For years now the folks of Northern Europe have been the leading force in quality crime dramas, with dark settings and chilling mysteries proving immensely popular.
So popular, in fact, that scandi-noir influences are noticeable in shows from all over the world, from the United States’ True Detective to the UK’s The Missing, and even Australia’s very own Mystery Road.
And sure enough, the folks from the Great White North have had a crack, producing the fantastic Cardinal. Not familiar with the series? No matter. Read on, get intrigued, and check out the first two seasons ASAP!
The John Cardinal Mysteries
Cardinal is adapted from the award-winning novels of Giles Blunt (we’ll forgive you if you haven’t heard of him, as his much-deserved success hasn’t quite translated to international fame recognition). He wrote his first book in the John Cardinal series, Forty Words For Sorrow, on which the TV show’s first season is based, in 2000. The third book in the series, Black Fly Season is the basis for the second season.
Like all great noir stories, the man at the centre of Cardinal is a brooding, laconic cop – John Cardinal. He’s a character who’ll be instantly familiar to fans of the genre. A dark knight with a murky past who buries himself in his work in a desperate, borderline self-destructive search for redemption. But thanks to brilliant scripting, directing and a stellar performance from Billy Campell (best known for his work on the critically acclaimed US adaptation of The Killing) he’s far from cliché, described by The Australian as an “intriguing character carrying a great deal of heartbreak.”
The Setting - Algonquian Bay
Like the quiet North Dakotan & Minnesotan towns in Fargo, or the sleepy cottage-laden coastal village in Broadchurch, the fictional Algonquian Bay is eerily peaceful. Giles Blunt based the town on his real-life childhood home, North Bay, Ontario, on the shore of Lake Nipissing. While the first season was set during the long, dark winter (perhaps the perfect backdrop for a bleak thriller) the second season sees the Canadian north in full bloom. But with the town hemmed by wilderness, it’s still a prime setting for mystery and dread.