Way back in the spring of 2016, the CBC announced Caughtâ€”an adaptation of Lisa Moore’s acclaimed noverlâ€”as part of its 2016-17 broadcast lineup. But by June of 2016, Caught‘s fate had changed. So, what was the reasoning behind the project’s delay of over a year? Timing.
“This got announced back when we were wrapping Republic of Doyle,” Allan Hawco,Â Caught‘s writer, showrunner, executive producer and star, says. “I took the time to go deeper into the material. The ambition of the material, the ambition of the period and because it’s an adaptation of Lisa’s book, we just needed the time to gather more resources.”
The wait has been worth it.
Debuting Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, Caught is a five-part roller coaster caper lovingly wrapped up in the pot-fragranced, lead gas guzzling, rock anthem setting that is 1978.
Locked up after a drug deal goes wrong, David Slaney (Allan Hawco) breaks out of a New Brunswick prison to try one more caper with his former partner Brian Hearn (EricÂ Johnson). Itâ€™s Slaneyâ€™s last chance at freedom, but nothing is what it seems. Slings & Arrowâ€˜s Paul Gross plays RCMP detective Roy Patterson;Â Open Heartâ€˜s Tori Anderson is Ada, Brian’s gal pal;Â Mary Kills Peopleâ€˜s Charlotte Sullivan is Jennifer Baker; Â Rookie Blueâ€˜s Enuka Okuma is KC Williams, a DEA agent who teams with Roy; and Greg Bryk as Cyril Carter, a friend of Brian’s.
Monday’s debut opens to the strains of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around the Bend,” as Slaney sprints through a darkened forest, prison dogs and guards at his heels. But as Slaney quickly discovers, his friend Brian may be the reason he ended up in prison in the first place. Filmed in St. John’s, Hamilton, Ont., and the Dominican Republic, Caught certainly captures the late 70s in all its glory, from pale brown leather jackets and wood panelling to the permed hair and tobaccoÂ smoke hanging over everything. And, as Slaney crosses the country attempting to evade capture at the hands of Patterson and KC, we meet colourful characters along the way.
Hawco purchased the television rights to Caught after Tecca Crosby, eOne’s senior vice-president of creative affairs, handed the book to him in 2014. Hawco was in Toronto performing Belleville at The Company Theatre and headed back to where he was staying. He and Perry Chafeâ€”one of his partners at Take the Shot Productions and executive producer on Doyle, Frontier and Caughtâ€”bought a couple of copies of the book at a local Chapters bookstore. Hawco read Caught in three hours.
“I could hear the soundtrack, I could see the show right away,” Hawco says. “The rights for the book were being sought after by a bunch of people, so I called Lisa and said, ‘I want to work with you on this.’ I think the pedigree of Doyle and that we were just starting Frontier at the time helped. The character of Slaney spoke to me.” Hawco credits Moore’s writingâ€”the ability to craft an inner monologue on the pageâ€”with his connection to Slaney and offered the veteran performer the opportunity to play a role he’s never done. Hawco did futz with the source material a bit when crafting his adapationâ€”creating KC Williams as a partner for Patterson, who is a lone wolf in the novelâ€”and some plot deviations, but the novel’s DNA is still there.
“For a cops and smugglers story on television, there were some plot points we had to adjust and characters’ drives that needed to be changed,” Hawco says. “But I worked really hard to anchor all that in pivotal moments in the book so that you’re not watching a completely different thing. I tried to honour the pillars that Lisa put in there.”
Caught airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.