Less Than Kind
|Less Than Kind|
Shawn Alex Thompson
|Theme music composer||The Weakerthans|
|Opening theme||"One Great City!"|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||48 (list of episodes)|
Jan Peter Meyboom|
Paula J. Smith
|Location(s)||Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada|
Gareth C. Scales|
|Running time||30 minutes|
Buffalo Gal Pictures|
Breakthrough Films & Television
City (Season 1)|
HBO Canada (Season 2-4)
|Original release||October 13, 2008 – July 14, 2013|
Less Than Kind is a Canadian television comedy-drama series that stars Jesse Camacho as Sheldon Blecher, a teenager growing up in a loving but dysfunctional Jewish family in Winnipeg. The show's cast also includes Maury Chaykin and Wendel Meldrum as Sheldon's parents, Benjamin Arthur as his older brother Josh, and Nancy Sorel as his aunt Clara. The Blechers struggle to operate a driving school out of their home in Winnipeg's fading North End. Less Than Kind made its debut October 13, 2008, on Citytv, and moved to HBO Canada in February 2010.
The ensemble cast of the critically acclaimed series won Canadian Comedy Awards in 2009 and 2010.Less Than Kind received the 2010 Gemini Award for Best Comedy Program or Series and the inaugural award for Best Comedy Series at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards.
The title sequence and logo for Less Than Kind were inspired by an iconic highway sign at Winnipeg's Confusion Corner intersection, depicting arrows pointing in every direction.
The name of the series is found in the first line spoken by Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 2): "A little more than kin, and less than kind."
- Maury Chaykin as Sam Blecher (father) - Season 1 & 2
- Wendel Meldrum as Anne Blecher (mother)
- Benjamin Arthur as Josh Blecher (older brother)
- Jesse Camacho as Sheldon Blecher (younger brother)
- Lisa Durupt as Chandra (Josh's girlfriend/wife)
- Brooke Palsson as Miriam Goldstein (Sheldon's friend/girlfriend)
- Tyler Johnston as Danny Lubbe (Sheldon/Miriam's friend) - Season 2 - 4
- Nancy Sorel as Clara Fine (Anne's sister)
- Emma Bambrick as Imelda Amahit (Sheldon's girlfriend) - Season 1
- Rebecca Gibson as Rachel
We understood that the value of the show was in the fact that it's not a sitcom — it's a show that's beautifully written, with characters that are less than perfect, that are real.... We're not wrapping every episode up nice and neatly, because it's all in the sloppiness — that's where the gold is.
Less Than Kind was created by Marvin Kaye and Chris Sheasgreen, who loosely based the series on Kaye's successful one-act play, They Have Mayonaisse in Montreal. "I liked the characters and liked that it was kind of based on Marvin's life," said showrunner Mark McKinney. "It had a ring of truth to it, had heart.... It was pretty easy to climb on board."
The series was produced for City by Buffalo Gal Pictures and Breakthrough Films & Television. It was originally announced as part of Citytv's 2007 schedule, but was delayed because CTVglobemedia's acquisition of CHUM Limited and subsequent sale of Citytv to Rogers Media necessitated that the two companies sort out programming rights between Citytv and its former sister network A-Channel. The series made its debut October 13, 2008. For the second season, the show moved to HBO Canada.
Following Chaykin's death in July 2010, the show's producers announced that production on the third season would be delayed, but that the show would continue. Production of the third season began in November 2010, with directors including James Dunnison, Bruce McDonald, Mark McKinney, Kelly Makin, Douglas Mitchell and Gary Yates.
The fourth and final season of Less Than Kind was filmed in Winnipeg May 28–July 10, 2012, for broadcast in 2013. "We are all thrilled to be doing a fourth season that offers the creative challenge of concluding this story and this wonderful series," said executive producer Mark McKinney.
The first season of Less Than Kind premiered on October 13, 2008 on Citytv. The show's second season premiered on Friday, February 19, 2010, at 8:30 p.m. ET/MT on HBO Canada, a multiplex channel of The Movie Network and Movie Central. In June 2010 it was announced that HBO Canada had picked up the show for a third season.
The US debut was scheduled for DirecTV's Audience Network on November 3, 2011. DirecTV acquired all 3 seasons.
Home video releases
In September 2012, Less Than Kind was one of the three titles chosen to launch Breakthrough Entertainment's newly established online distribution division, Breakthrough Home Entertainment. The first season of the series was offered for sale as a three-disc DVD set available for Canadian purchasers only.
Reviews and commentary
- Vanessa Farquharson, National Post (August 21, 2008) — Refreshingly edgy.... The episodes all come together in something that might be called an organized mess. Multiple plot lines get tangled, supporting characters come and go, but ultimately there's a strong core of actors holding this together. They know when to improvise and when to stick to the script, and they realize Winnipeg is not Los Angeles, and that this is a good thing — Less Than Kind is far from predictable Hollywood pap.
- Maury Chaykin — I'm a bit jaded and cynical about which shows succeed on television. I worked on a fantastic show once called Nero Wolfe, but at the time A&E was transforming from the premiere intellectual cable network in America to one that airs Dog the Bounty Hunter on repeat, so it was never promoted and eventually went off the air. But hopefully Less Than Kind will get an audience, because it really deserves it. And the audience deserves the show — they really do.
- Amber Dowling, TV Guide (September 8, 2008) — Less Than Kind is the kind of show you actually want to watch with your family.
- Joshua Ostroff, Eye Weekly (October 8, 2008) — Less Than Kind is about a perpetual-winter Winnipeg as seen from the perspective of fat-but-brilliant 15-year-old Sheldon Blecher (the impressive-beyond-his-years Jesse Camacho), who balances self-loathing with a pride in his own intelligence. ... The show’s melancholic humour and near-perfect casting for its array of sweet-natured outsiders comes from creator Marvin Kaye, who expanded the semi-autobiographical series from his one-act play, and exec producer Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall, Slings & Arrows). The Weakerthans supply a perfect theme song.
- Rob Salem, Toronto Star (October 13, 2008) — It is some small comfort, as we begin the big adieu tonight for the final season of the much-admired Corner Gas, that just one hour later on Citytv, we are introduced to another mid-country comedy that could well be its successor, Less Than Kind. And, in a further vote of confidence, the show has already been picked up for a second season even before the first of these initial 13 hits the air. ... Again, the comedy is character-driven, in this case by the only somewhat less overtly eccentric members of the Blecher family, focusing on the younger son, Sheldon, embodied — and then some — by plus-sized 17-year-old Jesse Camacho, who often almost eerily evokes a young John Candy. Except in his scenes with Blecher patriarch Maury Chaykin, an endearingly shady driving instructor. Together onscreen, they could not be any closer than acorn to tree. ... It is Camacho and Chaykin, together, separately and in combination with the others, who make this wonky domestic sitcom work.
- Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail (October 13, 2008) — Less Than Kind features the Blechers, a Jewish family in Winnipeg whose members include a scheming dad, a pyromaniacal mother, a nymphomaniacal aunt and two mismatched brothers. The first is a self-absorbed, failed actor; the second is a sympathetic teenage fat boy and the show's protagonist. With confident performances from Maury Chaykin as the irascible dad who operates a driving school on barter, and Jesse Camacho as the put-upon but surprisingly mature nerd trying to juggle girls and school, Less Than Kind also offers a strong ensemble — and the occasional flash of comic brilliance. The family with the pyromaniac mum is trying to get its son bar-mitzvahed at a synagogue that is under repairs after a mysterious fire.
- Joel Rubinoff, Waterloo Record (October 25, 2008) — One of the edgiest Canadian comedies in recent history.... Less Than Kind is different. Not only does it boast the acerbic wit of its producer, former Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney, but as a low-budget Canadian show that flies stealthily under the radar, it's fearless.
- Andrew Ryan, The Globe and Mail (November 7, 2008) — What happens in Winnipeg stays in Winnipeg on this engaging homegrown series. Montreal native Jesse Camacho is a true find as the lovable loser Sheldon Blecher.
- Alison Gillmor, CBC News (November 17, 2008) — Less Than Kind, which has already been picked up for a second season, works because it integrates Winnipeg’s crowded past with a fierce, funny and generous look at a timeless situation. Fifteen-year-old Sheldon Blecher (played by the tremendously appealing Jesse Camacho) is an old soul in Husky Boy jeans; he’s the only grownup in a completely loopy family. Father Sam (played by Maury Chaykin, once again proving he’s Canada’s best character actor) is perpetually furious, constantly scheming. Warm, well-meaning mother Anne (Wendel Meldrum) handles her stress with a touch of pyromania.... Like its opening theme song — the Weakerthans’ "One Great City," with its plaintive "I hate Winnipeg" refrain — the show takes complaints and carping and turns them into anguished love.
- John Doyle, The Globe and Mail (December 24, 2010) — Strange and lovely, anchored in the poetry of the ordinary, this finespun comedy set in Winnipeg has had a life more eventful than most of its plotlines. First aired but ignored on the City TV channels, it came back for a second season on HBO Canada, got quiet acclaim and then suffered the death of one of its mainstays, actor Maury Chaykin. Long may it continue its loopy, warm meandering.
Awards and nominations
Over the four seasons of the series, it received 55 nominations, earning 16 wins, including recognition from the Leo Awards, Canadian Comedy Awards, Directors Guild of Canada, Writers Guild of Canada, Gemini Awards, ACTRA Awards, Canadian Cinema Editors awards, Young Artist Awards, and Canadian Screen Awards.
|Leo Award 2009||Best Supporting Performance by a Male in a Dramatic Series||Benjamin Arthur, "Top of the Class"||Won|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2009||Best Performance by an Ensemble – Television||Less Than Kind||Won|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2009||Best Performance by a Female – Television||Wendel Meldrum||Won|
|DGC Craft Award 2009||Outstanding Achievement in Direction||Shawn Alex Thompson, "French is My Kryptonite"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Comedy Program or Series||Less Than Kind||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series||James Dunnison, "Fun"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series||Kelly Makin, "The Daters"||Won|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series||Henry Sarwer-Foner, "Pakikisama"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series||Shawn Alex Thompson, "French is My Kryptonite"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Writing in a Comedy Program or Series||Mark McKinney, "Careers Day"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Individual Performance in a Comedy Program or Series||Brooke Palsson, "French is My Kryptonite"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Individual Performance in a Comedy Program or Series||Benjamin Arthur, "Pakikisama"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2009||Best Achievement in Casting||Susan Forrest, Sharon Forrest and Jim Heber, "The Daters"||Nominated|
|WGC Screenwriting Award 2010||Best Episodic half-hour||Garry Campbell, "The Daters"||Won|
|WGC Screenwriting Award 2010||Best Episodic half-hour||Jenn Engels, "Fun"||Nominated|
|WGC Screenwriting Award 2010||Best Episodic half-hour||Marvin Kaye and Chris Sheasgreen, "Happy Birthday, Sheldon"||Nominated|
|WGC Screenwriting Award 2010||Best Episodic half-hour||Mark McKinney, "Careers Day"||Nominated|
|DGC Team Achievement Award 2010||Best Television Series – Comedy||"Third Death's the Charm"||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2010||Best Direction – Television Program or Series||Kelly Makin||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2010||Best Writing – Television Program or Series||Garry Campbell||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2010||Best Writing – Television Program or Series||Mark McKinney||Won|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2010||Best Performance by a Female – Television||Jennifer Irwin||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2010||Best Performance by a Female – Television||Wendel Meldrum||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2010||Best Performance by a Male – Television||Dave Foley||Won|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2010||Best Performance by an Ensemble – Television||Less Than Kind||Won|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Comedy Program or Series||Less Than Kind||Won|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series||James Dunnison, "First Nighters"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series||Jenn Engels, "Fatso Loves Lesbo"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series||Marvin Kaye and Chris Sheasgreen, "Third Death's the Charm"||Won|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Individual Performance in a Comedy Program or Series||Benjamin Arthur, "That's Somebody's Knish!"||Won|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Individual Performance in a Comedy Program or Series||Lisa Durupt, "Road Trip"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Individual Performance in a Comedy Program or Series||Wendel Meldrum, "I Am Somewhere"||Nominated|
|Gemini Award 2010||Best Achievement in Main Title Design||Trevor Hembrey, Adam Shaheen, Ian Tucker||Nominated|
|ACTRA Toronto Award 2011||Outstanding Performance — Male||Maury Chaykin||Won|
|WGC Screenwriting Award 2011||Best TV Comedy||Chris Sheasgreen, "Coming Home"||Won|
|WGC Screenwriting Award 2011||Best TV Comedy||Garry Campbell and Jen Beasle, "The Deluge"||Nominated|
|WGC Screenwriting Award 2011||Best TV Comedy||Jenn Engels, "Fatso Loves Lesbo"||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2011||Best TV Show||Less Than Kind||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2011||Best Performance by a Female – Television||Brooke Palsson||Won|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2011||Best Direction – Television Program or Series||James Dunnison, "That's Somebody's Knish!"||Won|
|DGC Team Achievement Award 2011||Best Television Series – Comedy||"That's Somebody's Knish!"||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards 2011||Best Leading Young Actor – Television Comedy or Drama||Jesse Comacho||Nominated|
|Leo Award 2012||Best Supporting Performance in a Music, Comedy, or Variety Program or Series||Benjamin Arthur, "March Fourth"||Won|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2012||Best Performance by an Ensemble – Television||Less Than Kind||Nominated|
|Canadian Comedy Award 2012||Best Direction – Television Program or Series||Mark McKinney, "March Fourth"||Won|
|Directors Guild of Canada Award 2012||Best Television Series — Comedy||"Fugue State"||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of Canada Award 2012||Best Picture Editing — Television Series||"Fugue State"||Nominated|
|Canadian Screen Award 2013||Best Comedy Series||Less Than Kind||Won|
|Canadian Screen Award 2014||Best Direction in a Comedy Program||Kelly Malkin, "Fight and Flight"||Won|
|Canadian Screen Award 2014||Best Actress - Comedy Series||Nancy Morel, "Before The End Begins"||Nominated|
|Canadian Screen Award 2014||Best Actress - Comedy Series||Wendel Meldrum, "I'm Only Nineteen"||Nominated|
- Less Than Kind Season Two To Air On HBO Canada
- Canadian Comedy Awards Archives; retrieved November 14, 2010.
- "Less Than Kind wins 3 Geminis". CBC News, November 13, 2010; retrieved November 14, 2010
- Cuppa Coffee Studios broadcast title design description
- Osborne & Corydon Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Google Maps Canada)
- Farquharson, Vanessa, "Whole lot of Chaykin going on"; National Post, August 21, 2008
- Strauss, Marise, Less Than Kind looks to fill comedy gap; Playback, August 28, 2008
- "New home, sweet home: Winnipeg-set sitcom changes neighbourhoods to premium cable's HBO". Winnipeg Free Press, February 18, 2010.
- "Show must go on, producers say". Winnipeg Free Press, July 28, 2010
- "Without Maury". Winnipeg Free Press, November 13, 2010
- ACTRA Manitoba – In Production; retrieved July 28, 2011
- King, Randall, "Final season of Less Than Kind starts shooting". Winnipeg Free Press, May 26, 2012; retrieved October 20, 2012
- Less Than Kind, the multi-award winning series on HBO Canada, starts principal photography in Winnipeg on its 4th and final season. Breakthrough Films press release, May 29, 2012; retrieved October 20, 2012
- Less Than Kind Season Two To Air On HBO Canada; Breakthrough Films press release, December 21, 2009
- Press release about the third season; Breakthrough Films and Television, June 7, 2010
- Less Than Kind schedule on Sony Entertainment Television, South Africa; retrieved December 3, 2009
- Less Than Kind on Anixe HD, Germany; retrieved January 2, 2010
- Canada's Funniest Family Finds an Exclusive Home on DIRECTV retrieved October 21, 2011
- "‘Less’ is more: Less Than Kind to end on quiet, poignant note". canada.com, June 26, 2013.
- Breakthrough Entertainment Launches Home Entertainment Division. Breakthrough Entertainment press release, September 21, 2012; retrieved October 20, 2012
- Less Than Kind DVD Season #1 Now Available Via Breakthrough Home Entertainment. Breakthrough Entertainment press release, October 16, 2012; retrieved October 20, 2012
- "Weak start for Less Than Kind"; Media in Canada, October 28, 2008
- Farquharson, Vanessa, "Whole lot of Chaykin going on"; National Post, August 21, 2008
- Dowling, Amber, Fall Preview, Less Than Kind debuts, TV Guide, September 8, 2008
- Ostroff, Joshua, "The fall and rise of CanCom"; Eye Weekly, October 8, 2008
- Rubinoff, Joel, "Less Than Kind is kinda good"; Waterloo Record, October 25, 2008
- Gillmor, Alison, "Winnipeg plays itself"; CBC News, November 17, 2008
- "The Daters" — Breakthrough Films & Television