In Canada: Mondays, 8/7c, CityTVFor those of us growing up in the 70s and 80s, there was only one real Canadian TV show of note (or indeed one that aired at all in the UK): The Littlest Hobo. It was a jaunty, Lassie-esque affair married with the ‘wandering hero’ theme of shows such as The Fugitive, The Invaders and The Incredible Hulk, in which a homeless German Shepherd wanders from Canadian town to Canadian town, using its colossal intellect for a multitude of philanthropic ends and to solve all manner of crimes.
Running between 1979 and 1985 in Canada, the show left a lasting memory in the UK collective unconsciousness, and judging from the likes of Cavendish, the Canadian group mind, too.
It might also explain why Canada is now one of the few countries on Earth to remake Austria’s Kommissar Rex, in which a policeman and his multi-talented police dog solve crimes together:
Hudson & RexIn contrast to Austria’s somewhat jokey comedy-drama Kommissar Rex, CityTV’s Hudson & Rex is a far more po-faced affair that seems to think that it’s a plain old police procedural… that just happens to co-star a dog. It stars John Reardon as a ‘cunning’ major crimes detective for the St John’s Police Department who teams up with German Shepherd Rex (Diesel von Burgimwald – no, really: they even have ‘introducing Diesel von Burgimwald’ in the titles).
Rex’s heightened senses keep Reardon hot on the trail of his suspects and together, they investigate puzzling crimes, from a kidnapping which reveals a much larger conspiracy at play to an art theft murder which runs deep into the world of high society. With Charlie’s deft detective work and Rex’s keen canine senses, this crime-fighting pair is unstoppable.From the CityTV web site
To be fair, CityTV does bill the show as ‘lighthearted’ so it’s not intended to be 100% serious. But in terms of actual humour, the most I could detect from it are attempts to basically be The Littlest Hobo. I think that might actually be the joke.
Hudson bailTake the first episode, for example. We start off with Hudson and Rex off for a run together. Then what’s this? It’s a van pulling up in front of them to abduct a teenager?
“Run, Rex! Run!” shouts Hudson.
And he does. And when the van pulls away, Rex keeps running after it. Basically forever. And then when the van stops and the abductors switch vehicles, Rex keeps them under close observation before sneaking into the back of their truck and following them to their hideout.
What’s Hudson up to this whole time while his dog is missing? Oh, just investigating clues, interrogating people, that sort of thing.
Not… ooh, I don’t know… checking the GPS tracking chip that the dog almost certainly has embedded in it, to see where it might be? I mean even Kommissar Rex had a GPS tracker and that started in 1994.
And that’s it. Rather than Hudson & Rex, it’s more like Hudson and Rex with each doing their own thing. One’s a hard-hitting, badly written, terribly badly directed crime show tribute to 80s syndicated cop shows; the other is a tribute to The Littlest Hobo, with our little doggy making friends with a child and rescuing her from nasty kidnappers. Again, with production values that even a YouTube influencer would sneer at.
80s tributeWhy do I say that most of it is a tribute to 80s cop shows? Well, at the very least, none of the actors seem to have been told how to hold a gun and the director seems to have watched Kung Fu: The Legend Continues to learn how to direct fast-moving action scenes and how to block so they you can’t spot the distances and speeds are all completely wrong.
But we also have bad guys being tricked into revealing that yes, although they pretended to be innocent, they were involved the whole time (“I never told you her name was Evelyn”). There’s playing for time so that the dog will be able to sneak up on the bad girl and ambush her. There’s some truly bad Basil Exposition moments to cover over the huge plot holes (“So why did you hire him, when you could have got anyone to do it?”). There’s when the cops all go undercover on a fishing boat but only two of them go into the bad guys’ hideout, without their guns drawn.
And I’ve barely scratched Hudson & Rex‘s deely bobber-clad surface.
ConclusionWhile I did at least enjoy in a sort of nostalgic way the sections clearly tributing The Littlest Hobo, I really don’t feel that much nostalgia for dreadful 80s cop shows and their dreadful clichés and production values. Seriously, I might as well sink to the level of watching The Star Lost if I’m going to lower the bar that much.
That means that Hudson & Rex is for the most part unwatchable, tedious drek. The cast occasionally realise that the show should be funny, but clearly with both directors and writers fighting against them, they’ve a losing battle on their hands. For drama, there’s no tension, no sense of danger, no air of reality to convince; in comedy, there’s no jokes, just the occasional acknowledgement that maybe this is a stupid idea for a TV show.
Save yourself and watch something else – don’t rely on a dog.