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Son of a Critch

Son of a Critch season 3

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Cast

Network

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TV Series Review

Why do so many TV shows reminisce about times past?

The Wonder Years gives us a peak at a typical black family living in the ‘60s. Young Sheldon gives the backstory of The Big Bang Theory’s titular character Sheldon Cooper. And Son of a Critch focuses on the childhood of Mark Critch, the son of an Irish-Catholic radio host living in 1980s-era Newfoundland, Canada.

Mark’s life isn’t anything super extraordinary. He goes to a Catholic school, deals with bullies, hangs out with friends and watches his family bicker on occasion. It hits most of the beats that you’d expect from a nostalgia-driven show.

But there’s something especially intriguing about this coming-of-age story. Perhaps it’s the love and support Mark’s family has for each other. Perhaps it’s the fact that Mark’s primary bully is actually a girl who has a crush on him. Or maybe it’s just the fact that Son of a Critch doesn’t rely on Hollywood-esque antics to tell its tale.

It’s just a simple depiction of how one family navigates this little thing we call life.

Son of a What Now?

Son of a Critch originally aired on the Canadian network CBC before it was picked up by the CW. And it’s loosely based on the childhood of Canadian comedian Mark Critch (who narrates as well).

As with some of the shows mentioned above (and certainly as the title suggests), language can get a bit hairy—and characters often substitute “frig” or “shag” for the f-word. Topics covered include puberty, first loves, bullying and other coming-of-age subjects, such as lying and even underage drinking.

Given that the title family is Catholic, we also get a peek at their faith. The Critches are by no means the most ardent believers, but they do try. We see a few prayers, Mark goes through a confirmation ceremony, and the family celebrates weekly Mass on occasion.

But, as Mark narrates, you can’t talk about Newfoundland in the 1980s without talking about the sexual abuse scandal that occurred during that time at a Catholic-run orphanage. Shortly after Mark announces that he wants to become a priest (which he later recants), he’s devastated by the news that his confirmation sponsor, Father Moore, was one of the priests accused and has been transferred overseas.

There are some other religious twists as well. Mark is shocked on the first day of school when he learns that strapping (slapping a student’s hand with a leather strap) is still enforced by the nuns who teach him, even though corporal punishment has been outlawed elsewhere. And in Season Two, one of the nuns at his school renounces her vows—though she says she still loves Jesus.

Son of a Critch isn’t going to be a show every family will flock to. But much like The Wonder Years, it’s truly a family show in that members aren’t necessarily perfect, but they do love each other, trying to do what’s best and pushing each other to reach their full potential.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 4, 2022 – S1, E1: “Old Soul, New School”

Mark is nervous about making friends on his first day at a new school. Things quickly turn south when a family of bullies picks him as their target.

Mark’s school is Catholic: We see some crosses and statues of Mary, Mother of Jesus, around the building, and some of his teachers are nuns. We hear a few stories from the Bible. Mark’s house is decorated with religiously themed items.

We see a moose that has been hit by a car (and hear the driver was killed in the accident, too). Later, the Critches eat the moose meat for dinner. Fox, a bully in Mark’s class, punches him and shoves his head against a bus window to impress her older brothers. A nun headlocks one boy for headlocking another. Mark is informed that students who get sent to the principal’s office will receive corporal punishment. We hear a student receiving this punishment later on. Kids punch and shove each other, knock each other down, and do other mean-spirited, physically violent things.

Mark is mocked by his classmates and several refuse to sit next to him on the bus. A teacher embarrasses Mark and another new student for forgetting gym clothes. Narrator Mark calls someone a “suck up.” Bullies pick on Ritchie, the only person of color at Mark’s school, for his race. And a desperate Mark becomes a bully himself, teasing a girl for being poor (though he’s called out by his friend, and he later apologizes to her).

Pop (Mark’s 80-year-old grandpa) jokingly suggests that Mark (who seems to have a fever) should accompany him to a wake in order to get some other old folk sick.

Mark shares a bedroom with Pop, and the old man inadvertently moons him (offscreen). Someone says a funeral home put so much makeup on a deceased man that he looked like a “hooker.” A woman says a doctor left his wife for a patient and began drinking again. Mark wonders if a small child on his bus is the son of an older kid.

Mark’s mom gossips quite a bit, and Mark comments on this in voice-over narration. Mark pretends he has a fever by putting his head above the steam from a kettle. Mark drinks apple juice from a rocks glass as though it’s booze.

We hear a few uses each of “b–tard,” “d–k,” “h—,” “p–ck” and the British expletive “bloody.” God’s name is misused three times, and Christ’s name is misused once. A teacher says “nuts” in reference to genitals then asks a student not to repeat it.

Jan. 3, 2023 – S2, E1: “Growing Apart”

After summer vacation, Mark feels abandoned by his friends. His grandpa, Pop, is sad when the last of his childhood friends passes away. And Mark’s older brother, Mike, argues with their dad after Mike drops out of college.

Sister Rose, one of the school’s administrators, tells Mark and his classmates that their old teacher, Sister Margaret, is dead. However, she then clarifies that she means this metaphorically as Sister Margaret has renounced her vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. Margaret reassures her students that she still loves Jesus (though Sister Rose clearly doesn’t believe her). We hear several references to Bible verses and Bible stories.

Bullies hit each other and other kids. Pop yanks out Mark’s last baby tooth.

One of Fox’s brothers (Mark’s bully-turned-girlfriend) tells Mark that she’s too “hot” for him, and the people around him question his word choice. A teen boy kisses his girlfriend on the cheek.

Pop talks to Mark about puberty. We hear that a man wore his late wife’s dentures. Mark mows some lawns even though he’s deathly allergic to grass. A boy with only a learner’s permit drives without an adult present. People lie. Mark drinks apple juice from a rocks glass as though it’s booze. A teacher says she needs to smoke.

We hear a few uses of “friggin” and “shag” in place of the f-word. We also hear uses of “a–,” “h—” and “p–ck.” God’s name is misused a few times as well. A man on the radio is muted just before he unleashes a slew of profanities.

Mike lies to his parents about dropping out of school, infuriating his father. However, after he explains that he just wants to be like his dad and work at the radio station, his dad forgives him and begins to show Mike the ropes.

After his friend passes away, Pop cuts the man’s face out of all his pictures. He tells Mark that this is because he doesn’t want to look at “dead eyes.” They talk briefly about Pop’s grief, and Mark reassures Pop that he can always call Mark a friend. And Pop eventually puts one of the cut photographs inside his pocket watch to remember his friend by.

Jan. 9, 2024 – S3, E1: “That Was Me in Grade 9”

Mark’s hopes of being one of the oldest (and by default, coolest) kids in his school are quickly dashed when he learns he needs glasses.

A nun drags a cross into her classroom as a “visual representation of Christ’s suffering.” She later blindfolds herself in solidarity with Mark, since he’s embarrassed to wear glasses. (However, students take advantage of her blindness by sneaking out of the classroom.) We hear several Bible stories and verses.

Mark’s parents worry when he locks his bedroom door. Pop, his grandpa, reassures them that there’s no pornography in Mark’s room, but they still spy on him through the window just to be sure. When a teacher asks Mark if he’s using protection (referring to Scotch-guard for Marks’s suede jacket), Mark mistakenly believes the man is asking about contraception. Students discussing the spelling differences between “beer,” “bear” and “bare” are chastised for mentioning nudity and alcohol in class. A nun is embarrassed when Pop (whom she dated before she took her vows) makes some salacious remarks to her.

Fox and her older brother quit bullying Mark since he’s in grade 9 now, even allowing him to sit with them at the back of the school bus. However, a much younger member of their family takes on this mantel, teasing Mark for his glasses and throwing things at him. When Mark stands up to him, he’s ridiculed for picking on someone so much smaller.

A few bullies pretend to punch younger kids to scare them. Mark says a pair of glasses are “too serial killer.”

Adults (including some nuns at Mark’s school) childishly compete for dominance in their workplaces. A teenage boy who used to bully Mark drops out of his new school after he gets bullied himself. Mark is embarrassed when a teacher shows up to school wearing the same jacket as he’s wearing. People lie.

We hear uses of “frig” and “shag” in place of the f-word. There are a couple of uses of “a—” and “h—.” A very small child says, “Critch is my b–ch.” God’s name is taken in vain three times, and Christ’s name is abused once.

Mark’s dad, Mike Sr., is upset when Mike Jr. begins using a fake name on the radio (because of the confusion for audiences). Mike Jr. defends the fake name: He wants to know if he’s actually a radio host or if people only listen because of who his dad is. Mike Sr. reassures his son of his talent and agrees to the name change as a way of support.

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