The director of Hard Rock Medical would like to personally challenge you — yes, you — to tune into the first episode of the medical drama when it airs on TVO on June 9 at 8 p.m.
There is a common misconception that quality TV production couldn't possibly come from Canada, and certainly not from a northern community like Sudbury, Derek Diorio said. He still gets “backhanded compliments” all the time — people telling him his products are actually good.
“It didn't look Canadian,” audiences will tell him.
That's because it doesn't. Diorio said there is no longer startling gaps in production quality.
“I don't believe area code is the determinant of talent,” he said.
As far as he's concerned, Hard Rock Medical (HRM) is “as good as anything being done in Canada.” The idea that “if it's in my backyard, it can't be any good,” just doesn't work anymore.
And to prove it, he'd love Sudburians to tune in, so they can see firsthand how fine a homegrown product can be.
Filmed here in the fall of 2012 with Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation support, HRM is a character drama following eight med school students throughout their first year of studies.
“Unapologetically northern in scope,” the 30-minute episodes deal with things actual med school students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine might face. In fact, the entire series is based on NOSM procedures.
“We do our version of what they're doing,” Diorio said, using the school as a “template” of where the show will go.
Think a rampaging moose, a miner-turned-thief with an appetite for diamonds and a woman attempting to induce labour by riding an ATV — an “average” day for the eight medical students in HRM.
While the medical students may be learning throughout the first-season, it doesn't take long for audiences to get drawn into their characters. The scenery and setting and even the plot are distinctively northern, but the characters appeal to everyone.
“The stories are universal,” Diorio said. “I don't think it matters where you come from.”
Local doctors who have seen snippets of the show have been impressed with how accurately the students are portrayed, sometimes vulnerable and sometimes insecure.
Hometown actor Stéphane Paquette is the Sudbury lead in the film, performing alongside Patrick McKenna, who played Harold Green on the TV series “The Red Green Show,” Angela Asher and Tamara Duarte.
TVO's managing director of content and programming said the series is a shining example of how medicine works in the North.
“Hard Rock Medical does a fantastic job of highlighting a proudly Ontario story while engaging audiences in some of the real-life challenges of practising medicine in the North,” said Nancy Chapelle.
“The series showcases Northern Ontario, with the region becoming a pivotal character in the narrative as the program unfolds.”
On top of being filming locally, each episode also features music from local artists like Patricia Cano, Kevin Closs, Pistol George Warren, Brian Dunn, Ox, Kate Maki and Statues. Some of the artists supplying music actually worked as crew on the show.
For more information about HRM, visit hardrockmedical.com. Tune in to TVO Sunday nights at 8 p.m. to follow the series.