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"Gopher It"
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"Gopher It" was the 19th and final episode of the fourth season of Corner Gas, and the 69th in its history. It first aired on CTV on March 12, 2007. Some promotion for the show, particularly a TV spot set to Blue Rodeo's 1994 hit, "Bad Timing," as well as a press release from CTV, had some fans wondering if the series was coming to an unexpected end. The matter was soon cleared up by CTV.

Synopsis: With the mayoral election approaching, Fitzy wants the citizens of Dog River to come up with ways to bring more tourism to town. Surprisingly, Hank has the best idea of all, but it soon changes everyone's lives, some for the better, and others for the worse.

For their performances in this episode, Brent Butt, Lorne Cardinal, Fred Ewanuick, Gabrielle Miller, Eric Peterson, Nancy Robertson, Tara Spencer-Nairn and Janet Wright won the Gemini Award for Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series on October 28, 2007. It was the cast's first win on its third nomination for the honor. It would turn out to be the only time the cast would win the award, and the final time they would be nominated for it. Mark Farrell's script also earned him the Gemini for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series. Ratings-wise, the episode drew 2 million viewers, the highest ratings of the season, the highest-rated season finale ever, and the second-highest-rated episode in Corner Gas' history.[1]

Just past the midway point of the episode, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes a cameo appearance, just as his predecessor, Paul Martin, did in Season Three's "Fun Run."

Summary

Brent, Wanda, Lacey, and Hank are standing around the counter at Corner Gas one morning. Fitzy is up for reelection, and has issued a challenge to the citizens of Dog River to come up with ways to improve tourism around town. Hank announces that he has an idea. Lacey tells him to think about it. Flash forward some, and Hank is ready. He tells everyone that statues of prairie dogs should be put up around town and custom-painted by the locals, like the moose in Toronto, and the pigs in Regina. Everyone seems to think that, for once, Hank actually has a good idea.

Meanwhile, Karen and Davis are headed to the police station earlier than usual to meet with Fitzy. Fitzy is in campaign mode, with Davis acting as his manager, though Karen points out that Fitzy is running unopposed, and that she thinks that the police shouldn't have an influence on the results.

At home, Oscar tells Emma his idea to put a casino in Dog River. Emma doesn't like the idea, saying that it could create problem gamblers. Oscar offers a ridiculous solution to take away their money so that gambling doesn't become a problem for them.

Hank arrives at the station, and pitches his idea to Fitzy, Karen and Davis. Fitzy decides to run with it, but seems a bit confused. He picks up the phone to order gophers, which has Hank correcting him. Hank points out that he wants the prairie dogs to be regular size. Fitzy also wonders aloud how they will paint the prairie dogs without them squirming around, drawing puzzled looks from Hank and Karen. Davis points out that the prairie dogs are statues.

At the Ruby, Oscar tells Lacey his idea. Because he thinks Fitzy won't listen to him, Oscar asks Lacey to pitch his idea to the mayor. Personally, Lacey doesn't want a casino, but Oscar tells her to feign her interest, then he goes next door, telling Wanda and Brent that Lacey wants the casino. Brent is shocked, and remembers a recent time when he asked Lacey if she wanted to play pinochle for matchsticks. Lacey panicked, thinking that matchsticks could lead to money, or more, so Oscar then tries to push credit for his idea to Brent and Wanda. Wanda also says she doesn't want a casino because it leads to crime and poverty, as well as "mediocre magicians, lame hypnotists."

Back at the Ruby, Oscar meets with Fitzy to discuss his idea. The two are sharing a booth, with Emma sitting behind Oscar, her back turned to them. Fitzy doesn't want to listen to Oscar, and tells him to shut up. Emma lashes out at Fitzy, who leaves for a press conference. There, he announces the intent to move forward with Hank's idea, though he again says he will order large gophers, when Hank wants regular-sized prairie dogs. The crowd argues for a bit about what to order and what size, forcing Fitzy to compromise, and order both prairie dogs and gophers of big and small sizes. Just then, Emma shows up, announcing she will challenge Fitzy for his seat, promising to bring a casino to Dog River. She immediately regrets her decision when Wes asks if they can paint the casino.

Soon, painted prairie dogs and gophers are all over town. Inside the Ruby, Lacey is on the phone with her sister, a producer of CTV's morning news program, Canada AM. She hangs up, telling Brent that her sister wants people from the town to appear on the show. Hank, Wanda and Emma all appear on the show, with Hank not understanding co-anchor Seamus O'Regan's bad gopher puns. Wanda, though, hits it off with O'Regan, calling him "Shamey." After the appearance ends, Hank enters the Ruby, asking Lacey to give him a $10,000 campaign donation, since he has seemingly thrown his hat (figuratively, at least) into the race for mayor, but Lacey outright rejects him.

Closer to downtown, Davis pulls Emma over. With Fitzy watching from just in front of the post office, Davis tries to intimidate Emma, and give her a ticket. Karen approaches, realizes what Davis is doing, and lets Emma go.

Back at Corner Gas, Brent has long lines on both sides of the pump, full of people waiting to have their tanks filled. He is approached by Rob Bennett, representing a large chain called Pump 'N Go. Rob offers to buy the station from Brent for a hefty sum of money. At the bar, Brent, Lacey, Hank and Wanda talk about the prospective sale. Hank doesn't want Brent to sell the station, but Wanda would prefer it, until Hank tells her she would have to wear a goofy-looking uniform. Oscar urges Brent to sell after talking.

Brentandstephen

Brent Butt and Prime Minister Stephen Harper behind the counter inside the Corner Gas set in Rouleau.

Wanda then makes another appearance on Canada AM to talk about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's recent visit to Dog River. No sitting Prime Minister had visited the town since John Diefenbaker in 1963.

Brent announces that he will sell Corner Gas, much to Hank's dismay.

In another appearance on Canada AM, Wanda announces that Emma has soundly defeated Fitzy, becoming Dog River's new mayor. An angry Fitzy, on his way out of town, calls a standing crowd of people "rubes," and makes Richard Nixon's famous "V for Victory" gesture before climbing into his car, which won't start.

Brent picks up his check for the sale, and promises Rob to work harder for the chain than he ever did for himself. Rob tells Brent that won't be necessary, as he is being replaced with a new manager — Oscar. Wanda, meanwhile, lands a cushy job as Beverly Thomson's substitute on Canada AM, even conducting an interview with former United States President Bill Clinton. However, she is hauled off by security when Beverly appears, revealing that she hasn't gone on vacation.

Settling in as mayor, Emma makes some changes. She makes Karen the new chief of police, and sends Davis to Wullerton. At first mention of Dog River, Davis spits on the ground, much to his new colleague's confusion.

Back at the cafe, Lacey tells Brent she's selling, too. Brent is excited, saying he and Lacey can now hang out together in early retirement. But Lacey won't be sticking around. She's moving back to Toronto to open a restaurant, and leaving in just a few hours. She exchanges a tearful goodbye with Hank, who feels guilty because his idea was successful, Oscar (as Lacey hugs him, she tells him, "Goodbye, ya jackass," eliciting a light chuckle from Oscar), Emma and Brent. As Lacey drives back to the big city, she looks in her rear-view mirror, noticing Hank and Brent getting smaller as she drives away. When Lacey is out of sight, and out of their lives, Brent turns to Hank, and says, "Well, don't just stand there lookin' like a tool." The scene quickly changes back to the gas station, where Hank, Brent, Lacey and Wanda are standing at the counter. Everything is back to normal, as Hank dreamed up what just happened, even humming "Bad Timing," which played as Lacey drove away. Wanda reveals that she is not co-anchoring Canada AM, while Lacey reveals that she doesn't have a sister.

At episode's end, all eight characters are gathered at the Ruby. Hank reveals his idea, and everyone likes it. They begin arguing about gophers and prairie dogs, and what sizes the statues should be. Hank, thinking his daydream is becoming real, panics, and runs out of the restaurant. Brent starts to chase after him, but stops when he notices Lacey's banana loaf, which everyone soon wants a piece of.

Buzz surrounding the episode

On March 6, 2007, the day after the premiere of "Happy Campers," CTV released this statement, talking about "Gopher It." The release was somewhat cryptic, indicating that the show was coming to an end, not just the fourth season. The episode's trailer said it would be a season finale, perhaps helping to quell some of the buzz, but nonetheless, the release did create some interest.

That same day, the Edmonton Journal put a story about the release on its website, which said that the show would be going off the air for good.

Two days later, TV Guide Canada writer Greg David posted an entry, in which he wondered if the CTV statement was to be taken at face value, or if the network had pulled a clever ploy to get more ratings.

David's suspicions were confirmed: the day after "Gopher It" aired, CTV sent out another release, announcing the high ratings, and that a fifth season of the show would be filmed in the spring.

References

  1. Corner Gas Draws 2 Million in Record Setting Finale "Corner Gas Draws 2 Million in Record Setting Finale", CTV, 2007-3-13. Retrieved on 2008-1-19.