While female cops are, thankfully, commonplace on TV, it’s unusual for a crime series to centre on three female homicide detectives, as does CTV’s new crime drama, The Detail, which premieres Sunday, March 25, at 9 p.m. ET.
“You usually get a single female,” says Angela Griffin, who plays Stevie Hall, an experienced and disciplined homicide detective on Toronto’s Metropolitan Police Force. “You get your sole female lead, and you might get a sidekick, but it’s really rare to have three female leads in a show like this–and it’s great that it isn’t punctuated, it isn’t whacked over your head.”
The show focuses on the professional and personal lives of Stevie, her rough-around-the-edges rookie partner, Detective Jacqueline “Jack” Cooper (Shenae Grimes-Beech), and their tough boss, Staff Inspector Fiona Currie (Wendy Crewson, Saving Hope). The fact that these characters come from three different generations makes it all the more compelling.
“We’re on totally different pages in our journeys in life, and I think that gives people a lot to relate to,” says Grimes-Beech. “That, and the fact that these women truly are supportive of each other in today’s whole movement of female empowerment.”
That kind of support is on display in The Detail‘s debut episode, “Wake Up Call,” as the detectives investigate an apparent suicide the day after Jack learns a shocking revelation about her personal life and publicly acts out. The fallout makes Fiona question whether it’s worth keeping her on the team, otherwise known as “the detail,” but Stevie quickly comes to her partner’s defense, pointing out that, despite her screw-ups, Jack “sees things other people miss.”
According to Grimes-Beech, a Toronto native best known for Degrassi: The Next Generation and 90210, Jack’s penchant for trouble actually helps her on cases. “She definitely is a bit of a rule breaker because she thinks outside of the box,” she explains. “I think if Jack got her shit together, she may not be as good at what she does. But I think it lands her in hot water at work, and it certainly does not play out well in her personal life.”
That makes Stevie the apparent adult in the partnership. “Stevie’s really methodical, she comes from a family of cops,” says Griffin, a British actress with dozens of TV credits, including Coronation Street, Inspector Lewis and Brief Encounters. “There was never really any chance of her doing anything else, she always wanted to be a cop, and she absolutely plays by the rules. I think that’s one of the draws to Jack. There’s a real attraction because she’s so much more raw, she plays so much more on instinct. And Stevie can’t do that.”
However, while Stevie appears to have her professional act together, Griffin says the mother of two is dealing with some very real family problems. “There’s an honesty to Stevie that I think you don’t often get on TV,” she says. “Which is sometimes, when she closes the door on her family to go to work, she breathes a sigh of relief because it’s actually sometimes easier to go and deal with the dead bodies and deal with the murderers than it is to deal with a teenage daughter.”
As the season progresses, things will get messier for Stevie and Jack, as their professional and personal lives intersect in painful ways. An old lover (David Cubitt, Medium) and an old case present problems for Stevie, while the personal trauma Jack encounters in the pilot continues to evolve and fester, eventually threatening a case and straining Stevie and Jack’s partnership.
But, again, it comes down to support. “These women are putting their lives in each other’s hands every single day,” says Griffin. “They have to trust each other. They have to have a really quite incredible bond, and I think that they work at that.”
As for Griffin and Grimes-Beech, The Detail–which is very loosely based on the U.K. series Scott & Bailey–has provided each of them the opportunity to grow as actors.
Grimes-Beech never envisioned herself landing a detective role. “When I was in the audition waiting room, I felt very out of place,” she says. “But once I read the dialogue, I felt I had stepped right into this girl’s shoes.”
Executive producer Ilana Frank (Rookie Blue, Saving Hope) felt the same way and fought for her to play Jack. “Because of my age or whatever, people were a little unsure of giving me the job,” Grimes-Beech says. “But she really had my back the whole way along.”
Meanwhile, Griffin had to polish the North American accent she’s been keeping in her “back pocket” since she–and a wave of other British actors–began regularly participating in the annual pilot season for American and Canadian productions. “You’ve really got to get that accent off if you want to have a chance with a part, so I’ve been doing it for a couple of years,” she says. “And I was fortunate that we had an amazing dialect coach who came onto set and helped me out.”
Still, she was nervous about getting it right. “I’ve got to say, the first couple of weeks of filming, I was probably thinking about how I was talking more than what I was talking about,” she says.
To help, Griffin chose to stay in Stevie’s accent “from the moment I got up in the morning” until the show wrapped each night. She would then suddenly revert back to her British accent–a switch that sometimes startled her co-stars.
“We would forget, and then we would wrap, and she would [speak in a British accent],” Grimes-Beech laughs. “We all totally forgot that she wasn’t from here.”
The Detail airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.