Everything about 19-2, eh?

Transplant’s Laurence Leboeuf: “Something is about to happen that I don’t think people are going to see coming”

Medical shows are a dime a dozen. As such, it takes a special kind of show in that genre to make me perk up, take notice and—most importantly—tune in every week.

Transplant is that special kind of show. Created by Joseph Kay, Transplant is a medical drama with a twist—a Syrian refugee and his sister come to Canada where he works in a Toronto hospital—filled with characters that are flawed, complex and, thankfully, memorable. There is a reason the show is No. 1 in this country and was recently picked up to air on NBC. Yes, it’s that damn good.

Actress Laurence Leboeuf is an integral part of Transplant‘s success. Leboeuf, who I saw last on Bell Media’s equally excellent cop drama 19-2, plays Mags Leblanc, a workaholic resident who—as the season has progressed—has become quite close with newbie Bash (Hamza Haq).

We spoke to Laurence Leboeuf ahead of Wednesday’s season finale, which promises to be a nailbiter if CTV’s synopsis is to be trusted: Bash and Mags race to save a woman with mysterious symptoms who was nearly killed by their team’s medical error, Dr. Bishop and Claire face a devastating realization, Theo tries to help a gravely ill teen and his family deal with the possibility that medical hope has run out, and June finds a mystery patient unconscious in the waiting room and goes to battle to save him.

Give me your origin story. How did you get involved? Did you have to audition for the character of Mags or because of your relationship with Sphere Media Plus; did they already have you in their stable of talent?
Laurence Leboeuf: Yeah, exactly. It was through that beautiful gang of people that I knew from 19-2 and then they, I guess read this role and they were like, ‘We think Laurence would be great for that.’ And I met with Joseph Kay, whom I didn’t know before, so I met him through FaceTime and talked about the character and the journey for Mags. That was it. I was part of the show. It was an amazing way to be cast.

She’s a fascinating character, she’s loyal and hard-working and she’s smart but she’s also seeking approval. She lives at work and she’s very complicated. She must be a fantastic and exciting character to play because there are so many levels to her. She isn’t a one-note character.
LL: Yeah, definitely. That’s such a great gift as an actor to have a great character like that to play and to play around with. And her complexity and her devotion to her work is just, that’s how she works. She’s giving it her all and she lives for that. And at the same time, she’s realizing that it might get the best of her. She doesn’t find that balance. And that’s really interesting to play and to play something that’s so far away from my life and my reality, like a doctor. It’s just amazing to dive into that world with her and her passion and devotion are just really nice to play with.

Are you the type of actor that likes to know the arc for a character, or are you happy with just reading the scripts as they come in?
LL: I don’t actually. It’s true that I like some backstory but it is nice to discover the character as we go along. And sometimes we even find different directions as we go along and we’re like, ‘Oh, this would be extremely interesting for this character…’ We’re not stuck in anything and I like that. I mean, there’s a base for everything but I like that openness and the fact that we can just play around with the character.

It’s alluded to that maybe there might be something between Mags and Bash that might not be just professional. Is that a logical progression for those characters?
LL: I think so, in a way. Since the arrival of Bash things have changed for Mags. The way that he works is so different from hers, that she was completely thrown off guard by his arrival. And I think she was really intrigued and admired his talent and could see that he had that raw medical talent and that same passion as hers to save their patients at all costs. They share that. She’s always been attracted and intrigued by this man that just got into the hospital. Yeah, I think there’s definitely some attraction there.

He’s so mysterious, too.
LL: Yeah, exactly. And I think, she likes that, too. I think it’s going to force her, maybe, to open up more or to go and reach out more because she’s also shut down all of that part of her life. The hospital is her boyfriend.

Let’s discuss the medical jargon. Was there a boot camp that you had to go to, to learn about processes? 
LL: Yeah, we did. On the weekends, we would get together with our onset doctor, Dr. Zachary Levine, and our nurse, Mike Richardson. We had these boot camps with them to coordinate the big scenes that we had to do. Like the double traumas that we had to do and how we were going to handle that. And that was amazing to have them around and to be able to help us with looking natural when we do our manipulation at the same time as we talk that crazy jargon and have to be believable. We had to pretend that we were so confident in what we were doing that it looked like we know what we’re doing. The boot camps were amazing for that.

That tracheotomy that you did in the elevator looked pretty convincing to me.
LL: Oh, my god.

I think you could do it.
LL: Yeah, right. Oh, my god. I’m wouldn’t want to try. I had a hard time doing it on a fake neck because I was so stressed out. Oh, yeah. But Mags did good, though.

Can you tease Transplant’s season finale? Is it going to be a cliffhanger? Is it going to be shocking?
LL: I think so. I think there’s going to be a bit of a mix of all that. Definitely, we’re going to be left with a cliffhanger and something is about to happen that I don’t think people are going to see coming. We’re going to have those surprises coming our way.

Transplant‘s season finale airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Comments and queries for the week of October 6

19-2 really was pleasant to watch and kept me glued to my seat week in and week out. The characters were well developed and the acting was phenomenal. J.M. was someone we loved to hate. I really loved his character and how it kept everyone else on edge. The rookie was fantastic as well. Not everyone gets along at work and the fact that his character was just starting to develop, makes me sad we will not see any more of this show. Yes, it was about Chartier and Nick but it was much more. Many of my friends are police officers in Montreal and they have mentioned many times about the realism of the episodes and how accurate they are. Well done and gone before it had to! The emotion shown by Chartier and Nick when they returned to the school was very powerful. Not only was that original school shooting episode riveting, but their return shows how affected they really are by the job that they do. These things stay with you forever and the way this show portrays these scenes is amazing. You cannot help but feel for these characters and when a show can leave you with such emotion, you know that it is well-written and well-acted. Proud of this Canadian show, both English and French versions. —Johnny

Please continue on with this series. It’s a great show and my husband and I look forward to watching it each week. —Maria


Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.



No “Tomorrow”: 19-2 clocks out for the last time

I just didn’t want any of my favourite characters to get killed. Yes, that was the low bar I’d set for myself heading into Monday’s series finale of 19-2. As long as Ben, Nick, Bear, Audrey and the rest closed out the show intact I would be happy.

But would “Tomorrow,” written by Bruce M. Smith and directed by Louis Choquette, come through? With an episode synopsis teasing, “The squad works a full moon shift. Suarez and Beatrice get unexpected news. Ben’s brother brings him a gift from home and the squad races to prevent a tragedy,” I wasn’t sure. The full moon brings out the crazy and the weird and the word “tragedy” resulted in heart palpitations, especially with so much drama in last week’s instalment. Was Ben finally free of the mob? Did Nick make a mistake having Farah’s ex-husband arrested? And just who was that mysterious grave dug for?

“Tomorrow” began innocently enough, with 19 attempting to stop the driver of a stolen snowplough from wreaking havoc in the city. The guy finally stopped—after running out of gas—and we were given a treat a long time coming: Audrey and Tyler were teamed for the very first time. We also found out why they’re paired up: Dulac wanted to ride solo. Suarez’s arrival on the scene meant confirmation nothing bad is going into Ben’s file and that Ben had a summons to appear in court regarding the arrest of Farah’s ex.

Then, with one phone call, emotions were high: Ben’s brother, Mark, wanted to meet up with some their father’s items. But before the siblings could suss out the details, 19-2 pulled over a truck packed with metal storage drums. One was leaking, which led to the most Canadian of storylines: stolen maple syrup. 19-2 is not known for its comedic moments, so Nick slipping in syrup and landing on his ass was a scream. One final shot of the liquid oozing into the street—on a sub-zero night, no less—had me concerned that storyline wasn’t headed for a fun conclusion. Suarez spinning his car in it furthered my fear and I yelled at all three to get the hell off the road. Luckily, the storyline never went further than that.

Meanwhile, Bear had her hands full when a young woman, her baby and her father showed up at 19. Dad wanted to file a restraining order against his son-in-law, but his daughter chalked it up to a misunderstanding. 19-2 has dealt with spousal abuse before and I suspected this case would get ugly fast. The woman, Joanie, didn’t want to make a statement, and the trio left. One dropped 911 call later and Audrey and Tyler were plunged into a horrific situation: Joanie’s dead father surrounded by blood splatters up the wall and all over the room. (I visibly cringed when Tyler went down the hall to search other rooms and breathed out in relief when no one else was there.) It was all-hands-on-deck to find Karl Lucas—assumed to be the perp—before he could find his wife and baby.

As for Dulac, Suarez’s damaged car meant they teamed up for the night. There was a frank discussion, and Dulac revealed he was stuck in 19 because his family isn’t filled with quitters. Dulac is a fascinating character. At first, I figured he’d be the comic relief but he’s turned into a deeply conflicted guy who just doesn’t fit in with the rest of his squad.

Dulac and Suarez thought they had captured Karl, but it wasn’t him. Instead, Karl arrived at Joanie’s house while Nick and Ben were there. 19-2 had their guard down—Suarez and Dulac thought they had him in custody—and things went from bad to awful. No, no, NO, I said out loud as the thumping music began and Karl entered the home. Thankfully, Suarez realized his mistake and Ben alerted Nick as Karl lunged forward, swinging a hammer; the duo subdued Karl without injury (Karl wasn’t so lucky.) It was emotional enough to have Ben cradling Joanie’s baby in his arms; having Amelie there, telling him it was “a good day,” and it suddenly got very dusty in my basement. (Darn allergies!) That was good news. Even better news? Bear’s assignment came in: she was 19’s new sergeant.

When Ben and Mark did connect, Ben was in for a surprise: a dead deer their father shot but couldn’t keep because he’s not supposed to have access to firearms. There was a bit of symbolism in this: Ben has been referred to as “Bambi,” by Nick since their first day together and Ben has had visions of the innocent animal dancing in and out of his life during the last four seasons. Was the dead deer a symbol of Ben’s innocence dying? It sure felt like that’s what Smith was telling us. The butchered deer gave Audrey and idea … and she was off.

Nick saw his personal life rebound from two weeks ago. After heading to the waiting room while Ben was in court, Nick ran into Farah’s son, Antoine, and learned his father had stolen $800 from him. The pair bonded over fathers with criminal pasts and candy, leaving the door open for a possible reconciliation with Farah.

Some of the most memorable and enjoyable scenes in 19-2 are when the squad gets together to celebrate, so I was thrilled to see the key characters reunite for a tourtiere feast at Ben’s place. We were introduced to Tyler’s gal pal—the dispatcher he’s been speaking all sultry to all season—and Liam swung by too. We were also shown those left out of the party; the living in Dulac and Gendron and the dead in J.M., J.P., Amelie, Kaz, Houle and the high school gunman. So many ghosts haunting 19.

“Nick,” Ben yelled to his partner in the show’s closing moments. “It was a good day.” Nick nodded, smiled, and left to meet Farah.

Who have been your favourite 19-2 characters? Which storylines have you enjoyed the most? Let me know in the comments below.




19-2: Memories and moving forward

With just one more episode of 19-2 left to air, I’m at a crossroads. I want to know how the series ends, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to the series. I’m thrilled and appreciative that showrunner Bruce M. Smith was given a fourth season to conclude the series but I really, really wanted more. With the series finale coming next Monday, Smith et. al had a lot to wrap up.

Would “Wake,” written by Nikolijne Troubetzkoy and directed by Louis Choquette, see Ben manage to get out from under the mob? When we last left his apartment, Martine had been grabbed by the man sent to kill Ben. Meanwhile, Nick was feeling the pain of meddling in Farah’s affairs and she had broken up with him. And Dulac appeared headed for some kind of breakdown after becoming addicted to oral sex via a prostitute.

Monday’s new episode began at Ben’s apartment, and from all of the cop cars and the ambulance, I was afraid Martine had been grievously injured. After all, last week’s final moments found her with a gun jammed in her mouth. Thankfully, Martine was just shaken. Ben, on the other hand, was pissed. The protection he was promised didn’t extend to his place and—apparently—thugs from Toronto were looking to muscle in. That meant putting Martine on a bus and her saying goodbye to Ben; for good if she had anything to say about it. “I don’t want to be here anymore,” she told Ben before climbing on a bus for Hamilton, Ont. “Bad shit happens.” Amen, girl, amen. The attempt on Ben’s life lead to an all-out response by 19; they targetted a bar frequented by a motorcycle gang and took everyone into custody.

I’ve written before about how I watch 19-2 with a terrible feeling in my stomach, wary a key character could die at any moment. So my guts were roiling when Ben and Nick accompanied a strung-out teacher back to the place he’d left all his clothes. Were they walking into a dangerous place with no backup? No, but Nick did receive a troubling phone call from his mother: she’d fallen and was hurt and scared. Turns out she’d broken her hip, but was suffering from malnutrition and abusing her medications. In short, she needed round-the-clock care and it was Nick’s responsibility to take care of it. A visit to his mother’s house revealed to Nick and Ben what she was going through: an empty fridge and freezer and a bedroom full of memories of Emelie. We also got a crash-course in the fractured relationship between mother and son. She doesn’t like his career choice and makes no apologies for her stance.

(The teacher, thankful Nick and Ben didn’t arrest him, asked the pair for help with one of his students. That brought the past back to the partners; they reported to the same high school where the massacre took place in Season 2. The bullet holes have been filled in, but the memories remain.)

Audrey, meanwhile, faced her past head-on when she requested to ride solo; the first time she’d done it since being violently assaulted. With flashbacks still fresh in her (and our) mind, Audrey came upon a group of people looking up: a woman was standing on the edge of a building. After attempting to talk the woman to safety, the pair tussled and for one horrifying moment, Audrey was in danger of falling. Then, as quickly as it started, it was over: the woman plunged off the roof and broke both her legs. She would survive, but the incident shook Audrey; J.M.’s ghost haunted her, explaining “the job fucks you up.” Will it do the same to Audrey? She was doing her best not to let it by calling Liam; talking to someone about her feelings is more important than bottling them up.

As for Dulac … well, things were getting serious for the rookie and Tammy, and not in a good way. Tammy’s ex-boyfriend had tracked her down and travelled from New Brunswick to Montreal to stalk her. Dulac ran to her aid off-hours and was promptly jumped by Tammy’s ex and beaten badly. I had an awful premonition recalling Emilie but that didn’t happen to Dulac. Instead, Tammy and her ex-boyfriend were collared and Dulac was admonished for dating a 17-year-old sex worker. Gendron was going to protect him … for a favour. Oh, how I’ve missed the sleazy side to Gendron.

After a long time away from 19-2, Maxim Roy returned as Isabelle, with a plan to help Ben shake his troubles for good. The plot? To arrest a mob guy with ties to several unions (including the police) while television cameras captured it all. It was a show of police force, but I couldn’t help but think the mob would consider it a middle finger and will come down on Ben even harder. Still, it does seem to have worked for now: the man who targetted Ben was found dead in the St. Lawrence.

The 19-2 series finale airs next Monday at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.




Comments and queries for the week of September 1

Love for 19-2‘s latest episode

It’s amazing how this episode was going. From the start, the funeral for J.M. was moving, as every cop in Canada including the RCMP attended. The procession which included the bagpipe version of “Amazing Grace,” as well as carrying the casket to the hearse and the movements to the hearse was tight. When the officer ordered everyone to salute, the arms snapped uniformly to the brim, and the service was reminiscent of a cop funeral.

As the show continued, Nick Barron and Ben Chartier, helped a homeless vet get into a shelter who was denied a bed because the shelter was run by a prison gang. The officers managed to be heroes of the community by kicking out the gang members. Alexander De Jordy (Richard Dulac), the Rook (Rookie), was your typical rookie who lost his head after a man insulted him, but it was Tyler Joseph (Benz Antoine) who came to his rescue. Joseph used his years of experience to get the Rook out of trouble … and a jacket.

This episode was spectacular, as the acting as well as the environment up in Québec gave the feeling of coldness, as snow covered the dingy streets. The snow gave the graveyard the emotion of emptiness as J.M. was going to get buried.

Born, raised and still living in Los Angeles, Ca., the city, Montreal, seemed rough. Though, comparing cities like Watts, Compton, East L.A. and other gang-ridden streets, the lack of graffiti is surprising. Google East L.A. graffiti, one can see the “rough” part of town, while Montreal seems cleaner. Googling Montreal graffiti may prove otherwise, the contrast between the white snow and dirtied buildings made this episode more believable. Even at night as the melted-snow-turned-puddle extols a loneliness that seems to haunt Chartier, a rural cop working in an urban setting.

Great episode. —Tim

This is uncharted territory, as the original French version of the show ended after three seasons, with a very different outcome. It’s interesting to see some more Francophone stars show up on the series (Patrick Labbé as the new guy threatening Ben) and the doctor who Audrey will undoubtedly see again (forget his name but he played a doctor on the series Trauma, I believe). I have no idea how this will end!! But man I’m glad J.M. is dead. —Sara

Well, I’m worried. Ben has a bullseye on his forehead and I don’t think it’s outside forces.

I’m suspecting that mob-former-cop (sorry, cannot recall his name) is working for Internal Affairs. Oh Ben, you just took his word that he was working for the mob? Did you see his car? Classic undercover cop car you see parked behind every cop shop … complete with missing hub cap plates to avoid them being stolen so cops won’t have to out themselves when cops are out on surveillance!

Did everybody catch how calm and change-of-personality the “Bad Cop” projected for a moment when he picked up the mobile phone to call in? He was very professional and his acting sense of menace was completely gone. For a second, he just looked like he was a guy calmly making a phone call. (It’s the little hints I love about this show the way it’s written and acted; you have to pay attention to catch them.)

And oh dear. Martine. I do fear she has gone over to the dark side. She might be in with the mob too since I doubted witness protection would last long with her. The way she blew off Chartier on his call to her seemed as though she couldn’t talk because she might have been with some bad guys.

Or … did Chartier’s letter to her delivered to the witness protection office cop/administrator give Internal Affairs the idea of using Martine to try to get a confession from Ben, since they are such good buddies? Ben helped her for sure, but I think she still blames him for her uncle, so might be playing Ben.

And I think Nick is also in the poo with his new romantic interest. I think before the season is out her former hubby is going to take out his son’s death on Nick by trying to do something to Nick’s son at college. I think “Junior” is going to be a major problem for Nick.

Just cannot figure out why of WHY Ben ran his mouth to bad-cop-possibly-IA guy about disposing of the drugs. What a moron! (Is Ben so naive that if this IS a gang representative they’ll just say “OK then. Never mind?”)

And oh no. The minute one of our fave coppers starts showing everybody his bucket list, he’s a goner for sure. Please don’t let Tyler be killed. Please. Not before he meets the dispatcher whose voice he’s in love with!

I think Dulac is going to be the death of Tyler. The little idiot. —Fiona


Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.