It’s time to head back to the 80s.
Created by Mark Critch, Son of a Critch returns with more stories from his childhood. For those unaware, Critch is based on Mark’s best-selling memoir and takes the viewer back to 1980s Newfoundland where a young Mark (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) continues to grow up before his time. Living with his parents (Mark Critch and Claire Rankin), his older brother Mike Jr. (Colton Gobbo) and his eccentric grandfather (Malcolm McDowell) as he attempts to navigate small town life and young relationships.
By telling his own story, Critch has recreated a world so genuine that one cannot help but be drawn in. Though set over 30 years ago, there’s something timeless about this series that connects with the modern era. School bullies, part-time jobs and young love are simply part of the human experience and Critch lets his story feel like it could be anyone’s. With heart and humour, Son of a Critch has quickly filled the void left by departing Schitt’s Creek and Kim’s Convenience as the next generation of Canadian comedy. (Though, to be fair, Run the Burbs is also top tier Canadian entertainment as well.)
Once again, the relationship between McDowell and Ainsworth continues to be the anchor to young Mark’s childhood journey. With each passing episode, the young star grows in his ability to balance emotion and laughs with increasing confidence. (In fact, this season’s pop culture vignettes show his improved poise with the material, especially in the first episode’s Casablanca parody.) At the same time, McDowell’s skill as an actor prevent him from offering a one-note performance. Whereas some actors may lean too heavily on tropes like the ‘grumpy old man’ or ‘charming elderly person’, McDowell’s character feels authentic. Together, they are easily the best relationship within the series, creating an inviting atmosphere that still feels real.
In Season 2, Mark returns from the summer off to find that Fox (Sophia Powers) has moved on? Or has she? Questions about her new relationship are raised and Mark must ask himself whether or not it is time to move on from his first love.
And moving forward seems to be a key theme for this season.
This is a time for change in young Mark’s life. On the cusp of high school, Mark is leaning into puberty and wondering what the future has in store. But, as Mark is growing up, so too is his brother prepping for the next chapter of his life after high school. In fact, even best friend Ritchie has also found a new running crew that share more of his similar interests.
But change is simply part of the journey. Much like the classic 90s series The Wonder Years, Critch acknowledges that maturity isn’t always easy but that there’s a certain sense of magic to it. Telling his story through nostalgic goggles, Critch shares the ups and downs of his youth without ever losing the sense that everything is going to be okay. As a result, there’s a joy in this journey that comes through, even in Mark’s most challenging moments.
So, as the 2nd Season begins, Son of a Critch remains one of the current gems of Canadian television. This is a series that’s not just funny and heartwarming. It’s honest. And it helps you realize that, maybe, everything is going to be okay.
Son of a Critch is available to stream on CBC Gem and airs Tuesdays @ 8:30pm.