From Breaker High to Trailer Park Boys, Canadian small screeners love to sail their budding stars into Hollywood – and assimilate some culture during their excursion.
1. Breaker High
The entire plot surrounds a bunch of teens as they embark on their high school journey studying on a cruise ship. They may fictionally travel to a plethora of world wonders; but in reality, the whole series was shot in Burnaby, British Columbia (yup, that’s Canada). If a pretentious pageant queen (Terri Conn) and doughy class clown (Tyler Labine) don’t get you watching, then perhaps the idiosyncrincies of the always-so-suave Ryan Gosling (yes, he’s the blonde with the bad haircut) will make you smirk. Turns out he’s been crying “hey girl!” wayyyy before The Notebook…
2. Degrassi (The Next Generation, etc.)
Unlike the previous entry, Degrassi has been on for decades and is still truckin’. Just in case you’re wondering, Degrassi had four runs: The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High and (the latest) Degrassi: The Next Generation – all set and filmed in the city of Toronto. What Degrassi is most applauded for is their relation to controversial and realistic (adolescent) issues: school shootings, drugs, prostitution – you know, “heavy” stuff! Oh, and it’s also where Drake first started – “from the bottom” being subjective though.
Not much to say about this one, other than the fact that the protagonist is casted as no other than Billy Ray Cyrus (and whatever that is on his head). If you appreciate a good primetime tearjerker, then chances are you’ll savour Doc – a religious family/medical drama where Billy Ray plays a Montana doctor who moves his career to a New York City medical clinic. And, of course, just like multiple producers desire to represent NYC, they agree downtown Toronto is a convincing impersonator.
If you’re yearning for a Canadian cop show, then perhaps you should take a look at Flashpoint – yet another series filmed and set in Toronto. What’s authentic about this particular Canuck drama are their references to Toronto streets and captures of local landmarks (like the CN Tower or City Hall) – which make it all the more home-y. With an all star cast (including Amy Jo Johnson? Remember she was the Pink Power Ranger?), Flashpoint also surprises with a bevy of celebrity guest appearances. In Flashpoint, you can see The O.C. alum Kelly Rowan tap into her role as a kidnapping, drug-addicted mother. The series may have just ended this winter, but it’ll be remembered as the first Canadian series aired by a mainstream American channel (CBS) that’s based wholly in Canada.
5. Forbidden Science
Urging for a more seductive perspective of Canada? Then explore your temptations with Forbidden Science, a Cinemax “After Dark” series about a futuristic utopia in which humans satisfy their sexual needs with androids. The storyline documents the exploitation of a corporation, 4Ever Innovations, whose scientists upload and sell memories. They substitute lost, loved ones with copies and create technology that allows patrons to experiment with their wildest fantasies; whether it’s saving a relationship or becoming more attractive – but at fatal costs. Filled with sexy Canadian glamour models and actresses, Forbidden Science was filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario areas.
6. Lost Girl
If you’re looking for the “hot” without the “nasty,” Lost Girl promises gorgeous human/supernatural beings. In fact, Anna Silk – the lead – plays a succubus named Bo. If you’re wondering what the hell a succubus is, all you really need to know is that it’s a female demon or supernatural creature that usually only comes in your dreams (go figure), but transforms in disguise as a human woman in order to lure men usually through sex. If you ever thought there was such a thing, then perhaps Emmanuelle Vaugier’s appearances in the show don’t hurt either. You can watch it on Showcase.
Nikita may play on the American “CW” Network, but the series is as Canadian as they come. Its former series, La Femme Nikita (1997–2001), was also filmed in Canada. Some may be shocked to discover that the most recent version of Nikita is also filmed in Toronto and surrounding areas, which means lead cast members like Shane West (A Walk To Remember), Melinda Clarke (The O.C.), and Devon Sawa (Remember Tiger Beat and Idle Hands?) are regularly in the area. The series concentrates on Nikita (portrayed by Maggie Q), a woman who escaped from an anonymous government-funded organization called the “Division” and, after three years M.I.A., has returned to triumph over the organization.
8. The L.A. Complex
The CW must really love Canadian shows! While The L.A. Complex may be set in, um, L.A., majority if not all the lead characters actually hailed from Canada and transferred to L.A. for the so-called “American Dream.” And if you didn’t think it was possible for Toronto to mold itself into NYC, imagine morphing it into Sunny California (with the help of props and sets, of course). Outdoor scenes, if used at all, may be tricky in fluctuating Canadian climate; but make no mistake – this Canadian show does not fall short of reflecting the reality of making it big in Hollywood. One aspiring dancer attempts to survive financially as a stripper, where she finds a washed-up celebrity to shoot a sex tape with which is then leaked and leads to her being picked up by a porn company. If that all seems too cliche, a young man works at a recording studio and meets a macho rap star, who abusively forces him to keep their homosexual relationship a secret. Welcome to L.A.
9. The Listener
The Listener is a pretty self-explanatory title for a show that lives up to its name. Basically, Toby (Craig Olejnik) is a first year paramedic who never met his father and spent his childhood in foster homes. Until now, Toby has kept his telepathy on the downlow – except divulging his revelation to his old counselor and confidant, Dr. Ray Mercer (Colm Feore). While he passes the city of Toronto (also the filming location) in his ambulance with his partner Osman “Oz” Bey (Ennis Esmer), Toby learns he has a gift that can save people’s lives. You may be able to catch reruns on Fox, or if you’re Canadian – new episodes on CTV.
10. Trailer Park Boys
Trailer Park Boys has been notoriously deemed “a Canadian comedy mockumentary TV series, as it parodies exaggerated stereotypes about the profane Canadian “hick” who says “eh” or “f***” every other word. More specifically, it outlines the trials and tribulations of a group of trailer park citizens (some of whom are former jailbirds) residing in the pretend Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The Showcase series presumably left the air in 2008, but has remained a legend ever since. The lead trio in Trailer Park Boys has toured with Our Lady Peace as well as Guns N’ Roses. Apparently, a third film of the series has been shooting at least since March, with a possible 2013-2014 release date. A potential eighth season of the program is slated to be announced in June.