Last night I watched the first episode of Arctic Air, CBC’s new series set in Yellowknife and surrounding lands. Tonight Republic of Doyle, set in St. John’s, returns for its 3rd season.
Major sponsors of both shows are their respective provincial tourism departments. I don’t know if that is the reason why there’s a plane with the Newfoundland and Labrador logo at the Arctic Air hangar. It might also be in recognition of the fact that there is a disproportionate number of Newfoundlanders employed in the North West Territories, both in government and private industry. Either way, it was a nice touch.
Arctic Air struck me as kind of ‘North of 60 does Dallas’. There’s the bad exploration guy, from away. There’s the conflicted hero, from ‘here’ but been away. There are the crusty, savvy locals. There’s the nice pretty girl and the not-so-nice pretty girl. There are locals (Dene and white) and come-from-aways, so we will always have someone who needs northern cultures and terrain explained and those who can do so.
And we have the terrain and the DC-3s – both starring ‘characters’ of the show. As trainee pilot Dev said, these planes fought the Nazis. And Dev himself, played by Stephen Lobo, is an absolute treat.
I want to like Arctic Air. Early in last night’s episode, I wasn’t sure. I’d seen these characters and dramatic conflicts before. But, by the end, I wanted to see how Dev makes out as a pilot. The rest of it, I can kinda predict.
Tonight, we get Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s offering – the Doyles back in the sleuthing business in old sinjohns. It’s another show where you can see its television history. It’s been compared to the Rockford Files, aptly, but as homage rather than copycat.
They do argumentative father and son well. And they place it in the glorious backdrop of St. John’s. I’ve wondered how much leeway they have to build into their shooting schedule to get all those sunny days. I can imagine cast and crew being woken up at dawn, after weeks off – “looks like a fine day, byes, let’s get at her!”
I lived in St. John’s a long time. I know summer fog and drizzle. I know early spring when you’re ready to gnaw your own leg off to get out of fog and snow and rain. But you are trapped. Even if you had all the money in the world, planes aren’t flying, ferries aren’t sailing: the weather is too bad. We don’t see that weather on Republic of Doyle. And it is beautiful and awe-inspiring in its own right – once you stop trying to gnaw your foot off and look at it and feel it. But I forget that weather while watching RoD. I remember glorious days with sunshine reflecting off brightly painted old buildings, just like on the tv.