The new TV season starts ... well, right now

Sure, right now it looks like we don't need the new TV season. The weather has been perfect; the world can go outside and play.

Still, the season is starting and we should be ready. Officially, it starts Sept. 21; however, we could say it starts:

-- A week earlier, on Sept. 14, when Jay Leno takes over the 10 p.m. spot every weekday on NBC.

-- Or on Thursday (Sept. 10), when the CW introduces "Vampire Diaries." It's an overheated high-school drama, filled with pretty people, two of whom happen to be living forever.

-- Or on Wednesday (Sept. 9), when two networks skip the presidential address. Instead, the CW has a very noisy -- and quite interesting -- batch of contestants for the "America's Next Top Model" season-opener. Fox has the season-openers of two terrific shows, "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Glee."

-- Or on Tuesday (Sept. 8). CW opens the "90210" season, then debuts the new edition of "Melrose Place." It fills the apartment complex with great-looking people and nasty secrets; there are enough nice people (barely) to keep us watching.

-- Or you could say the season started Monday, when "Durham County" debuted on the little Ion network. Fortunately, it reruns all week; here's a story I wrote about the show:

There are things we might expect from
Canadian TV shows.

They includes optimism and idealism.
Even amid tragedy, the “Flashpoint” cops remain calm and cool.

Now comes a new show, which goes in the
opposite way. “'Durham County' is much darker,” said Hugh Dillon,
who stars in that show and co-stars in “Flashpoint.”

The mood of “Durham County” is
signaled instantly. We're in suburbia, but nearby are the woods and
overhead are massive power lines.

“It's forboding,” Dillon said. “The
power lines are huge … It all makes you feel quieter and smaller.”

This is the world Mike Sweeney (Dillon)
moves back to. His wife Audrey (played by Australian actress Helene
Joy) is fighting cancer; they've returned to their home town with
their teen daughter.

This is supposed to be a soothing place
for a new life, but there are ominous signs – the power lines, the
trees, the scheming teen boys, two murder cases … and the fact that
Mike's high-school nemesis (Justin Louis) lives across the street.
Mike – who has dark secrets of his own – is overwhelmed.

There's a tough, working-class feeling
to the show, something Dillon can associate with from his boyhood in
Kingston, Ontario. “It's the prison capital of North America,” he
said. There are nine prisons in all, one going back to 1835.

His dad worked in an aluminum factory,
his mom was a teacher and his siblings were quite a bit older. Dillon
tried acting and music, then scored as singer for a rock band, the

This was rock success – a major-label
(MCA) contract in 1993, nominations for two national Juno awards
(best group, best rock album) in 1996 – complete with a down side.
“It gives you so much access to drugs and the life is so brutal,”
Dillon said.

He did rehab twice. He also became an
actor, drawing praise for “Hard Core Logo” in 1996.

Most of his success was confined to
Canada, until the writers' strike spurred crossovers. “Flashpoint”
(with Dillon as Ed Lane) has filmed 18 episodes for its third season;
CBS has ordered nine of them, as a mid-season replacement.

He was already doing that show when he
was called for a meeting with the women who are the “Durham County”
producers. “It felt like 'The Witches of Eastwick.' All of a
sudden, you're very self-conscious, because they are so smart and

He took the role, wedging one show into
breaks from the other. So far, he's done two six-episode Canadian
seasons of “Durham County” and is starting a third.

In the U.S., that gives the little Ion
network 12 episodes. Americans can step into a darker side of the
Canadian experience.

Finding “Durham County”

– 10 p.m. Mondays, rerunning at
11; debuted Sept. 7

-- During its first week, it has a rerun at 11 p.m.
nightly, through Friday, Sept. 11

– Ion network. When it was Pax Net,
the network had several original series; this is its first original,
however, under its new name.