kitchen – and because we’re making it on a Kraft Dinner budget, there are literally no cooks in our kitchen,” he says with a laugh. “Actually, it’s not even a kitchen. It’s more like a hot plate, in a corner of a run-down apartment.”


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