September 15, 2012
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'Mercer', 'Men' hit milestone seasons
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency


Rick Mercer during the show organized for Canadian soldiers on Canada Day on Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in the province of Kandahar, in Afghanistan, on July 1st 2011. (PHILIPPE-OLIVIER CONTANT/QMI Agency)

Rick Mercer Report and Two and a Half Men are heading into their milestone 10th seasons this fall.

"Yes, but I'm going into the 10th season with the original cast," Mercer said, proudly.

"And no breakdown. At least no physical breakdown. My Twitter feed has not been that interesting."

The differences between Rick Mercer and Charlie Sheen notwithstanding, any TV show that hits the double-digit mark has entered rarefied air.

"We're heading into 10 years and I still call it my new show," said Mercer, who begins his new season Tuesday on CBC.

"I have to stop that when I'm talking to people, saying 'My new show.' But I still feel that way, which is a good sign."

Mercer has been a staple on Canadian TV since the early 1990s, through This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Made in Canada and now Rick Mercer Report. He admitted that even though his current show -- in which he basically travels the country in search of comedic gold -- still feels fresh, the thought of leaving all the hard work behind has crossed his mind.

"I never think of anything past one year, but that first year is really important, because you'd like to have the network say, 'Would you care to do another?' " Mercer said. "But I've been boring my friends for the past five years saying, 'I think this is my last year.'

"One year my mother said, 'You're doing the show again? But you said you were thinking of stopping. If that was your instinct what made you change your mind?' And I said, 'Well, there's this reason and that reason, but you know, mom, if I stopped doing the show, the number of travel points I collect would drop dramatically.'

"There was a pause, and mom said, 'I think that show could go forever.' "

Mercer deserves a lot of credit for developing a format that can't really be copied, since it relies so much on his personality, and has held up so well ratings-wise. Plus, even though it's about all things Canadian, it never feels as if it's pandering to Canadians.

"I know that feeling, I've watched shows sometimes and felt they were pandering to a Canadian audience," said Mercer, who has a new book coming out, titled A Nation Worth Ranting About. "But with my show, we certainly don't pander. We're just an unabashedly Canadian show.

"We're not waving the flag in every single episode. It's just that the mandate of the show, or the show we've developed, is to go out and explore every week, and we just happen to live here in Canada. I'm just exploring the universe I live in, and that happens to be Canada.

"But it's a big country. There's a lot to explore. Luckily, I travel well. It would drive some people completely mad."

As mad as ... uh, I don't know ... Charlie Sheen?

Lasting 10 years is one thing. But for Rick Mercer Report, lasting 10 years with the original cast truly is "winning."




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