Frontier

Mowich
#1
New epic Canadian series 'Frontier’ shakes the dust and cobwebs from fur-flying history



Historical dramas about the United States are commonplace, but they're rare in Canada. I've often wondered why that is.

“I wonder that, too,” said Allan Hawco, one of the stars and executive producers of the epic new Canadian historical drama Frontier, which debuts Sunday, Nov. 6, on Discovery. “I wonder, is it our psyche as a nation?

“I feel like we're not engineered culturally to beat our chests about the glory of our legacy. Also, particularly this period (late 1700s), it's filled with stains on our history. Probably the creation of every nation is stained with blood, right? I'm sure any self-respecting European descendant in this country is likely brutally ashamed of everything we were part of in the founding of this nation.

“So it's partly that. But we just don't think about our history in a way that's exciting.”

Frontier, according to Hawco, will scratch that itch.

“The truth is, this period, it's amazing no one had done it (as a TV show),” said Hawco, who is best known to TV audiences as the star of Republic of Doyle. “It's before there was a real border (between Canada and the U.S.), before the formation of those two nations fully, it's the creation of North America's idea of capitalism, it's the creation of the first millionaires. And it's rife with violence, conflict, passion, hopes, dreams.

“It's a perfect recipe for any type of drama you'd like to delve into. And I think this show chases that. It stays away from the dust and cobwebs, and focuses on the people in that rife, extremely lucrative setting.”

From Rob Blackie, Peter Blackie and Brad Peyton, Frontier follows warring factions vying for control of the fur trade.

In the late 1600s, King Charles II of England granted the Hudson's Bay Company rights to vast lands in Canada that had been occupied by Indigenous people for thousands of years. The Hudson's Bay Company thus dominated the fur trade for the next century.

But by the late 1700s, increasingly aggressive business interests from Americans, French, Scots, Irish, you name it, started to nip at the monopoly. The Hudson's Bay Company – and, by extension, the British army – obviously was unimpressed. It's in this cutthroat and ruthless world that Frontier flourishes.

Jason Momoa stars as Declan Harp, a half-Irish, half-Native former employee of the Hudson's Bay Company, who now works against it with great prejudice. The target of his anger is Lord Benton, played by Alun Armstrong.

Frontier also stars Landon Liboiron as Irish stowaway Michael Smyth, Zoe Boyle as ambitious pub boss Grace Emberly, Shawn Doyle as American deal-maker Samuel Grant and Hawco as Douglas Brown, one of three Scottish brothers trying to save their business (the Brown brothers don't show up until the second episode).

I've seen a few episodes of Frontier, and I'm looking forward to seeing more, as I have great interest in this era. I'll stress, though, that this is a fictional piece, with the time period informing the narrative rather than dictating it.

I do have one pet peeve, though. And Frontier isn't the only show that has done this. But in the first few episodes, at least, every English person is bad. And not only are they bad, most are bumbling idiots. The English serve as cartoon-like villains.

I'll point out two things, just for the record: First, every nation, race, region, religion or ethnic group has terrible people and wonderful people. Categorizing any group as only one thing always is inaccurate.

Second, you can approve or disapprove of historic empires and their influence, but the British did not rule the world by being bumbling idiots. Not all of them, anyway. Just saying, I hope there's a bit more balance on that front in future episodes of Frontier.

“We're not making a political statement, we're not fighting history,” Hawco said. “There's no other ambition but to make some great television.

“And we've never done anything like this in Canada, I don't believe.”

Let the fur fly.

Twitter: @billharris_tv

bharris@postmedia.com
 
Murphy
#2
I wonder if the white cast is going to talk like Brits or modern Canadians. They should all sound like Brits, unless they are French or German born. And they shouldn't use the word 'Canada' either. I expect the continuity director or script super will keep a close eye on making sure everything is correct for the period.

I like historical films and productions.
 
Mowich
#3
Looking forward to the next episode especially after that ending.
 
Mowich
#4
Episode 2 underway