When you’re watching tonight’s debut of the new Global drama Combat Hospital (10 p.m. ET), try to get your head around the fact that is is shot in an old glass factory in Etobicoke.
The medical series is set in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and is based on the experiences of an actual Canadian team of military medical personnel who worked a portable medical field unit from 2006 to 2009.
Shaw Media hosted a press day on the set a few weeks ago. It was a bit like old home week for me. I grew up in that hood, on Dundas near the Six Points, and the series is based at the old Corning Glass factory just a few blocks south of what’s left of the Westwood Theatre. Close enough to Apache Burger that you can almost taste the onion rings.
The set designers flew in and sprinkled around tons of Afghan dust to make the outdoor set look as authentic as possible. A helicopter was part of the background, as were a series of army barracks. The whole fake military compoud was set up in eight weeks.
They’re already calling the place Kandahar on Kipling. Elias Korteas, who’s been in three Atom Egoyan films, stars as a veteran army surgeon who cracks the whip at the new hotshots saving lives at the M*A*S*H unit. Michelle Borth (Hawaii Five-0) plays spunky Canadian surgeon Dr. Rebecca Gordon; Luke Mably (The Gates) is showboat Brit neurosurgeon Dr. Simon Hill; Deborah Kara Unger (The Hurricane) plays an intriguing Australian army psychiatrist; Terry Chen (Sanctuary) is trauma team leader Captain Bobby Trang and Arnold Pinnock (The Listener) plays Commander Will Royal, Chief of Nursing.
The pilot, written by veteran executive producer Daniel Petrie, Jr. (The Big Easy), grabs you early as Borth’s character runs a pregnancy test in the middle of a rough military plane landing. Korteas adds a quiet air of seen-it-all authority and Unger gives everything thrown her way a saucy twist.
The cast began shooting this episode late last March. Pretty damn cold for Kandahar, so look tonight to see if you can spot any tell tale “see my breath” moments. Cast members, already shivering in the cold in summer army fatigues, had ice in their mouths to try and keep the steam out of the shots.
A screaming book deadline is keeping me from getting into more detail but look for more on Combat Hospital here in a week or so. Shot some fun Flip cam footage of the set and hoping to post up with that as soon as the book deal is done.

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