I started to write this post a couple of weeks back, in the middle of covering Upfronts, but hadn’t gotten a chance to finish it. All this talk and writing about Upfronts brought to the forefront these somewhat generic plots for what will be the basis of a TV series. Family dramas, shows about women trying to juggle work in [insert job here] and a love life, medical shows featuring a case-of-the-week. We’ve seen these shows, so forgive me for being wary of yet another show that on the outset seems the same, but also doesn’t instinctively tell me what sets it apart from that other show. It had then reminded me that there’s a show that is sort of an all-in-one and then some: Remedy.
Remedy is a Canadian show set in the fictional Bethune General Hospital, where Griffin Conner (Dillon Casey) works as a porter. As circumstance would have it, Griff’s dad Allen Conner (Enrico Colantoni) is the hospital’s Chief of Staff, sister Melissa (Sara Canning) is a surgeon, and sister Sandy (Sarah Allen) is a nurse. The first season played more like an upstairs/downstairs medical drama, with Griff (who was a med school dropout and somewhat estranged from his family) learning about the other side of the hospital. The second season put more focus on the character and family drama of the Conners, as Griff continues to be haunted by his past despite seemingly putting his life on track; Allen is no longer Chief and starts working back in the ER; Sandy deals with being a working single mother; while Mel juggles her need to take care of her family (helping Sandy take care of baby Maya) with having a life of her own. At first look it may seem like a lot happening with no clear picture of what it’s about, which isn’t the case at all. The heart of Remedy is a family drama – it just so happens to mostly take place in a hospital. You get a sense of early years Grey’s Anatomy, but your work family includes your actual family and a tad bit less DRAMA than Grey’s. Greg Spottiswood (the creator and executive producer) and the writing team did an impeccable job balancing everything to make Remedy more than just your typical medical drama. Which is why it hurt to find out that after two seasons, Global Television cancelled the series.
I have to confess that I didn’t actually hear about the cancellation until Monday night, 3 days after that tweet, thus what spurred me to finally finish this post. Finding out about Remedy being cancelled got the wheels in my head turning and so many questions. First of all, I just felt like a terrible fan. I didn’t tweet about it during the second season, mainly because I watched the episodes days later, and why? Not because I didn’t know it was on, but because I chose to watch other shows on Mondays instead. It’s not like my Mondays were even THAT full! I flipped channels between The Voice and DWTS (both of which I knew I could watch later because it’s not like I could vote), then watched Jane the Virgin, and then whatever else I missed days prior. I could have watched it live but I didn’t, and now I feel incredibly bad about it. Basically, I took it for granted; opting for the shininess of American TV, as opposed to watching one of the few Canadian shows that I actually do enjoy.
See that’s the thing though – I, along with countless other Canadians, consuming mostly American television. We had our Canadian kids shows that we watched, but what was there once we got into our teens? Not much. And it is with that mindset that we grew into young adults, not really paying attention to what Canadian television had to offer. I mean, I’ve mentioned countless times how I didn’t get into Orphan Black until after the first season had aired AND THEN I realized as soon as I watched it that it was a Canadian made/set show. Really though, Orphan Black, like select other Canadian shows (i.e. Rookie Blue, Flashpoint, Saving Hope) are exceptions because of either being a U.S. co-production or picked up by a U.S. network, which gave them increased exposure. But what of the pure Canadian productions like Remedy? It got a push in the first season and got recognition from the Canadian Screen Awards, but somehow I felt like Global didn’t do right by it in its second season. Every time I tuned into Global, I feel like the only non-American show being advertised was Big Brother Canada.
So what happened to cause Global to cancel Remedy? Was it that a U.S. network didn’t pick it up (and on that note, why didn’t it get picked up by the U.S.? Even as a summer series)? Did the ratings drop THAT much between the first and second seasons, and how much of the drop was on account of poor promotion? It certainly wasn’t a quality issue because from my point of view, the show got stronger in its second season. Like I said before, there are a lot of medical dramas (something I’ve become quite weary of) and it takes a lot for a show to set itself apart, which I think Remedy did. Of course it starts with that amazing cast of Enrico Colantoni, Dillon Casey, Sara Canning, and Sarah Allen, who had such wonderful chemistry that you believed them as the Conners, as this family. Even with the focus being on the Conner family, we got a sense of the other aspects of the hospital through the other supporting staff. Our biggest gateway into this other world within the hospital wasn’t even really through Griffin, it was through Genelle Williams’ character Zoe, who proved to be dynamic in her own right. Then there are the love interests of the Conner sisters: Matt Ward’s Brian (Sandy’s fiance in s1), Brendan Gall’s Jerry and Niall Matter’s Peter (two very different guys in Mel’s life). Once again let me reiterate the wonderfully nuanced and balanced writing. None of the characters are presented as perfect; they all have their flaws and struggles. Griff’s drug addiction and struggle to stay clean was never glossed over, especially as season two went on. Sandy always wanting to do what’s right, instead of trusting her instincts, then attempting to be a single working parent (though co-parenting with Mel). Mel puts her entire self into work, striving to be the best surgeon there is, and taking care of her family through her various means, all of which is sometimes at the expense of her own happiness. Allen as it turns out just wants to be a good father and doctor.
So tell me again how a drama with so much heart, and a good dose of humour still, get cancelled? I don’t know. Frankly, my knowledge of how Canadian TV networks do things is even more limited than my understanding of the American networks. This will forever by a “WHY DID THIS GET CANCELLED?!” for me and I’ll be very bummed about this for a while. But at least I got two great seasons from it, plus a meeting with Dillon Casey at last year’s CSA Fanzone, so there’s that I guess. Thanks for the memories, Remedy!