Everything about Hard Rock Medical, eh?

Murdoch Mysteries: Patrick McKenna reveals Slorach’s past and future

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched the latest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Manual for Murder.”

Patrick McKenna truly is a Canadian television “that guy.” His IMDB page boasts roles on award-winning and notable projects from Traders to RoboCop, The Red Green Show to Crash Canyon, Remedy to Hard Rock Medical.

And, for a four-episode stint so far, Murdoch Mysteries. On Monday night, McKenna’s Inspector Hamish Slorach dropped by Station House No. 4 with an announcement—he was retiring—and a request: would Inspector Brackenreid deliver a speech? Unfortunately, the celebration was marred when an attempt on Hamish’s life was made with a mechanized gun. Thankfully, Hamish survived the attack.

We spoke to Patrick McKenna about how the memorable role came about and his upcoming TV project with Colin Mochrie.

In tonight’s episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Manual for Murder,” we catch up with Hamish Slorach. Before we get into the storyline itself, though, it seems as though it’s a rite of passage if you’re in Canadian television to be part of the Murdoch Mysteries family, and you’re no different. How did the role come up in the first place for you?
Patrick McKenna: Well, I think I was quite lucky that the showrunner now is Peter Mitchell. I met Peter when he was the showrunner when I was doing Traders. We’ve known each probably since about ’95, ’96, I guess. We’ve just been friends. When he went over and did that show, he thought this Hamish character they created might fit me well so they offered me the role. It’s been a sporadic gig ever since.

And a beloved character. He’s a little bit different from everybody else in the station house. Did the way to play him, did that character jump off the script at you? Was it something that you worked with Peter on, or did you come with it on yourself? 
PK: It was interesting. The first two writers, who are no longer involved in the show, they called me and they gave me an outline. They said, basically, it’s John Wayne meets Columbo. I thought, ‘Well, that’s kind of a fun description.’ I kind of went with that, but he’s a manly guy, but he’s just kind of in his own way.

He’s aloof. He’s laid back. He likes to have fun and has made a career out of being a copper.
PK: It was nice because [Thomas Craig] sort of set the tone that way. It was always great playing off him because I knew it to be … I mean, it’s their show and it’s their tones so I didn’t want to come in too strong. If I’m supposed to be a friend of Brackenreid, then I guess I’m going to be his energy, his age, things he likes, so I went off his rhythms a lot of how we were going to form this character. It just kind of fell into place. Often times, the scripts demand that you step up, and other times you lay back, just trying to be that … anybody but Murdoch in the first [episode I was on] because that’s who I was replacing. It was like they have the expectation of this guy walks straight line and very thorough, whereas Hamish Slorach kind of serpentines around line and stumbles into answers, and so on.

What attracts you to a role, Patrick? In the case of Murdoch, they reached out to you. But when you’re looking for a gig, what excites you?
PK: When the opportunity to try something new, to combine a couple of different energies that audiences haven’t seen before. I always look for the sense of humour in a character, even if he’s evil, just to find out what makes that person smile and tick. I mean, that’s how I look at things normally so I thought I’ll just apply that to my characters usually. It seems I can bath into that segment of a character and play that. Even the mean people I play, I know they laugh sometimes.

What’s it been like to be part of Murdoch? At this point, is it like old home week, showing up there on the set and talking to everybody again?
PK: It really is because it’s so nice because the CBC, which I’ve had such an affiliation with, so often times, the crew are people that I’ve worked with on other shows. When you walk in, it’s like with the crew I know, and, of course, the cast I know really well by now. Hamish Slorach is such a fun character for them to have in the show because then you know you’re going to have a couple of silly things happen. It’s not blood and gore all the time. You know it’s going to be a smile. It’s always really nice to go back. It’s such a smooth machine, that show, that set. They’ve been doing it for so long, they know exactly how to dance every week so you just kind of got to get in there and find the rhythm without stepping on too many toes.

You just spoke of the blood and gore. Now, in tonight’s episode, Hamish dodges a bullet. Well, I guess he takes one in the head, but it doesn’t end up being lethal. What were your thoughts when you read that in the script and was informed that an attempt was going be made on his life, at his retirement party no less?
PK: All that information completely unfolded to me like, ‘Oh, OK. I’m retiring. I guess I’m out of the series. I’m almost dead. Now I’m definitely out of the series. Oh, I’m only wounded. I could come back.’ I went through a lot of emotions there, like, ‘Well, OK. I guess this is their way of someone finalizing Hamish.’ But the nice thing about a retired policeman is you can always come back in some form.

That’s true. Now, I don’t know if you remember, but when they’re carting Hamish off, he’s talking about seeing an angel. I wondered if that was something that was in the script or whether you ad-libbed that?
PK: A bit of both. It just said I see angels and then they said, ‘Can you just have fun with that as you’re going out the door?’ It was like, ‘OK, I can do that.’ The nice thing, again, I worked with Warren Sonoda on a film so I knew Warren really well and it was very comfortable. He knew my comfort zone as well, to say he would allow me to play here. Then other times, he’d say, ‘You know what, I need to get this covered so if you can pull back on that a little bit, that’ll allow me this ….’ the vocabulary’s so great. Plus, between Colin Mochrie being on set, who’s one of my best friends for over 30 years, it was like this is the easiest room to walk into, and we all get to wear funny costumes. It was just like grown ups playing. It’s so much fun.

You mentioned being friends with Colin for so many years. Is there a lot of stuff left on the cutting room floor that we’re never gonna see?
PK: Not a lot because both Colin and I, when we step onto a set that has a script, we try and respect it as much as possible, as well as the timeframe they have available to shoot things like that. But you just say what’s on the script, and if they find there’s a little lacking, you can do that. I mean, just by our very presence, there’s an energy to that, especially when Colin walks in. You know there’s gonna be something happening. Sometimes you don’t have to add too much. Some shows you really do, but when somethings been as consistent as Murdoch, sometimes you don’t know a lot of the backstory, so if you drop a line, it’s like, ‘No, we need to hear that because two episodes ago this was mentioned.’ So on and so on. You really just got to walk the map that they’ve laid out there. If there’s any room for some shading of colour, they’re pretty goods about letting you do that. That’s usually why they invite you to the party. It’s like, ‘You can do something with this character.’

As you said, he’s not dead so Hamish could always come back. He could just drop in, mix things up, and go on an adventure with Thomas, or something like that.
PK: That’s what I’m really hoping is that something in his personal life will force him to come back into the precinct.

Is there anything that you’re working on, writing, directing, producing, or anything like that, that you can talk about?
PK: I’m doing all of the above. Colin Mochrie and I are hopefully going to be making a series up in North Bay. Right now, it’d potentially be called The Colin Mochrie Show. I’m writing, and directing, and producing, a lot of that. We’re just getting started and that’s sort of what’s been filling my time since the new year. Everyone’s very aware of it and everyone’s moving forward with it so we hope that it’ll be something that will be in production. It’s tentatively going to be called Chef Colin.

What’s the elevator pitch for Chef Colin?
PK: It’s basically a celebrity chef who falls from grace, and he’s forced to take a job at his daughter’s college.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC and streams on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Hard Rock Medical: Co-creators Smith Corindia and Derek Diorio reflect on four seasons

Sadly, the last of Hard Rock Medical is just over a week away. Yes, January 30 marks the final new instalment for TVO’s half-hour medical drama. (Thankfully you can catch up on this season and the past three via TVO’s website and the past three via APTN’s website.)

There’s a lot we’re going to miss about the series. Co-creators Smith Corindia (right in the above picture with series star Danielle Bourgon) and Derek Diorio (left) have attracted a whos-who of Canadian talent to drop by the show, like Jennifer Podemski, Marc Bendavid, Ron Lea, Michelle Thrush and, this season, Corner Gas‘ Eric Peterson alongside regulars in Andrea Menard, Tamara Duarte, Angela Asher, Jamie Spilchuk, Stephane Paquette and Pat McKenna. With dramatic storylines and humour jammed into 22-minute episodes, and Hard Rock Medical has done something very special over the past four seasons.

We spoke to Corindia and Diorio about the show’s journey and where they go from here.

OK, before we get into some more story-specific questions, let’s deal with the obvious one: whose decision was it that this be the last season of Hard Rock Medical? Was that TVO’s decision? Yours?
Derek Diorio: TVO has never been in the drama game. Over time, when we went back and when we originally pitched this, we convinced them to come in and we convinced them to bring in APTN [as a broadcaster]. It was a novel idea. From Day 1 TVO said, ‘We are not in the drama game.’ And two seasons in they said, ‘We are not in the drama game.’ I said to them, ‘You can’t just be a little bit pregnant. We are the drama.’ And they carried on because it’s a good deal for everybody. It’s certainly been a good deal for us because we got to make a TV show and in a very different way, I understand, from the way it’s done in Canada. We’ve had very few levels of broadcaster input. The commitment was always to do four seasons, we got through that and we are extremely happy about it.

Smith Corindia: Yes, and they were committed to us as well in terms of what our desires were for the show and seeing it through to the fourth season. Derek and I figured out a groove and a formula. Our budget was nowhere near those of other shows.

Four seasons of a show in any country is a triumph.
DD: It was hard. If you go to our website, that’s the one thing that comes up is ‘My god you did four seasons.’ We had a very good run and there is nothing to be displeased about.

I’ve been consistently impressed with the talent you get on the show, from Pat McKenna and Andrea Menard to guest stars like Eric Peterson. How have you been able to score this calibre of talent for four seasons?
SC: It’s almost like we had this theatre troupe mentality in terms of the actors’ commitment. And, of course, they were pleased with how we were developing their characters and the direction the series was going. I think word just got out. And, when people actually saw our show they basically wanted to be a part of it. I don’t think we had to do any real arm twisting to convince anybody.

DD: We had Ron Lea in the first season. I had never met Ron Lea. He showed up and we were having a conversation and I asked him why he chose to do it. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘When I saw the sides come across … I don’t see that kind of stuff at all.’ That’s what a lot of actors have said. They don’t get a chance to do the kinds of things we’re doing. On our set, actors get a chance to bring their own stuff to the party and they enjoy the process. And, we do our episodes in half the time that other shows do. They come in, they work and they like the environment. And, everybody got the same amount of money, which is not a lot. I wish we had the budget to pay them more because I think they’re underpaid for the most part.

Let’s get into some character story arcs. Farida’s [played by Rachelle Casseus] Season 4 story looks very interesting. She’s treating a young girl who is caught in the custody battle between her parents.
SC: We set Farida up in the first three seasons. And this season we set her up where we’re going to learn more about what she’s struggling with and the death of Erica. That’s going to trigger her past and it’s going to be a little bit of a slow unravelling of her past and what’s she’s dealing with, the grief and the moral issues that she is grappling with. And the character of Healy, who has had his own demons in the past is, appropriately, the one who puts things into perspective for her. Of course, she also got the situation with the family and the child [to deal with].

One of my favourite characters has been Charlie, played by Stephane Paquette. What can you say about what he goes through as we close out Season 4?
DD:  Most of the stuff that happens to Charlie is stuff that has happened in my life in general except I’m not going to med school. Steph Paquette is a friend of mine and I’ve been working with him for 10 years or longer, mostly on French shows. We actually mine Steph’s life a lot. He’s a musician and he tours and he’s got so much baggage … the crazy stuff that happens to Charlie is the crazy stuff that happens to him. Steph was in Dubai once and was walking around and was told to be careful where he went. He decided to go into a shopping mall, but it was a women-only mall and he wasn’t supposed to be in there. Two seconds later he’s on the ground surrounded by guards. That’s Steph Paquette’s life. So, it wasn’t hard to ask, ‘What’s happened to you this week?’ And, as writers, you can go in that crazy direction with him because stuff always happens.

SC: The first two years, we found there was more humour within the Charlie character and within the show. We found with Seasons 3 and 4, it became more mature and less humorous. I think that’s because of the stories but there are still classic Charlie scenarios that lend itself to humour. And he’s the guy we had to find humour with. We’ve always been a drama, but we’re a half-hour drama and that’s where it gets tricky because no one is really doing that except on Netflix or HBO.

So, does everyone graduate from Hard Rock U at the end of this season?
DD: That will be up to the viewer to decide, whether people graduate or not. Let’s say the bulk of them will. It’s not tied up with a nice bow but I would say the viewers will walk away satisfied.

Smith, in an email to us you hinted at Hard Rock Docs. Were you joking or will there be a spinoff? What’s next?
SC: We feel we’ve created a show that is very inclusive and diverse that has been well-reviewed with franchise possibilities. We would love to continue the journey and would be open to any broadcaster having us come in to pitch and be part of our next idea… we’re just sayin’…

Hard Rock Medical airs Tuesdays with back-to-back episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET on TVO. Episodes are available for streaming at tvo.org the day after each new broadcast.

Images courtesy of TVO.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Preview: TVO’s Hard Rock Medical checks in for the final time

Hard Rock Medical is the ultimate under-the-radar show. Ask folks if they’ve heard of it and I’m betting the majority will say no. Out of the minority that have heard of the series, I’m betting they’d say Hard Rock Medical was about rock ‘n’ roll. I certainly did. This was back during Season 2, and when I finally tuned in I was stunned. Hard Rock Medical is a damn fine medical drama that mixes in very funny moments set against the rugged backdrop of Sudbury, Ontario, a.k.a. The Canadian Shield, a.k.a. the hard rock in Hard Rock Medical. Inspired by the world-renowned Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the program spotlights and celebrates the distinct challenges of delivering quality healthcare in Northern Ontario.

Co-created by Smith Corindia and Derek Diorio, the last season of Hard Rock Medical returns for its final nine episodes on Tuesday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET on TVO. Thankfully, TVO has put the past three seasons on their website, so folks can not only catch up but those outside of Ontario can tune in to Season 4 episodes after each broadcast. 

What amazed me about the show back in Season 2 is the high-profile Canadian talent in the cast. Andrea Menard (Blackstone), Tamara Duarte (Wynonna Earp), Angela Asher (Bad Blood), Jamie Spilchuk, Stephane Paquette and Pat McKenna (Traders) are just a sampling of the actors who’ve been part of Hard Rock Medical from the beginning. Throw in guest gigs from Jennifer Podemski, Marc Bendavid, Ron Lea, Michelle Thrush—and Corner Gas‘ Eric Peterson this year—and you’ve got one hell of a fine stable of talent participating in Corindia and Diorio’s taut, half-hour scripts.

When we pick up Tuesday’s return, “Dreaming the Life,” Eva is in the midst of an odd dream that reflects her First Nations heritage and ties to Nancy and Gary while under anaesthetic to donate bone marrow. Meanwhile, Louise and Fraser are facing the media over Sergio’s suicide and request that his brain be used for concussion research, and Tara and Charlie are juggling life with her chemotherapy schedule. Charlie’s considering quitting med school to be available to Tara full-time but she’s having none of it. This is his last year of school before becoming a doctor and she won’t let him give up now. As for Farida, a patient with a fishhook lodged in her cheek leads to a custody battle between a husband and wife. And Cameron? His day is an awful one.

Episode 2, “Quo Vadis,” follows Gary into reconciliation classes with the racist cop he punched and Cameron meets up with Gina, who is suffering from amnesia following her assault.

I’m going to miss following the medical students and their adventures; the last four seasons of Hard Rock Medical have been a joy to watch and cover for TV, Eh? I can only hope that, perhaps, Diorio and Corindia can create a new series about the lives of these newly-graduated doctors working in the community they were educated in.

Hard Rock Medical airs Tuesdays with back-to-back episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET on TVO. Episodes are available for streaming at tvo.org the day after each new broadcast.

Images courtesy of TVO.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

TVO’s Hard Rock Medical graduates to a final season beginning Jan. 2 at 9 p.m.

From a media release:

TVO’s popular series Hard Rock Medical kicks off a fourth and final season with back-to-back episodes Tuesday, January 2 at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.  Inspired by the world-renowned Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the dramatic and entertaining fictional series brings to life the distinct challenges of delivering quality healthcare in Northern Ontario.  The opening episodes will be available to stream on tvo.org starting January 3, with additional episodes posted each week.

Facing challenging life circumstances and demanding courses, the students at Hard Rock U will now work through their fourth year of offbeat medical training. A big question remains:  Who has the determination and resilience to earn the coveted White Coat? Canadian icon Eric Peterson joins the already stellar ensemble cast of Canadian actors including Patrick McKenna, Angela Asher, Jamie Spilchuk, Tamara Duarte, and Northern Ontario favourite Stéphane Paquette.

Key storylines of this final season will follow the continuing trials and tribulations of Hard Rock’s beloved Northern Ontario medical students. After donating bone marrow to Mylo, Eva convalesces at home on the Rez. A judge orders Gary into reconciliation classes with a racist cop. Charlie struggles to keep it all together as his wife undergoes chemo treatments and his family is forced to move into his father’s home. Gina and Melanie are placed with an elderly doctor (Eric Peterson) who has a drug dependency and a healthy dislike of their youthful energy. The death of a friend and lover sets Cameron off on a self-destructive path. And Nancy and Farida are seconded to pediatrics in the North Bay hospital – while both of them work to carefully define the line between caring and over-sharing.

Co-created by Smith Corindia and Derek Diorio, Hard Rock Medical is produced by Distinct Features.  The series is filmed entirely in Northern Ontario.

Hard Rock Medical repeats Fridays at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. beginning January 5, and Sundays at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. beginning January 7.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail