"Sometimes in life all you need is that second chance."

Fortunately Alliance (the show's producer) and CTV were not easily put off. They determined to continue the show and started filming on a reduced budget. Then, following a sustained letter-writing campaign organised by the show's fans who targeted sponsors and critics, CBS eventually capitulated, rejoining the show half-way through the second season.

Camilla Scott as Inspector ThatcherThe problems over financial backing complicated the production of the show. As Camilla Scott (Inspector Margaret Thatcher, Seasons 2-4) said:

"It was all a bit of a mess the year that I joined due South. CBS had picked up the programme very late and they didn't have a lot of scripts, so we were pretty much writing and shooting on the fly. " - TV Zone, August 1998

The second season undoubtedly had a different tone to the first, not least because the characters were by then well-established and developed from their initial exposure in The Pilot. Behind the scenes, Paul Haggis was involved in his new (and sadly short-lived) series EZ Streets and was unable to continue as Executive Producer. Kathy Slevin and Jeff King took over and, as Paul Haggis has said, Fraser developed into a less tragic figure than the one he had originally created. Although the second season still has its dark moments (none more so than Juliet is Bleeding, in which Detective Louis Gardino is killed in an explosion intended for Vecchio, leading to tragic consequences for Ray's childhood sweetheart Irene), overall the episodes adopted a lighter touch, but still without ignoring the drama. The season opener, North was an excellent example.

"My God, Ray, another plane crash! What are the odds?"

Season 2 opener - NorthNorth is virtually a four-hander (plus four paws), with Fraser, Ray and Dief stranded in the Canadian wilderness following a plane crash, dogged by the ghosts of their fathers as they are pursued by a killer. Skilfully inverting the original "fish-out-of-water" premise, with Fraser blind, concussed and later paralysed, Ray is forced to take control in a (to him) alien environment. And catch the killer. But behind the slapstick - played with superb comic timing - the human drama continues to play out in interactions with the two fathers. While Fraser challenges his father to explain why they must "Maintain the Right" (Fraser senior being decidedly off-beam, echoing his son's head injury), Ray's confrontation with his father provides an insight into a sad and abused childhood. Finally, taking the role reversal to its conclusion, Ray both saves the situation and comes to terms with his feelings about his father.

Doing anything after work?Nor did the second season ignore the surreal. In Some Like it Red, Fraser becomes a worryingly convincing "Miss Fraser" as he goes undercover in a girls' convent school to find a missing teenager. The Edge extends the cultural stereotypes into topical satire as Fraser, Vecchio and a glamorous Mexican agent form a Joint Task Force to protect their Trade Ministers while Fraser agonises over losing his "edge" as he grows older. One Good Man sees Fraser adopting a Frank Capra approach to solving a housing problem, while Vecchio again demonstrates his loyalty by bribing passers-by to listen to Fraser's filibuster - using the money intended for a replacement for his beloved Riv, which had met a fiery end in Juliet is Bleeding.

"It's just one of those special cases where alone we're incomplete but together we're better than we are separately."

The second season also gave Paul the chance to write two scripts for the show. The first, All the Queen's Horses, sees the RCMP Musical Ride, accompanied by Thatcher, Fraser and Buck Frobisher, taken hostage by an extremist militia organisation intent on turning their train into an impromptu nuclear catastrophe. In an expansive and wickedly funny story, the terrorists finally meet their match only after Vecchio leaps onto the train with Dief in his arms, Fraser rescues a hair-pin from Thatcher's cleavage and Buck recreates the Great Yukon Double Douglas Fir Telescoping Bank Shot in order to stop the train. And, in a moment of pure Monty Python, the Mounties of the Musical Ride regain consciousness simultaneously, taking up the refrain of "Ride Forever" - at the precise point they had left it before succumbing to the terrorists' nerve gas.

Red, white or blue?The companion to this episode, Red White or Blue, also written by Paul, deals with the trial of the leader of the militia group, Randall Bolt. He and his cousin, Francis, take the Judge and jury hostage, while Vecchio and Fraser are strapped to a bomb primed to explode should their combined heart-rates exceed a certain limit. Earlier, having felt slighted by the attention lavished on Fraser by the press, Vecchio returns home and begins to talk aloud about the situation. Fraser meanwhile has also returned to his own sparse apartment. Their overlapping conversations, a perfectly matched double-monologue, is one of the most original scenes in the entire series, combining tongue-in-cheek humour, character exploration and plot development in a few moments of creative brilliance.

But still it wasn't enough for CBS. Once again, the American network withdrew its support. And this time, it looked as though due South was finished for good.

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