'Whistler' – Season Preview

As part of the CTV upfront that Murtz Jaffer and I attended back in early June the network was also promoting a new Canadian drama series, ‘Whistler,’ which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on CTV.

I got the chance to view screeners of the show and interview three of the cast members. As for the show itself it comes off much better than a recent attempt by another Canadian network to aim for the youth drama market. The technical quality of the show is very high and doesn’t have that “Canadian Feel” many Canadian shows have. By “Canadian Feel” I mean a show that was shot in 2006 but looks like they used cameras built in the 1980s.

On the surface it does not look or sound much different than what would appear on American TV. That is a good thing because for one Canadians are accustomed to the technical standards set by American television. This is not to say that show is not distinctively Canadian, because in many ways it is.

The show revolves around Whistler, British Columbia, a real city that is known all around the world for its skiing and snowboarding. Oh and it just happens to be a big part of the 2010 Olympics so if you hadn’t heard of the city now you will by then.

Speaking of Olympics the series starts off with the triumphant return of Beck McKaye, who is played by David Paetkau. He has just won a Gold Medal at the recent Olympics in snowboarding, think pot-smoking Ross Rebagliati and add the blonde-haired good looks and attitude of a California suffer.

Everyone wants a piece of Beck, problem is he ends up dead…he somehow fell off a cliff in what at first seems to be a snowboard accident. Needless to say the mystery of Beck’s death has a big impact on his younger brother Quinn McKaye, played by Jesse Moss.

Quinn has visions of his brother as he tries to figure out what sort of person his brother really was and who he really is. Also in the mix is Beck’s ex-girlfriend Carrie Miller. She is Quinn’s age and has been friends with Quinn since they were kids, and Quinn has been in love with her for much of the time, but she was dating Beck so he couldn’t do anything about it. The lovely Amanda Crew plays Carrie, it’s just a shame the show is set in winter time where Amanda has to bundle up because in person she striked me as a younger looking version of Jennifer Love Hewitt.

I got to speak to all Amanda, David and Jesse about the show. Over the next couple of days I will post details of the interviews.

As I said earlier on the surface the show looks good, but that’s not all underneath the surface the show does have some solid acting depth and writing. CTV has managed to get some solid actors attached to the project. The big one being Nicholas Lea, who plays Beck and Quinn’s dad. Lea, best known as Alex Krycek from ‘The X-Files’ adds a wealth of TV experience to the mostly young cast.

One big worry I had about the show was its potential to turn into a ‘Twin Peaks’-like “Who Killed Beck McKaye?” story. Where the whole show revolves around one idea and once that is resolved the show dies. So far the show seems to be just using the mystery around the death of Beck McKaye as a launching off point rather than a central theme, which is a good thing.

How the show will fare in Canada and in the United States, where it appears on The N Network, will be interesting to see. It was given a second season by CTV even before the show premiered, which shows the network is strongly behind it. But will Canadian viewers give ‘Whistler’ a chance or just assume its another crappy Canadian show?