I’ve been desperately trying to watch Seasons 1 and 2 of Frontier online since you mentioned they were available. I’ve been really enjoying the series so far and I expect Season 3 will be just as great. One of my favourite characters is Jessica Matten’s Sokanon. She is such an unpredictable character and I never know where she will go in any scene. I hope Sokanon makes it to the end of Frontier! —John
I agree that the showrunners should stick to the original format of [Murdoch Mysteries], in terms of showing the main four and covering their backstory. William, Julia, Brack and George are the only characters that I like to see have the main focus of each show. I actually wrote a letter to Peter Mitchell telling him that the show has too many characters since S9; Nina, Louise, Marilyn Clark, Ruth, Watts and even put more focus on Henry, John and Margaret. I told PM that I hoped Louise would get murdered, because that be the most interesting story with her in it. I also said that I didn’t like that H, J and M were getting more screen time. The point that I was trying to make with you was that, if this season is doing something a bit “fresh,” by having episodes that give more of a backstory to the main four, then I’m OK with that. Watts is an OK character but yeah, I could’ve done without an ALL Watts episode. Basically, I don’t think the writers will be doing these kinds of episodes in S13 (fingers crossed). —Crystal
I think it’s selfish of viewers to expect the same product in every episode of any show. Creative people feel boxed in when they can’t follow their instincts. I like the profile stories of Watts and Brackenreid for the depth and enrichment of the characters, for the stretching of the writers’ imaginations, for the challenge to the actors. Doing the same thing with minor variations and over is BORING. For them and for me. One reason I’m such a fan of MM is their all-over-the-place unpredictability. Obviously this fluidity works for most of us since MM is on its 12th season with only a few changes to cast. They’re happy, let them do their thing. —Sadie
Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg. firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tv_eh.
Just in time for the chilly days of winter, Season 3 of Frontier blows into town on Discovery.
Returning Friday at 10 p.m. ET with two back-to-back episodes, the Canadian original once again crashes through the brush with its tales of adventure, heroics and bloodshed among feuding fur traders and trading companies. What can fans look forward to when Frontier checks in later this week? The Hudson’s Bay Company is cracking heads and Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) is on a mission to rescue Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) from Lord Benton’s (Alun Armstrong) clutches. Meanwhile, Sokanon (Jessica Matten) plots to free Indigenous women from being bought and sold around James Bay.
For more insight into Frontier, we turned to writer and co-executive producer Kerri MacDonald for more details and behind-the-scenes scoop!
So talk a little bit about working with co-creators Rob and Peter Blackie. What’s it like working with those two?
Kerri MacDonald: Oh, my God, it’s the most fun ever. It truly, truly is. I love working with those guys. They operate … it’s funny to work with people who are very close as siblings, right? They have a very specific relationship. They do have a very specific brotherly relationship, which makes for an enormous amount of laughter and humour in [the writing] room for sure.
As a creative unit, I love working with them because they do have really very much a shared vision for the show, and when you talk to one, you’re talking to the other in that way. It’s really comfortable and it’s really great because like I said, they know what they want for the show, and it’s my job then to support it, and then to laugh at all of their hilarious jokes in the room.
Does working on Frontier include some research that you had to do, some deep dives into the history of Canada to formulate these characters?
KMD: Yeah, the boys did a lot of research out of the gate about the time and the trade, and the players involved. I think the show was never intended to be something that was built on the accuracy of some sort of historical engine. It was always meant to be an action/adventure series with the trade as the backdrop. So that in and of itself was interesting because we were building a world. We were building a world in a way that we hadn’t before for sure with the other shows that we’ve done. That was really, really interesting.
As far as the way people talk in our world can slide into feeling very contemporary. There was a conscious choice early on not to be super formal with the dialogue. That was sort of helpful in some ways because you’re not tied to certain types of speaking.
Now, of course, certain characters in the show, like Lord Benton, or we have a new character that we are introducing this season by the name of Lord Fisher, played by Jay Simpson. These guys, of course, are aristocratic, well-born, and well-learned men, so of course, they speak differently. They speak more formally. Then, of course, you have our Scottish guys, who use all kinds of great colloquialisms and stuff.
For me, I find tapping into my voice as a Newfoundlander is one of my strongest points in terms of voicing. Newfoundland is an incredibly unique place, and therefore my voice, my experience, my family, the place I grew up, all of that sort of informs how I write. It’s a really fun show to write. The characters are all so different, and all so rich, and all have such different voices that I embrace that challenge of that sometimes.
Not only are the characters rich, but the wardrobe and the sets are just incredible. It’s one thing to write those scripts, but I would imagine as the actors and actresses get into their clothing and get into those sets, man, it just really helps them get into their characters.
KMD: Oh, yeah, 100 per cent. Our costumes are magnificent and they’re hand-sewn, and they have weights, and function, and all of those things that would help anybody sort of step into another time. Absolutely. We have an incredible crew of people, and the people who make those decisions, Michael Ground and Gord Barnes, just like really spectacular work.
How many were there in the writers’ room, aside from yourself and the Blackies in Season 3?
KMD: It was me and the Blackies and Sherry White and Chris Roberts and Russ Cochran and Michelle Latimer.
After you spent time in the room, you’re batting around ideas, you’ve worked out the beats for the episode and that type of thing, and then you go off by yourself to write an episode, are you the type where you can go to a coffee shop and write or do you need a room that’s quiet to write?
KMD: For me personally, I am a real creature of habit. I find when I’m writing a script, there’s sort of levels to it. There’s the stuff that if I’m feeling challenged on that day I’ll write the easy stuff, or if I’m really digging into it, I can write the difficult stuff. I find that not everywhere is easy to write sometimes, but my favourite place to write is literally on my couch in my basement in front of my television. Like everything I write, I say to my friends all the time, it’s quite funny, that anything I’ve ever written has basically been in a four-foot square space in my basement.
Is the TV on or is it off?
KMD: Oh no, it’s on. I always have the TV on. I’m an only child. I was raised partially by television, so it’s not unusual for television to be always on in my house, even if I’m not.
One of the characters that I’ve been fascinated with is Cobbs Pond, played by Greg Bryk. I spoke to him last year, and he just loved talking about playing this twisted character, this crazy character, and just being able to unleash the inner madman in him.
KMD: Pond is one definitely of our most interesting characters on the show. He’s in some ways … he’s boundary-less in a lot of ways, so for that, he’s a really fun character to write, because he’s really unpredictable and kind of all bets are off with him.
Something that sort of happened this season is that some of the storylines have broken away from this main thrust of Harp, so that’s allowed us to open up the world and cross over the characters in interesting sort of new dynamics, so this season you’ll see Pond in a bit of a different position, and you’ll see him from a slightly different angle, but that doesn’t mean you should settle into him being anything different than you know.
Is there a character that you particularly find that you’re able to find their voice for quickly? Is it Pond? Is it Harp? Is it another character that you really like to write for?
KMD: One of my favourite characters to write for is Malcolm Brown [played by Michael Patric]. Malcolm always says what’s on his mind, and he’s never really hiding anything, he’s kind of blustery and old, and it’s kind of fun that way because there are certain characters that have certain levels of restraint in this show, and sort of societal boundaries, but Malcolm doesn’t really, and he’s fun to write that way. He’s a bit of an id.
Writing for the female characters on the show is a treat. History wasn’t kind to women during that period, and being able to bring to life these ladies who are such survivors, who maintain their agency at any cost while remaining at the mercy of the men around them, is an exquisitely fun job. And when you’re lucky enough to have the extraordinary talent of the actresses we have on our show, it’s thrilling to see these badass ladies kicking Frontier ass all over the place. They are so inspiring.
What can you say about working with Jason Momoa?
KMD: Jason’s great. I haven’t had a lot of close interaction with him really. It’s just sort of a here and there, but I had the chance last season to kind of work with him a little bit more, and he’s a terrific collaborator and really genuinely excited about that character, so when you write for him, all you wanna know is whether or not he really likes it.
He knows what he wants. Nobody knows Declan Harp really more than Jason Momoa, and he brings him to life in a way that I certainly couldn’t, to be honest. He and Pete work really, really closely on his character, and I sort of defer to whatever the guys want, because they know that character, they know how to tell that story really, really well.
I just really, really liked working with Jason. It was a really awesome treat.
Frontier airs Fridays at 10 and 11 p.m. ET on Discovery.
In a ferocious and unforgiving world of greed, deception, and harsh climates, the transatlantic battle to control the North American fur trade rages on as Discovery Canada’s original dramatic adventure series FRONTIER catapults into an action-filled third season with back-to-back episodes airing Fridays at 10 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET beginning Dec. 7.
Set in the late 18th century, with multiple plotlines unfolding from the offices of London to the Canadian wilderness, the drama is turned up higher than ever in FRONTIER’s new six-part season. Season 3 welcomes new players and new unlikely alliances who enter this merciless game in the pursuit for power and wealth – pushing each character to embrace new alliances or arm themselves against one another.
Seasons 1 and 2 of FRONTIER are now available to catch-up for free on Discovery.ca and the Discovery app. Following each television broadcast, episodes of FRONTIER are available for streaming on the Discovery app. All three seasons of the series will be streamed around the world via international broadcast partner Netflix.
FRONTIER’s talented ensemble cast is led by series star Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Justice League, GAME OF THRONES) alongside Landon Liboiron (HEMLOCK GROVE, DEGRASSI), Alun Armstrong (NEW TRICKS, Braveheart), Zoe Boyle (DOWNTON ABBEY, SONS OF ANARCHY), Jessica Matten (A Red Girl’s Reasoning), Allan Hawco (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, CAUGHT), Michael Patric (ARROW, SUPERNATURAL), and Greg Bryk (THE HANDMAID’S TALE, WYNONNA EARP).
The consequences of the bold Black Wolf Company heist on Fort James have come with swift and vicious ferocity, and from the highest offices in London. FRONTIER Season 3 sees the agents of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) violently cracking down on everyone, from Montréal to the wilderness, but the business of the Black Wolf couldn’t be further from Declan Harp’s (Momoa) mind. After Lord Benton (Armstrong) abducted Grace Emberly (Boyle) and set sail from James Bay, Harp set out on a treacherous rescue mission to get her back, which takes him far from the frontier.
After the successful heist of the HBC in Fort James, Michael Smyth (Liboiron) sets out to reassemble the Black Wolf Company – or what’s left of it. But the fallout is swift and furious, and the HBC crackdown has many feeling that Smyth’s head should end up on someone’s platter. Refusing to let his newfound infamy be his downfall, Smyth instead uses it as a sales pitch, stopping at nothing to seek out new alliances and build a team that can finally rival the might of the HBC. But when Smyth learns one of his new partners has a dark side business which challenges his humanity, it pushes him into a decision that could make all his risky work go up in flames.
Sokanon’s (Matten) break from the Black Wolf in the wake of Wahush’s death has her rejecting the trade in favour of protecting her people, especially Indigenous women who are being bought and sold around James Bay. As the ale house brothel in Fort James is a way station for some of them, Sokanon enlists the help of Mary (Breanne Hill) to outwit Imogen (Diana Bentley). But clever power player Imogen is always a half-step ahead, putting Sokanon and Mary in a terrifying battle for their lives.
In Montréal, a brutal shakedown by the HBC leaves the businesses of fierce competitors Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) and the Brown Brothers in shambles. Josephette DaCosta (Karen LeBlanc) fears that Douglas Brown’s (Hawco) emotions will run Carruthers & Co. into the ground and employs Malcolm (Patric) in a deception to try and save the company. The stress and anger forces Grant to leave the city for a time, leaving Cobbs Pond (Bryk), to keep the business intact, by any means necessary. While the men are away, Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter Follows) connects with someone outside the confines of the Grant household in a risky relationship that could be her undoing.
FRONTIER is co-created by Rob Blackie and Peter Blackie, and produced by Take The Shot Productions and ASAP Entertainment, in association with Discovery, the exclusive Canadian broadcaster. Netflix is the international broadcast partner.
Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Adrianna Maggs
“I find that women are such different storytellers, and while there are a lot of men I really adore, I have been lucky to be working with women constantly. It’s partially that it’s what I prefer, but I don’t always have control over it. I don’t know that I’ve ever been the only woman in a room.” Continue reading.