The first minutes of Diggstown‘s second season debut will leave you on the edge of your seat. As “Amazing Race” swells, a woman’s body is thrown through the air in a slow-motion dance that ends in tragedy. It’s a shocking return for the CBC legal drama.
Returning Wednesday at 8 p.m., Diggstown follows lawyer Marcie Diggs (Vinessa Antoine) and the team at Halifax Legal Aid, lead by Colleen MacDonnell (Natasha Henstridge). Fellow lawyers include Pam MacLean (Stacey Farber), Reggie Thompson (C. David Johnson), Doug Paul (Brandon Oakes) and Iris Beals (Shailene Garnett).
We spoke to creator Floyd Kane about those emotionally draining opening moments.
One of the things that have set Diggstown apart for me is the dialogue. I’ve listened to so many shows where the dialogue between characters seems really forced and Diggstown doesn’t feel like that. Another CBC series, Coroner, feels natural as well. Is that hard to write dialogue to make it sound natural?
Floyd Kane: It’s very hard, but I give a lot of credit to our actors, they kind of put a little bit of their own dust on it. But for me, it’s always interesting because when I’m trying to write, especially for communities that I don’t know, you’re always trying to get the voice in your head. That’s the thing that it’s the most challenging part is just making sure that you’ve got that voice in your head properly.
Before we talk about Season 2, let’s go back a bit into Season 1. Were there some takeaways for you, things that worked in Season 1, things that maybe you thought you could have done a little bit better moving into Season 2?
FK: Definitely. I think that every season of the show you’re learning something more. I think in the first season you’re learning certain things like what actors could handle what. Who can you give more to? These are all things that come up. Our show is a procedural and in the first season, there were very few continuing elements. And so this season what we did is we incorporated some continuing storylines. Viewers want a contained story, but they also want to be able to get some bits of character that they can pull on too.
It would appear that in the very first episode you hint at what may be a season-long story with Avery being handled the case and taking out the photo of Marcie in there. I’m assuming that’s going to last more than a couple of episodes.
FK: For sure. Episode 4 of Season 2 is actually a big episode for Marcie and Avery and Pam in terms of their relationship to one another.
You start out the season in slow motion, with an accident and ‘Amazing Grace’ being played. It’s very effective. Why did you decide to start off like that?
FK: We had written … I think there was a full-blown sequence involving cars and kids crossing the street, a high-speed chase. We are not a $4 million show. I sat with the director and we started noodling, ‘Well how do we do this?’ And he had an idea and then I kind of said, ‘Well something I would really want us to try to do, and see if it works, is play that from the point of view of the person who’s been hit by the car and have them falling through the air, and we’re seeing what they’re seeing. That’s where that came from. It just was really trying to figure out, ‘What’s the cool visual way to stage that?’
It’s interesting to have the police officer be Asian and being defended by Marci because you were able to have her community turn against her. Was that always the way that you wanted to go for that main storyline?
FK: Here’s where that all came from. We wanted to do a cop killing involving a black person this season. We had written on the board, it was going to be a white woman shooting an unarmed black person. And we knew that we wanted it to be a single mom who was killed. I watch a lot of television and I’m like, every show is doing the black person being killed by a white cop.
I don’t want to do this. There has to be a different way. And that’s when we sat in the writing room and it was like, ‘OK, it’s not going to be a shooting, it’s going to be a high-speed chase and they’re going to kill this black woman. That was where that came from. And then, I wanted the cop to the Asian because I just wanted to have that conversation. I want people, when they watch the episode, to think about the relationship that exists between the black communities in this country and the Asian communities in this country. I think these are communities that don’t necessarily talk as much as they should.
What type of writer are you? Are you the type of writer that likes to be in a room quiet and quietly when you’re writing? Do you prefer a coffee shop with a lot of noise around you?
FK: I love the coffee shop. My wife says I have undiagnosed ADHD so I have a hard time when I’m alone, getting down to brass tacks with the writing. But if I’m in a coffee shop … because I have all of this noise around me, and I have my headphones in so I’m listening to a podcast or something. I can just like blaze through. That’s how I work.
Diggstown airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.