In the streaming era, it's not hard to believe the same place which gave us Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Margaret Atwood and David Cronenberg also spits out TV series such as SkyMed ... it's just a stark reminder that in 2022, content is king.
What's hard to believe, however, is that SkyMed, now streaming on Paramount+, is a product of modernity at all because watching this clunky Canadian scripted drama makes one feel they've been transported all the way back to 1980s Australia when The Flying Doctors ruled the skies.
In those days, all we needed was a doctor (Andrew McFarlane, the original "McDreamy") and a plane and we were satisfied for the night, the script and plot could catch up later.
Then again, 30-odd years on, someone felt the need to spin-off The Flying Doctors into the slicker, more muscular and completely unnecessary RFDS, so content wins again.
Made for CBC Television, SkyMed is a show about an air ambulance service working out of Manitoba. Based in the northern city of Thompson, our group of dedicated (mostly young and attractive) paramedics wait for the alarm to be raised before flying off to administer their skillset in some far-flung location.
There is something of a plot device involving a new nurse arriving in town but it's difficult to care when finding yourself peppered with lines such as "Heads up, rookie!" without a hint of irony.
It's often said Australia shares much in common with Canada and there is no doubt the two nations face similar challenges in providing remote Indigenous communities quality healthcare. It's in this space SkyMed comes close to supplying its own quality, yet the worthiness of this endeavour is swallowed up by the whole general, eye-rolling awfulness of the acting and the script.
And speaking of being swallowed up, SkyMed certainly starts with a bang when the paramedics are called to help a hunter who's been mauled by a grizzly out in the bush (Canadians call it the "bush" too - they are just like us!)
At this point, there's even a glimmer of hope Cronenberg himself might be involved because the gross (and weirdly localised) wound caused by the bear pumps and sucks and slithers with all the lurid bloodiness of a Cronenberg organ-fest, yet this gratuitous moment is over all too soon and we quickly realise SkyMed is going to be less body horror and more soap opera.
This revelation leaves the viewer feeling a little hoodwinked and it's hard not to hope that grizzly - like the Michal Caine-seeking shark in Jaws: The Revenge - follows the actors all the way back to Thompson and eats them.
Yet, as crestfallen for Canadian content the whole SkyMed unpleasantness leaves us feeling, there is an antidote (or, more accurately, anti-doot) streaming over on Netflix in the shape of Big Timber.
Big Timber is yet another show following ordinary people doing ordinary work, but refracted in the prism of reality TV, such prosaic pursuits comes across as exotic and fascinating (especially when watching from the safety of a couch several thousand kilometres away while eating a packet of chips).
We're now into the second season of Big Timber and the Vancouver Island milling clan, headed by hard-hatted patriarch Kevin Wenstob, is struggling to pay a $900,000 government bill because of a dearth of coveted western red cedar.
This forces Kevin and his crew to man the boats and soon we're motoring around the stunning coves and inlets of Barkley Sound, dragging logs off beaches with chains and ropes.
This form of timber harvesting is called "beachcombing", a term sure to give Canadian television fans of a certain vintage a flush of warm nostalgia.
Produced from 1972 to 1990, The Beachcombers (like SkyMed, made by CBC Television) remains one of Canada's longest-running and most beloved series. It screened in Australia in the 70s and 80s, joining other Canadian shows we adored.
Along with The Beachcombers, there was the kiddy-crack addictive British/Canadian mash-up Tales of the Riverbank (Hammy Hamster) which pretty much involved cramming real rodents into various modes of toy transportation and filming their desperate attempts at escape.
We also loved Toronto-based multicultural trailblazer The Kids of Degrassi Street, a show about a bunch of everyday children with, incredibly enough, similar lives to those of us watching from suburban Australia.
We followed the franchise into Degrassi Junior High and, for many of us, the groundbreaking 1991 episode involving the suicide of emo student Claude remains shocking and served as something of a full-stop to our own childhood.
So, hats off to our Commonwealth cousin, a provider of excellent parallel-universe content to which we Down Under have always been inexplicably attracted.
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