True crime is a hot genre right now thanks to podcasts like My Favorite Murder and Someone Knows Something and television series like Making a Murderer and The Detectives. But where those—and the genre on the whole—mostly deals with crimes against humans, Big Cedar Films’ Geoff Morrison takes the craze in a different direction.
Morrison, whose latest projects for CBC were Brand Canada and the excellent and creepy “The Missing Tourist,” returns to the network for the six-episode web series Farm Crime. Now available for streaming on the CBC site and app, Farm Crime investigates offences in the world of agriculture and farming. Morrison notes the infamous maple syrup heist of 2011—when 3,000 tons of the sticky stuff was stolen from a storage facility in Quebec—was the inspiration for Farm Crime. Each instalment is free-standing, so I checked out “George of Green Gables” first.
In it, co-producer and director Christina Carvalho tells the tale of PEI oysterman George Dowdle of Green Gables Oysters, who spends his waking hours tending to his oyster crop. Buoys mark each oyster farmers’ plot of water. But, unlike a piece of property being fenced in to stop thieves, there is nothing like that on the water. The result? As George says, an “arsehole” can abscond with tens of thousands of dollars in oysters in a short amount of time. But once such theft in 2016 was particularly tough on George; it occurred at the same time his wife battled brain tumours. Set against the rustic beauty of PEI, George’s story is heartbreaking and horrible as he and partner Andy Black retrace the poaching, capturing the culprit, and its aftermath.
Morrison and his team pack a lot into an episode, managing to not only outline the crime but explore the life of the victim or victims and the legal entities involved. That’s a tough job to do in an episode that clocks in at under 15 minutes, but he does it well.
Other Season 1 stories include pigeon and cattle theft, a black market butcher, a blueberry bandit (this one plays out like a good mystery) and disappearance of five million bees. All six episodes of Farm Crime are streaming on CBC’s website and the CBC App.
Image courtesy of Big Cedar Films.