Tag Archives: Joel Thomas Hynes

Preview: Little Dog gets back into the ring for Season 2

Life for Tommy “Little Dog” Ross isn’t getting any easier. In fact, it’s looking a lot tougher for him in Season 2. And, honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. That makes it all the more rewarding when he punches his way—literally or figuratively—out of a bad situation.

Returning for Season 2 this Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on CBC, Little Dog picks up moments after the Season 1 finale. Tommy “Little Dog” Ross (Joel Thomas Hynes) was on the run after winning his rematch with Rico “Havoc” St. George (Dwain Murphy). Why? Because that went against Tucker’s (Mary Walsh) wishes. The win also messed up Lowly’s (Stephen Oates) bet against his own brother. The result? Sylvia (Ger Ryan) lost her house.

When we catch up with Tommy, he’s in a bad way. Battered and bruised physically from the showdown with Rico and hurting emotionally thanks to his family turning against him, Tommy pedals into the night and seeks shelter in an old shack. Freezing and frustrated, he lashes out at a bird fluttering overhead and kills it. Shaken, Tommy adopts the now empty bird nest and its egg contents as his own. Finally, this is something he can control and care for and not even a bad canned spam will stop Tommy from mothering the eggs.

Show creator, executive producer Hynes and showrunner, executive producer Sherry White have created something truly special in Little Dog in general and Tommy more specifically. Hynes brings an incredible amount of hurt, longing and vulnerability to Tommy. It’s truly special. Amid the maelstrom of life in the Ross clan, he’s the sensitive centre, a guy who wants to be loved and cared for but gets dumped on at every turn. It doesn’t appear as though things will be getting any easier for Tommy. By the end of Thursday’s return, Tommy is introduced to the child he had with Pamela (Julia Chan), opening a new door for Tommy to stumble through: fatherhood.

I can’t wait to see how he handles that.

Little Dog airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.


Little Dog: Patricia Isaac discusses Dr. Vaani’s “sweet and honest” relationship with Tommy

With four rounds, er, episodes of Little Dog in the can, we’ve learned a lot about Tommy and his family. Tommy (Joel Thomas Hynes) is tenacious and slowly gaining his mojo back. Lowly (Stephen Oates) is loyal if not a little slow. Sylvia (Ger Ryan) is a force to be reckoned with.

As for Dr. Vaani Abdeen, played by Patricia Isaac? Well, the good doctor has certainly revealed a lot in the last two episodes. Turns out she’s not only a brilliant doctor but a kleptomaniac with a secret. That came to light in Ginny’s (Katherine Isabelle) anger class when Vaani revealed she was verbally abused by her husband. We spoke to Isaac about her character, Vaani’s relationship with Tommy and her circuitous route to acting.

Give me the Coles Notes version of how you got into the industry. Your bio says you were the youngest account executive for a major IT corporation. When did you decide acting was what you wanted to do?
Patricia Isaac: I was in Alberta, where I’m from, and it wasn’t so much as a decision as something I couldn’t not do. I’d been performing, singing and writing since I was a little kid and it’s not something that’s necessarily culturally encouraged. Math, science and business is just what we do. It feels safe. All of a sudden I had this grownup’s job and I said to myself, ‘Is this it?’ I just had to give acting a shot. I made a friend in the industry, we hit it off and I was encouraged to take the leap and head to Vancouver to check it out. I ended up going on my first audition, booked it and took it as a sign. I lived out of my suitcase for a few months and never went back.

How did your family feel about that?
My family is very supportive of taking a risk and seeing that it all works out. If you don’t spend decades going at it aimlessly then you’re all good! My family does have a lot of art in its background too, so there is that.

How did you land the role of Vaani? Did you audition or did some folks have you in mind because you’d been on Republic of Doyle?
It was both, actually. I did know Joel from before when I was on Doyle. But I auditioned. I taped here in Los Angeles and did the callback with [showrunner Sherry White]. What made it so great was the fact that we did have that history.

St. John’s is such a fantastic city to work in and you got to do it twice. You must have been pinching yourself.
It is a dream. It’s such a special place. I spent some time by myself on Signal Hill and there was nobody else there. I watched the sun rise at Cape Spear … there is something so sacred about both of those experiences.

Let’s get into these characters. Vaani and Tommy have a history and there seems to be a bit of an attraction there. Can you comment on that?
[Laughs.] They are kind of a safe place for each other. She doesn’t want anything from him and he’s kind of the one person in his world who doesn’t. That allows her to be the straight-shooter that she is. Also, they can be vulnerable around each other. There is something really sweet about it and honest about it. The fact that they did know each other in high school even though he didn’t recognize her. I definitely related to her. It took me awhile to look like a girl, so I can appreciate Dr. Vaani. He was one of the few people who was kind to her in high school. Even though they seem to be from different sides of the tracks there is also an outsider quality for both of them that connects them. It’s a really sweet relationship. Where it goes … we don’t know. But it feels like an opportunity to go anywhere.

You see all of these other relationships on the show and here is this girl who was married and comes back to town after it exploded and now finds herself working with her dad in this old neighbourhood where people remember her the way they remembered her in Episode 1. She’s kind of having to rebuild herself.

It’s good these two have a safe place to go because Sylvia is on them all the time.
[Laughs.] It’s so funny because Ger and I in real life love spending time together. She is just a wonderful human being, so it made it that much more enjoyable to play these characters. I think the situation with Sylvia is very common in real life. We make assumptions about being judged or project that onto the other person. I feel like her character does that. She is going to judge me before I can judge her. We’ll definitely see more of that. There is that commonality between Tommy and Vaani and I am almost protective of him and he is that way as well.

Tommy comes across as such a tough guy because of the way he looks and dresses and carries himself. But once you start to chip away at that, he’s a sensitive guy.
Yes, and Vaani is like that too. I know a lot of girls that have done this and I have too; you find the thing that you can hide behind for protection. Vaani hides behind a lab coat in some ways and is doing her best to keep up appearances.

Little Dog airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Featured image courtesy of James Branaman.




Links: Little Dog, Season 1

From Bill Brioux of the Canadian Press:

Link: Joel Thomas Hynes says CBC series ‘Little Dog’ is about comebacks
“Rocky” long ago proved that when it comes to boxing movies, audiences love an underdog.

The new made-in-Canada series “Little Dog” will test whether that also holds true for television. The black comedy steps into the ring Thursday on CBC. Continue reading.

From Debra Yeo of the Toronto Star:

Link: In Little Dog, Joel Thomas Hynes and Sherry White give us a boxer who’s more vulnerable than macho
It was physical pain that led Joel Thomas Hynes to create his first TV series, Little Dog, which is fitting since it’s about a boxer.

Tommy “Little Dog” Ross, played by Hynes, is a former contender in the superwelterweight division in Newfoundland; he walked out of a bout five years before and has been living with the shame and notoriety ever since. The dark half-hour comedy debuts Thursday, March 1 at 9 p.m. on CBC. Continue reading.

From John Doyle of The Globe and Mail:

Link: CBC’s Little Dog is a rockin’ raucous gem of a serious comedy
It’s an old idea but usually a promising one – a down-on-his-luck boxer sets out on the comeback trail.

That’s the gist of Little Dog (starts Thursday, 9 p.m. on CBC with two episodes) and it has a clean, raw vivacity, made even more enjoyable by a large injection of rough Newfoundland humour. This is very much a rollicking, bawdy Newfoundland drama-comedy made with characteristic vigour and equally characteristic absurdity. It is, in the context of a wave of bland mid-season TV, a breath of fresh air. Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: How Little Dog’s female lens adds a new layer to what could be a typical macho story
“But with a female lens on it, and exploring that vulnerability and broken masculinity in the hands of women telling that story, I feel it’s quite interesting. Joel had full faith and trust and totally gave over to that. He didn’t want to tell a typical macho story, even though he has all that armour, he’s aware that it’s hiding a vulnerability and it’s part of why he wanted to tell this story.” Continue reading.

From Melissa Girimonte of The Televixen:

Link: Family is the true opponent in new comedy series Little Dog
“He basically dumped his boxing career down the drain. We’re picking up five years later and it all comes back. He gets into a bar fight that somebody records, it goes viral, and he ends up back in the news. His old rival makes a challenge and he ends up on the road to a rematch with this guy.” Continue reading.

From Doug Sarti of The Georgia Strait:

Link: Katharine Isabelle goes from scream queen to just screaming on Little Dog
Little Dog, the dark new comedy series from CBC, is about a lot things. There’s redemption, second chances, boxing, and most of all, family.

But there’s one part of the show which really taps into the simmering attitudes of the current zeitgeist: Luv Yourself Mean, an encounter group which decidedly focuses on the negative. Run by “holistic advisor” Ginny Ross (Katharine Isabelle), it’s the perfect pop-therapy cure for the Trump era. Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Patricia Isaac on the many layers of her Little Dog doctor
“When I first learned about the details of the project, I, like most people do, fell for the story of one person’s quest for redemption. Second, I found the script hilarious and have always been a massive fan of smart comedy. But on top of that, I fell for the humanity.” Continue reading.


Joel Thomas Hynes’ Little Dog delivers comedy KO to CBC’s primetime

I’ve been fascinated with Joel Thomas Hynes for years. I first saw him on Republic of Doyle as Taylor Gossard, a drug trafficker who Jake Doyle ran afoul of numerous times. Since then, I’ve spotted him in The Book of Negroes, Orphan Black and Mary Kills People. Hynes is the type of guy who immediately catches your eye and makes an impression.

Now, the actor, musician, director, producer—and Governor General Award-winning writer—delivers a knockout punch with Little Dog. Debuting Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC, Little Dog boasts one hell of a hook—the tale of boxer Tommy “Little Dog” Ross (Hynes), who seeks redemption in the ring fives years after walking away from it—delivered alongside a cannonade of hilarious scenes peppered with memorable characters. The seven-episode run stars Dwain Murphy as Rico “Havoc” St. George, Ger Ryan as Tommy’s mother, Sylvia Ross; Stephen Oates as his eldest brother, Loyola “Lowly” Ross Jr; Katharine Isabelle as his sister Ginny Ross; newcomer Billy Cochrane as Ginny’s son Chesley; and Andy Jones as the wily, charming old patriarch of the family, Loyola “Lowly” Ross Sr.

I spoke to Hynes, showrunner Sherry White and executive producer Amy Cameron about the project.

Where did the idea for Little Dog come from?
Sherry White: Joel was developing this show idea and I really wanted to attach myself to it. I really love his voice and I think he’s really unique. [Producer] Perry [Zimel] set up some meetings for us to pitch it and we got it into development at the CBC. We decided to bring it to Cameron Pictures because I have a relationship with Tassie Cameron and we knew they would get the sensibility and the calibre of work we wanted it to be.

What was it about Joel’s pitch that got you so excited?
SW: The show is about this failed boxer who is trying to clean himself up and get a second chance at redemption. I liked that. It wasn’t until he showed me an unbelievable clip of a fight from 2000—I think it was Andrew Golota and Mike Tyson—where Andrew Golota walked out of the ring mid-fight. The trainers and everyone were just losing their shit on this guy and as he was leaving the audience was throwing stuff at him. It was such a visceral, emotional, dramatic kind of thing.

Joel Thomas Hynes: They called him ‘The Pole,’ as in telephone pole. A huge beast of a man.

SW: And you wonder, ‘How can this guy ever come back from this?’ What did he think when he got up the next morning? This is the starting point for this character. It’s five years later when you meet Tommy “Little Dog” Ross. He gets chance to get back into the ring and fight the guy he walked out on. He hasn’t been training and he has this very dysfunctional family who has a lot to say about whether or not he should do this and what it means to them. Because, of course, they lived in the disgrace as well. It’s really great to have a family comedy with this great boxing metaphor that you can draw on.

JTH: Boxing is beside the point after a while. It’s got a good built-in sports drama that leads to the big fight, but boxing is beside the point.

Joel, did you get the idea for Little Dog when you saw that Tyson-Golota fight? Was it immediate?
JTH: That Golota scene came up after, during research. The genesis of the show was already laid out. I used to do a little bit of krav maga and Thursday nights would be unofficial fight night. I was lined up for two weeks down the road to fight this guy who was a prick. He probably thought I was a prick. I hated him and we couldn’t wait to fight each other. I did this fight night—and I’m fighting another guy ahead of the guy two weeks down the road—and I’m not sure what happened. I got a kick or a knee in the chest and broke two ribs and my chest plate. I didn’t know it until the next morning. I went down to do burpees in the conditioning program and cracked my chest plate open. I was in the hospital, really wanting to fight this other guy in two weeks time, waiting for the doctor to come out with my x-rays. She tells me I have two cracked ribs and a split chest plate.

And I say, ‘OK, but can I fight in two weeks?’ She laughed at me and I was devastated and shamefaced knowing that this prick would think, ‘Oh yeah, broken rib.’ I got the idea for the show from that. There were a couple of other incidents that lead me to controlled fighting. I come from fighting. I come from a violent background and, for different reasons, in my early to mid-30s I had to move towards controlled fighting and martial arts for my own sanity. It’s steeped in the personal.

SW: And the tough-guy image … there was something you were interested in exploring. That image that you put forward and it not being true about who he is and what that means.

JTH: The show is also about having the courage to rise up to your full potential which, you know, takes a lot of courage.

Little Dog airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.