Last month, we got the scoop on Season 5 of Hudson & Rex from Mary Pedersen. The writer and co-executive producer (top left in the image above)—who has done stints on Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries—added director to her resumé when she went behind the camera on Sunday’s newest episode.
“The Good Shepherd,” airing Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on Citytv, finds Charlie enlisting the help of an unorthodox ally when Rex is accused of attacking a decorated former police officer. With a guest turn by Shaun Majumder, we spoke to Mary Pedersen about her transition to directing. And, she gives us a major behind-the-scenes peek at the decision to put Charlie and Sarah together.
Was directing an episode of Hudson & Rex something you’ve been interested in doing? And did you end up shadowing some directors over the past few seasons to get ready?
Mary Pedersen: I had shadowed [showrunner] Pete [Mitchell]. I don’t remember if it was my last season on Murdoch or the second to last, but I did shadow him on one of the last blocks when he was directing. Pete’s always been such a mentor and a role model to me as a showrunner and I could see how being a director informs his show running. I think it helps him really marry the creative and the practical. We always have to think about both things in film and he’s got a great eye for, ‘What are we going to see of this? What’s going to be on screen and what’s going to be entertaining?’ And I love his directing.
I knew that, as I’m aiming towards trying to show run one day, that I wanted to direct and learn more about making TV from that perspective, so I’d asked. They were generous enough to take a shot at me. I’d never directed anything before, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity for sure.
What was the hardest part of directing?
MP: The hardest thing was the waiting. We started making plans in January or February for who was going to direct the season. I found out then and started prepping, I think, in July. I was very nervous, but also really what a great creative challenge, to have to do something that I haven’t done before and to look at the show in a whole new way.
When you get into the process of prepping for a season, that’s also very familiar because the writer’s going to prep meetings and we’re familiar with that whole process from start to finish. It was just sitting in a different chair during prep.
One of the great things is that having been on the show for a season and a half, I have so much trust in our cast and crew and people would say to me, ‘You’re not going to be able to mess it up.’ I have so much confidence in our director of photography, Ian Vatcher, who has been on the show from the start, and the first AD that I was working with, George Jeffery, so I felt like I had a good safety net and the nerves basically, for the most part, dissipated after Day 1.
Writing for the page, you have got the picture in your head. When you’re directing, the pictures are evolving in front of you. Did you find that to be a huge, huge difference?
MP: No. I say no because the first script I wrote 20 years ago, I was faced with that shock of the difference between what you imagine when you’re writing it and what it is when they shoot it and that’s been happening to me over and over since then. It’s never what you think it was, but very often it’s better.
Shaun Majumder guests in this episode. What it was working with him?
MP: I mean he is so lovely and he’s so funny and he’s so thorough. He’s got a speech in the episode and he adjusted it to make it more Newfoundland which I really appreciated. I feel like I lucked out so much with him and, really, with all the cast because they are all so professional, so prepared and so delightful.
Unlike Murdoch Mysteries, where William and Julia’s relationship was dragged out, you didn’t really wait with Charlie and Sarah. They are together. Were you happy with that decision? You can either answer that as a writer and executive producer or as a television fan.
MP: We actually shot two endings for last season. And then it was decided a bit later [which ending to use]. That was because of that exact question, ‘Are you going to want to draw the will they, won’t they out for longer?’
I love a will they, won’t they. I will stick with the show forever for that. I love it, but I also love Sarah and Charlie together. We thought, ‘We can do it.’ They have such great chemistry and I felt like that’s really a challenge for the writers to keep it interesting. What’s it going to be like while they’re together? I’m hoping that we’ve done that.
Hudson & Rex airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.
Images courtesy of Shaftesbury.