Boundry-push­ing re­al­ism not for all

Top­ics and lan­guage on APTN se­ries can make view­ers un­com­fort­able

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - BRAD OSWALD

UN­FLINCH­ING. That’s what the APTN se­ries Black­stone has been dur­ing its first three sea­sons, min­ing a va­ri­ety of hot-but­ton top­ics — cor­rup­tion in First Na­tions gov­ern­ment, gang vi­o­lence, drug ad­dic­tion and al­co­holism, teen sui­cide, the tragic legacy of the res­i­den­tial-school sys­tem, the un­der­ex­am­ined is­sue of miss­ing and mur­dered abo­rig­i­nal women — in or­der to cre­ate an on­go­ing story that is grip­ping while also re­main­ing de­ter­mined to re­flect cur­rent so­cio-cul­tural re­al­i­ties in Canada. Se­ries cre­ator Ron E. Scott says he has, on oc­ca­sion, en­coun­tered re­sis­tance from view­ers who feel the show pushes its bound­aries beyond con­ven­tional com­fort lev­els.

“Ob­vi­ously, I’ll lis­ten to any­one’s com­ments on the show,” Scott says dur­ing a tele­phone in­ter­view in the lead-up to Black­stone’s fourth-sea­son première (Tues­day at 11 p.m., APTN). “Ev­ery­one’s opin­ion is valid to me, from the 18-year-old who goes, ‘Oh, that’s a cool show,’ to an elder who says, ‘I don’t like all the swear­ing.’ Peo­ple are al­ways go­ing to have an Scott. “He’s fac­ing some se­ri­ous jail time, and peo­ple are go­ing to come on a jour­ney this sea­son to see what it’s like to be in­car­cer­ated and for Andy to have his rights re­moved and his whole world changed.” Tak­ing one of the se­ries’ core char­ac­ters out of the com­mu­nity in which most of the story is told cre­ates a chal­lenge for Black­stone’s writ­ers. To fill the void left by Andy’s im­pris­on­ment, Scott and company have added a cou­ple of new char­ac­ters: Jen­nifer Podem­ski as Dr. Crow­shoe, a psy­chol­o­gist spe­cial­iz­ing in post-trau­matic stress disorder, and Glen Gould as Smokey Stoney, the es­tranged brother of Leona (Car­men Moore) and Gail (Michelle Thrush). As in sea­sons past, Black­stone’s di­a­logue is heav­ily weighted with the blunt and con­sis­tently pro­fane lan­guage one might ex­pect to find in a world in­hab­ited by law­less and of­ten des­per­ate peo­ple. In the sea­son opener, as ex­pected, F-bombs abound. “The show was de­signed to be au­then­tic,” says Scott. “There are pock­ets of so­ci­ety where rough lan­guage is just a way of life, and this show was al­ways in­tended to show that ag­gres­sive, con­fronta­tional lan­guage. I know it’s of­fen­sive to some peo­ple, but what they’re see­ing is part of a world they’ve never seen be­fore. But for other peo­ple, this will be some­thing they’re very fa­mil­iar with.” Surf, sand, spies: With the first se­ri­ous snow­fall of the year just wait­ing for the “Go” sig­nal from Mother Na­ture, it’s time to start think­ing about get­ting away to a sun-soaked lo­cale. PBS’s Master­piece Con­tem­po­rary’s lat­est of­fer­ing serves dual pur­poses by of­fer­ing a tropic-isle trav­el­ogue wrapped around a well-crafted mys­tery in the form of Wor­ricker: Turks & Caicos, which airs Sun­day at 9 p.m. Bill Nighy, who first played master spy Johnny Wor­ricker in 2011’s Page Eight, re­turns in this metic­u­lously paced thriller that finds the for­mer MI-5 oper­a­tive in a self-im­posed re­tire­ment/ex­ile on the tit­u­lar Caribbean is­land. Ev­ery­thing’s chilled-out un­til Johnny en­coun­ters a mys­te­ri­ous Amer­i­can busi­ness­man named Cur­tis (Christoper Walken) who in­vites him to a nightly cock­tail gath­er­ing. As it turns out, the other reg­u­lars at this not-so­happy hour are pretty bad dudes, and a chance meet­ing with the woman who acts as their pub­li­cist (Wi­nona Ry­der) pro­duces a few tid­bits of in­for­ma­tion that con­vince Wor­ricker it’s time to dust off his sleuthing shoes. Lan­guid and laid-back, but also sharply writ­ten and smoothly per­formed, Turks & Caicos is a treat. Nighy is the very def­i­ni­tion of cool, and he’s sur­rounded by a tremen­dous sup­port­ing cast, in­clud­ing, but not limited to, the afore­men­tioned Amer­i­can stars as well as fel­low Brits He­lena Bon­ham Carter and Ralph Fi­ennes.

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