Cake (the show's writer Christopher Bolton) is a reformed drinker and gambler who now has a code for living right, tends the coffee bar of his Italian friend Johnny (Louis Di Bianco) in Toronto's Little Italy, and runs a rent-a-goalie business on the side. Apparently that's not even just a whimsical TV job - Google "rent-a-goalie" and if you're like me, you'll be surprised to see there's actual places that rent goalies for hockey teams. Oddly, most seem to be in Canada.
The show opens with Cake discovering he's accidentally slept with his boss's daughter. I mean, they slept together intentionally, but she claimed to be French and on her way out the country, and he claimed to be a race car driver. Francesca (Inga Cadranel) is furious to find her recent one night stand is about to become a part of her family. While she was in Vancouver running Cafe Primo West into the ground, Cake had been installed in her old apartment over the cafe, and installed in her father's life as something of a surrogate son.
There's a large cast of characters circling Cake, including his goalies who hang out in the cafe. They each have defining ticks: Stuart (Mayko Nguyen) affects a Goth Girl disdain, Joey (Joe Pingue) has an irritating habit of ending almost every sentence with "almost," and Short Bus (Jeremy Wright) has an endearing case of ... what's the opposite of agoraphobia? It's not exactly claustrophobia, but he rarely enters the cafe, prefering to hang out in the alley. Cake, however, is helping him make progress.
There's also the obligatory rival, O'Malley (Oliver Becker), who steals Cake's business name, steals his best goalie - the not-too-bright-but-thinks-he's-pretty Lance (Gabriel Hogan) - and steals Cake's girlfriend, though by that point, Cake's more than happy to have her stolen.
Guest stars have included hockey greats Phil Esposito and Tiger Williams as themselves, but the best reason to watch the show is Bolton's Cake, a decent but flawed guy who tries to take care of his goalies and business while struggling to hold his own life together. He's constantly referring to or writing rules for living right in his notebook, but is faced with challenges like threats to his business, the bad-influence ex-girlfriend he can't resist, and choices to make about friendship and loyalty.
I'm being glib about the testosterone, of course, but it is a show whose comedy relies heavily on juvenile antics of guys joking about and exhibiting homophobia, constant farting, and idiocy as humour. There's more to it than that - there's heart behind many of the jokes and characters, for one thing - but Rent-a-Goalie's brand of comedy isn't universally appealing. Especially to some of us burdened with more estrogen than testosterone.
Rent-a-Goalie airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. on Showcase.