Farewell, Cardinal

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 Ontario—and the weather than comes with it—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 well—and I’d argue better—than the U.S. Now, with Cardinal Bell it has been done with the drama genre. I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir—crime dramas set in Scandinavian locales—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.

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10 thoughts on “Farewell, Cardinal”

  1. Great show all round. But like most great things made in Canada, it’s a one-off.

    Try pitching anything serialized in Canada and all you get is “we only do procedurals to match our US programming” (yes this includes CTV) or “audiences want light, hopeful fare” only to have the same network then acquire the latest brit-noir or scandi-noir that they just turned down from their own creators.

    Sigh.

  2. Will miss this hauntingly beautiful show; maybe, just maybe, they can muster up another season or movie. The scenery’s too beautiful to waste, along with the fabulous leads. One can hope.

  3. On one level it was a shame the TV show attempted to blend the novels together. Each book alone could have been one season! On another level, some of the scenes in the novels couldn’t be filmed, right? But this show did an amazing job of bringing the books to life. Damn, I don’t want it to end!!

  4. Canadian TV at its absolute best and on a par with Motive. I’m sad it has come to an End but how many more deranged serial killers could there be in Algonquin Bay?! Still, I’ll miss the scenery and stellar cast.

  5. I was crying through the last season and blubbering so hard during the last episode (rather incongruous for a murder mystery, I know). I’m glad that it wasn’t a tidy ending in that Delorme does end up going and Cardinal just starts on another case. I understand the actors would willingly return if there is a chance for more stories. I hope it happens.

  6. I can’t believe they cancelled this show! The storylines, the actors, the filming and locations are amazing. One of the best Canadian filmed shows ever! I protest highly! Keep it going!!!

    1. I also loved this show from the 1st episode in season 1. Billy and Karine are unforgettable as Cardinal and Lise. I love them both. The music — the scenery — the shots — it was a treat to watch and I looked forward to every episode. Farewell — parting is such sweet sorrow …

      Hope to see Karine again soon, but don’t expect that Billy is going to leave Denmark/Norway anytime soon. At least we had him for 4 [brief] seasons.

  7. Was watching season 2 and really enjoying the series then out of the blue all but the last season were removed from the CTV app. What gives, why did they remove the other seasons?

  8. loved this show sorry to not seeing it again in another series the characters make the best partners somebody has to think of a way to bring THEM back somewhere in the tv world Giles blunt keep writing and bring us together again

  9. This was an amazing series just loved it! But one disappointing aspect was the choice of a European artist for the soundtrack , when talented Canadian artists such as award winning multi lingual Alejandra Ribera with similar beautiful and soulful lyrics and melodies were not used. As a Canadian let’s facilitate the talents of our own artists.

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