Five years. Eighty-five episodes. Regardless of what country it’s been created and filmed in, Saving Hope is a success story. Now we’re saying goodbye to CTV’s medical drama, but the Canadian Screen Award nominee—returning Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT—isn’t going quietly.
Executive producer and showrunner Adam Pettle and co-executive producers Noelle Carbone and Patrick Tarr (the latter two are currently writing Season 3 of Cardinal), sat down with us during a Saving Hope set visit last summer and hinted at the drama Alex (Erica Durance) and Charlie (Michael Shanks) will go through, and what will befall recent lovebirds Dawn (Michelle Nolden) and Zach (Benjamin Ayres). And keep your eyes peeled for our interviews with Nolden, Ayres and Dejan Loyola in the coming weeks.
At what point did you know there would be a Season 5?
Adam Pettle: I think it was October, just after the Season 4 debut. We were still working on the season finale and weren’t sure if we would be writing a series finale or a season finale.
Noelle Carbone: I think every series [in Canada] is in the same boat where you write for a series finale and hope it’s a season finale.
What would have happened if last season’s finale was the series finale? Would it have been different?
Adam Pettle: Yes, and you’ll see it this year. Maybe.
Noelle Carbone: [Laughs.] Yeah, we’re just going to recycle our idea!
I understand you had to close off the street in front of the Royal York Hotel downtown to film part of the Season 5 return. Is that the biggest shoot you’ve done?
Adam Pettle: My feeling was, we wanted to come back and have a different energy and pace to this year’s premiere than last year’s. Last year it was quieter because Alex and Charlie were together and in this domestic setting. We’ve been rooting for them to be together.
Will Crenshaw be back in Season 5?
Patrick Tarr: We’ll definitely be feeling his effects.
You brought Alex and Charlie together … but I understand things may change?
Adam Pettle: Saving Hope is a love story between Charlie and Alex and to have an emotional payoff for fans [is important]. They’ve also had really shitty luck and need to figure out some stuff.
Noelle Carbone: As in real life, having a baby doesn’t always solve your problems. There is a lot of work to be done in solving the fundamental problems of that relationship. Every time they get together something tragic happens. [Charlie] might see ghosts or he might be crazy. Alex has been searching for a cure, suggesting that he have the surgery to remove the brain tumour. She’s not 100 per cent bought into his reality and that’s a fundamental disparity between them. Luke—as adorable as he is and as much as they love him—is not going to solve that.
Patrick Tarr: We have these great lead actors [in Erica Durance and Michael Shanks] and to give them real challenges and real places to go—yearning and frustration—there is a lot more there than in contentment. To give them some scenes to really sink their teeth into was motivation as well.
Adam Pettle: Alex is our hero and I think putting her in a place where she’s doubting herself or having a crisis of faith is identifiable.
I noticed a name on the call sheet that says ‘Ghost Claudia.’ Obviously, having the tumour removed did not change what Charlie can see.
Patrick Tarr: That’s right, and some might say at some point in the season it comes back with a vengeance.
Noelle Carbone: The Season 4 finale did such a wonderful job opening up that spiritual world to what is possible for Charlie. It was so visual and so different … how do we build on that and how do we evolve that experience for him seemed like a natural progression for Season 5.
Dawn and Zach have a solid relationship now.
Noelle Carbone: In the read-through, when they finally got together, everybody cheered. Everyone here is as invested in them as much as a fans are.
Adam Pettle: Even inside of the Dawn and Zach relationship we want to give them obstacles and challenges. We have to keep those characters who they are so that they don’t become soft.
Patrick Tarr: They’re prickly people, so that makes it easy to create some tension in their relationship. They’re both fully-formed people with opinions.
Noelle Carbone: We also threw some professional challenges at them in the early part of the season that I think will galvanize their relationship.
Saving Hope airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.