Coroner Preview: Black Dog

If y’all have read me at all here at The Televixen (Hi!), you know my full stop love affair with Canadian TV began in earnest with the coroner-based procedural (On paper, but It’s. So. Much. More.) Da Vinci’s Inquest. I’m also very fond of 2017’s moody procedural and character study, Bellevue. When its co-showrunner, Adrienne Mitchell, was attached to produce and direct CBC’s new drama series, Coroner, which arrives Monday [Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on The CW in the U.S.], it was a double win for me.

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

Inspired by M.R. Hall‘s novels, Coroner was created by Morwyn Brebner, whose last series, Saving Hope, ran for five seasons on CTV. Brebner has also executive produced and written for Mary Kills People and Bellevue and created Rookie Blue. She’s astute at giving voice to complex, complicated, and complete women.

Coroner on CBC

In Coroner, Brebner’s lead character is Dr. Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan doing a whiplash 180 from 2017’s Inhumans). Cooper is a former ER doctor and the new Toronto coroner. She’s also the recently widowed single mom of a teenage son. The show begins with her arrival into the police department, the first step in trying to move her life forward while still haunted by the sudden death of her husband, David (Emmanuel Shirrinian).

Roger Cross (Dark Matter) is Donovan “Mac” McAvoy, Jenny’s de facto partner right out of the gate. He’s a detective who recognizes that while, yes, she’s working through some things, she’s also professionally on her game. That’s made very clear when she challenges the senior pathologist (Michael Healey) who’s inclined to rubber stamp autopsies to align with “obvious” causes of death. Mac’s fellow detective, who hasn’t made up her mind yet on Jenny, is Taylor Kim (Alli Chung).

Coroner on CBC

Ehren Kassam is Jenny’s son, Ross, who had a complicated relationship with his Dad but is close to Jenny. Their familiar, friendly dynamic reminds me a lot of the fantastic chemistry Kristen Lehman and Cameron Bright had on Motive. I much prefer this depiction of a single Mom and teenage child vs. slammed doors and no communication. In a fun bit of casting, look for Dominic Da Vinci himself, Nicholas Campbell, starting in the second episode, as Jenny’s Dad, Gordon.

Éric Bruneau is Liam Bouchard, a handyman Jenny meets at an out call. He’s a veteran living off the grid by choice who sees a kindred spirit in Jenny, witnessing her humanity and vulnerability after pronouncing a death. Jenny is drawn to him, too, and the pilot and second episode set up an interesting situation.

In “Black Dog,” the first case is a double suicide at a juvenile detention facility.

What should be a quick, but sad, pronouncement turns out to have multiple layers and victims, and Jenny dives in to make sure the case is handled correctly. First up, she aligns with the junior pathologist, Dr. Dwayne Allen (Slasher‘s Lovell Adams-Gray), who’s finally emboldened to speak out against his boss.

Coroner on CBC

The first hour introduces Jenny and the rest of the characters, weaving together her home life with Ross, flashbacks of losing David, navigating new relationships, and working the current case. It’s a full pilot, written by Brebner and directed by Mitchell.

We see Jenny hone in on the things she control — her cases — while doing her best to roll with the rest of what life is throwing at her, for herself and her son.

Swan is very good portraying Jenny as she balances her professional passion and determination with the fear of walking a new path after an unexpected and tragic reset. I expect the first season will show us how well the disparate aspects of her life do and don’t play well together. I’ve watched Cross since First Wave and love that this role came his way. He has an easygoing vibe with Swan that will be fun to watch.

Coroner begins Monday night at 9 pm ET/9:30 NT on CBC. I’m looking forward to seeing where these initial eight episodes take us. As Da Vinci’s Inquest (and Quincy, M.E. and Crossing Jordan before it) proved, there is a rich mine of storytelling around pathology and coroner’s cases. I’m in for these.

[Updated 8/4/20: Beginning 8/5/20, Coroner will air Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on The CW in the U.S.]

Here are a couple of sneak peeks.


Photos courtesy of CBC and Video Courtesy of CBC and The CW.

3 thoughts on “Coroner Preview: Black Dog

  1. Thanks for your piece on Coroner. The scripts are awesome and depiction of the procedure for the coroner service is right on. The casting is also terrific. I loved going in to work. Great work on the set from all departments particularly the look of it. My fave hair makeup dept in the business too. I hope we can gain an audience ..

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