Every couple of weeks, TMINE flags up what new TV events BAFTA is holding around the UK
We’ve already done January, but BAFTA is being its usual helpful self and not telling me about things until they have already sold out (Meet the Controllers – thanks, BAFTA!). So I’ve had a look and it turns out that they had some secret Welsh events they hadn’t told me about as well. Better still, they’re not sold out.
It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z. But it’s what you have you been watching? So tell us! Tell us if you want to live
As the temperature outside starts to get colder, things start to hot up again in the world of tele, which means new shows are starting to pop up again on both network TV and Internet TV. Elsewhere, I reviewed the hilarious Get Krack!n (Australia: ABC) while in the new ‘Boxset Monday’, I reviewed Amazon’s Comrade Detective.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m currently four episodes into Sky Atlantic’s slightly bonkers Canadian-set Tim Roth revenge thriller Tin Star, but I’ll Boxset Monday that next week so you’ll have to wait until then to hear my opinion.
There have also been three other new shows in the past week: TVNZ (New Zealand)’s Rake-ish Dear Murderer, S4C (UK)’s bilingual gun drama Bang and Fox (US)’s The Orville. I’ll be covering all of them after the jump, as well as the regulars – כפולים (False Flag), The Last Ship and the premature season finale of Shooter. See you in a mo.
In Canada: Wednesdays, 10 pm ET/PT, CTV In Canada (en Français): Thursdays, 10pm, Super Écran In the UK: Acquired by BBC Four for broadcast in 2017
Nordic Noir has been a staple of our airwaves for almost exactly a decade now – ever since Forbydelsen (The Killing) hit our screens in 2007, in fact. What exactly makes something a Nordic Noir? It seems an obvious question – a Noir-esque drama made in the Nordic regions – but if you Theseus paradox the whole situation, suddenly it’s not quite as clear.
For example, can a country outside the Nordic regions make a Nordic Noir? It seems so. After all, UK made its own version of the Wallander stories, and we’ve gone on to make Fortitude, The Tunnel (Tunnel)and Y Gwyll (Hinterland), all of which seem to be as close to Nordic Noir as you can get without everyone speaking a Scandinavian language – at least before Fortitude went a bit bonkers and sci-fi.
However, The Killing (US), Those Who Killand The Bridge (US) were almost identikit versions of the originals yet still didn’t have the feel of Nordic Noir, so clearly there’s something in the country of origin and the US doesn’t seem to have it. But how about Canada, which like the UK and the Scandinavian countries seems so lovely and calm and dull on the exterior but is possibly a seething mass of darkness underneath all the bad weather?
Enter Cardinal to help us test the paradox further.
Based on the first of Giles Blunt’s six ‘John Cardinal Mysteries’, Forty Words For Sorrow, the series stars Billy Campbell (Helix, The Killing (US), The Rocketeer) as the eponymous Cardinal, a Canadian police detective in the fictional Algonquin Bay, who investigates the disappearance of a young girl. Unable to find her, he goes off the rails and is demoted, but a year later, the body of the girl turns up and he is reassigned to what is now a murder case, working alongside new recruit Karine Vanasse (Pan Am, Revenge).
It would be tempting to think of this as a Canadian version of Forbydelsen (The Killing) and the rest of its ilk, since many of the hallmarks of the genre are all present and correct: troubled investigator; cunning serial killer; general sadness, isolation, coldness and gloominess; and a thorough mining of the emotions of death, particularly the death of a child, and its effects on a community.
But I think comparisons would be misleading since although it is still a Nordic Noir, this is very much a show creating its own sub-genre: Canadian Noir. Beautifully shot in the Ontario winter, this is clearly a Canadian show with Canadian concerns. The police are obviously Canadians, not Americans in disguise, right down to the RCMPs. The Québécoise Vanasse not only is allowed to keep her accent, she is actually playing a Québécoise rather than a French woman for a change. The missing girl is a First Nation child and some of the first episode is dedicated to whether she receive a traditional First Nation or a Christian funeral or not.
The show’s attempts at accurate depiction of Canadian police work also place it in the same court as the outstanding 19-2, which might now perhaps be considered a prototype of Canadian Noir. As well as being directed by Podz, who directed both the French version of the show, as well as the outstanding single-take tracking shot in the English-language version…
…19-2 has a similar, major theme: (spoiler) an internal investigation of the lead character by the partner. Whether that’ll become a defining feature of Canadian Noir remains to be seen.
The show’s high production values, general timbre, decent acting, beautiful direction and beautiful location filming do go a long way to cover up the fact that the plot itself is a bit hackneyed. Sure, there are variations from the standard clichés, with Cardinal’s deep dark secret involving his wife turning out to be unique for a detective show. But it’s a serial killer being chased by an obsessed, unhappy cop, rather than a content family man tracking down a white-collar fraudster between the hours of nine to five on weekdays. It’s not that innovative.
All the same, Cardinal is the best new drama out of Canada since 19-2 and a worthy addition to the Nordic Noir catalogue. Fingers crossed for a UK airing.
Okay, so there aren’t a lot of TV shows set in Aber and the show’s probably done a lot for tourism to the twon, but do people really want to stare at Richard Harrington looking a bit broody in Y Gwyll (Hinterland) for the next two years? I wouldn’t have thought so, but S4C disagrees – it wants to stick a great big mural on the side of an art shop in the town. Planning applications are in, so let’s so wait and see what happens next…