Due South
Format Comedy-drama
Created by Paul Haggis[1]
Starring Paul GrossDavid MarcianoCallum Keith Rennie
Country of origin Canada
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 67 (List of episodes)
Running time 45 minutes
Original channel CTVCBS[2]BBC
Original run September 22, 1994 (Canada) 9 May 1995 (UK) – March 14, 1999 (Canada) 1 November 1999 (UK)

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Due South

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Due South title screen

Due South is a Canadian television police comedy-drama, created by Paul Haggis, produced by Alliance Communications, and starring Paul Gross, David Marciano, and latterly Callum Keith Rennie. It ran for 67 episodes over four seasons, from 1994 to 1999.Set in Chicago, the show follows the adventures of Constable Benton Fraser (Paul Gross), a Mountie of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who is attached to the Canadian consulate, but works with Detective Raymond Vecchio of the Chicago Police Department to solve crimes, assisted by Fraser's companion Diefenbaker, a deaf white wolfdog. From season three, Fraser works with a Detective Stanley Kowalski (Callum Rennie), who is placed in the department to impersonate Detective Vecchio who goes on an undercover assignment.The premise of such a working relationship is established in the pilot episode when Fraser is temporarily posted to Chicago to assist Vecchio in the investigation of the murder of Fraser's father, who was also of the RCMP. In the process of finding them, he also exposes an environmental corruption scandal involving some members of the RCMP, causing much embarrassment and loss of jobs in his native Northwest Territories, which leaves him persona non grata in Canada and within the RCMP and posted permanently to Chicago.A comedy drama, it plays on the stereotypical differences between Canadian and American culture, and in particular, Fraser's extremely polite persona and exceptional tracking and detection abilities, contrasted with Detective Vecchio's more robust personality and methods.

History

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Due South originally debuted as a made for television movie aired on CTV in Canada and CBS in the United States. After higher than anticipated ratings, Due South was turned into a continuing drama series with its first season launching late in 1994. It was the first Canadian-made series to earn a prime time slot on a major US network. However, CBS moved its time slot continuously, and often preempted it with other programs, so maintaining an audience was a challenge.

After the 24-episode first season, CBS cancelled the series. But due to the show's success in Canada and the United Kingdom, the production company raised sufficient money for a second 18-episode season which ran from 1995 - 1996. The show was once again shown on CBS in late 1995 (CBS ordered an additional five episodes but aired only four of them), but again in 1996, CBS refused to renew the series.

After a one-year hiatus, CTV revived the series in 1997 with international investment (from the BBC, ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG in Germany, and the French company TF1), and it ran for two further seasons, until 1999. In the United States, seasons three and four were packaged together as a single third (26 episode) season for syndication. The post-1997 episodes have been labelled a spin-off from the original series by some references,[citation needed] but were in fact titled Season Three and Season Four. Despite critical acclaim and a consistently warm reception by American audiences, Due South never became a huge hit in the United States; however, it was one of the most highly rated regular series ever aired on a Canadian network. The show remains popular in the United Kingdom, and became one of the few non-British shows to gain a primetime weeknight slot on BBC One, despite suffering from erratic scheduling In the UK, Due South was screened on Tuesday nights at 8pm from 9 May 1995, earning critical acclaim with comparisons to Northern Exposure and ratings of over eight million until a switch to Fridays at the same time in June, before being pulled from the schedule completely in July and returned to Tuesdays in September 1995. Series two aired Saturday nights at 7.05pm from 27 July 1996 and fared similarly well, but was again pulled from the schedules in October, with five episodes of the season remaining. These were later shown in the same slot in January 1997. The BBC co-financed the third season but struggled to find a suitable slot on Saturday nights for it and only five episodes of the series were shown in May and June 1998 with a remainder stuffed in daytime slots over Christmas 1998. The final season broadcast from May to November 1999 was moved to BBC Two and consistently performed well with ratings of over two million viewers, regularly appearing in the top ten weekly shows for the channel despite only occupying an early-evening Monday timeslot. Upon the end of the series in 1999, BBC Two immediately began to screen repeats, and the series was also rescreened on ITV3 in 2006 and from October 18, 2010, again on BBC Two

Story overview

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Fraser, Diefenbaker & Vecchio.


The basic premise of the series centres on an Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) constable named Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) who travels to Chicago to solve the murder of his father; this is how he first meets his soon-to-be partner, Ray Vecchio (David Marciano), a tough, streetwise cop. Accompanied by his half-wolf Diefenbaker (who adopted Fraser after saving his life, and is deaf, but can read lips), the investigation leads Fraser to uncover a plot by a company building a dam that is slowly killing the environment. This leads to the dam being shut down and many people losing their jobs. He also implicates corrupt members of the RCMP in the affair. This along with the loss of so many peoples' jobs makes him persona non grata in Canada, and he chooses to live in Chicago. This plot line is referred to repeatedly during the series, and from season three on he introduces himself to many by saying:

Benton Fraser is the archetypal Mountie, dogged, polite, and compulsively truthful; the themes of the series often featured his rigid moral code being tested by the cynical realities of Chicago life. Being overly polite, Fraser's probably best known short quotes were: 'thank you kindly'; when he found himself in trouble – an understated 'oh dear'; and when faced with contradictory circumstances from other characters – an all knowing and eloquently stated 'understood'. A little more unusual is his encyclopedic knowledge of virtually everything, however obscure (this is attributed to his grandparents having been librarians), a range of uncanny abilities, most notably his ability to sniff and lick refuse from the streets to gain clues about crimes, the way he can fall into a dumpster or other waste heap and emerge completely spotless and unwrinkled, and the way every woman he encounters falls madly in love with him, including his boss Margaret (Meg) Thatcher and Ray's sister Francesca; his total obliviousness to this, and the fact that he rarely pursues any of the offers the ladies extend to him, is part of his charm.

The show falls somewhere between a cop show and a comedy show. Although superficially following the police drama format, the comedy derives from outrageous plots, the self-deprecating Canadian and the American stereotypes, and the occasional fantasy elements such as the regular visits paid to the Mountie by his father's ghost, whose advice varies between helpful and absurdly useless. When the latter, Benton is moved to ask 'Are there any psychologists in the afterlife? People who can help you?' The scenes are played deadly seriously by the actors. The tone of the show and much of the comedy derived from Fraser's supernormal detective ability. For instance, in one episode, Fraser tracks down a suspect by smelling the breath of a rat to determine the brand of barbecued ribs it had been eating. Another recurring gag is Fraser standing guard motionlessly in front of the Canadian consulate, while a passerby plays attempts to make him move or speak.

Marciano, the original Ray, did not appear in the post-1997 episodes, save for the first and last episodes, but was replaced by Callum Keith Rennie as Stanley Raymond Kowalski, a detective who was under orders to impersonate Vecchio while the real Vecchio was undercover. Marciano did return for the series finale, in which Vecchio ran off to Florida with Kowalski's ex-wife, Stella. In the last episode, Benton and his father's ghost finally solve Benton's mother's murder. This results in the ghost's departure. The series ends with Benton and Kowalski in search of the graves of the Franklin expedition. (This missing expedition to the far north is immortalized in Canadian folk song by Stan Rogers: 'Northwest Passage', which Paul Gross sings in the episode.)

Cast

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Main characters

CharacterActor/ActressEpisodes
Constable Benton FraserPaul Gross1.00-3.26
Detective Raymond VecchioDavid Marciano1.00-2.18 main cast, 3.01, 3.25, 3.26 recurring
DiefenbakerNewman (pilot)
Lincoln (Seasons 1-2)
Draco (Season 3)
1.00-3.26
Lieutenant Harding WelshBeau Starr1.00-3.26
Elaine BesbrissCatherine Bruhier1.00-3.03
Detective Jack HueyTony Craig1.00-3.26
Detective Louis GardinoDaniel Kash1.00-2.07 main cast, 2.18 recurring
Sgt. Bob FraserGordon Pinsent1.00, 1.03, 1.10, 1.16, 1.17, 1.20-1.22, 2.01, 2.03, 2.04, 2.09, 2.14, 2.18 recurring, 3.01-3.26 main cast
Francesca VecchioRamona Milano1.00, 1.04, 1.05, 1.17, 1.19, 1.20, 2.02, 2.10, 2.16, 2.18, 3.01, 3.03 recurring, 3.04-3.26 main cast
Inspector Meg ThatcherCamilla Scott2.02, 2.03, 2.05, 2.06, 2.09, 2.10, 2.12-2.15, 2.17, 2.18 recurring, 3.01-3.26 main cast
Detective Stanley Raymond KowalskiCallum Keith Rennie3.01-3.26
Detective Thomas E. DeweyTom Melissis3.01-3.26


Recurring characters
CharacterActor/ActressEpisodes
Dennis ArgyleDomenic Cuzzocrea1.01, 1.04, 2.08
Mackenzie KingMadolyn Smith Osborne (season 1) /Maria Bello (season 2)1.02, 2.08
Sgt. Buck FrobisherLeslie Nielsen1.03, 2.14, 3.25, 3.26
F.B.I. Agent FordAlex Carter1.06, 1.19, 2.14, 2.17, 3.09
F.B.I. Agent DeeterMark Melymick1.06, 1.19, 2.14, 2.17, 3.09
Mr VecchioDavid Calderisi1.10, 1.20, 1.21, 2.01
Father BehanShay Duffin1.12, 1.17, 1.20, 1.21
Ian McDonaldRino Romano1.14, 2.11
Frankie ZukoJim Bracchitta1.17, 2.07
Constable Renfield TurnbullDean McDermott2.04, 2.14, 3.01, 3.06, 3.10-3.15, 3.20-3.26
Assistant State Attorney Stella KowalskiAnne Marie Loder3.04, 3.07, 3.09, 3.21, 3.26
Dr Mort GustafsonJan Rubes3.05, 3.08, 3.09, 3.12, 3.13, 3.25
Damian KowalskiDan MacDonald3.15, 3.19


Notable guest appearances
A number of high profile actors have made a guest appearance in episodes:

Season 1
  • Richard Moll, Teri Polo and Al Waxman appeared in episode 1.04 "They Eat Horses, Don't They?"
  • Holly Cole as herself, Lisa Jakub as Christina Nichols, and Ron Lea as her father the Canadian Ambassador, appeared in episodes 1.07 and 1.08 "Chicago Holiday parts 1 and 2"
  • Natalie Radford and Mark Ruffalo as mixed-up parents Louise and Vinnie Webber, appeared in episode 1.09 "A Cop, a Mountie, and a Baby"
  • Tom McCamus as bank robber Jimmy Donnelly, Ryan Phillippe as Del Porter, and James Purcell as his father, getaway driver William Porter, appeared in episode 1.10 "Gift of the Wheelmen"
  • Michael Riley as Walter Sparks, appeared in episode 1.12 "A Hawk and a Handsaw"
  • Nicholas Campbell as Nigel Ellis, and Jane Krakowski as Katherine Burns, appeared in episode 1.18 "An Invitation to Romance"
  • Melina Kanakaredes as Fraser's love interest Victoria Metcalf, appeared in episodes 1.20 and 1.21 "Victoria's Secret parts 1 and 2" and episode 1.22 "Letting Go"
  • Jennifer Dale as Dr Carter and Laurie Holden as physiotherapist Jill Kennedy appeared in episode 1.22 "Letting Go" (Holden received a 1996 Gemini Awards nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series)


Season 2
  • Steve Smith as Hamish Carter, appeared in episode 2.01 "North"
  • Carrie-Anne Moss as Irene Zuko, the sister of Chicago mobster Frankie Zuko, appeared in episode 2.07 "Juliet is Bleeding"
  • Ken Foree as Yukon thief Macon Lacroix, and Maria Rangel as Mexican detective Anita Cortez, appeared in episode 2.09 "The Edge"
  • Amanda Tapping as secret government agent Dr Audrey McKenna, appeared in episode 2.11 "Starman"
  • Milton Berle as ribs joint owner Shelley Litvak, and Lisa Engelman as dancer Ida Banks, appeared in episode 2.15 "Body Language"
  • Colm Feore as arsonist Charles Carver, appeared in episode 2.16 "The Duel"
  • Kenneth Welsh as train hijacker Randal K. Bolt, appeared in episodes 2.14 "Red, White, or Blue" and 2.17 "All the Queen's Horses"; and as Cyrus Bolt, appeared in episode 3.26 "Call of the Wild part 2"


Season 3
  • Jackie Burroughs as Gladys Caunce, appeared in episode 3.02 "Eclipse"
  • Ron Canada as boxing trainer Franco Devlin, appeared in episode 3.05 "Mountie and Soul"
  • Wendy Crewson as bounty hunter Janet Morse, appeared in episode 3.06 "Bounty Hunter"
  • Anthony J. Mifsud as mob hit man Johhny Maigot, appeared in episode 3.07 "Seeing is Believing"
  • Martha Burns as Russian spy Nadia, Maury Chaykin as Pike, and Eric Christmas as chess player Albert Hanrahan, appeared in episode 3.08 "Spy vs. Spy"
  • Douglas Campbell appeared in episodes 3.12 and 3.13 "Mountie on the Bounty parts 1 and 2"
  • Art Hindle appeared in episode 3.18 "The Ladies' Man"
  • Maury Chaykin as Jasper Gutman, reappeared in episode 3.19 "Mojo Rising"
  • Michael Hogan and Michelle Wright appeared as a country singer and her business manager in episode 3.20 "Mountie Sings the Blues"
  • Jessica Steen appeared in episode 3.24 "Hunting Season" as Constable Maggie MacKenzie
  • Martha Burns as Fraser's mother, reappeared in episode 3.26 "Call of the Wild part 2"


Diefenbaker
Diefenbaker (Dief for short) is one of the major characters. He is part dog, part wolf, originally from northern Canada, who now lives in Chicago with his owner, Fraser. He is named after former Prime Minister of Canada John George Diefenbaker. He has several puppies, two of whom are named Sunshine and Buster, by a husky named Maggie.

Diefenbaker first met Fraser when the Mountie found him in an abandoned mine. Diefenbaker later pulled Fraser out of Prince Rupert Sound, saving the Mountie's life, but also bursting the wolf's eardrums - which resulted in, according to Fraser, Diefenbaker's deafness. Whether Diefenbaker is actually deaf, and not just suffering from selective hearing, is up to the viewer. Diefenbaker is apparently able to read lips, in both English and Inuktitut. Diefenbaker has stayed with Fraser ever since and has gone wherever the Mountie is posted.

Diefenbaker is extremely loyal to Fraser, if sometimes disobedient, and will attack someone if required to defend Fraser. He is usually quite laid back - for a wolf. Since moving to Chicago (for which Fraser's friend Detective Ray Vecchio forged him a special "wolf permit"), Diefenbaker has developed a taste for junk food, much to Fraser's despair.

The role of Diefenbaker was played in the pilot movie by a mixed breed named Newman, then in the rest of seasons 1 and 2 by a purebred Siberian Husky named Lincoln. When the show was brought back for season 3, Lincoln was replaced by another purebred Siberian Husky named Draco, whose sister, Cinder, did most of his stunts. A variety of stunt dogs were used throughout the series, and fake dogs have also been used in some scenes.

Diefenbaker received the first fan mail for the series. Draco appeared on the officially licensed merchandise t-shirt of Diefenbaker.

Naming this character after a famous Canadian particularly appeals to the Canadian audience of the series. Aniko Brodroghkozy asserts in an article in Hop on Pop:

Production

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Filming was mostly done in Toronto, Ontario, which was used as a stand-in for Chicago. In many episodes a Toronto Transit Commission bus can be seen to pass by in the background. In others, prominent city landmarks such as the CN Tower and the Union Station can be glimpsed. The U.S. Consulate in Toronto was used for exterior shots of the supposed Canadian Consulate in Chicago. In a move typical of the production, Chicago was used in one episode to represent Toronto.

Episodes

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Media

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Books
Due South: The Official Companion by Geoff Tibballs was published in May 1998 containing basic information on the series and cast and brief episodes synopses up to the end of the third season. Another illustrated companion, Due South: The Official Guide by John A. Macdonald, was published in December 1998. It contains some interviews with the characters and bios of the cast.

A number of paper-back novelizations of a selection of episodes by Tom McGregor were later published including, Death In The Wilderness based on the pilot movie, An Invitation to Romance based on the episodes An Invitation to Romance and Gift of the Wheelman, All The Queen's Horses based on All the Queen's Horses and Red, White or Blue, and Vaulting North based on North and Vault.

Videos
The pilot two-hour movie was originally released on VHS in 1996, but individual episodes had been released prior to this throughout 1995 on VHS with two episodes per tape. Finally, in 1998, the season three and the season four two-part finales were released. In November 2002, the Due South Giftset was released containing the pilot movie and episodes Mountie on the Bounty and Call of the Wild.

DVD releases
Alliance Home Entertainment has released all 4 seasons on DVD in Canada only. Note: the pilot episode is included on the third season release as a bonus feature.

In the US, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in 2005. Seasons 3 and 4 were released together in the release entitled: Due South: Season 3. They also released a complete series set on May 6, 2008.

In Region 2, Network DVD released the entire series on DVD in the UK. Seasons 3 and 4 were released together in the release entitled: Due South: The Complete Third Series.

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Australia. As with the UK release, seasons 3 and 4 have been released together in the release entitled: Due South: Season 3.

DVD NameEp#Release dates
Region 1 (Canada)Region 1 (US)Region 2Region 4
Due South: Season 122November 26, 2002November 23, 2005January 30, 2006August 16, 2006
Due South: Season 218August 5, 2003August 30. 2005May 29, 2006September 29, 2007
Due South: Season 326September 21, 2004November 11, 2005September 4, 2006June 30, 2009
Due South: The Complete Series68N/AMay 6, 2008October 23, 2006N/A


Soundtrack

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The producers of Due South sought to showcase various Canadian artists within the show's episodes, with many of the featured tracks eventually being released on to CD soundtrack. The show's distinctive theme was written and composed by Jay Semko of the rock band The Northern Pikes (who recorded a version of the song with lyrics, played during the shows closing credits) working with Jack Lenz and John McCarthy, and bears a resemblance to the cascading chorus interlude from Deep Blue Something's Breakfast at Tiffany's. . Semko went on to score the first two seasons of Due South. In November 1996, the first album was released containing 17 tracks, one of which was an in-character soliloquy by Paul Gross on the subject of bravery, taken directly from the episode An Eye For an Eye.

When the show returned for its third season Semko returned once again to complete the second soundtrack. The second soundtrack album was released in June 1998 containing 16 tracks from the final two seasons. Both albums are filled largely with the vocals used in the series; most of the incidental music has not yet been released on CD.

  • Due South: The Original Television Soundtrack (1996)
  • Due South, Volume II: The Original Television Soundtrack (1998)


The final scene of the series was set to Stan Rogers' 'Northwest Passage', a classic Canadian folk song which has been referred to as an unofficial Canadian anthem.

Awards

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Over the three-season run of the series, Due South and its cast and crew earned a number of awards. Most significantly, the show earned 53 Canadian Gemini nominations, winning 15 in total, including Best Dramatic TV series three years running (1995–1997). Paul Gross won Best Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role two years running (1995–1996) and creator Paul Haggis won Best Writing in a Dramatic Series the same two years running.

The following table summarizes awards won by the Due South cast and crew:

WinnerAward
Paul GrossGemini, Best Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (1995)
Gemini, Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (1996)
Gordon PinsentGemini, Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series (1996)
Gemini, Earle Grey Award (1997)
Brent CarverGemini, Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role Dramatic Series (1998)
Wendy CrewsonGemini, Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role Dramatic Series (1998)
Production AwardsGemini, Best Dramatic TV Series - (Paul Haggis, Kathy Slevin, Jeff King) (1995)
Gemini, Best TV Movie - (Paul Haggis, Jean Desormeaux, Jeff King) (1995)
Gemini, Best Writing in a Dramatic Series (Kathy Slevin and Paul Haggis for The Pilot) (1995)
Gemini, Best Dramatic Series - (Paul Haggis, Jeff King, Kathy Slevin, George Bloomfield) (1996)
Gemini, Best Writing in a Dramatic Series - (Paul Haggis and David Shore for Hawk and a Handsaw) (1996)
Gemini, Best Direction in a Dramatic or Series - (Jerry Ciccoritti for Gift of the Wheelman) (1996)
Gemini, Best Sound - (Brian Avery, Allen Ormerod, Keith Elliot, Michael Werth, Jann Delpuech for Victoria's Secret) (1996)
Gemini, Best Dramatic Series - (Jeff King and Bob Wertheimer) (1997)
Gemini, Best Writing in a Dramatic Series - (Paul Gross, Robert B. Carney, John Krizanc for Mountie on the Bounty - Part 2) (1998)
Gemini, Best Visual Effects - (Jon Campfens, Barb Benoit, John Cox, Mark Savela for Call of the Wild, Part 2) (1999)


Critical reception

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Fraser's methods, usually more sensitive and understanding than is typical for police work, gave the series a reputation for well rounded characters.

Fan conventions

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A number of fan conventions were organized by Due South fans during the 1990s, the biggest and best known of which was RCW 139, so named after the recurring license plate number. RCW 139 was held annually in Toronto between 1996 and 1999, attracting approximately 300 fans from more than 10 countries in both 1998 and 1999. The convention featured games, discussion panels, a formal dinner, and guest panels. Numerous cast and crew members have attended, including David Marciano (1998), Paul Gross (1999), Gordon Pinsent (1998), Tom Melissis (1997, 1998, 1999), Tony Craig (1997), Catherine Bruhier (1998, 1999) and Jay Semko (1998, 1999). Furthermore, Draco (Diefenbaker) and his trainer, Gail Parker, were guests in both 1998 and 1999

After a nine year hiatus, the convention was revived in 2008, and was highlighted by guest panels from David Marciano, Jay Semko, Tom Melissis, Catherine Bruhier, and Gail Parker with Cinder, Draco's sister and stunt-double. Another convention was held in August 2010, highlighted by the participation of Paul Gross, Jay Semko, Tom Melissis, Camilla Scott, Tony Craig, Catherine Bruhier, and Ramona Milano.

The following is a list of RCW 139 conventions:

  • RCW 139 (1996)
  • RCW 139: Due It Again! (1997)
  • RCW 139: A Cop, A Mountie, and A Convention (1998)
  • RCW 139: Ride Forever (1999)
  • RCW 139: Toronto Holiday (2008)
  • RCW 139: Duesers' Day Off (2010)


References in other media

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  • In the MMORPG City Of Heroes, budding superheroes can take missions from a 'Detective Frasenbaker', an apparently superhuman Mountie who moved to the fictional Paragon City while on the trail of his father's killers. Listening closely at the door of his temporary office will reveal the distinctive bark of a large dog. His presence is an in-joke and artist's signature by Canadian developer and longtime fan Melissa Bianco (aka 'War_Witch').
  • In the Vinyl Cafe story 'Cousin Dorothy', Dave's relative (albeit not technically his cousin) Dorothy comes to Toronto from England to attend a "Friends of Due South" convention.


Notes and references

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Some of the content on this page has been provided by the following page on Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_South


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