I love Canadian television. If I didn’t, this site wouldn’t exist. My girlfriend, on the other hand, is very picky when it comes to her time and devoting any of it to television, regardless of what country it originates from. So, when she immediately became hooked on Season 1 of Coroner, I knew the CBC had something really special.
Much of Canada agreed. Created, executive-produced and showrun by Morwyn Brebner (Saving Hope, Rookie Blue), Coroner was the highest-rated new series on CBC. Now Coroner roars back with an explosive—and tragic—Season 2 premiere on Monday night.
When we catch up with Jenny (Serinda Swan), she and Donovan (Roger Cross) are investigating a fire in a low-income apartment building.
We spoke to Morwyn Brebner ahead of Monday’s return.
It must’ve been pretty mind-blowing to be the No. 1 new show on CBC, and have great reviews from critics and fans.
Morwyn Brebner: We were so blown away because we felt like when we were making Season 1, we felt so much love for the show. I think there was a feeling on set from everybody, from the cast, from the directors, from the crew, from everyone that we were making something that’s felt special to us.
And so, when people liked it … because you never know how anyone’s going to feel, right? We knew that we had this incredible cast lead by Serinda and Roger. And so, it’s was kind of overwhelming. And then when we got to make Season 2, we just feel so lucky. To have lived with the characters for a season, and now to be able to know them more, it’s like you start Season 2 with a leg up.
We’re thrilled by the response and we’re thrilled people seem to really care about the characters.
When I spoke to Serinda Swan ahead of Season 1, she had a very good idea of who Jenny was as a character and where she wanted the show to go. How important is it to have someone that’s No. 1 on the call sheet that has a clear vision for a show?
MB: Oh, I mean it’s really important. Serinda embodies Jenny. She embodies her in this way that no one else can. It’s such a collaboration with the actor. Her really strong sense of Jenny and her connection to her and the way she embodies her physically … and Serinda’s so smart. And so, her and her guiding intelligence for how she portrays the character is really part of it.
Was there anything after Season 1 was done where you sat down and did a post-mortem and said, ‘OK, this worked, maybe this didn’t work so well. Here are some things we want to do more of in Season 2’?
MB: We did. We have many post-mortems. We have sort of rolling post-mortem. One of the things we really felt was that we wanted to spend more time with the characters. We have these amazing characters. And so, this season is more serialized. We still have great cases. That was something you wanted to keep. We have this incredible case that starts out with a bang. And then that case is like a ribbon that twines itself through the season.
And we have guest characters who also sort of exist through the season and bring out things in our characters that are surprising and are involved. We’ve tried to make this season even more character driven, which is an incredible opportunity to just get to know everyone better. And to feel more complete rooted in who they are.
We have Donovan who has always pushed away personal connections forcing to be connected and not being able to avoid it. And we’re trying to bring it all back also to sort of the cases and the empathy that Jenny feels for the dead that she speaks for.
You’re really delving into the brain in a couple of very serious storylines. When it comes to Jenny’s mental health or even with her father, Gordon, is there someone that you’ve consulted to just make sure that you’re doing it right?
MB: We do. Anxiety is a really interesting disorder in that it manifests in different ways at different times. I live with anxiety, some serious anxiety as do many people. I mean it’s the condition of the age and it’s also a specific thing. We had a consultant. We talked to a psychiatrist. We talked to doctors. This season we’re trying to find new manifestations to visually show what she’s going through.
One of our favourite episodes from last season was the Thanksgiving episode. You could have easily not had a holiday episode or a Thanksgiving episode. A lot of shows don’t. Why did you choose to do one?
MB: We wanted an episode last season that would be much more character, character, character, where we got to see the family and where we got to really feel Jenny as someone struggling. Not just with work, with her family. And it really was one of my favourite episodes too. I mean I love them all, but I felt like that episode … the feeling of just going home with her, it felt real, you know? We all are trying to deal with shit, right?
And in this season we have an episode, it’s not a holiday episode, but it’s sort of, again, a non-work work episode. We were with Jenny much more. We’re with the characters personalized much more this season. But even then, it’s just good to take a break. Like you want to just breathe with people, you want to feel them, you want to live with them, you know?
And that episode, which Noelle Carbone wrote, I love that episode so much.
Another thing I love about Coroner is conversations. The dialogue is very natural.
MB: Oh, that’s such a nice compliment. Thank you. Well, we have great writers. I like the thing where you’re not always on the beat. If you just take yourself off the on-beat. What I like is to be disciplined but loose. I like to live in the humanity and in the moments. They can talk like people and be with each other. That’s the goal, and if it’s working, I’m glad to see it register.
Coroner airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.