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VSC presents
Robson Arms: Season 2 (2006)

Elvis: "A few tenants have been complaining about scratching in the walls, could be rodents"Yuri: "The sooner you leave, the sooner I can get back to work."
- A.J. McKenzie, John Cassini

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: May 09, 2008

Stars: John Cassini, Gabrielle Miller, Fred Ewanuick, Alisen Down, Zak Santiago, Linda Kash
Other Stars: The Troubadours, Kevin McNulty, David Richmond-Peck, Gabrielle Rose, Helena Yea, Tobias Mehler, Peter DeLuise, Jane McGregor, Leslie Nielsen, Joe Flaherty, Patrick McKenna, Colin Foo, Laura Bertram, Tegan Moss, Nancy Robertson, Terry David Mulligan, Dan Joffre, Tamara Taggart, April Telek, Michael Roberds, Jann Arden, Colin James, Svend Robinson, Susin Nielsen, Bill Mondy, Jim Caruk, A.J. McKenzie, Tom Tames, Jill Morrison, Pamela Diaz, Layla Alizada, Spice Lucks
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, language, drug use)
Run Time: 05h:22m:24s
Release Date: November 08, 2007
UPC: 624262174332
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

After what seems like decades (only because it has been decades), Canadian television finally has a few new series to actually be excited about. Reigning in the ratings since its inception, CTV's Corner Gas took the country by storm, and as a fan, it was with great interest that I discovered another CTV production featuring several of the Corner Gas cast—Robson Arms. Contrasting with the comedic Corner Gas, Robson Arms is more of a dramedy, and tells the stories of the various tenants of an apartment building in Vancouver's West End, each week visiting a different occupant. Its tone a lot more mature and the humor a little darker, Robson Arms defines itself as a unique property, cleverly written, and with a great ensemble cast who do a brilliant job bringing an eclectic mix of personalities to the screen. The originality is evident from the opening scenes, where each week musical duo, The Troubadors (Jason Dedrick, Tom Saunders) perform a new theme song on screen, with the visuals providing a bridge between the previous and next week's stories, while introducing the episode at hand. While each installment generally focuses on a few principles, there are story arcs running throughout, creating an intersting web of relationships between the apartment's inhabitants.

The second season comprises another thirteen episodes, and brings back many of the players from season one. John Cassini returns as sleazy building superintendent Yuri Kukoc, whose job is on the line as the new owner Stu (Terry David Mulligan) tries to sell the building. Across the hall are resident "botanists" Hal Garcia (Zak Santiago) and Nick Papathanasiou (Fred Ewanuick of Corner Gas). Grouchy Toronto ex-patriat Sault (pronounced "Sue") St. Marie (Alisen Down) continues to hide her alapecia, confiding only in gay neighbor Geoff (David Richmond-Peck), who has his own turmoil with partner Stanley (Kevin McNulty). The Briggs, Bobbie (Gabrielle Miller, in a role that is quite different from her bubbly Corner Gas character) and Bobby (Tobias Mehler) are facing challenges in their relationship as they approach parenthood, while the Tan clan—Toni, Grandma, Bao and Ruby (Gabrielle Rose, Helena Yea, Colin Foo, Justine Wong)—mind the store. Rounding out the returning cast is Haig Sutherland as super geek = Fred Fochs and Jane McGregor as Alicia Plecas.

The season opener, Ordinary Assholes, finds former Toronto Maple Leaf, Caldo Vasco (Leslie Nielson), returning home a paraplegic after a drinking and driving accident, and causing grief and more work for Yuri over the lack of wheelchair accessability. Stu sees this as an opportunity to promote the sale of the building by bringing in a news crew to cover the opening of a new ramp, which doesn't exactly go over as planned. In Saultology Nick has come to terms with having a "just for sex girl" when Sault decides she needs a man in her life after a panic attack at work. Boy Bobby is having difficulty resisting temptation due to a flirtations coworker (April Telek as Sasha) as his wife nears childbirth (I Did Not Have Sex with That Woman). Geoff and Stanley believe a kindred spirit is among them when Andrew Colton moves in with his partner, Chris, who to Geoff's surprise turns out to be a woman (Andromeda's Laura Bertram to be exact). Still not convinced of Andrew's sexual orientation, a dinner invite turns disasterous in Something Straight Between Us.

Fearing he'll meet the same fate as his recently deceased neighbor and die as Mr. Lonely, Fred decides it's time to take a more proactive approach to a relationship, but his attentions towards new tenant, Carol Goldstein (Linda Kash) are unwelcomed. Hal finds himself being sidelined when Nick's new friend, the worldly neighbor Wayne (Peter DeLuise), arrives on the scene, but appearances may be deceiving (Pest Control) then Sault, desperate for money while waiting for a new writing gig to pan out, takes a job as a temp, where she meets her cynical equal in Misery, Inc.. The Daughter of Frankenstein, replete with headgear, arrives in the form of Carol's trouble seeking teen, Georgia (Tegan Moss).

Coming to a realization about his habits, Wayne's World is turned upside down when his estranged wife shows up for the divorce papers, but can he really change? A hidden dynamic in Yuri's family life is exposed in Mussolini and Me when his alcoholic brother Valentino shows up unexpectedly, with Georgia providing an unlikely conduit. Family matters are also forefront in All About Kittywhen Bao's seemingly naive and innocence cousin arrives from Hong Kong, but is soon discovered as a fraud by Toni, who is not only dealing with the effects of menopause, but a looming rent increase from annoying property manager Elvis (A.J. McKenzie). Meanwhile, Yuri is set for a showdown with a new handyman (fix it guy, Jim Caruk as himself) hired to do Yuri's job. Andrew is eager to move forward with their plans for a family, but when Chris finds out what really happened at their dinner party, a Lizard of Doubt creeps in. The season finale, Texas Birthmark finds Bobbi having trouble coping with motherhood, especially with Bobby out of town, but one too many antidepressants lead to a strange encounter with an appliance repairman.

The production is rich in detail, with repeated viewings allowing discovery of the myriad of subtle props or tie ins between episodes. The show is not afraid to take chances either, with a number of excursions into unexpected territory. Cameos this time out include singer Jann Arden and TV personality Tamara Taggert (who also happens to be Fred Ewanuick's cousin), musician Colin James, MLA Svend Robinson, Nancy Robertson (Corner Gas), Joe Flaherty (SCTV) and Patrick McKenna (The Red Green Show).

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Overall the image quality looks great, and certainly better than the original broadcasts. Colors are bright and punchy and detail is very good. The only issues are some occasional interlacing and the odd compression artifact, neither of which the casual viewer will likely notice.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The stereo soundtrack suits the program well, providing an undistracting soundscape and easily intelligible dialog. with no technical deficiencies observed. The only notable oddity is a couple of censoring incidents, which is inconsistent with the rest of the show.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 65 cues and remote access
1 TV Spots/Teasers
19 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Bloopers
  2. Webisodes
  3. Troubadour teasers
Extras Review: VSC has once again included a nice assortment of extras, which, due to some of the spoilers present, should only be viewed after completing the series. A behind the scenes documentary (13:12) covers many aspects of the show and includes brief commentary from members of the cast and crew. Also included are a collection of bloopers (7m:49s) and 19 deleted scenes (13:48).

First appearing on the show's website (www.robsonarms.com), six "webisodes" have the tenants giving advice on a range of apartment topics including Yuri on tenant-super relations, Hal on bringing home women, Sault on relocating from TO to Vancouver, Georgia's safety tips, Toni and Ruby on customer service, and Geoff and Stanley on how to end a dinner party.

The theme songs are amalgamated in the Troubadour Teasers running 15m:15s. A season two trailer rounds out the extras.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Robson Arms has quickly become one of my favorite Canadian TV series, and about the only thing wrong with it is that the seasons are too short. Another great collection of episodes, VSC's release is nicely supplemented. Recommended.


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