This Monday night, a Canadian television series says goodbye. After four seasons, Cardinal ends, closing a chapter on some truly groundbreaking TV.
I was a fan of the Cardinal from the very beginning thanks to reading and loving the source material written by Giles Blunt years ago. The tale of a small-town Canadian cop solving crimes? I was all in. But would a television adaptation work? How would a lead character that was so in his head translate to the small screen?
There are a lot of folks to credit with how it was done, from Season 1 writer Aubrey Nealon, to actor Billy Campbell, director Podz, Sienna Films, and executives at Bell Media. Instead of going inside Detective John Cardinal’s head, we stayed outside, the camera coming in close on Campbell’s face, reading what was there in his expression and in his eyes. The same goes for Detective Lise Delorme. Karine Vanasse, and the creative folks get kudos for breathing life into this feisty, fantastic cop. I can’t imagine two actors more suited to the roles they were cast in. Re-reading the novels, which I will do this summer, means I’ll picture their faces as I scan the pages.
Northern Ontarioâ€”and the weather than comes with itâ€”has played a huge role in Cardinal‘s storytelling, reflecting the changes in season in this country and adding another layer (pun intended) to each episode.
Back in 2004, Corner Gas debuted. It changed the way we looked at ourselves on the sitcom front, and proved Canada could do comedy just wellâ€”and I’d argue betterâ€”than the U.S. Now, with Cardinal Bell it has been done with the drama genre. I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noirâ€”crime dramas set in Scandinavian localesâ€”and Cardinal deserves to stand among the very best of those. And, I’m hoping, Cardinal will inspire more drama like it to be created in this country.
Thanks to Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Glen Gould, James Downing, Kristen Thomson, Deborah Hay, Eric Hicks, Zach Smadu, Alanna Bale and the rest of the cast for bringing these characters to life in such a convincing way. Thank you to Aubrey Nealon, Sarah Dodd, Patrick Tarr, Jane Maggs, Gemma Holdway, Naben Ruthnum, Patrick Whistler, Alison Lea Bingeman, Jennica Harper, Russ Cochrane, Noelle Carbone, Aaron Bala, Shannon Masters, Penny Gummerson and Jordi Mand for writing such wonderful scripts. Thank you to Podz, Jeff Renfroe and Nathan Morlando for your directing. And thanks to the crew, producers, executives and everyone else who made Cardinal happen.
I’m going to miss Cardinal, but I’m so glad it was made in the first place. It’s hard to make television in this country, and even harder to do it right.
Cardinal did it right.