Mary Pedersen and I go way back. We first connected when she was a story editor on Murdoch Mysteries. After five seasons as a writer on Murdoch, Pedersen moved to Frankie Drake Mysteries where she was a writer and co-executive producer. These days, the Canadian Screen Award nominee can be found writing, co-executive producing (and directing her first-ever episode of TV) on Hudson & Rex.
Returning for Season 5 on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv, Hudson & Rex has become not only a Canadian hit but an international one too. The tale of St. John’s Detective Charlie Hudson (John Reardon) and his capable canine partner Rex (Diesel vom Burgimwald) have resonated since it was adapted from the original German series.
In the season debut, “Lost in the Barrens,” Charlie, Rex, Dr. Sarah Truong (Mayko Nguyen), tech expert Jesse Mills (Justin Kelly), Superintendent Joe Donovan (Kevin Hanchard) and new forensic pathologist Karma Poole (Bridget Wareham) are on the case of a missing woman, and suspicion quickly falls on her boyfriend (played by Murdoch‘s Daniel Maslany).
We spoke to Mary Pedersen ahead of Sunday’s return.
We have a lot to talk about! One of the great things about Hudson & Rex is that you know you’re going to get a solid hour of entertainment. Mary Pedersen: Yes, and for all those dog lovers out there, there’s dog action. Anytime I see the dog on screen, I’m happy. So I’m one of those people.
Is there a major difference in writing for a TV series set in the modern day as opposed to a period drama like Murdoch Mysteries or Frankie Drake Mysteries or is story just story? MP: Story is story. [Co-executive producer and writer] Keri Ferencz and I both came from Frankie onto Hudson & Rex and the main thing we noticed that we were delighted about was, ‘Ooh, cell phone calls, ooh, Internet!’ You can get your clues from a different place and sometimes it speeds up the action a little bit so that people can make calls and things like that.
And [showrunner] Peter Mitchell wanted to try to show more police procedural than mystery, so that also was an adjustment for us. But I’m constantly harassing the writing room with my love of NYPD Blue, so it appeals to me, and that’s been really fun.
It’s still a mystery. We’re still often meeting all our suspects pretty early on in the story. It’s a bit of a tweak mentally in terms of more of the action and discovery feels like it’s happening in the present, as opposed to we’re unravelling something in the past. There’s also the focus on how our cops figure out what they figure out, which is also true in Murdoch Mysteries. William Murdoch has a very specific way of solving crimes and of course, Charlie has a specific way of solving crimes with his trusty dog.
When you’re writing a script and you’re referring to something that Rex is going to do, do you write, ‘Rex looks this way,’ or ‘Rex whimpers’? MP: We always feel his presence and all the directors on the show, most of our directors have been on the show before and they’ll know that you want to find Rex action as much as you can in every scene that he’s in, even if it is a matter of listening and reacting to the conversations that are happening.
So yes, we write it in to make sure we always feel his presence and that we, as writers, are thinking about him, [executive producer and dog master] Sherri Davis, and all of our cast. Our cast elevates what’s on the page and Sherri does the same thing. So she’s also so in tune with the dogs and knows what they can do and she will often look at the action we’ve written and suggest, ‘Oh, if we do it this way, that’ll be more exciting,’ or ‘This is something that we haven’t done on the show before and why don’t we?’ I think she also loves the stunt work as well as working with the dogs, so she’ll really elevate a lot of the Rex action as well.
What a place to be filming. The Murdoch Mysteries backlot is cool and everything, but man, St. John’s, Newfoundland, you can’t beat that. MP: I first went out there, a year ago in May for Season 4 and I had never been before. I am from Nova Scotia, but I’d never been to Newfoundland before and it is just spectacular. Even now when I go, you can’t look anywhere that’s not gorgeous.
I love it a lot and I’m really glad that we’re getting more and more of St. John’s and the landscape around it onto the show. I think that’s just such a wonderful world and I love that we can put it on the show.
In addition to the key cast of characters we’ve gotten to know over four seasons, we’ve got the new addition of Bridget Wareham playing forensic pathologist Karma Poole. MP: One of the main motivations for me, when we were talking at the beginning of the season about possibly bringing on another regular, semi-regular, was that Sarah—we saw this last season in one of the episodes, she goes on a retreat with some other professionals—and it really sort of drove home to both Mayko and I that Sarah doesn’t really get to talk to other women a whole lot. That was a big thing, to have somebody that Sarah could talk to besides the boys. She obviously fits in very well with the boys, but female relationships are really important in life, so that was a big part of the motivation for me in terms of getting another character onto our regular roster.
Hudson & Rex continues to welcome a whos who of Canadian talent to its episodes. Daniel Maslany kicks it off in Episode 1, but people stopping by include Paul Bronstein, Jake Epstein, Stuart Hughes, Matthew MacFadzean, Mary Walsh, K. Trevor Wilson, Steven Lund and Carlo Rota… how fun is it to write for guests of this calibre MP: We’re so lucky. I think people love to come to Newfoundland. People have just been really game to come out and play with us.
This is the third show that you’ve worked on that is not only a critical hit, but also done very well internationally. Obviously, as a professional writer, you’re happy to have a gig, but do you ever sit back and pinch yourself? MP: Every day. So much credit to Shaftesbury for making that happen and for making shows that appeal to so many people and Pete. Pete’s always, always, always had an eye on what is going to be entertaining. You don’t get a story past Pete if he thinks something is boring about it or too earnest. It’s all about having fun and entertaining people and yeah, I feel incredibly lucky to have stepped onto that boat.
Hudson & Rex airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.
This week, Greg and Amy go through debuts and returns on the Canadian TV calendar.
Then, we cover the latest Canadian TV news, including CBC, BIPOC TV & Film and CFC’s new showrunner catalyst, Global’s original scripted series Robyn Hood begins production, Super Channel’s documentary on Bif Naked and a first look at the OUTtv horror-comedy series, Ezra.
We close out the podcast by looking at Rogers’ upfront announcement, which includes more Hudson & Rex, Canada’s Got Talent, Bachelor in Paradise Canada and one new show: Wong & Winchester.
Building on a hugely successful season where its top Canadian series captured the hearts of the nation, Citytv’s 2022/23 original programming slate promises to bring even more jaw-dropping and inspiring moments, loads of suspense, and of course… double the drama!
A new addition to Citytv’s strong original programming slate is Wong & Winchester, a female-driven buddy detective procedural, in partnership with Pixcom. Production starts this Summer in Montreal with the series premiering mid-season. Lionsgate will distribute the program throughout the world, outside of Canada.
Citytv doubles down on its investment in global hit franchises Got Talent and Bachelor, with the return of Canada’s Got Talent in partnership with Fremantle, SYCO Entertainment, and McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc., along with Bachelor in Paradise Canada in partnership with Good Human Productions.
Having returned to Citytv after 10 years, Canada’s Got Talent reminded the world that this country is bursting with incredible performers from coast to coast to coast. As Citytv’s most-viewed original series in over a decade, Canada’s Got Talent reached 1.4M Canadians each episode throughout the season. Plus, #CGT proved to be a viral hit on social with its engaging content garnering 356M impressions across @CanGotTalent platforms and more than 1M hours of watch-time on YouTube.Canada’s Got Talent Season 2 begins production this Fall in Niagara Falls, ON, and premieres in Spring 2023. Auditions for Season 2 are now open on Citytv.com.
Joining as new host of Bachelor in Paradise Canada in Season 2 is Sharleen Joynt alongside returning resident bartender Kevin Wendt. Decorated Soprano by day, Bachelor alum and long-time franchise recapper by night, Joynt is the utmost authority on all things Bachelor. Joynt is famously known from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Season 18), where this charismatic, fan-favourite Canadian, made her initial mark on Bachelor Nation and then continued to cover the franchise thereafter, most recently on the podcast “Dear Shandy.”
Returning mid-season to Citytv, Bachelor in Paradise Canada promises to bring another steamy season filled with OMG plot twists, juicy drama, and passionate romances.
Winning over the hearts of Canadians week after week, Citytv’s #1 original scripted hit series Hudson & Rex returns this Fall with a 20-episode order for its fifth season. Airing on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the beloved series is currently in production in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and will also feature a two-episode story arc set in Northern Ontario.
Returning this year is Level UP, a four-week mentoring initiative between Reelworld and Rogers Sports & Media, that provides on-the-ground experience to emerging Canadian directors and writers who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour. Program sponsors for 2022 are Citytv and Hudson & Rex producers, Shaftesbury and Pope Productions. Applications are open now until June 21 at www.reelworld.ca.
Citytv’s homegrown success continues in daytime with its in-house productions – Breakfast Television and Cityline – which have both experienced tremendous audience growth in 2022**. Breakfast Television has risen to the top among its competitors, making it the #1 morning television show in Ontario. Hosted by Tracy Moore, Cityline grew national audiences by +32% in Q1’22***, while also expanding its roster of original digital content through YouTube series like Face it with Tracy P and Deepa Does It.
*Source: Numeris PPM, Total Canada A2+ (Mar 22nd – May 25th, 2022)
** Source: Numeris PPM, AMA (000), Ontario A25-54, M-F 6a-9a (Jan 1st – Apr 29th, 2022)
*** Source: Numeris PPM, AMA (000), Total Canada A25-54, M-F 10a-11a (Jan 1st – Mar 31st, 2022)
Citytv’s New Series Description – Mid-Season
WONG & WINCHESTER
Wong & Winchester is a one-hour light and fun female-driven buddy detective procedural. It’s the story of the unlikely partnership between Marissa Wong (Grace Lynn Kung) – a bitter ex-cop turned private investigator – and Sarah Winchester (Sofia Banzhaf) – a former career student with the naivety to prove it. Working side-by-side, the mismatched duo, despite their generation gap and their vastly different approaches to work, life, food, fun, society and even their own gender, somehow manage to always get the job done of solving perplexing cases and odd mysteries.
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Pixcom
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Nicola Merola & Charles Lafortune; Showrunner is Chris Pozzebon; Creator and Co-Showrunner is Hollis Ludlow-Carroll; Producer is Nathalie Cecyre
CAST: Grace Lynn Kung (Transplant, Fahrenheit 451), Sofia Banzhaf (Closet Monster, Splinters), Joe Cobden (The Sinner, This Life), and Anthony Lemke (The Hardy Boys)
Shaftesbury extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Paul Pope, the beloved Executive Producer of Hudson & Rex and President of Pope Productions. Pope passed away suddenly on the morning of April 14, 2022. He was 63 years old.
“The news is truly shocking,” says Christina Jennings, Chairman and President, Shaftesbury. “Canada has lost an amazing producer, a force in Newfoundland. Paul has been Shaftesbury’s partner on seven shows for over 15 years. Most recently, we teamed up on Hudson & Rex. Paul was a wonderful man. A spirited human. He loved life and knew how to live it. Paul will be sorely missed by his wife, Lisa, his two sons and all of us here at Shaftesbury.
Based in St. John’s, NFLD, Pope was a dynamic force in the Canadian film industry, having produced or worked on hundreds of films. A founding member of the Newfoundland Filmmakers Cooperative (NIFCO), where he served as president for over 20 years, he has been instrumental in the development of a vibrant production industry. A generous mentor, he was a passionate voice for independent production at a national level with a long-standing tradition of supporting Canadian artists and ensuring that Canadian stories were brought to the screen.
In addition to his numerous awards and nominations for his projects with Pope Productions, he also received the Arts Achievement Award from ArtsNL, the Douglas James Dales Industry Builder Award, and an honorary Doctorate from Memorial University. Pope served on the board of Resource Centre for the Arts and NIFCO and has previously served on the board of the Canadian Media Producers Association and was Vice-Chair of the Canadian Media Fund.
About Pope Productions Pope Productions is a St. John’s based media production company, helmed by producer Paul Pope. The company’s most recent television projects are the fourth season of Hudson & Rex for Citytv, which is now seen in over 100 territories worldwide and Departure Season 3 for Global. The company’s features and MOWs include the CBC comedy A Christmas Fury and festival favourites Hunting Pignut, Beat Down and Grown Up Movie Star, which scored a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for Tatiana Maslany. Documentaries include It’s Mental, Heavy Weather Presents, the multi-award-winning My Left Breast, Legends and Lore of the North Atlantic, and Going the Distance. From the historical dramatic miniseries Above and Beyond to the classic comedy Rare Birds, and the outrageous series Drunk and on Drugs: The Happy Funtime Hour, Pope’s rich repertoire reflects its deep commitment to a vibrant production industry both in Newfoundland and nationally.