First, its cast is top-rate. From John Reardon, Mayko Nguyen, Kevin Hanchard and Justin Kelly to Diesel vom Burgimwald on down, everyone on the call sheet is enjoyable to watch. Secondly, the writing team is truly gifted. Led by showrunner Peter Mitchell, they craft stories that are believable, have real dramatic stakes and a pinch of humour thrown in. And third, that stellar Newfoundland setting and the crew that works it. Every episode is a love letter to that part of Canada, no matter how dark the crime may be.
Returning Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern on Citytv, here’s the official synopsis for “Sid and Nancy,” written by Peter Mitchell and directed by Gary Harvey:
When two hikers are discovered murdered near a remote coastal trail, the team is on the hunt for a fugitive duo wanted in a series of grisly campsite murders.
And here are some non-spoilery notes from me after watching a screener of the episode.
A new setting… As I mentioned above, all the main players are back in Season 4. But, there is a big change within minutes of Episode 1. The Major Crimes team is on the road and reporting out of a mobile unit.
â€œIt keeps all of us together and takes us out into the field more and in the office less,” Reardon says in the Season 4 press kit. “Having the team together adds a new element of storytelling and it showcases Newfoundland even more than we have in the past. I think it makes the show more dynamic because we’re all in communication with each other, we’re responding in real-time, and solving the case in real-time instead of regularly coming back to the office to regroup.â€
… and a new vibe I totally agree with Reardon’s statement. There is an energy, sometimes frantic, in Thursday’s return, that has been added to Hudson & Rex. It just feels like there is more at stake and more opportunity for conflict between local police forces that don’t appreciate the big-city unit rolling onto their turf.
A little spark? Over the past three seasons, Hudson & Rex has faintly hinted at an emotional connection between Charlie and Sarah. Judging by a scene on Thursday, the needle may be headed into “strongly hinting.”
Hudson & Rex airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.
Images courtesy of Derm Carberry for Shaftesbury and Pope Productions.
What do you get when a hopeful romantic, crime-fighting canine, vampire, and an investigative detective walk into Mollyâ€™s Bar? Night after night of must-watch dramas and juicy reality series on Citytv, Citytv.com, and FX this Fall.
Full episodes and past seasons are available on Citytv Now and FX Now online, Rogers on Demand, Amazon Fire TV, and on the authenticated Citytv and FX apps for iOS, Android, Samsung, and fourth-generation Apple TV.
NEW to Citytv & Citytv Now Citytv continues to be the exclusive home for Bachelor Nation with the all-new series Bachelor in Paradise Canada, featuring Bachelor-alumni Kevin Wendt as the Bartender and Jesse Jones as Host. Then, KiSS 92.5â€™s Deepa Prashad and Daryn Jones dish the dirt in The Bachelor After Show: After Paradise. And, a new batch of eligible bachelors vie for the heart of The Bachelorette, Michelle Young. New-to-Citytv this Fall is Season 23 of Law & Order: SVU, starring Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson, which chronicles the lives of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department, an elite squad of detectives who investigate crimes of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. Then, new heartfelt life-affirming drama Ordinary Joe follows Joe Kimbreau, played by James Wolk (Mad Men, You Again), who faces a life-changing decision at his college graduation. Dick Wolfâ€™s powerhouse Chicago franchise (Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D.) and Law & Order: Organized Crime, toe tapping dance competition series Dancing with the Stars, and paw-some duo Hudson & Rex also join the Citytv slate this Fall with all-new episodes of jaw-dropping twists and head-scratching mysteries.
Plus, Citytv gets ready for the holiday season with special holiday episodes of fan-favourite comedies Kenan, Mr. Mayor, and Young Rock. Dates to be announced in the coming months.
Friday, Sept. 10
8 p.m. Fall in Love Fridays
Monday, Sept. 20
8 p.m. Dancing with the Stars
10 p.m. Ordinary Joe
Wednesday, Sept. 22
8 p.m. Chicago Med
9 p.m. Chicago Fire
10 p.m. Chicago PD
Thursday, Sept. 23
8 p.m. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10 p.m. Law & Order: Organized Crime
Sunday, Oct. 10
8 p.m. Bachelor in Paradise Canada NEW â€“ Citytv Original
9:30 p.m. The Bachelor After Show: After Paradise NEW â€“ Citytv Original
Add equal parts universally-proven formats, diverse Canadian storytelling, and tremendous talent, garnish with the most dramatic twists (ever!), and serve with a side of serious canine cuteness and you have the perfect mix for Citytvâ€™s 2021/22 original lineup, announced today at the Rogers Sports & Media Upfront.
Citytv is building on the global success of the Got Talent and Bachelor franchises with the launch of Canadaâ€™s Got Talent, Bachelor in Paradise Canada, and The Bachelor After Show. And thereâ€™s more, with the return of Citytvâ€™s highest-rated original scripted series Hudson & Rex and the newest chapter of OMNI Televisionâ€™s Blood and Water.
Created by Simon Cowell, the Got Talent franchise holds the Guinness World Records title as the most successful reality TV format, and now Canadians can once again take the stage and hear the golden buzzer as Citytv has commissioned Canadaâ€™s Got Talent in partnership with Fremantle, SYCO Entertainment, and McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc. The show begins production this Fall in Niagara Falls, ON, and premieres in Spring 2022 with nine original episodes. Canadaâ€™s Got Talent celebrates home-grown hopefuls from across the country as young and old, from every corner of the nation, show the country what theyâ€™ve got.
Keep the bubbly flowing, Bachelor Nation. As announced earlier this year, Bachelor in Paradise Canada is coming exclusively to Citytv this Fall, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. The drama continues beyond the rose ceremony with the launch of The Bachelor After Show, airing Sundays at 10 p.m. ET. Hosted by KiSS 92.5â€™s Deepa Prashad and Daryn Jones, the two will dish on all the juicy gossip and drama from the Bachelor universe â€“ The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise â€“ and across Bachelor Nation.
Citytvâ€™s #1 original scripted hit series Hudson & Rex, which experienced 77% audience growth since Season 1*, is back with more bark as production for Season 4 begins in St. Johnâ€™s later this month and will air in mid-season. New this year, in partnership with Access Reelworld and Rogers Sports & Media, Citytv announces Level UP, a new mentoring initiative which provides on-the-ground set experience to emerging writers and directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour. This yearâ€™s program sponsors are Hudson & Rex producers Shaftesbury and Pope Productions, who welcome successful applicants to their set and writers room to shadow the crew, hone their skills, and develop additional training.
On OMNI Television, private detective Michelle Chang (Selena Lee, Forensic Heroes IV, Once More) is back on the case as Blood and Water: Fire & Ice, the original Chinese-Canadian drama, returns for a compelling third and final season, premiering Sunday, June 13 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Season 3 continues the saga of the billionaire Xie family in which Michelle finds surprising allies as she hunts down Norris Pang, the ruthless criminal who kidnapped her daughter. Produced by Breakthrough Entertainment, in association with OMNI Television, the eight 30-minute episodes star Selena Lee, Elfina Luk, Sean Baek, Loretta Yu, Fiona Fu, and Oscar Hsu.
Rounding out Citytvâ€™s original content offering are popular schedule staples Breakfast Television, two-time CSA winner as Best Morning Show, and Cityline, the longest-running and most successful Canadian daytime show for women.
In my first interview covering the third season of Hudson & Rex, I spoke to show co-stars Mayko Nguyen about how emotionally draining the season debut was. Showrunner Derek Schreyer believes he knows the reason why.
“I think these times have shown us not just how much we love our animals, but how much they love us,” he told me in an email. I agree. I certainly have spent a lot more time bugging my cat, muchâ€”I’m sureâ€”to his chagrin. But enough about me; here is my email chat with Derek Schreyer about the challenges of running a TV series during a worldwide pandemic.
How challenging was it for you, as showrunner, to create this season during COVID-19? Derek Schreyer: Iâ€™d be lying if I said it wasnâ€™t much of a factor. We started rolling into Season 3 just as the world began to shut down, and the pandemic panic was at its absolute high (even though weâ€™re actually much worse off now). Getting into a groove on a new season is challenging enough, but here was this added complexity of being forced to work on Zoom, and oh yeah, the world is burning. So those first few days were spent musing about life while figuring out the software (we use Miro to replicate a whiteboard) and all the new rhythms of a virtual room.
So yes, there were bumps. In a physical workspace, we can pace and move around and scrunch up the bad pitches (which will inevitably become ammunition). Sometimes weâ€™d take group walks to stretch the legs or have a coffee break in a park, which is where some of the best ideas are formed. None of that possible in a virtual room, so we had to figure out new ways to spark our imagination. Complicating things further is everyone has a life, which canâ€™t help but spill onto the zoom screenâ€”there are the kids and the ferrets and the delivery men and the partners and the barking dogs, not to mention the technical glitches and different time zones.
But hereâ€™s the funny thing: I learned to love all that stuff. Distractions create amusing bonding moments, which can actually generate ideas. It really didnâ€™t take our team long to gel. Of course, itâ€™s not like we had a choiceâ€”our development window is much shorter than most one-hour shows, so we had to learn how to work together fast. That weâ€™re not a massive room worked to our advantage, and we have a nice mix of new faces with returnees. Thereâ€™s really only four of usâ€”Vivian Lin and Joseph Milando from last season, and Sonja Bennet coming in fresh. We also had Cal Coons do the heavy-lifting on some of the earlier episodes, it would have been near impossible to slide right into Season 3 without him. And we were blessed with some strong outside writers, a number of whom have already written for the show.
And yes, COVID was certainly a factor in how we told our stories. We chose not to depict the pandemic in our fictional world, but production still had to manage it in real life, which meant fewer crowds and more two-handers and outdoor scenes. So there were definitely more barriers for the storytelling this season. But sometimes barriers breed innovation, and Iâ€™m very proud of the places we took our scripts. I honestly believe itâ€™s our strongest season yet.
Mayko mentioned a lot more filming outdoors this season. Was this because of the pandemic, or was that just the nature of the storylines? DS: Itâ€™s actually a bit of both. Newfoundland has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, which is one of the reasons we now air in over 100 territoriesâ€”that rugged landscape is an appealing draw for places like Italy, France, and Germany. Some of our strongest episodes from previous seasons took advantage of that. And of course, with this year and COVID, itâ€™s just easier and safer to shoot outdoors, so we definitely leaned more that way at first.
Luckily the outdoors is a natural fit for our world, given the Rex factor. There is something appealing about a man and his dog in the wild, that Jack London call to adventure is innate and universal. One episode finds Charlie and Rex venturing deep into the forest to a small nomadic civilization living off-the-grid. Another takes place under the ocean and involves Charlie strapping on a SCUBA suit in the search for clues on the ocean bed (both ideas inspired by our star John Reardon, who is a Master SCUBA diver in real life). The point is that this season often our story obstacles came from the elements, as opposed to complex set-pieces requiring a large cast, which is true to the DNA of our show.
The one down side to shooting outdoors is that Newfoundland does not have a very long summer. That can be difficult on the actors, who sometimes have to pretend itâ€™s warmer than it is. Watching them in some of these dailies makes me realize how incredibly devoted they are to their craft and this show. Luckily, we plan our stories according to the elements, so the last three episodes shooting in the new year feature worlds that are largely indoors.
Did you have to alter anything in the planning and/or production because of COVID-19? DS: Absolutely, both on the page and on the floor. Production did an incredible job tapping down on COVIDâ€”employing working pods and zones, sanitizing stations, strict quarantining of out-of-province cast and crew, essential mask-wearing, and of course constant testing. All of this costs money and time, so almost every department, including Story, had to make concessions. So sometimes, if a test result wasnâ€™t ready, weâ€™d have to adjust a scene or write someone out. Re-inventing on the fly is not unusual during production, but COVID took it to another level. Having said that, as crazy as it sounds, the limitations didnâ€™t hurt the episodes. At times they even helped them. Smaller scenes can become more visceral and intimate, allowing Rex and the cast to really shine. Crowds were certainly a casualty this season, but we quickly discovered we didnâ€™t always need them. For instance, one episode is set at a dog show. We could never replicate the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, so we developed a fictional version that felt truer to St. John’s. And weâ€™re working on an episode involving magic, which usually involves spectacle and an audience, but the more interesting things happen behind the scenes.
I’ve told both Mayko and John that there is a groove to the first episode of this new season. It feels like everyone “gets” their characters and there is a confidence/swagger to the show. Have you felt that? DS: Absolutely. Our four human leads really have found their groove this season, hitting new heights in clarity and depth. I strongly believe that any of them could anchor a U.S. show. But as good as they are individually, theyâ€™re even better as a team. I like to think itâ€™s because of the brilliant writing, but itâ€™s more likely that chemistry generates over hardship and time, and after two seasons and 32 episodes this cast has had plenty of both (epic reshoots, snowmaggedon, a pandemic â€¦ and Iâ€™m only scratching the surface!)
The other factor is, now that weâ€™re deep into the third season, we really have figured out what makes each of these characters unique. Weâ€™re not a soapy show, and donâ€™t go too deeply into the personal lives of our characters. So we canâ€™t rely on shortcuts like bringing in a parent or girlfriend or brother or following anyone home (except Charlie and Rex). This means we need to define our characters through nuance in dialogue and work style. It helps that everyone works together to ensure their voices are clear and consistent, including the cast themselves.
Hudson & Rex is able to provide light and dark moments. The scene of Rex and his dead partner in the season premiere, and the closing scene at her tombstone, was emotional for me. Can you talk about the joy of bringing those moments to the screen? DS: Our opening episode was an idea that had been kicking around for a while, but was felt too early in the series arc for an origin story. But now that 30-plus episodes have been filmed, and given how crazy 2020 has been, I cannot think of a more perfect season kicker. Itâ€™s obviously a heavy episode that deals with loyalty, loss, and renewal. Jackie May did a lovely job capturing the raw emotion, and I donâ€™t think youâ€™re the only one who felt moved by the episode.
In many ways, that opener is very 2020. Weâ€™re all craving connectivity in these crazy times, and that is especially true with the animals we love. My parents had to put down their German shepherd not long before COVID hit, and theyâ€™re missing that dog every day. And I had to put down my best pal Cooper, our Portuguese water dog, the day we went into lockdown. Weâ€™ve learned to appreciate the bond we have with our animal companions. For this seasonâ€™s opener, weâ€™re telling that same story, except from the dogâ€™s POV, which is even more wrenching.
I think these times have shown us not just how much we love our animals, but how much they love us, which is why our opener packs such an emotional punch. But the ending alludes to renewal, hope, and purposeâ€”something we all could really use these days.
Hudson & Rex airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.
Diesel and Derek image courtesy of Derek Schreyer. Show images courtesy of Rogers Media.