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You can take comedy gold to the bank

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YOU know how it is with banks these days -- you keep making deposits, but the rate of return is so low that you feel like you're not producing any positive results.

Harry doesn't have that problem.

Of course, that might have something to do with the kind of banking Harry does.

Harry, you see, is the central character in the new Citytv comedy series Seed, and as a slacker/bartender/commitment-phobic bachelor, he doesn't have much need for the traditional charter banks. But as a seeker of easy money, he has been known to visit a sperm bank, where a couple of self-focused minutes can produce a modest but reliable payout.

Simple. Fun, in a weird way. And no strings attached.

Until, that is, the arrival of the social-media age produced a generation of youngsters with the ability to crack computer codes, the curiosity to seek out classified information and the willingness to share the information with cyber-friends.

Suddenly, Harry finds himself face to face with a curly-haired lad who bears a striking resemblance to his pre-adolescent self and who claims Harry is his father.

"It's me, Billy," says the kid. "You're my dad. You got my mom pregnant."

Harry, perplexed, does a quick sort through his mental index of one-night stands. "Oh, God. Cancun?"

Billy is quick to correct. "You gave my mom your frozen sperm."

Cue the spit-take. And the laugh.

Seed springs from a somewhat unlikely premise, but quickly establishes itself as a show with a good heart and a pretty sharp sense of humour.

Key to the series' appeal is star Adam Korson, who infuses Harry with an infectious charm and more smarts than anyone -- himself included -- gives him credit for. The supporting cast is solid and likable, but Seed stands no chance of taking root in prime time if Korson can't connect with viewers. And he does.

Monday's pilot introduces Harry to Billy (played with beyond-his-years skill by William Ainscough), and then forces the bartender to return the kid to his "real" parents, a lesbian couple named Zoey and Michelle (Stephanie Anne Mills and Amanda Brugel). They, of course, are not thrilled to learn what Billy has been up to.

But there's something about Harry that charms them, too, and less-militant Zoey suggests that perhaps a male influence might help their son.

Before any of that can be resolved, however, Harry returns to The Pour House, the bar that employs him, and finds a teenage girl named Anastasia (Abby Ross) waiting to tell him -- you guessed it -- that she found out from a friend on the Internet that he's Donor XC-3000 -- in other words, her father.

Harry escorts her home, and finds that her parents are of the way-uptight-hetero variety -- Janet (Laura de Carteret), a psychologist and self-proclaimed perfect mother, and Jonathan (Matt Baram), a nerdy-loser lawyer whose insecurities far outnumber his manly attributes.

They, too, are shocked to learn their youngster has sought out her biological father; after meeting Harry, however, they also conclude that maybe there's room for small-dose injections of the donor dad in the daughter's life.

Arriving late -- or perhaps a bit early -- in the reproductive rotation is Rose (Carrie-Lynn Neales), a fed-up-with-men single woman who has decided to pursue partner-less parenthood. One way or another, you just know Harry's going to be involved.

In addition to the spot-on casting of Korson and his supporting castmates, what makes Seed work is the manner in which it quickly creates a community of characters who are likable, interesting and -- despite all their inclinations to the contrary -- inextricably and amusingly connected.

Credit goes to series creator Joseph Raso for bringing this dysfunctionally diverse expanded family to life; no doubt executive producer Mark Farrell (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Corner Gas), one of this country's best TV-comedy minds, has had more than a little bit to do with turning a promising idea into a fully functioning and appealingly funny series.

Seed is one of those shows that provides evidence that a sitcom's premise and setting are purely secondary considerations. If you offer viewers personable actors playing interesting characters and reciting well-crafted., witty dialogue, you've given more than enough reason to tune in.

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

TV REVIEW

Seed

Starring Adam Korson, William Ainscough, Abby Ross and Carrie-Lynn Neales

Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Citytv

4 stars out of 5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2013 G4

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