Everything about Frankie Drake Mysteries, eh?

Canadian Screen Award nominees: Sharron Matthews and Vanessa Matsui

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

First up: Sharron Matthews, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Frankie Drake Mysteries, and Vanessa Matsui, nominated for Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series for Ghost BFF.

Sharron Matthews, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Frankie Drake Mysteries

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
The beginning of the pandemic was…strange, to say the least…but after our first lockdown, I went straight into TWO writers rooms, so we just kept doing what we always do in the arts…creating through adverse times. Artists and arts administrators are used to calamity and since the TV and Film industry doesn’t perform in front of large groups of people, we collectively did some recon, and kept going, kept creating. Then I feel like the TV and Film industry really pulled together and figured out a safe, secure way to physically make TV in the face of great challenges. This is what I love about the arts, it always finds a way to survive and thrive. Shout out to the stage and live theatre makers, who have pivoted and found innovative ways to express themselves and have their work be seen.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
I’m grateful beyond measure that I had Frankie Drake Mysteries and the animated show Rebecca Liddiard (Mary Shaw on Frankie), Carmen Albano (Detention Adventure) and I created with Shaftesbury (Mary and Flo on the Go), to work on from almost the beginning of the pandemic. I spent most of the time up until we went to camera on both Frankie and Mary and Flo, writing and developing scripts for both shows, so I kept myself singularly focused on work … away from the uncertainty of the world around me. I have done my VERY best to stay positive. Some days have been better than others.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
I believe that Canadian writers and creators have become braver in expressing our unique comedic and dramatic voices. With worldwide successes such as Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek, Workin’ Moms, and even Frankie Drake Mysteries (if I may) it feels like we have realized that we don’t have to morph our visions to fit the gaze of other countries. Stories told from a Canadian perspective with a distinctly Canadian sense of humour or pathos have become sought after, which is thrilling and has laid the groundwork for an exciting and fertile future.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
Oh my gosh … I would be lying if I said being nominated by a group of your peer wasn’t validating. It is. It really is. I am thrilled.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I will be watching all the nights with my bubble pal, Mike Bickerton (nominated for his showrunning work on Canada’s Drag Race) and I’m fairly sure we’ll be wearing caftans. Large, billowing caftans. So, basically? We will be dressed in something we bought off the internet.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I’m a Hamilton girl forever, so I’m not too fancy. Chips and wine. I’m a simple gal.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
If I had the chance to give an acceptance speech, the first person I would thank is the indomitable Christina Jennings, head of Shaftesbury and producer of Frankie Drake Mysteries. She’s been a supportive force in my life since the day I started on Frankie. Since then, she’s answered every question I have asked about writing and producing, encouraging me to not have limits when it comes to creating. She sets an example not just for female producers but for producers in general, about how to be tenacious and think big. She’s taught me to give pause, time and energy to ideas that spark the soul, because if they don’t work out … there is a good chance those ideas may lead to greater, more fulfillable ideas. Christina leaves no piece of energy or innovation wasted. THANK YOU, CHRISTINA!!!

Vanessa Matsui, nominated for Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series for Ghost BFF

Congratulations on your Canadian Screen Award nomination!
Thank you!!

How do you feel the Canadian web series industry is faring during these pandemic times?
Shooting, in general, is challenging right now, so indie filmmaking is particularly challenging because so much of your budget is going to COVID precautions. Which I completely understand and appreciate. Also, I think we are going to see a surge of creations post-pandemic. Especially during that first wave, I’ve heard that so many writers and creators, myself included, finally had the time to write that thing that they’ve been wanting to write. So there may be some unintended POSITIVE consequences to shutting down the industry for a season.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Ha! Well, it’s been a roller coaster, to say the least. I feel like each wave came with its own challenges. I’m a mom, so losing my ‘village’ has frankly been traumatic. And I’m a lucky one! I have a home and a partner and I was able to go back to work relatively quickly compared to so many. But in some ways, I’m incredibly grateful for these times. I’m a different person now and I look back on pre-pandemic Vanessa as almost a child. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m definitely a better, more me person now.

Do you think Canadian web series is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Yes! There are so many incredible web series right now that I’m such a big fan of. Band Ladies and Bit Playas come to mind immediately.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
It’s a really nice nod. I’m so happy that Kaniehtiio [Horn], Jean [Yoon], and Angela [Asher] were also nominated. I think four actresses being nominated for one show is just fabulous.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Ha! Sweatpants. Sorry, not sorry.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Pizza and wine!

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
An early supporter of Ghost BFF was Ana Serrano. I don’t think this show would have gotten as far as it did without her initial support. Also, my late acting teacher, Jacqueline McClintock, who always encouraged me to write and create my own work. She is in my heart whenever I step onto set.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Monday, May 17, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – News & Documentary, Presented by CBC (Narrator: Ginella Massa)

8 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Lifestyle & Reality (Narrator: Priyanka)

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Children’s & Animation, Presented by Shaw Rocket Fund (Narrator: Eric Bauza)

8 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Digital & Immersive, Presented with the participation of the Independent Production Fund (Narrator: Donté Colley)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
7 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Creative Arts & Performance (Narrator: Tyrone Edwards)

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)


CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries ends after four seasons

Frankie Drake Mysteries is riding off into the sunset and will not be returning for Season 5.

The news was announced via Instagram on the stars’ Instagram pages on Sunday.

“We wanted to come on and let you guys know that, before it gets out into the world, that we have not be renewed for a Season 5,” Lauren Lee Smith announced. “We are incredibly disappointed, but we felt that it was really important for us to let you guys know. We are so incredibly grateful for the four seasons that we got to do and I know we all loved making this show.”

“I will miss the laughter that we had,” Chantel Riley said. “We laughed a lot, and that’s something I’m grateful for.”

“We’ve all gone through so many different things during these last four years, and we have all been so there for each other … this whole job was such a gift,” Matthews said.

You can watch the full announcement on Instagram.

“We can confirm that Frankie Drake Mysteries will not be continuing beyond this season,” said Christina Jennings, founder, chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury and Frankie Drake Mysteries executive producer. “We would like to thank the incredible cast and crew, and the fans for all of the love and support over the past four years. We are so proud of this show and look forward to sharing the final two episodes.”

Set in 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake Mysteries follows the city’s only female private detectives, Frankie Drake and Trudy Clarke, as they take on the cases the police don’t want to touch. In a time of change and hopefulness, their gender is their biggest advantage as they defy expectations and rebel against convention. 

Co-created by Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, Frankie Drake Mysteries stars Lauren Lee Smith as Frankie Drake, Chantel Riley as Trudy Clarke, Rebecca Liddiard as Mary Shaw and Sharron Matthews as Flo Chakowitz.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs in the UK, Spain, Brazil, Central and Eastern Europe, Finland, Portugal and New Zealand.

Season 4 of Frankie Drake Mysteries wraps up Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.


Why Are Thrillers and Mysteries so Popular in Canada?

Research has found that thrillers and mysteries are the fifth-most watched TV genre in Canada, with 45 percent of the population enjoying this type of content. Making up the other top four genres are comedies, dramas, news, and documentaries. There seems to be a high volume of top-quality content being released and rather than the thriller genre becoming over-saturated, viewers are hungry for more. This has spread out into other forms of entertainment as well, with games and books also featuring a heavy number of thrills and mystery.

Top Thrillers and Mysteries in Canada
One of the primary reasons for the rise of thrillers in Canada could be the success of Criminal Minds. This is the fourth-most popular TV series in Canada according to IMDB, behind The Expanse, Vikings, and the popular comedy, Schitt’s Creek. The procedural drama began in 2005 and ran for 15 seasons until 2020. In total, there were 324 episodes, and the original series also led to two spinoffs called Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Similar offerings like Murdoch Mysteries, Frankie Drake Mysteries and Cardinal are also hugely popular across the country.

Now that the CBS series has finished, it has left a vacuum in the market for thrillers. Canadian viewers are hungry for more of the same, so it is not surprising to see a vast number of other options emerging in Criminal Minds’ wake. The multiple award-winning series also led to other Criminal Minds-related content in different forms of entertainment, as well as a South Korean version that was launched in 2017.

Other types of thriller and mystery have been successful in Canada as well, and some of these are worlds apart from the procedural structure of the Jeff Davis offering. Some of the other most popular mysteries also belong in the fantasy and sci-fi genres. These include The Magicians, The 100, and the iconic sci-fi offering, The X-Files. Perhaps the main reason why the thriller and mystery genre is so popular in Canada is down to the fact that it is so broad, and can encompass a wide variety of shows.

Thriller and Mystery in Other Forms of Entertainment
The thriller genre isn’t just making waves on television, it is also prevalent across all other forms of mainstream entertainment. For example, it is a common source of inspiration for slot developers. This could be because it is associated with being exciting and intriguing. Agent Jane Bond Returns and Hitman are two examples of thrilling slots that have attracted a lot of players and are used on the front pages of slots sites to draw people in. The ubiquity of Sherlock Holmes across various forms of entertainment also shows how people have a strong desire to experience mystery. There have been eight games in the Frogwares Sherlock Holmes series, with the ninth installment, Chapter One, due for release in 2021.

Thrillers and mysteries continue to rank among the top genres in the world of books. Some of the most notable titles of the last 20 include Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson.

What Other Great Thrillers and Mysteries Should Viewers Watch?
For Canadian viewers who simply can’t get enough of the thriller and mystery genre, there are plenty of great options to check out in 2021. As long as the market is there, studios will keep creating content. And because there are so many offerings in the genre, it serves to maintain a high standard.

One of the most popular Netflix series of recent times is Lupin. This is a French mystery thriller starring Omar Sy as an expert thief. Another one to watch out for in the year ahead is Clarice. This offering from CBS Studios focuses on the FBI agent Clarice Starling from Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. It is set one year after the events of the 1988 novel and stars Rebecca Breeds in the title role.

With the thriller and mystery genre being so diverse, it’s no wonder why it is so popular in Canada. It can span numerous other genres, from sci-fi to fantasy. As long as there is an audience for it, developers will keep creating enjoyable content. 2021 should see some great new offerings hitting television screens.


Link: Sharron Matthews and Thom Allison preview Frankie Drake Mysteries’ “Life is a Cabaret”

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Sharron Matthews and Thom Allison preview Frankie Drake Mysteries’ “Life is a Cabaret”
“I also thought it was appropriate, in our first scene together, this monumental moment in a show that Sharron wrote with a part for me in it, that we were in jail and in evening gowns. It just seemed perfect.” Continue reading.


AMC Networks and Shaftesbury enter into new strategic partnership, further expanding the global audience for Shaftesbury’s content

From a media release:

AMC Networks, the entertainment company behind some of the most popular and award-winning brands in television, streaming and film, and award-winning production company Shaftesbury, announced today they have entered into a new strategic partnership. Through its investment in Shaftesbury, AMC Networks will gain access to Shaftesbury’s award-winning slate and expand its content and development capabilities in Canada. Shaftesbury CEO and Chairman Christina Jennings will continue to spearhead the creative focus of the company and lead the day-to-day operational control alongside Executive Vice President, Scott Garvie. Jennings, Garvie and Shaftesbury board member Michael Levine will remain on Shaftesbury’s Board of Directors. They will be joined by two new AMC Networks directors, Harold Gronenthal, EVP of Programming and Marketing for AMC Networks International, and Matt Graham, GM of the AMC Networks-owned Acorn TV streaming service. Shaftesbury and its shareholders were advised on this strategic investment by RBC Capital Markets.

The new partnership will create growth for Shaftesbury’s existing and future slate of content across all genres, creating more opportunities for Canadian creators in front of and behind the camera. The partnership also builds on AMC Networks and Shaftesbury’s existing production relationship. Shaftesbury is the studio behind some of the biggest titles on Acorn TV, including all 14 seasons of Murdoch Mysteries. In addition to Acorn TV, AMC Networks operates the entertainment brands AMC, SundanceTV, BBC America and the fast-growing streaming services AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK.