Tag Archives: Tribal

Murdoch Mysteries: Christina Ray talks “The Ministry of Virtue”

[Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched “The Ministry of Virtue.”]

Christina Ray is one of two new additions to the Murdoch Mysteries writer’s room for Season 14. No stranger to Canadian television, Ray has penned and/or produced for series like The Collector, The Best Years, The Pinkertons, Blackstone and Tribal. And, on Monday night, she turned in one heck of a script for Murdoch.

Amid a main storyline about arranged marriages was a tragic blow to the Watts/Jack relationship, as well as a major jump forward in Miss Hart’s bond with Arthur Carmichael. We spoke to Christina Ray, via email, about “The Ministry of Virtue.”

Welcome to the Murdoch Mysteries writer’s room! Give me your backstory. I know you’ve written for shows like The Pinkertons, Blackstone and Tribal. How did you end up in writing in the Canadian TV industry?
Christina Ray: A lot of Canadian writers seek their fortunes down in L.A., but I did the opposite. After winning a screenwriting award in Austin, Texas, I married a Canadian and moved here. I have no regrets. I love Canada.

And how did you end up on Murdoch Mysteries?
CR: I’d worked with executive producers Paul Aitken and Peter Mitchell years ago when we were developing a show about Bulgarian vampires. Alas, that show never came to be and the world will forever be deprived of our Bulgarian vampire brilliance. Flash forward 10 years and I get called in to an interview for Murdoch. I was thrilled by the prospect of working with Peter and Paul again, because they are such witty, fun and generous collaborators.

Where did the idea for the main storyline, arranged marriages, come about? Was it inspired by research you did or was it pitched in the virtual room by someone?
CR: Executive producer Simon McNabb had discovered an article published in The Globe and Mail in 1906 about “Salvation Girls,” women who’d been convicted of various offences in England who were offered the chance to start new lives in Canada as servants, wives and mothers. This was an actual program sponsored by the Salvation Army at the time, and we felt the concept of mail order brides was a juicy one to explore as a Murdoch storyline.

Detective Watts has evolved into a complicated character and he does a lot of heavy lifting with story in this episode. What’s it been like writing for him? Daniel is fantastic in the role.
CR: I loved writing the Watts and Jack scenes. The arc of their relationship is especially heart-wrenching in this episode. Watts is wonderful, quirky and complex in a way that is quite lovable. It’s compelling to watch him navigate the difficult reality of a being gay man at a time when his very identity was against the law.

Miss Hart is another interesting character on Murdoch Mysteries. People love, or hate, her. What’s your take on Miss Hart? Is she just misunderstood?
CR: Violet Hart is a sly, feisty survivor. Despite the challenges of being a woman of colour during the turn of the century, she pursues the life she wants, and I admire her moxie. She’s surprising and mysterious. Her personal dynamic is unlike anyone else in the show. She’s definitely polarizing, but I love her character.

Miss Hart and Arthur Carmichael shared a kiss that was not shown on-camera. Was that a reflection of the shock of the time? Was it written in the script that way or was that a decision director Mina Shum made?
CR: You can thank COVID-19 for that! I would have loved to have shown the kiss on screen, but the pandemic affected our creative choices. As one of our many pandemic related precautions this season had a ‘no kissing’ rule! Many other precautions were taken to keep everyone in our cast and crew safe: daily health check questionnaires, temperature checks, location disinfection, mask requirements, etc. Shaftesbury really knocked it out of the ballpark when it comes to finding a way to continue production during this crisis.

Jack Walker’s butcher shop was vandalized and he and Watts broke up. How could you break them up?!
CR: The course of true love never did run smooth, said Shakespeare. The fact the audience cares that we broke them up is exactly why we broke them up! It’s called drama. Hearts and flowers all the time would be dreadfully dull. All I can say is we’re not done with Jack and Watts. Stay tuned for future twists and turns!

What kind of writer are you? Do you prefer a noisy coffee shop (remember those?) or a quiet room? Do you like to play music while you write? What works for you?
CR: I could never work in a noisy coffee shop. I like a quiet room, with as few distractions as possible. I do listen to music, but it can’t have lyrics. No words, just instruments. I need to hear the dialogue that’s going on in my head without interruption. I love all kinds of music, but while I’m writing what works for me is to listen to ambient electronic grooves like Fila Brazilia, Tosca, or Kruder and Dorfmeister.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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APTN’s Tribal returns for Season 2 production

From a media release:

APTN and Prairie Dog Film + Television’s one-hour crime drama series, TRIBAL begins Season 2 production today in Calgary.

In Season 2 of TRIBAL, Chief Sam Woodburn and Detective Bukansky’s grisly discovery causes them to question who they can trust. Connie appoints a new leader of the Task Force as they try to uncover who is responsible for the “Tomb”, Indigenous bodies buried under a water treatment plant. An uprise of crime continues. A white poacher is found dead on a reserve. A hostage is taken into custody. Murders linked to ritualistic manners take place. Are the “Starlight Tours resurrected”? Sam and Buke come face-to-face with the memory of Buke’s shooting. The divide escalates between the Metro and Tribal police departments, affecting Sam and Buke’s partnership.

TRIBAL’s cast and crew return to set following health and safety protocols due to COVID-19. TRIBAL’s Showrunner Ron E. Scott shares, “It has been an interesting journey. We are looking forward to getting back to shooting with our hard-working cast and crew. Season 2 includes new dimensional, ripped-from-the-headlines stories, including missing and murdered Indigenous people, police corruption and the effects of PTSD. We look forward to welcoming the new cast and crew to the series.”

TRIBAL’s award-winning cast returns including Jessica Matten (Frontier, Blackstone) and Brian Markinson (Mad Men, Unspeakable). The series will again feature the talented Garry Chalk, and Julian Black Antelope with new characters featuring Marci T. House, Stephen Huszar, Wesley French and Ashley Callingbull.

Filming will take place at various locations in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

TRIBAL is led by Executive Producer & Showrunner Ron E. Scott, Co-Executive Producer Janet Hamley, Co-Executive Producer Adam Frost, and produced by Scott Lepp. The series will broadcast in Canada on APTN.

TRIBAL is produced in association with APTN, in participation with the Canada Media Fund and the Rogers Cable Network Fund, with assistance from the Government of Alberta, the Screen-based Production Grant and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.

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Tribal’s Brian Markinson: “Everywhere you see, this is Indigenous peoples’ lands”

I’ve been a fan of Brian Markinson’s for years. I first saw him on Da Vinci’s Inquest (Seasons 1 and 2 are on CBC Gem) and Da Vinci’s City Hall as Police Chief Bill Jacobs. Since then, he’s appeared on countless TV shows I’ve watched, from Shattered to Sanctuary, Arctic Air to Continuum, The Romeo Section and more.

So when I saw he was co-starring with Jessica Matten on Tribal, I had to reach out and book some time to talk. Ron E. Scott’s newest series—airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on APTN and recently renewed for Season 2—puts Matten’s interim Tribal police chief Sam Woodburn alongside veteran, white city cop Chuck “Buke” Bukansky, played by Markinson, to solve crimes on and off the reservation. Season 1 storylines include pipeline protects, healing lodge justice and murdered and missing Indigenous women.

How did you come to be on Tribal in the first place?
Brian Markinson: I first heard of Ron through Blackstone. Friends and some other folks that I know, that I respect, had gone and done arcs on the show. I’ve always heard that he’s just one of the nicest guys, a fantastic producer. And so, when I was sent Tribal, I was really only sent three scenes. I read these three scenes from the first episode, and I really had a sense of who [Buke] is. The prototype was maybe a little bit different for me. He was sort of maybe an older, bigger, a big, heavy old school cop.

But I loved those three scenes so much that I called my agent, and I said, ‘I have a handle on it.’ I thought I did a good job at the audition. I said, ‘If there’s any interest, let’s please pursue this one,’ because it’s very rare that you see writing, and characters that are sketched for me. This guy, for me, I just understood where he was coming from, and his pain, and all that fun stuff. And then Ron and I met because there was interest, and we sat down, and we thought we would talk for an hour. We talked for three. And then it was sort of sealed at that point.

When we first meet up with Buke, he’s sitting in a bar, these young guys are asking about old war stories, and he goes to the washroom and pops some pills. There’s some pain there in his life.
BM: You find out a little bit about where that comes from. And then, there’s an event that happens. I think he was a very good cop, and I think he had a run-in, that sort of feeds into where his prejudices lie when it comes to Indigenous peoples. After that, I think he’s not the same person. He’s in physical pain, and I also think he’s in immense emotional pain. He’s a guy who is not, as you said, he’s not a part of these young studs on the force, and he doesn’t really have a foot in Tribal, so he’s in limbo a lot of the time.

Ironic, because Sam’s going through the same thing. She’s told by members of the Indigenous peoples that she’s a sellout. But yet she doesn’t fit with the city cops either.
BM: Exactly. So you have these two people who float, and the whole intention of the justice department is to create this new sort of thing, and, unbeknownst to them, they do. And then, these two seemingly parallel lines, that we never think are going to meet, are skewed enough towards each other, that through the course of this season, they become closer, and they find a way to trust each other, and things that spin outside of their relationship sort of force them together as well. There’s a lot of room to plumb some great stuff, and he’s created this relationship that we can really hang our hats on. We have the crime of the week that you can hook into, but I think at the core of this, as Ron likes to call it, it’s a serialized procedural.

What’s it like for you, acting on this show, in these storylines, that is very true to life and involves colonialism?
BM: My politics are very progressive. I live in Vancouver. Whenever you go to any sort of public event, whether it’s the theatre or whatever, they start by saying, ‘We’re honoured to be performing on the unceded lands.’ But as Ron said to me, ‘It’s all ours.’ It really hit home when he said that, that everywhere you see, this is Indigenous peoples’ lands. Wherever you travel. I don’t, in any way, pretend to be anything else except a student of this history.

Tribal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of Prairie Dog Film + Television.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Comments and queries for the week of February 28

I saw the first episode of Tribal last night and thought it was great. I’ve really liked Jessica Matten in Frontier and Burden of Truth and she deserves a leading role. Brian Markinson was great too in bringing the bigoted white guy to the series. They had great chemistry together. I expect by the end of the series the two characters will be drinking beers on the porch reminiscing about their cases. The script was well written too. I look forward to many more years of this show. —John


We are lucky to have our cable provider carry the CBC here in Ohio. My mom introduced me to the detective looking for “finger marks” and we have enjoyed the characters and mysteries. Watts is fantastic, Murdoch is wonderful, Margaret a hoot. So much to enjoy.

It is, however, not without disappointment. The loss of Parker feels wrong. One can recognize human complexity and that people do bad things and still know when a line is crossed. I feel the this temptation of Julia maybe an unnecessary line to cross. I compare her actions to Brackenreid. When Margaret left him, he was with a woman, but stopped and voiced his love for his wife and respect for his marriage. Julia? Only a phone call prevented anything from escalating with Dixon. On top of this, hearing William, the supposed love of her life, did not give rise to regret or a voice of her love for husband and her marriage. It was Dixon that left without her asking him to leave. Thirteen years of this couple and then that reaction?

I hope if the writers choose this cheating route they have the guts for the fallout. The fallout probably should include the marriage ending. How can he ever trust her again? Another pretty face comes along to tempt her, then what? I hope Murdoch isn’t left pining for her or even having to fight for her; let her fight for him. Invest in a love interest for him too. People do bad things and there are consequences. Julia decides to cheat, there needs to be consequences. —Jennifer

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Tribal’s Jessica Matten: “There’s always going to be prejudices and stereotypes”

It’s always a pleasure to speak to Jessica Matten. The actress doesn’t shy away from discussing issues that are close to her heart. And many of them are tied to Tribal.

Ron E. Scott’s newest creation—airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on APTN—puts Matten’s interim Tribal police chief Sam Woodburn alongside veteran, white city cop Chuck “Buke” Bukansky, played by Brian Markinson, to solve crimes on and off the reservation. Season 1 storylines include pipeline protects, healing lodge justice and murdered and missing Indigenous women. The last topic hits particularly close to Matten, who discusses that—and more—with me.

What’s it been like being the lead and working alongside Brian Markinson on this series? On Frontier, you had a large role, but I’d argue that this is probably the largest television role that you’ve had.
Jessica Matten: The beauty of Frontier is that I was considered a lead, but that was an ensemble, and ultimately it was Jason [Momoa’s] show. The pressure didn’t really fall on me in a lot of respects. With being a lead, I realized there’s a whole new amount of responsibility, the biggest one is setting the tone for the entire show. I just wanted everyone to feel super welcomed and for them to understand, no matter what the size of their role was, that they were super integral to the process and the storyline.

There definitely was a lot of pressure to just make sure everyone was always cool. But I think because we created such a strong foundation of being a kind, collaborative set, there were no problems in that regard. The hardest thing was the amount of dialogue because we really …  Ron, Brian and I really, everyone, the whole crew, we really pushed it. We shot eight one-hour episodes in 39 days. A full day is six to eight pages of dialogue and I was doing 13 to 17 pages a day.

What is it about Ron E. Scott that makes him such a great showrunner?
JM: I think Ron is sincerely one of the kindest humans ever. And I think when you’re working with a kind human in any industry, I mean, you’re just going to feed off of that, right? With kindness comes empathy, a person who knows how to empathize, and also instinct to understand what the other person needs. So imagine a kind person who happens to be your director, showrunner, producer, writer, guiding you throughout the whole thing. He’s coming from a place from the heart constantly.

Blackstone was my first big gig, and even though I knew some of the actors since I was literally a child. I’ve known Glen Gould since I was 10 years old. That helped me with any intimidation that I had or felt. But when I met Ron, he’s not only amazing at giving an actor good direction, but he’s just calm, and that’s what you need in a leader is when shit hits the fan. You need a calm leader that isn’t going to delegate things in a disrespectful or non-passionate way.

What kind of feedback did you have with regard to Sam and who she was and how you wanted to play her?
JM: I’ve turned down roles, which I’m extremely grateful for, big studio roles where they were perpetuating a negative stereotype of a native woman. And I was just like, ‘I haven’t come this far, I didn’t do the role as Sokanon in Frontier just to revert back to a stereotypical character.’ How can I empower people of what it means to be a native woman, and they’d go back to something that very much dehumanized a native woman in a lot of respects. And the cool thing is I had brought that up with Ron as well. As Ron’s like, ‘Jess, you and I have the same thought. I want to create the first female native superhero. She doesn’t come from a bad family. She doesn’t have a bunch of baggage. I want her to present yourself in a way that you know exists in our native communities.’

Ron has been at the forefront of putting Indigenous people in a contemporary setting, in the spotlight forever, and he always just pushes things forward and I just respect him so much. It was a very, very much a collaborative effort about making Sam believable, tough and likable at the same time.

Sam is called a sellout. She’s caught in this world. She’s a cop. She’s got an old white man as her partner. So she’s not fitting in the white world traditionally, but she’s not fitting in her own world. Is that part of her journey this year, walking between these two worlds?
JM: Thank you for catching that because that was a powerful moment for me too as an actor, so I’m so happy you caught that. Yeah, and I think what we’re going to explore later on in future seasons is where that comes from, more about her family background and her history. I think that’s kind of the theme throughout the entire season is Sam walking in between two different worlds constantly. And not only her careers walking between different worlds, but her being half-native, so it’s like she was born walking between two different worlds and I think that’s what’s really given her an inside and outside perspective of what happens within her native community, but also an understanding of what happens outside of native communities as well.

Some of the storylines this season include a pipeline explosion and murdered and missing Indigenous women. These are stories that are true, are being ripped from the headlines. How does it feel to have these stories that are so close and part of your life being shown in a drama on television? Is it kind of a way of educating?
JM: It’s a way of educating and continuously creating awareness, and also in a lot of ways, to be honest, coincidental. It just proves how relevant and how those issues have not gone away. And that is something that I’m very happy that Tribal touches on, two issues that have not gone away, have not been resolved. My biggest thing was, with the missing and murdered Indigenous women is that one of my relatives is one of the victims.

My family to this day still has not gotten justice. They still struggle every day. It’s hard. It’s extremely hard. And yet, remember five years ago there was this big awareness for it and it became kind of trending on the news for a hot second? And all the celebrities were joining on board. And trust me, even celebrities in Hollywood were like, ‘Oh, we’re going to make a documentary about this.’ And then once that died down, the new hashtag and the new trendy thing, topic to follow, everyone jumped on board that wagon and everyone disappeared off the MMIW train. That annoyed me and I knew it was going to happen. I was grateful for it. But at the same time, that’s why you’ll notice on my social media, I never support anything outside of MMIW or if it’s related to it, because my biggest thing is, nothing got resolved and this isn’t a hashtag, trendy, charitable thing. It’s not trendy. It’s my life, and it’s other people’s lives and it’s super important.

I’m glad that Tribal is still harping on that issue. I’m glad that Tribal is targeting the pipeline issue because what’s happening in communities right now in B.C. And I really want to emphasize this, for non-Indigenous people who don’t understand why people are protesting, it’s not just because it’s on our territory. It’s because these people on the frontlines are protecting our future girls and women from being raped and murdered.

What happens is these manned camps get built while the pipelines are made, and that is where the highest rate of girls go missing and murdered. And so I want the general public to remember that, no matter what, there’s always going to be prejudices and stereotypes in the world against any culture because we have this beautiful way of forgetting that we’re all one and the same, we’re just human.

Tribal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of Prairie Dog Film + Television.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail