Last June, I made my second trip on location with Cardinal, which returns Thursday night on CTV. The noir crime drama premiered with a white, wintery season, shot mainly in Sudbury. Season Two takes place a few months later, and the cast and crew had shifted to North Bay, Ontario.

North Bay nugget: unlike actors or reporters, shads are born without mouths!

Instead of snow and ice, the location was thick with rain and shad flies. A helicopter hanger was doubling as a makeshift studio, and the set inside depicted the interior of a cave, where some grizzly, ritualistic slayings may or may not have been taking place.

Stars Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse and Glenn Gould were gamely making themselves available for interviews between takes. Campbell, for one, was happy to be inside even a makeshift soundstage.

“Right now this feels fantastic because where we were before was extremely uncomfortable,” he said, slapping away a mosquito. Out in a field by a real cave, he said, “it was muddy and hilly and buggy and nasty and dripping wet the whole time. Now we’re in more or less a sound stage and it’s more or less dry.”

Campbell wasn’t really complaining. An active summer-and-winter outdoorsman who currently calls Norway home, he likes his Canada carved out of mosquitoes and cedars. The shads, however, were ridiculous, swarming in Biblical proportions, covering everything — roadside signs, motel windows, even roadways, where that crunching sound was them getting driven over.


Vanasse ain’t bugged by shads or reporters

Bugs aren’t the only thing getting off-ed this season on Cardinal. Some viewers may find the drama a little too intense. Crime shows where young victims are in jeopardy can be troubling for parents with young children or just viewers in general.

“If those people are to find the show appealing,” reasons Campbell, “then it has to be for the other parts of the show that aren’t those things. The show could just be any other procedural show, which they all have their share of cadavers and horrible things going on but it’s really what happens between the characters that is the appealing part.”

Folks that are a bit squeamish, suggests Campbell, can just “cover their eyes for the rest of it.” That’s what many viewers did last season, as Cardinal emerged as Canada’s most-watched new drama.

Read more about Campbell and Cardinal here at this feature I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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