Hard Rock Medical is about to unveil the third year in their story covering the lives of students during their time in the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, but the third season of Hard Rock really is a celebration of not only Northern Ontario, but of North Bay, in particular, with both the sights and sounds of the gateway city being celebrated in a very unique way.
“This show now resides in North Bay and it’s not going anywhere,” said Derek Diorio, Director/Producer of Hard Rock Medical. “This whole evening is about the fact that in so many ways this was really a North Bay production. This year we have used so many local actors and musicians for the soundtrack, and it was even edited in North Bay.”
Tickets sold for the event raised funds benefiting the Canadore College Student Scholarship Fund, the North Bay Food Bank and the North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation. Diorio said it was a small way he felt the production to give back to the community that gave so much to Hard Rock Medical.
Before their special sneak peek of the first two episodes of the third season Thursday night at the Captiol Centre, Diorio wanted to showcase some of the particular musical talents featured in the show, saying not only does it play a bit part in managing the budget for a season, but using local talent is a big part of really delving into the unique cultures and sounds of Northern Ontario.
Tasheena Sarazin, Aanmitaagzi, Stef Paquette, Hidden Roots Collective as well as a big drum performance & dancing from members of Big Medicine Studio were all included during the live performances.
“It was really exciting today to see a little bit of the episode featuring our song in it playing in the background,” Hidden Roots Collective’s Rose-Erin Stokes said. “It was also great seeing all the local actors in the show, and I’m really excited to see the rest of the season.”
The show, which follows the four-year curriculum in the Northern Ontario School of Medicine has showcased a wide cast of characters dealing with the unique lives of Northern Ontario. With the characters now out in placements this season, winter woes set in effect as each group of characters faces the unique challenges of different medical settings, from performing ‘house-calls’ in the winter, to working on aboriginal reserves.
Stéphane Paquette, who plays Charlie Rivière, said it can be a real experience when people who watch the show expect the actors to be medical professionals and start quizzing them on the spot. Despite playing these medical professionals, he feels much less medically-knowledgeable than he would have otherwise, especially in the presence of his wife who works in the health field.
“Often my wife will tell me when I’m home, ‘I want to hear your scenes,’ but she’s a nurse practitioner who is also First Nations,” he said. “So whenever I have lines with medical terms of First Nations words, she looks at me after I try and say them and tells me ‘no.’ So not only do I get it on set when I say the lines, but I get it before I go on set while I’m still learning them!”
North Bay’s Jamie Spilchuk said he’s also had the chance at radio embarrassment being quizzed live and getting none of the ten questions right.
But everything good things must come to an end and Diorio said next season was likely to be the final season to Hard Rock Medical and that he does have an ending in mind. The final season, he said, was going to be shot during blackfly season and he joked about how much fun it would be. And how fitting with each season covering one of the four different months of Northern Ontario, really showcasing, as Diorio has said before, how much of a character the environment really is within the story.
“It was always planned to follow the Northern Ontario School of Medicine curriculum,” he said. “And this will be the fourth and final year of their studies for the characters and it will be the last.”
As TVO’s first commissioned drama series, Hard Rock Medical, returns with nine new episodes in January 2017. The episodes premiere on TVO starting on Sunday, January 8 at 8 pm, and for the first time, all the new episodes will be available on demand on tvo.org following the January 8 broadcast.