Gas goes out on a high note

CTV says the numbers are the highest on record for a Canadian scripted series since it began keeping track in 1994. And of the newbies, Southland looks promising.

Canadians flocked to the Corner Gas finale on Monday night as 2.9 million viewers tuned in to CTV for the last episode of the beloved comedy.

It was a new record for the show, which bested CSI: Miami and Global’s House as the most-watched show of the night. CTV, which heavily promoted the final episode, says the numbers are the highest on record for a Canadian scripted series since it began keeping track in 1994. (All numbers 2+.)

The episode, entitled ‘You’ve Been Great, Good Night,’ was kept tightly under wraps, and the storyline was a return to the show’s roots, with Brent LeRoy (Brent Butt) foregoing a promising career as a stand-up comedian to stay put in Dog River. Butt, who grew up in a farming community in Saskatchewan, has said Gas was based on how his life might have turned out had he not pursued a career in comedy.

Network execs including Ivan Fecan and Suzanne Boyce made brief appearances in one scene, in the crowd at a comedy club.

Gas, produced by Butt, David Storey and Virginia Thompson, never had an audience below one million viewers in its six seasons. An encore of the finale episode will air on the Comedy Network on Saturday.

Meanwhile, CTV’s new US pickup Southland made a promising debut last Thursday in the 10 pm time slot left vacant by ER. The gritty cop drama, from ER producer John Wells, nabbed 1.3 million viewers, and was the third most-watched show of the night following CSI and Survivor on Global.

Boosted by generally positive reviews, Southland scored 9.7 million viewers south of the border on NBC, and won its hour in the key 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 demos, according to Variety.

In Canada, Southland outperformed the premiere of murder mystery Harper’s Island, which managed 892,000 on Global, including 370,000 in the 18-to-49 demographic. The tables were turned in the US, where Harper’s Island edged out Southland in overall viewers with an average 10.5 million, though it placed second in some of the key demos.

Harper’s Island is comprised of a single 13-ep season, due to its premise of wedding guests on a secluded island who are murdered one by one each week until the killer is revealed.

Over on CBC, the $12-million miniseries Diamonds mustered a so-so 389,000 viewers on Sunday, April 5, down to 265,000 the following week on Easter Sunday. In comparison, the CBC mini Everest averaged 401,000 and 387,000 for parts one and two respectively last fall.

From Playback Daily