Jonny Gray has established himself as a bona fide star for YTV. He leapt onto the network as co-lead on Max & Shred and most recently became Bruno in the Bruno & Boots franchise. Now he’s utilizing his real-life horse-riding skills as Josh Luders in the channel’s newest series, Ride.
But Ride, debuting its first episode of 20 half-hours this Monday on YTV, isn’t all about Gray. Instead, he’s part of an ensemble in the equine-themed family drama about Katherine “Kit” Bridges (Kendra Timmins, Wingin’ It), a young lady who swaps Canada for England when her father, Rudy (Mike Shara), accepts a gig as an equestrian supervisor at Covington Academy, an elite riding school. The Canada-England co-production, between Breakthrough Entertainment and Buccaneer Media in the UK, was created by writers Jill Girling (Life with Derek) and Lori Mather-Welch (Queer As Folk) and has a direct lineage to series like Heartland and Anne of Green Gables.
Like Heartland, there are horses and a lot of time is spent on them. It’s a horse riding boarding school after all, so that makes sense, and the beautiful beasts are certainly celebrated. Director Stefan Scaini, a stalwart of Canadian TV from Heartland and Odd Squad to Avonlea and Wind at My Back, spends several moments capturing their movement in Monday’s debut.
But Ride feels more to me like an update of Anne of Green Gables. Kit has a flowing, unruly mane of reddish hair, bursts with enthusiasm and energy, and thinks nothing but the best of people. That, of course, causes her to run afoul of uppity rider Elaine (Alana Boden) and school marm Lady Covington (Sara Botsford). Kit does make a friend rather quickly: a wild and unpredictable horse named TK everyone is afraid of.
There’s a lot to like in Ride. Aside from strong writing—in the first 60 seconds of the debut we know why Kit and Rudy are in England, how they feel about it and their reservations—and the performances (Timmins, in particular, is fantastic), there’s the setting: rolling green English countryside, gnarled tree branches and moss-covered castles.
Check Ride out and let me know what you think.
Ride airs Monday to Thursday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.
Cast image courtesy of Corus.