Cardinal returns for a third six-episode season Thursday with the following tag line: “The most dangerous thing in the world — a broken man with power.”

No, Cardinal is not about Donald Trump. The broken man is Detective John Cardinal, played with understated grace and muted vocals by Billy Campbell. The Virginia native and his equally talented co-star, Quebeker Karine Vanesse, are like favourite cousins you look forward to catching up with every year or so on CTV publicity department promotional trips to the show’s production base, North Bay, Ontario.

The shad fly capital plays a major role in the series, especially in Season 3. Game of Thrones reminds viewers that “Winter is Coming.” In Cardinal’s third season, Autumn’s chill can be felt, with the falling leaves an apt metaphor for death in the air. The big loss is the one Det. Cardinal. sustains with the apparent suicide death of his wife. A note was left, and the grief-stricken detective can not accept that his wife took her own life.

Directing the series this season is Daniel Grou, who goes by the nick name “Podz.” He steered 19-2 through some of that Montreal-based cop show’s most powerful episodes, in both the original french- and the english-language versions. Pods knows how to let actors think and feel on screen and doesn’t hurry the action, qualities that are a great fit with the very character-driven Cardinal.

When I last spoke with Campbell, in June at the CTV Upfront in Toronto, he was a tad sleep deprived. The 59-year-old had a three-month-old baby back in Norway with his wife and their first born. Two kids under three would slow anybody down.

Well-seasoned when it comes to shooting in Canada, Campbell got a kick out of running into fellow expat Jerry O’Connell in North Bay last year. It was just officially announced Wednesday that’s O’Connell’s breezy procedural Carter will be returning to CTV for a second season, with production resuming in North Bay in the Spring. Campbell says O’Connell frequented the same gym in North Bay and he’ll likely see him there again as Cardinal returns to the mid-Ontario town for a fourth season.


“I was hoping we could do cameos on each others shows,” says Campbell. “Maybe a sailing scene.” O’Connell would be all for it, although he does realize that Carter has a much lighter tone.

Here’s how he defined it to Campbell: “It’s like Cardinal, but on beer.”

Beer or no beer, Cardinal returns Thursday night at 9 p.m. on CTV or stream it on demand starting Thursday night here.

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