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Canadian version of popular U.S. series comes up empty

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The Canuck crew of locker scavengers has little to set it apart.

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The Canuck crew of locker scavengers has little to set it apart.

Given the junk-hunting nature of its premise, it's probably fitting to say this about Storage Wars Canada: it'll take a bit of searching to locate it, and those who do likely won't feel they've uncovered a hidden treasure.

Instead, viewers who tune in the debut of Storage Wars Canada (Thursday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. on OLN), the north-of-the-border adaptation on what surely stands as one of TV's most overextended reality franchises, will be faced with a retread of a tired format that offers little in the way of fresh personalities or regional quirks that might enliven a concept that ran out of new ideas about two spinoff cycles ago.

Simply put, it's the same old same old, without anything distinctly Canuck-ish that might make folks feel at least a whiff of patriotic attachment to it.

The format isn't just familiar -- Storage Wars Canada employs a beat-by-beat recitation of the script that has been used, with diminishing effect, in the original A&E series Storage Wars and its two U.S.-cable spinoffs, Storage Wars: Texas and Storage Wars: New York.

The only difference is the cast of characters, and Storage Wars Canada's crew of locker-seeking scavengers isn't a very appealing or engaging bunch. The central core consists of constantly feuding couple Cindy Hayden and Rick Coffill, who've been given the nickname The Veterans, the father-and-son duo Paul and Bogart Kenny (High Roller and The Kid), abrasive guy Roy Dirnbeck (The Instigator) and tight-skirted newcomer Ursula Stolf (The Knock Out). Auction-biz veteran Don Reinhart is in charge of running up the bids.

What a show whose action takes place mostly indoors is doing on OLN, which used to stand for Outdoor Life Network, would probably be a question worth asking, if it weren't for the fact the U.S. original has its home on what used to be known as the Arts & Entertainment network. Let's just say the Farthest From Original Mandate Cable Network Derby now has another sprinter in the field.

From the opening moments of its premi®re episode, Storage Wars Canada feels both limp and like it's trying way too hard. The rapid-fire banter aimed at establishing this incarnation's personalities seems awkwardly forced, and the show's first auction of abandoned lockers -- at a storage facility in Aurora, Ont. -- is filled with units whose most interesting contents are conveniently shrouded by blankets that afford opportunities for the signature Storage Wars cut-to-commercial "Aha!" moments.

Given the original series' recent troubles with former cast member Dave Hester filing a lawsuit over claims the show is contrived and its lockers "seeded" with valuable items, one might have imagined a new spinoff might work harder at avoiding moments that smack of fakery.

That issue notwithstanding, the most perplexing thing about Storage Wars Canada is that it devotes so little effort to being, well, Canadian. Even Canadian Pickers, a pale imitation of U.S. cable's somewhat charming American Pickers, at least makes an effort to create a sense of place that makes up for its lack of originality.

Storage Wars Canada is just more -- or, perhaps, less -- of the same. Even the most devoted followers of the original and its threadbare stateside imitators will likely consider this too much of a no-longer-all-that-good thing.

If someone asks viewers of this debut if Storage Wars Canada is worth a second look, there probably won't be many whose response is "Yuuuuuuup!"

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 29, 2013 C6

History

Updated on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:11 AM CDT: Picture changed.

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