Updated after CBC Upfront in late May.
The CBC goes dark and edgy with 1860s western Strange Empire set in Alberta-Montana border country and expected to start filming in [Aldergrove/Langley] on June 11th. From award-winning Durham County screenwriter Laurie Finstad this is not the usual family fare. Strange Empire is a thirteen-episode series about a ruthless bastard who kills most of the men in Canadian frontier town Janestown and forces a caravan of frightened women to replace the prostitutes he lost in a recent cholera epidemic. [Update: So this is a western where the heroes are women not men. With most of their men gone, the women must struggle to survive, find their independence and build a life to raise their families.]
[Starring Cara Gee as Kat Loving, Melissa Farman as Dr. Rebecca Bloom and Tattiawna Jones as Isabelle Slotter, this serialized drama] is executive-produced by Jeff Sagansky from indie producer Johnson Production Group, in association with Annuit Coeptis Entertainment.
The CBC cited budget cuts when it axed filmed-in-Vancouver-and-Yellowknife aerial adventure Arctic Air this spring after three seasons, but perhaps the public broadcaster wanted to make a shift to smaller, edgier cable-style dramas. [Strange Empire even took over Arctic Air’s Aldergrove-barn-turned-sound-stage, replacing the DC-3 fuselage and Bullock’s Bar set with western 1890s frontier town sets. Outside are horse and buggies ready to be used.]
Strange Empire airs Mondays at 9 p.m. this Fall on CBC.