Preview: CBC’s The Detectives recalls real Canadian crimes from the past

Update: After this preview was posted, CBC switched its broadcast schedule. Wednesday’s debut is “The Wells Gray Gunman”; “Project Hitchhiker” will air next week. 

I’m a true crime junkie. Podcasts like My Favorite Murder and Someone Knows Something are playing in my ears and documentary series like Making a Murderer and Manhunt: Unabomber are on my Netflix list. It was thanks to Netflix that I came across Real Detective, a two-season wonder documenting and reenacting real murders from the past and the detectives who tried to solve them. Produced by Petro Duszara, Scott Bailey and Debbie Travis—yes, that Debbie Travis—Real Detective is well-told, dramatic television that I binge-watched in a couple of days.

Why am I telling you about Real Detective? Because Duszara, Bailey and Travis have brought a Canadian version to the CBC. The Detectives, debuting Wednesday at 9 p.m., is equally as enthralling as its predecessor, even more so because its eight episodes cover exclusively Canadian crimes and boast a whos-who of Canadian acting talent.

“Project Hitchhiker,” airing next Wednesday, stars Eric Johnson—who co-stars alongside Allan Hawco in Caught next month on CBC—as Detective Herb Curwain (above), recently promoted to the Homicide Unit and given the unsolved case of a young woman named Julie Stanton who’d gone missing in Pickering, Ont. in 1990. First assumed to just be a missing person case, the file was finally passed to major crimes. Julie was popular, well-liked and had a great relationship with her parents, not the M.O. of a runaway. There was a suspect in Julie’s disappearance, a man named Peter Stark, and police were sure he was responsible but had no evidence. It was up to Curwain to find that evidence and did so recalling a decades-old case from Stark’s past.

I won’t ruin the outcome of the case here—and you shouldn’t Google Julie’s name until after you watch the episode—because what Curwain did during his investigation not only changed the way police work is done in Canada today but dovetailed with a high-profile investigation during the same time period.

What sets The Detectives apart from other true crime series is the inclusion of the actual detectives telling their stories to the producers. This awful stuff really happened and affected the investigators for the rest of their lives.

And while the stories themselves are gripping enough, the production values are top-notch as well. No expense has been spared to make the re-enactments as realistic as possible—down to wardrobe, hair and cars—and makes The Detectives truly engaging television.

The Detectives airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.