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"New season heats up for Cold Squad crew"
by Sid Adilman
The Toronto Star
2 September 1998

TV's Cold Squad knocked them dead its first season and the 15 new episodes CTV will begin on Sept. 25 have a benchmark to exceed.

Unusual for a first-time Canadian production, the show — which makes up stories about police using the latest technology to crack long-unsolved murder cases — often landed in the top 10 in the key Toronto-Hamilton market.

It also won eight Gemini Awards, including best series.

Considering the beginner's luck, Vancouver co-producers Julia Keatley and Matt MacLeod, who created the series, and their Toronto partner, Atlantis Films, could have stopped with the first season of 11 hourlong episodes.

But, MacLeod said in an interview, "We've got more stories to tell for the next four or five years."

Gemini nominations and good ratings "are what we hope for," said Julie Stewart, who plays the Cold Squad boss and snagged a Gemini nomination.

Her character initially faced resentment from male police who objected to a female in charge. In the season's final episode she roused their fury when she broke the police code and reported her male superintendent for a crime she discovered he had committed years before.

Michael Hogan plays a wizened veteran cop who had supported her and was so enraged he hurled a whisky bottle through an office glass window and vowed he'd never work on her squad again.

But he does.

"We used to call that (police vehemence and shunning one of their own for breaking the code) 'the blue wall,'" said MacLeod, who for two decades was a Mountie, often working undercover. "But this is the '90s and you can't do that anymore. Police have to act differently."

So in the two-parter launching this season, Keatley and MacLeod confide, other cops also come around and more old homicides are solved. But the bitterness against Stewart's character lingers until the season's final episode.

What's different this season?

Said Keatley: "Faster paced stories because that's what an audience demands and that's put on a lot of pressure; more muted tones and more space.

"Our new studio (an old stone building in downtown Vancouver that formerly housed a health club) is three times larger."

Three new characters are introduced, MacLeod said, and two of them "broaden the demographics."

They are a young gung-ho novice homicide cop played by Bob Frazer and a young hot-headed female detective (played by Lori Triolo) demoted to the Cold Squad against her will.

Peter Wingfield plays the new inspector who brings a new element to the show: He's political, possibly calculating to be police chief.

"We're up against Homicide on Friday nights at 10 p.m.," noted Keatley. "And we're competing in Canada with a North American audience."

She attributes Cold Squad's success, in part, to the stories, "which are attractive to people, and having a female lead that is unusual in TV. There's Ali McBeal and Ali McCormick (Stewart's character).

"For better or worse, Ali McCormick is a character who believes in right or wrong and it hurts her.

"When the inspector resigned because of her charges against him, it sets up something for Ali to learn: That we're not perfect and that she has things to learn about loyalty."

Hogan praises the show's crew for much of the first-season success: "The entry level of a (Canadian) series now is so much better than it was years ago."

CTV is currently rerunning the first 11 episodes leading into start of the second season.

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