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Had enough of the Olympics? Check out this refreshing dose of TV satire

Hey, listen. Tomorrow, Tuesday, you might well be sated by all the Sochi Olympics coverage by the time it gets to 11 p.m. Can't blame you if you are.

You may have spent the day engaged by events there. Alpine skiing, ladies' giant slalom, bobsleigh, women's freestyle skiing, men's ski halfpipe, nordic combined and men's hockey. If so, stay alert for the debut of a strange, sizzling new show.

24 Hour Rental (Tuesday, Super Channel, 11 p.m.) is, as described by the producers, "a no-holds-barred, deviant gangster satire set amidst a construct of crack houses, crime scenes, brothels and bloodbaths." It is that. And it's funny, fast and furiously violent. This is not kids stuff. You've been warned.

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The 13-episode, half-hour, dark comedy (made in Hamilton, Ont.) is created by Frank Massa and produced by director George Mihalka (My Bloody Valentine). It makes most Canadian TV series look lame, tired and bloodless. If your taste runs to a sharp but ridiculous spoof of gangster drama clichés, with a lot of elaborately foul mouth dialogue, this is for you.

At its centre is Tracker (Romano Orzari), a criminal in trouble. He used to be a guy on the way up. Now he's on a downward spiral. He owes a lot of money ($56,000) to a ruthless gang led by Khvisto (Vlasta Varna), a old-school type who likes to tell stories about his adept use of a knife in the old country. Tracker is trying to keep his head above water with a new scheme. He runs a video store that is allegedly devoted to fine foreign films. What it does, in reality, is sell porn, drugs and fence a lot of stolen goods. It's a gathering place for every lowlife trying to make a dime.

But on the surface, it's a video store; So Tracker employs an absurdly snotty film geek named JR, who is played with gusto by Gavin Crawford. His crushing reviews of certain films are hilarious. He also employs an apparently nice young woman named Sarah (Kate Ross from CBC's Heartland) who is actually a stripper who wandered into the store by mistake and got hired. It's that kind of show. You will also find Mike Smith, Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys, unrecognizable but excellent as the sleazy owner of a competing video store.

24 Hour Rental was described in a press release as "a satirical cross between Clerks and The Sopranos," which also does not do it justice. There's a touch of the Coen brothers here – the intriguingly clever, deadpan style, the scenes that occasionally go on forever because the rich, absurd dialogue should be relished.

There's an outrageous scene in episode two that features a crack dealer making a speech about how: "The war on drugs is a case of hypochondria." He means hypocrisy.

A nice step forward in Canadian TV, the series is not for everybody, is not aiming too brood on anything and isn't a glorified public service announcement for some cause. And it doesn't look like a slight twist on something seen before on a U.S. channel. It's just ridiculously cheerful about degenerates, drug addicts, hookers and absurdly violent criminals. It delivers a good laugh, if you have the stomach for it.

It's DIY noir done with aplomb. And yes it's an excellent palette-cleanser after a day of more gushing about the Olympics.

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Airing tonight

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC, 11:35 p.m.) debuts tonight, and Fallon has a stellar line-up of guests for his first week. Tonight, it's U2, along with Will Smith. On Tuesday it's Jerry Seinfeld , Kristen Wiig and musical guest Lady Gaga. Wednesday it's actor Bradley Cooper and musical guest Tim McGraw. Thursday, it's Michelle Obama, Will Ferrell and musical guest Arcade Fire, and then Fallon's pal Justin Timberlake stops by on Friday.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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