Tag Archives: Remedy

Murdoch Mysteries: Patrick McKenna reveals Slorach’s past and future

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched the latest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Manual for Murder.”

Patrick McKenna truly is a Canadian television “that guy.” His IMDB page boasts roles on award-winning and notable projects from Traders to RoboCop, The Red Green Show to Crash Canyon, Remedy to Hard Rock Medical.

And, for a four-episode stint so far, Murdoch Mysteries. On Monday night, McKenna’s Inspector Hamish Slorach dropped by Station House No. 4 with an announcement—he was retiring—and a request: would Inspector Brackenreid deliver a speech? Unfortunately, the celebration was marred when an attempt on Hamish’s life was made with a mechanized gun. Thankfully, Hamish survived the attack.

We spoke to Patrick McKenna about how the memorable role came about and his upcoming TV project with Colin Mochrie.

In tonight’s episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Manual for Murder,” we catch up with Hamish Slorach. Before we get into the storyline itself, though, it seems as though it’s a rite of passage if you’re in Canadian television to be part of the Murdoch Mysteries family, and you’re no different. How did the role come up in the first place for you?
Patrick McKenna: Well, I think I was quite lucky that the showrunner now is Peter Mitchell. I met Peter when he was the showrunner when I was doing Traders. We’ve known each probably since about ’95, ’96, I guess. We’ve just been friends. When he went over and did that show, he thought this Hamish character they created might fit me well so they offered me the role. It’s been a sporadic gig ever since.

And a beloved character. He’s a little bit different from everybody else in the station house. Did the way to play him, did that character jump off the script at you? Was it something that you worked with Peter on, or did you come with it on yourself? 
PK: It was interesting. The first two writers, who are no longer involved in the show, they called me and they gave me an outline. They said, basically, it’s John Wayne meets Columbo. I thought, ‘Well, that’s kind of a fun description.’ I kind of went with that, but he’s a manly guy, but he’s just kind of in his own way.

He’s aloof. He’s laid back. He likes to have fun and has made a career out of being a copper.
PK: It was nice because [Thomas Craig] sort of set the tone that way. It was always great playing off him because I knew it to be … I mean, it’s their show and it’s their tones so I didn’t want to come in too strong. If I’m supposed to be a friend of Brackenreid, then I guess I’m going to be his energy, his age, things he likes, so I went off his rhythms a lot of how we were going to form this character. It just kind of fell into place. Often times, the scripts demand that you step up, and other times you lay back, just trying to be that … anybody but Murdoch in the first [episode I was on] because that’s who I was replacing. It was like they have the expectation of this guy walks straight line and very thorough, whereas Hamish Slorach kind of serpentines around line and stumbles into answers, and so on.

What attracts you to a role, Patrick? In the case of Murdoch, they reached out to you. But when you’re looking for a gig, what excites you?
PK: When the opportunity to try something new, to combine a couple of different energies that audiences haven’t seen before. I always look for the sense of humour in a character, even if he’s evil, just to find out what makes that person smile and tick. I mean, that’s how I look at things normally so I thought I’ll just apply that to my characters usually. It seems I can bath into that segment of a character and play that. Even the mean people I play, I know they laugh sometimes.

What’s it been like to be part of Murdoch? At this point, is it like old home week, showing up there on the set and talking to everybody again?
PK: It really is because it’s so nice because the CBC, which I’ve had such an affiliation with, so often times, the crew are people that I’ve worked with on other shows. When you walk in, it’s like with the crew I know, and, of course, the cast I know really well by now. Hamish Slorach is such a fun character for them to have in the show because then you know you’re going to have a couple of silly things happen. It’s not blood and gore all the time. You know it’s going to be a smile. It’s always really nice to go back. It’s such a smooth machine, that show, that set. They’ve been doing it for so long, they know exactly how to dance every week so you just kind of got to get in there and find the rhythm without stepping on too many toes.

You just spoke of the blood and gore. Now, in tonight’s episode, Hamish dodges a bullet. Well, I guess he takes one in the head, but it doesn’t end up being lethal. What were your thoughts when you read that in the script and was informed that an attempt was going be made on his life, at his retirement party no less?
PK: All that information completely unfolded to me like, ‘Oh, OK. I’m retiring. I guess I’m out of the series. I’m almost dead. Now I’m definitely out of the series. Oh, I’m only wounded. I could come back.’ I went through a lot of emotions there, like, ‘Well, OK. I guess this is their way of someone finalizing Hamish.’ But the nice thing about a retired policeman is you can always come back in some form.

That’s true. Now, I don’t know if you remember, but when they’re carting Hamish off, he’s talking about seeing an angel. I wondered if that was something that was in the script or whether you ad-libbed that?
PK: A bit of both. It just said I see angels and then they said, ‘Can you just have fun with that as you’re going out the door?’ It was like, ‘OK, I can do that.’ The nice thing, again, I worked with Warren Sonoda on a film so I knew Warren really well and it was very comfortable. He knew my comfort zone as well, to say he would allow me to play here. Then other times, he’d say, ‘You know what, I need to get this covered so if you can pull back on that a little bit, that’ll allow me this ….’ the vocabulary’s so great. Plus, between Colin Mochrie being on set, who’s one of my best friends for over 30 years, it was like this is the easiest room to walk into, and we all get to wear funny costumes. It was just like grown ups playing. It’s so much fun.

You mentioned being friends with Colin for so many years. Is there a lot of stuff left on the cutting room floor that we’re never gonna see?
PK: Not a lot because both Colin and I, when we step onto a set that has a script, we try and respect it as much as possible, as well as the timeframe they have available to shoot things like that. But you just say what’s on the script, and if they find there’s a little lacking, you can do that. I mean, just by our very presence, there’s an energy to that, especially when Colin walks in. You know there’s gonna be something happening. Sometimes you don’t have to add too much. Some shows you really do, but when somethings been as consistent as Murdoch, sometimes you don’t know a lot of the backstory, so if you drop a line, it’s like, ‘No, we need to hear that because two episodes ago this was mentioned.’ So on and so on. You really just got to walk the map that they’ve laid out there. If there’s any room for some shading of colour, they’re pretty goods about letting you do that. That’s usually why they invite you to the party. It’s like, ‘You can do something with this character.’

As you said, he’s not dead so Hamish could always come back. He could just drop in, mix things up, and go on an adventure with Thomas, or something like that.
PK: That’s what I’m really hoping is that something in his personal life will force him to come back into the precinct.

Is there anything that you’re working on, writing, directing, producing, or anything like that, that you can talk about?
PK: I’m doing all of the above. Colin Mochrie and I are hopefully going to be making a series up in North Bay. Right now, it’d potentially be called The Colin Mochrie Show. I’m writing, and directing, and producing, a lot of that. We’re just getting started and that’s sort of what’s been filling my time since the new year. Everyone’s very aware of it and everyone’s moving forward with it so we hope that it’ll be something that will be in production. It’s tentatively going to be called Chef Colin.

What’s the elevator pitch for Chef Colin?
PK: It’s basically a celebrity chef who falls from grace, and he’s forced to take a job at his daughter’s college.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC and streams on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Remedy’s Sara Canning guests on Motive

It’s hard to believe Motive‘s final ride is almost over. Yet Tuesday’s new instalment, “Interference,” represents Episode 6 out of 13. It’s been a pretty wild ride so far, with the stops pulled out on stories and great work done by the regular cast and guests appearing. Tonight’s episode is no different; read on for some non-spoiler teases.

Sara Canning alert!
Fans of the cancelled-way-too-soon Remedy get their fix of Sara Canning, who guest-stars as Tracy, a suburban mom who is dispatched in a most memorable—and gruesome—way. She’s not your typical victim either….

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Walking Dead guest star alert!
I was wracking my brain trying to figure out where I’d seen Alicia Witt recently when it dawned on me: she played Paula on The Walking Dead. Anyway, she’s Cindy, tagged as the murderer in “Interference,” and her story takes a turn involving Tracy’s son, Owen. Witt brings a lot of humanity to Cindy and by the time you learn her backstory, you can’t help but feel badly for her.

Lucas goes over a line
Good guy Lucas is always by the book—he even ended a budding relationship because the woman was a murder witness—and he definitely crosses a line on Tuesday. His heart is in the right place, but it’s the wrong move nonetheless.

Mazur confides in Angie
Something has been going on with Paula Mazur for the past couple of weeks—whispered phone calls and rushing to change the subject—but all becomes clear … and complicates matters for everyone.

Shout out to Vij’s
There is a nice mention of Vikram Vij’s iconic Vancouver restaurant. Now I want to have dinner there. Or at the very least the bacon doughnut Angie was eating.

Motive airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.

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Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Ellen Vanstone

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Women Behind Canadian TV: Ellen Vanstone
Rookie Blue was a hit because it had such a terrific showrunner in Tassie Cameron. She brought her own sensibility to shape that show into the charming success that it was, and it just so happens she’s a woman. It’s the way men take for granted how they bring their sensibilities to a show–for better or worse–so when a woman, or a bunch of women, do that, the same thing happens, for better or for worse.” Continue reading.

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Remedy showrunner urges support of Canadian TV

It was the news Remedy fans had been dreading. After two seasons, Global announced it was pulling the plug on its medical drama.

And while the show’s fans, cast and crew took to Twitter to vent frustrations and/or say goodbye, showrunner Greg Spottiswood had a different message on Monday morning. He took to social media to champion Canadian TV shows and urge people to tune in and talk them up with friends.

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Will you watch more Canadian TV because of Greg’s message? Comment below or via our Twitter account @tv_eh.

 

 

 

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Interview: Greg Spottiswood reflects on Remedy’s second (and final) season

This interview with Remedy showrunner Greg Spottiswood was supposed to be a recap of the show’s second season. A look back at the Connor clan’s struggles and a peek forward to what was to come.

Unfortunately, our chat serves more as an epitaph: Global cancelled Remedy the day after we spoke. Here’s what Spottiswood had to say about Griffin’s addiction story and why Sandy ended up being hit by a truck.

At first I wanted Griffin to get past his addiction and move on. But after Dillon Casey touched base with me, I realized Griff’s story is like real life, and there are no easy answers.
Greg Spottiswood: Dillon is very protective of that character. What we aspire to do is make the audience feel towards Griffin the way his family felt. They loved him, they cared about him and were rooting for him but at a certain point they kind of had enough of him. When we decided to go down this road, I told the network and I told [executive producer] Bernie Zukerman that if we were going to do a story about addiction that we would do it as accurately as a television show can, which is never fully accurate. We were going to talk to consultants and define it not as a flaw in this person’s character. A lot of stories about addiction on television are very much individual journeys and while Griffin had a distinct path this season, really the Trojan horse of it is to define the addiction as a family disease and to look at what happens to a family and how their feelings can be corrupted or warped when dealing with addiction. That was really our big project. The real question was, can we get the audience back? He really doesn’t hit bottom until the finale when Sandy tells him to leave the room. He doesn’t have one ally in his family. I feel like we accomplished what we set out to do.

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By the end of the finale, Griffin was headed to rehab with Frank, PJ and Bruno giving him a ride, and Sandy was OK after that horrible car accident.
Sandy being hit by the truck was a fairly late change to the script. Originally, the design was that Griffin was either going to OD, or something else that was terrible would happen. We had been working on the script—Greg Nelson wrote it—and I came in one day and said, ‘It’s not Griffin, it’s Sandy. Bottom can’t be Griffin hurting himself, bottom has to be Griffin hurting the one person in the family who has never let him down and who he’s closest to.’ And people were uncomfortable in the writers’ room. ‘Really? You’re gonna hit Sandy with a truck?’ ‘I know it’s the right thing to do.’ Everybody got on board. That’s the interesting thing about television. You have this plan and everybody has signed on and then as a showrunner you’re in the shower or driving to work and you realize, ‘No, we’ve made a mistake.’

It was interesting, and effective, to not show the actual accident, but just Sandy being brought into the ER.
There were some interesting conversations about that. Would we show the headlights? Did we want to have a horn honk? And I said, ‘Some people will see it coming, some people will hope it’s not coming, but if we do it right …’ We put Zoe in the ER because we wanted the audience to think she saw Griff so that we could keep the misdirect going just a little longer.

Griffin’s journey as a rough one. Did you sit down and talk to Dillon Casey about it beforehand and give him any advice?
What we talked about at the beginning of the season was that he’d have to take really good care of himself because it was going to get uncomfortable. He was going to go to some dark places and be unsympathetic, which for a lot of actors is very hard to do especially on a network television show. He was embracing it but I told him he’d have to take care of his health because he was playing a very unhealthy guy. He took that to heart and approached the whole season with a great commitment and discipline and desire to understand what this guy was going through.

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Another plot point I really enjoyed was bringing Allen down into the ER and seeing him as a doctor and inspiration to others. Had that been in the works since Season 1?
No. By the end of the first season, I went to Bernie and the network and said, ‘I don’t think we’re using everything that Rico has to offer as an actor well enough in Allen’s current role.’ I pitched the idea of moving him down to the ER and Bernie embraced it right away, but there was a certain skepticism at one point from the network. I felt like we had this great actor in Rico with great comic chops, great dramatic chops and because of Flashpoint he’s got this father figure position that we exploit. I said, ‘I just want to make him be the underdog.’ I’m really proud of everyone this season, especially of Rico because he relished it. When I went and told him what we were going to do, he blinked once and said, ‘OK, here we go.’

Sara Canning and Sarah Allen were fantastic this season too. Speaking of comic chops, they both have them.
Sara Canning and Sarah Allen as individuals are really stellar human beings and incredibly talented actors. We did chemistry reads when we were casting the show, so we knew that there was something there, but I don’t think any of us would have predicted how well those two have worked together, how close they would become as friends. They have a genuine affection for each other. They’re also very generous actors too. They listen to one another and are sensitive to each other’s needs and trust the writing, and you get this kind of magic.

Do you have a message for the Remedy folks? Comment below or via our Twitter account at @tv_eh.

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