Tag Archives: Aaron Poole

CBC Gem’s The Communist’s Daughter a funny peek at the 80s in all its excess

My formative years were spent in the 1980s. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the 80s celebrated consumerism and excess. I was, however, aware of the media’s portrayal of Communism—and the Soviet Union, specifically—during that decade through movies like Rocky IV, Red Dawn and then-WWF wrestlers Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov. And I was aware of how it all came to a head in 1989 when the Berlin Wall tumbled, signifying the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

That time, and the tumult that came with it, is explored in the new web series The Communist’s Daughter. Available now on CBC Gem, the eight first-season episodes are the creation of head writer and director Leah Cameron (Coroner), who has first-hand knowledge of the subject matter.

The Communist’s Daughter is loosely based on Cameron’s childhood: her father was a Communist during the 1980s. As a result, the family car was a Lada, Soviet Life magazine was delivered to the door, and family vacations were to Cuba to support the economy. In the first episode, viewers are introduced to Dunyasha McDougald (Sofia Banzhaf), a 15-year-old living in Toronto in 1989. Happily upholding the beliefs of her father Ian (Aaron Poole) and mother Carol (Jessica Holmes), Dunyasha finds her support of Communism challenged by her first day at high school when she meets Jasmine (Nadine Bhabha) and Marc (Kolton Stewart). (Look for Chris Locke, George Stroumboulopoulos and Neema Nazeri in funny supporting roles.)

It’s been a long road for The Communist’s Daughter. I first spoke to Cameron back in 2018, when she applied to the Independent Production Fund to produce the series. Now, with the debut close at hand, how did she tackle writing the web series?

“By the time I got to shooting the [IPF] teaser, I had a sense of, tonally, what I wanted the show to feel like in terms of comedy and casting,” Cameron says. “I had originally conceived of it as a half-hour comedy, so it was more a process of refining some of the characters and paring things down.” The first TV episode was broken down and served as Episodes 1 and 2 of the web series and a rough season outline followed. Cameron knew she wanted The Communist’s Daughter to be serialized and take place over time, using the frame of Ian running for a local election and Dunyasha beginning her school year in September and the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989.

“It’s a time when the family’s values couldn’t be more out of sync with what’s going on,” she says. “The Reagan 80s are a super-consumerist time, a super-conservative time and a time when I, growing up, said that my dad was a Communist and everybody thought that meant he was an evil person.”

Executive producer Lauren Corber—her LoCo Motion Pictures are behind Detention Adventure and How to Buy a Baby—is always looking for stories that speak to her, an audience for a project and if a creator is bringing something new to the table. She found all three in The Communist’s Daughter.

“Leah and [producer] Natalie Novak did an excellent job with their proof of concept video,” Corber says. “I had worked with Natalie before and was excited to work with her again. Leah came to the project with such a passion for the story. It was just undeniable that she would bring something special to the production.”

The Communist’s Daughter is available now on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of Conor Fisher for Pinko Productions Inc.


Preview: Murdoch Mysteries takes a Wright turn into Season 12

It’s been a long summer, hasn’t it Murdoch Mysteries fans? Those months between new seasons of the show seem to get more drawn-out with every passing year. But let’s forget about the days gone by and focus on the journey ahead: 18 shiny new episodes to enjoy.

When we last left Julia and William, they’d reconciled after Julia miscarried and the pair briefly separated. Meanwhile, Crabtree and Nina are kaput, perhaps forever, after she left for Paris and he stayed behind.

Season 12 kicks off with “Murdoch Mystery Mansion,” written by showrunner Peter Mitchell and directed by Gary Harvey. Here’s what the CBC has revealed as the official synopsis for the episode.

Det. Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Dr. Ogden (Hélène Joy) have rebuilt their life after Ogden’s recent miscarriage by building a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (Aaron Poole), a Chicago architect with a burgeoning reputation. However, the house is rocked by an explosion in Murdoch’s specially designed potato-cooking room that claims a man’s life.

And here are a few more tidbits I gleaned after watching a screener.

What? New show credits and theme music?!
After 12 seasons, there’s a major shakeup with the opening credits and … KIDDING. It wouldn’t be Murdoch Mysteries without Robert Carli’s iconic theme and those oh-so-steampunk credits.

Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera checks in…
I must admit, it’s a bit strange to see the actress I’ll always think of as Daisy from Downton Abbey walking around William Murdoch’s world. Here she plays Ann Ryand, which several eagle-eyed fans have suggested might be a nod to author Ayn Rand via wordplay.

…And so does Aaron Poole
No stranger to the CBC—Poole played Captain John Slotter in the cancelled-too-soon Strange Empire—he’s most recently appeared in the horror flick The Void, drama feature The Definites and sci-fi series Salvation. He’s great as the brilliant architect who has built William and Julia’s first home. And there is a very funny catch to owning Wright’s first-ever house in the Toronto area. (A hearty “Hurrah” to the set designers, props department, builders and other crew who made the interior of the home look so realistic.)

Julia and William are in a wonderful place
Those hoping our favourite couple are happy will be thrilled to find that’s certainly the case as “Murdoch Murder Mansion” begins. But then, well, murder.

Higgins and Ruth are still going strong
One of the most entertaining couples in primetime television is hurtling towards their wedding day. That means major events as precursors … and the opportunity to learn more about these two characters.

Miss Hart is perturbed
She may have big plans when it comes to running the morgue, but Inspector Brackenreid has other ideas.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

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