The relationship between Pretty Hard Cases’ Sam Wazowski (Meredith MacNeill) and Kelly Duff (Adrienne C. Moore) has faced some major challenges over the past two seasons. During Season 1, the detective duo had to learn how to work together despite their odd couple dynamic. In Season 2, they overcame a series of personal misunderstandings to forge a true friendship—even though it resulted in them being separated on the job.
At the start of Season 3—kicking off Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem—Sam, demoted to street cop, and Kelly, working undercover, have been apart for eight months. But worry not. Just a few minutes into the premiere episode, “Always A Bridesmaid,” written by series creators Tassie Cameron and Sherry White, the pair enjoys a glorious reunion that showcases the fabulous chemistry between series leads MacNeill and Moore. There is screaming and jumping. There are secret handshakes and goofy butt pats. And, of course, there is banter.
But while Sam and Kelly are back together and stronger than ever, they still have to prove themselves to new Unit Commander Gloria Ballard (Wendy Crewson) before they’ll regain access to the OCE’s top cases—such as discovering the source of a deadly new drug that’s hit the streets of Toronto, or tracking down last season’s still at large villain Adeline French (Charlotte Sullivan). They also have to navigate their new romantic relationships, with Sam making another go of things with ex-husband Steve (Trevor Hayes) and Kelly testing the waters with fellow detective Nathan (Daren A. Herbert).
During a recent chat with MacNeill and Moore, we found out more about Sam and Kelly’s upcoming adventures and why the actors sometimes feel like “naughty children” on set.
Sam and Kelly’s friendship has grown a lot over the past two seasons. How will it evolve in Season 3? Adrienne C. Moore: I think like any friendship, in Season 2, we had that tension that I think long-standing and long-term relationships must have in order to kind of jump that hurdle that they can get to a point where they know each other’s thoughts, they know what each other is thinking before they even say. And I think that was one of the balances that we tried to strike and establish this theory that they had a hard time getting to know each other, they went through the thick of it, and now they’re just like, they can read each other’s thoughts. They know how to support each other as friends, and they know what they need from each other in friendship.
Meredith MacNeill: Yeah, and then because of that, because that friendship has taken the next layer, they tend to add other things into their life. You see them involve each other in the other aspects of their life, which was interesting. So like, when we got the scripts, I was like, ‘Oh, this is your family.’
Both of your characters are in very different places with their personal lives than they were in previous seasons. Kelly is making a go of it with Nathan, and Sam is back with her ex-husband Steve, which may or may not be a good thing. MM: I feel that for Sam—and for Meredith MacNeill—there’s something about being in your 40s and admitting what it’s truly like to start over and all the mess and glory that comes with that. So I love the way Tassie and Sherry write. Yes, I’m back with my ex-husband, but it takes it to this level that I think will be extremely relatable, that just because you’ve made a decision and you’re like, ‘I’m gonna go for this,’ it doesn’t automatically mean that once you make the decision, everything’s fine. When the scripts would come in, and we work on scenes. I was like, ‘Oh gosh, I really know this relationship. I know these people. These are people I have in my life.’
ACM: I think for Kelly, she’s shown a lot with being vulnerable and open in relationships. And not to give any spoilers, but there’s already some physical tension in the beginning between her and Nathan, and so through the course of the season, you discover how Kelly is really embracing being vulnerable. She knows she has a good thing with Nathan, but she’s still scared. And I think a lot of people when they get in relationships, become afraid of losing their own identity and their own individuality. And so she learned how to balance that, how to be in a relationship with a partner but yet still have her own identity. And I’ve loved that Nathan supports that for her.
You’ve got a new unit commander this season, played by Wendy Crewson. MM and ACM: Woo!
How was it working with her? MM: She’s it. That’s it. She comes on set, you know you’re lucky, and you just stand there and hope you can keep up. That’s what you do.
ACM: Wendy was working on another show also at the same time. She came in every day, on point, knew these chunky, chunky dialogue lines and was killing it. I was like, ‘OK, I can learn from her.’
Pretty Hard Cases effortlessly blends comedy and drama, and many scenes can be played either way. How do you decide which way you’re going to take a scene? Are you given a lot of freedom to improvise, or is it all on the page? MM: I think because we’re both theatre-based, we’re pretty comfortable with both. I respect the work completely and the author of scripts, that’s just standard. And then also with theatre, you’ll learn really quickly to play in the moment, be in the moment, throw all your work away, and what’s happening isn’t to me, it’s what’s happening between the two characters. So I find what happens in the show is—because we get along and we want to have so much fun—sometimes I feel like we’re naughty children, but professional naughty children. We adore the writing by Sherry and Tassie, we’re respectful to that. But as soon as we can, we’re like, ‘Can we play? Can we go, can we go?’ And then they’ll give us some goes, and so it kind of balances out and then, in the end, it’s really great.
As you said, you get along well and love working together. What have you learned from each other as actors over the last three seasons? MM: I know that we get [each other] pumped. Like, if it’s a 16-hour day, we kind of look at each other, kind of give each other a soft high-five, and go in and kill it. We know we got it.
ACM: I know that if she has a lot of dialogue to carry, or I have a lot of dialogue, what I love is that we can just kind of look at each other and I know where she’s at, she knows where I’m at, and I know what she needs, she knows what I need.
MM: And we get there really quick.
ACM: Yeah, we provide that for each other, and it’s like when you have those days, when you work every day and you’re doing 12-16 hour days like that, it’s good to look over and see your partner in crime. You’re going through it with someone that you trust.
Pretty Hard Cases airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBC and CBC Gem.
In the Season 1 finale of Pretty Hard Cases, Detectives Sam (Meredith MacNeill) and Kelly (Adrienne C. Moore) had wrapped up a massive drug bust and collared big bad Bill (played to perfection by Kim Coates) in the process. And, rather than seeing the pair split up, Kelly was set to join Guns and Gangs meaning—Sam hoped—they would become partners.
That’s exactly what happened, we learn when Pretty Hard Cases returns Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC.
In “Pencil Skirts,” written by series co-creator Sherry White, Sam and Kelly take their partnership to new heights when they go undercover as flight attendants to infiltrate a Central American gang’s drug route.
As with the first season of Pretty Hard Cases, the camaraderie between Sam and Kelly is the hook. And, now that they’re partners, that chemistry is even better. As with most second (and third, and fourth, etc.) seasons of a show, the characters are established and the writing is tighter, meaning a smoother ride. Not that Pretty Hard Cases was rough out of the gate, but there’s a groove in Wednesday’s return instalment that is palpable.
There are also some tantalizing peeks at upcoming themes in Season 2. Kelly’s lunch date off the top of “Pencil Skirts” with her estranged sisters hints she’ll be questioning her past relationship decisions and what motherhood might mean to her, Sam and Naz’s relationship moves to a tentative (and, as expected, awkward) next level, and the addition of Rookie Blue‘s Ben Bass as the cost-cutting DS Brad Michaels and Sonja Smits as Sam’s mom, Judy, promise to add verve.
Pretty Hard Cases airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.
Cameron Pictures, CBC, and NBCUniversal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, confirm that production is underway on the sophomore season of the highly buzzed-about buddy-cop drama PRETTY HARD CASES. Filmed in and around Toronto, this season features 12 one-hour episodes and new faces joining the all-star cast.
Following the series’ critically acclaimed broadcast and streaming debut on CBC and CBC Gem this year, season two of season two of PRETTY HARD CASES is set to premiere in winter 2022.
Starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) as the optimistic, over-achieving Detective Sam Wazowski, and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is The New Black) as the tough and unapologetic Detective Kelly Duff, PRETTY HARD CASES is a fun and honest portrayal of two radically different Guns and Gangs detectives in their early 40s. This season finds the pair in brand new territory, both at work and in their personal lives. As official partners for the first time, they have never been better at blending their different skills to get the job done. In the spirit of moving forward, they’re also trying to leave their baggage behind. Sam is now an empty nester with a new love life, while Kelly is forging fresh bonds with her estranged sisters. When they find themselves up against a new age gang that doesnâ€™t operate by the same old rules, Sam and Kelly are forced to put their lives on the line as they attempt the riskiest takedown of their careers.
Joining the cast is award-winning actress Sonja Smits (American Gods/Eleventh Hour) as Judy Wazowski, K.C. Collins (Clarice/The Strain) as Detective Len Grierson, and Ben Bass (Rookie Blue/Burden of Truth) as DS Brad Michaels.
Reprising their roles are Karen Robinson (Schitt’s Creek) as tough, sardonic, Unit Commander Edwina Shanks; Al Mukadam (Miss Sloan) as Detective Taai Nazeer, a paragon of non-toxic masculinity who doesn’t have a problem working with complicated women; Percy Hynes White (The Gifted) as Sam’s charming hustler son Elliot Wazowski; Katie Douglas (Ginny & Georgia) as Elliot’s streetwise girlfriend, Jackie Sullivan; and Daren A. Herbert (Kim’s Convenience) as Detective Nathan Greene, Kelly’s on-again-off-again friend with benefits.
PRETTY HARD CASES is co-created by Tassie Cameron (Mary Kills People, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue, The Robber Bride) and Sherry White (Little Dog, Frontier, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue).
A CBC original series, PRETTY HARD CASES is produced by Cameron Pictures in association with CBC and NBCUniversal International Studios. The series is created by Sherry White and Tassie Cameron, who also serve as Co-Showrunners. Sherry White, Tassie Cameron, Amy Cameron and Alex Patrick are Executive Producers. Wanda Chaffey is Producer and Caledonia Brown is Associate Producer. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content; and Sarah Adams is Director of Current Production, Drama. Kelsey Balance is SVP, Scripted Programming for NBCUniversal International Studios. NBCUniversal Global Distribution will distribute the series.
Writers include Sherry White, Jillian Locke, Tassie Cameron, Keavy Lynch, Carina Samuels, Chris Roberts, Seneca Aaron. Directors are Jordan Canning, Sherry White, Samir Rehem, Mars Horodyski, Cory Bowles, Grant Harvey, Madison Thomas, Weyni Mengesha, John Stead, John Fawcett, Gail Harvey, and Winnifred Jong.