Seeing Things

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Bald, nearsighted, fortyish Louie Ciccone was the hero of this comedy/mystery series. A loud and pushy motormouth, he was
like a guy from Union City, New Jersey who took a wrong exit on the turnpike and found himself among the quiet, sweet
Canadians. U.S.-born actor Louis Del Grande used the cultural difference to good advantage to create the character of Louie.
Del Grande and David Barlow, who had worked together previously on King Of Kensington, created and produced the show
and wrote the first few episodes, which ran as a pilot series of three, hourlong stories before the CBC ordered more for
subsequent seasons.

The premise of the show was deliberately preposterous. Louie, a reporter for the Gazette, a Toronto tabloid, habitually
stumbles on murders and solves them thanks to clairvoyant visions of the killings. The crimes, however, were just the motor that
kept the story idling. When the series started, Louie had been thrown out of the house by his wife, Marge, played by Martha
Gibson, and he continually tried to get back in her good graces and get back into the house. No wonder; during their separation
Louie moved in with his parents--Al Bernardo and Lynne Gordon played Al and Anna Ciccone--and had to sleep on a cot in
the storeroom of the family bakery. He prevailed on Marge to drive him around town (Louie, like Del Grande, was hyperactive
enough that he dared not drive a car), and usually got her involved in his investigations. After a couple of seasons, Marge took
him back into the house, where they lived with their son Jason, played by Ivan Beaulieu, but their marriage never lost the friction
of their estrangement. Del Grande's and Gibson's own marriage provided extra tension, humour, and warmth to their
characters' on-again, off-again romance.

Marge's imagined nemesis was Heather Redfern, the assistant Crown Attorney Louie regularly inveigled into helping him.
Redfern, played by Janet-Laine Green, was often hauled out of a courtroom, away from a social engagement, or out of bed late
at night by Louie (who she always called "Mr. Ciccone"), and usually found herself deeper and deeper in the plot. Louie's
reliance on her in her professional capacity and the fact that they were sometimes found in misunderstandable situations fed
Marge's jealousy of Redfern. After her initial dislike for the the younger, wealthier lawyer, Marge later grew friendlier with her,
especially after Louie drew them into a couple of dangerous spots together.

The supporting cast also included the taciturn Detective Sergeant Brown, who was invariably assigned to the homicides that
Louie (or "Chi-cone, as Brown pronounced it) discovered, and Murray Westgate as Max Perkins, Louie's editor at the
Gazette. Louis Negin appeared frequently as Marlon Bede, the paper's food reporter, Cec Linder as Robert Spenser,
Redfern's superior, and Ratch Wallace as Kenny Volker, a slab of beef of a hockey player who was Redfern's love interest for
a while. Many of the country's well-known actors played guest roles: Gordon Pinsent, Kenneth Welsh, Barbara Hamilton, Rita
Tushingham, Barry Morse, Bruno Gerussi, Kate Reid, Saul Rubinek, Don Francks, Ross Petty, ballerina Karen Kain, Maury
Chaykin (who repeated his role as U.S. Federal Marshal Randall Jackson in stories with an international angle), and Booth
Savage (husband of Janet-Laine Green; he played a kidnaper with whom Redfern suffered a case of the Stockholm syndrome).

Writers for the show, aside from Del Grande and Barlow, included Sheldon Chad, Bill Gough and Anna Sandor, Larry
Gaynor, and David Cole. The breezy scripts and freewheeling performances, directed by George McCowan, made the show
refreshingly different from the studied, conservatively high-quality drama characteristic of CBC television in the l980s or from
the committee-made drama or comedy of the U.S.A. The dramatic premise, Louie's clairvoyance, was practically a parody of
television gimmicks as he flashed back to the moment of the killing, seen through brilliant but softly filtered light, then returned to
consciousness. The scripts deftly combined the requisite mystery story and the continuing story of Louie's marriage and family,
the realm of situation comedy. After three or four seasons, however, the scripts lost some steam. The first things to go were
those valuable character and story nuances, which gave way to more broad humour and jokes. Although the characters
continued to be winning, they seemed to strain more for the big laughs.

After its initial success at home Seeing Things, sold both to individual stations and through PBS in the U.S.A. Although critically
it was very well received, it did not make enough of a splash in the States. The series also sold well in many other markets,
including Australia, West Germany, Italy, Ireland, South Africa, Singapore, and, perhaps most successfully, Spain. It has also
run on Radio-Canada, under the title Un journaliste un peu trop clairvoyant, though not before the show sold to France's FR3.
Unfortunately, the CBC has typically been able to produce only eight new programs per year, which meant that it could sell a
full, half-year season only after more than three full years of production.

The executive producer of Seeing Things was Robert Allen.
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