Northern Intelligence

All That (Body) Glitters in YK

My husband recently decided that I needed to apply for my passport. We’re planning a trip to Alaska in a few years and due to the wait time he made the very responsible and logical decision that I should get a jump on the process now.

Of course, I haven’t even started the application, yet.
Instead, I’ve been googling old movies and TV shows. In doing so, I discovered that the CBC Drama, Arctic Air, was renewed for a second season.

This irritates me for several reasons:
1) It’s an obvious fictionalized version of Ice Pilots, but CBC pretends that it’s not.

2) The storylines are so unrealistic, I almost went blind from all the eye-rolling.

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3) Adam Beach has not been working out. Stop asking him if he has been. His friend, Jim McAlister, obviously does, though. Why not give him more screen-time?

When the series first premiered, they had a showing here in Yellowknife. Afterwards, all anyone in my office could talk about was how ridiculous the show was. I was actually mocked for watching it. I am a staunch supporter of Canadian television, though, because it is seriously undervalued and under-appreciated. That’s why three seasons later, I’m still watching The Listener. (Go, Team Oz!) But after four weeks, I had to admit defeat because watching that show was just getting painful.

I know the northern aviation industry has had a tough year, but it is possible to fly in the North and not die/almost die. If you’re going to rip off Buffalo Joe, at least do it right. Ice Pilots isn’t popular because it showcases how dangerous their jobs can be; it’s popular because it deals with the day-to-day frustrations that come with flying in the North. The drama is based on the dynamics of the employees working in tight quarters, under deadlines, and with limited options if things go wrong. That’s why we watch; because this week might just be the week Joe finally snaps. Not because the plane’s going down or getting hijacked for a third freaking time this season.

BTW, no hijackers would ever be stupid enough to try and take over a plane full of rig workers on leave. And the rig workers sure as heck wouldn’t have just sat there and whined about how they were going to miss the strippers.

The thing is, I’m married to an aircraft mechanic. I hang out with aircraft mechanics. I sit through hour-long conversations about aircraft and aircraft maintenance. What CBC is depicting as Northern air travel is -pardon the language, folks- hooey. I don’t know a single person in this city who actually watches this show. (And, yes, we do have cable up here.) And I lost serious street-cred with the squadron boys when they found out how I was spending my Thursday nights.

Also? The strip club is not the only place to do business in Yellowknife. There are many fine conference rooms and restaurants here in Yellowknife, but every single time I tuned in the characters were having a business meeting, they were sitting in that frigging strip club, talking contracts over body shots.

I have been working in a law office for almost a year now, and never once have any of the lawyers suggested Harley’s as an appropriate place to meet. (Besides, you’d never get all the body-glitter off of the paperwork.) I don’t know if CBC is just trying to show how rugged and manly the characters are, but PLEASE stop depicting the strip club as the social highlight of our city!

The sad thing is, this show could be really good, if the producers would stop focusing on the drama and danger of northern living and build on what the show does have going for it: humor. When Arctic Air injects a few jokes into the storylines, it’s actually quite enjoyable. The character of Dev Panwar was one of my favorites, but they never gave him enough screen time for my liking. (And in all honesty, after the fourth episode, I literally stood up, turned off the television and said, “That’s it; I’m done.”) They have some really talented comedic actors on this show, why aren’t they using them?

I’m not saying to turn it into “Corner Gas Goes North of 60”, but come on guys, lighten up! If they had put any research into Yellowknife at all, they would have realized that hardly anybody in this city takes themselves as seriously as these characters do.
Do me a favor, CBC, as a wannabe fan; take a month off and actually do a little research into Northern living.

Maybe talk to some pilots? Interview some workers? Get out of the strip club and hit a few of our trails? Because until you do, you will continue to be mocked by the very people you’re trying to portray.

P.S. Also, an assassin in Yellowknife? No.

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