Fron­tier is like Sur­vivor, circa 1770

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - Jo­hanna Sch­neller

The show: Fron­tier, Sea­son 1, Episode 2 The mo­ment: The alliance. In the late 1700s, the fur trade mo­nop­oly that Eng­land has en­joyed in Canada via the Hud­son’s Bay Com­pany is be­ing threat­ened by Amer­i­can, Scot­tish and French in­ter­ests. Cap­tain Ch­ester­field (Evan Jonigkeit), a Bri­tish sol­dier who just killed a Scotsman for un­der­min­ing the HBC, plots with Grace (Zoe Boyle), a tav­ern owner — and in­for­ma­tion trader — in Fort James.

“In­ter­est­ing ap­proach you have to prob­lem solv­ing,” Grace says. “I re­spect a man whose ac­tions are de­ci­sive. Have you given our part­ner­ship some thought?”

“What do you have in mind?” Ch­ester­field asks.

She sug­gests skim­ming a few bun­dles of pelts from each ship­ment that comes into the fort.

“How ex­actly does this lead to me be­com­ing gov­er­nor?” Ch­ester­field asks.

“If you want to be in charge, you’ll need money and plenty of it,” she an­swers. “And you’ll need to dis­credit Lord Ben­ton in the eyes of Lon­don.”

This Cana­dian-Amer­i­can co­pro­duc­tion is Dis­cov­ery’s first orig­i­nal scripted se­ries (in the U.S. it airs on Net­flix).

Hand­somely made, pop­u­lated with great-look­ing, mostly young ac­tors, and knee-deep in blood thanks to near-con­stant hack­ing (knives, hatch­ets, etc.), it clearly as­pires to be a non-fic­tion Game of Thrones (Game of Furs?).

But thanks to its many scenes of back­room plot­ting, its ever-shift­ing al­liances and deadly be­tray­als, the se­ries Fron­tier re­minds me of most is a hy­per­real, pe­riod ver­sion of . . . Sur­vivor.

Imag­ine the promo: “Sur­vivor 1770: The New World. Ri­val groups of tele­genic peo­ple com­pete for scarce re­sources in the wilder­ness, do­ing what­ever it takes to stay alive.”

Count me in.

Fron­tier airs Sun­days on Dis­cov­ery. Jo­hanna Sch­neller is a me­dia con­nois­seur who ze­roes in on pop-cul­ture moments. She usu­ally ap­pears Mon­day through Thurs­day.

BELL ME­DIA

Zoe Boyle as Grace and Evan Jonigkeit as Cap­tain Ch­ester­field in Fron­tier.

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