"Ah, Constable, you've returned. Upon reflection, I imagine that pleases me!"
As Geoff Tibballs writes in due South: The Official Companion:
"In the harsh world of television, the chances of a show being cancelled twice and still surviving are about as likely as finding gravy stains on Fraser's uniform. "
due South wasn't nicknamed "The Show That Would Not Die" without good reason. The sets were being dismantled and destroyed, the cast and crew moving on to other employment, when the BBC, Pro Sieben AG in Germany and the French company TF1, surprised that such a successful show should be cancelled, offered to help finance a third series. due South was brought back from the brink once more.
But financial backing wasn't the only problem. In the interim, David Marciano had moved back to Los Angeles and had been offered a lucrative deal with CBS. Reluctant to move his family back to Canada, he nevertheless entered into negotiations with Alliance. These unfortunately ended when they were unable to agree terms.
Interviewed for TV Zone (Issue #103), David said:
". . . it wasn't just about money. I had my family obligations to consider as well as my professional relationship with Leslie Moonves, the entertainment president of CBS. Besides this, I also had to decide whether or not this was something creatively I wanted to do for another year."
With David having decided not to return full-time to the series, the producers had to look for a new partner for Fraser. This proved as difficult as it had the first time around. Many names were suggested and auditions held, but it wasn't until Callum Keith Rennie (already becoming well-known in Canada for his roles in a number of films and TV series) was approached that the producers found their man. Like David Marciano before him, however, he was initially reluctant to take on the role. Joking during an interview published in the British TV listings magazine, Radio Times, in May 1998, he said:
"I wasn't too keen to do it, but then Paul made me toss a coin for it. I lost. "
Another major change was the appointment of Paul Gross as the show's Executive Producer.
"I've been thinking about an office. I think I need an office."
When Paul was approached by Robert Lantos to take over as Executive Producer, he was the first to admit that his knowledge of what this would entail was slim. But he soon discovered the extent of the responsibilities involved:
"I just worked all the time, because the responsibilities beyond the set were enormous. I'd no idea how much work was involved in running this thing. " - Cult Times: May 1998
On occasion he described the job of EP as "similar to firing an arrow at your own forehead!" Nevertheless, that he succeeded in the role is more than evidenced by the comments of other members of the cast:
"Paul kept things in order and running smoothly. For someone who was an executive producer for the first time he did one hell of a job. He is wonderful to work for and with." - Ramona Milano, Cult Times: October 1998
"It also made a big difference having Paul as the executive producer this season. There's a comfort zone that you set for yourself when you put yourself in charge and are responsible for so many different aspects of a show. He handled that, I thought, quite beautifully. Whether it had to do with the writing, the performing, or a specific problem someone was having, he was always listening and a part of it all." - Gordon Pinsent, TVZone Special #30: August 1998
"Paul Gross is a delight. He had a great deal on his plate and hundreds of decisions to make but he was always straight-ahead as both the executive producer and an actor. He's got terrific timing and a keen understanding of his craft. It was a joy to go to work every day and figure out what we were going to do . . . . The truth is it was the best working environment I've ever been in and that includes the crew as well as the cast. Not to get mushy, but as an actor, when you have that kind of backing, you feel as if you can do almost anything, and we did." - Callum Keith Rennie, TV Zone: July 1998
"I think with Paul in charge things ran a lot more smoothly . . . This year we had scripts in advance and everything just seemed more organised . . . I don't have any bad memories of working on due South - it was always great - but I think it was even better the second time around." - Camilla Scott, TV Zone: August 1998
"Absolutely awesome. It is soooo much fun. . . he's easy-going and decisions are made right there on the spot as opposed to having to call the office." - Anne Marie Loder, IRC chat, 26 January 1998
And Robert Lantos, then Chairman and CEO of Alliance, agreed:
"I hate to say this because he's got enough going for him already, but he's turned out to be a first-class producer. This show was always problematic. There were budget overruns. It was behind schedule. There was always panic on the set. Since Paul has been running the show, I don't hear anything. It's completely calm and smooth. It's even below budget. It's astonishing." - MacLean's, 13 October 1997