I tripped over a “new” show called Northern Rescue on CBC, and I thought it was a new “Canadian” show, which more often than not translates as “crappy sub-par show” made on a shoestring budget but meeting Canadian-content rules. Okay, a slight exaggeration. But the number of Canadian shows that I like are few and far between. The ones that are somehow popular are the ones I usually think are embarrassingly bad. The basic premise is a Boston Search and Rescue specialist moves his three kids back to his small hometown to take a SAR job after his wife dies. The job offer is attractive, and his sister-in-law also lives there, so there will be family around. It’s not that unusual a premise, lots of shows have a “post-spouse-death” premise, and I wasn’t expecting much.
Except it isn’t the CBC show I thought it was, it’s actually a Netflix show. Ten episodes locked and loaded. I was fully expecting the show to basically open post-funeral or maybe mid-funeral. Instead, Michelle Nolden (Republic of Doyle) plays the wife who collapses while making dinner, a reaction to a flu bug. Nope, Stage 4 cancer, and death follows shortly thereafter. But the show takes almost 20 minutes to get to the post-funeral stage. Almost half the first episode is pre-death, and I was quite surprised. It’s handled mostly okay, although there is a scene between the mother and oldest daughter that is ridiculously bad. Strike One for me.
William Baldwin plays the father, and he’s fine. I don’t have high expectations for him, his range is limited, but it’s fine for what he needs to do. The three kids are another story.
The oldest daughter is a mess, acting rebellious, getting high, blah blah blah, and as she hints at herself, it started before Mom got sick. There’s a foreshadowing that she might be pregnant, but hard to tell. She basically says there is other stuff going on, but doesn’t elaborate, and the frequent scenes with her acting self-centred and rebellious are terrible. Some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen…wait, maybe it IS a CBC show. The middle child, a son, has almost no presence. There is ONE scene where he kisses a girl who has had a crush on him for years. And the youngest, a girl, who is an academic wunderkind, is now screwing up math tests. The other two kids aren’t bad, but the oldest is enough for it to be Strike Two for me.
John (the father) thinks moving to the small town might be the thing they need to start over and nothing is explored in the episode about the fact that it is actually the idea of the sister-in-law. Played by Kathleen Robertson, I had trouble picturing her. Even reading the CBC bio, I still wasn’t seeing where I knew her from…I knew some of the roles, but nothing was gelling. A trip over to IMDB popped out the truth — she was Clare on Beverly Hills, 90210 a long time ago. I didn’t watch it much, but I at least recognized her. She’s fine in the episode, not a lot for her character to do, but the promotional materials talk about how she wants a family of her own. Oh, crap. Does that mean there’s going to be weird stuff with her and the father? Her ex-brother-in-law? Ewwww.
Anyway, the job is open, he gets the offer, and he calls a family meeting to discuss it. And this is where Strike 3 comes in for me. We saw 16 minutes of Mom preparing for death. We saw another 10+ dealing with the aftermath, but fairly sparse treatment. And then, the discussion with the kids lasts about 2 minutes. That’s it, that’s all. No tearful goodbyes, no pangs of anxiety, nothing. The kids aren’t happy, but well, they’re going. Wait…what? How do we see everything else and NOTHING from any of them about losing their entire lives in the blink of an eye, six weeks after they lose their Mom. WTF? Definitely Strike Three. If that had been the first 3 minutes, sure, why not. But thrown in the middle of a long episode that dwells on everything else? Nope, I’m out.
I have no idea what balance they were going for, but whatever it was, they missed. I still have to predict cancellation, my original prediction.