I take Canadian TV very seriously. When I first moved to Canada over thirteen years ago, I had some preconceived notions of Canadian television. I guess it was something not entirely different than someone saying to me, “You know, I really love Being Erica. I was so surprised that it was Canadian,” meaning that she was surprised that a Canadian tv show was good. Over the past thirteen years, I have learned that not only does Canada produce good quality television, it also produces good quality actors.
And thanks to my good friends over at Astral Media’s Family Channel, I was able to talk to some good quality Canadian actors this week. Evan Williams and Holly Deveaux star in the brand new series, Baxter, which follows the stories of Baxter McNab (Williams) and his friends as they navigate life through the halls of Northern Star School of the Arts. It’s like Fame, but funny.
After having seen only two episodes of the show, I wanted to know more about it, and what drew Evan and Holly into the show. Evan jumped in immediately to say that when he first read the script, he was just so drawn to how much the character of Baxter was like him. “There were just so many similarities. This character goes to theater school and has some issues with authority and seems to be a little bit vain-y but there’s heart underneath.” When I asked if there were ways that he was nothing like Baxter, Evan paused for a minute and said, “NO. Baxter IS me.”
We spoke a little bit about whether they could see the show crossing over to the US market. Obviously, they say, they would be thrilled if Baxter (like Degrassi before it, a show that Evan – along with several other Baxter cast members – has been on) made it onto American tvs. As Holly says, “The themes are pretty universal.” I pointed out, though, that they’d have to try to Americanize the language a little bit. Evan laughed a little bit at this because they, like other tv shows, do a lot of ADR, which basically means they dub over some of the lines because the shot was too noisy and he said that he had to dub over an entire monologue because he kept pronouncing “about” as “a-boat.”
Holly talked about their cast and how it’s pretty amazing that they all have this chemistry on set, but it also continued once filming was over. She said there’s just this ridiculously good energy on the set and that it seems to come through on-screen.
The last scene of Baxter that was shot this season was one where Jackal teaches Baxter to dance, and Evan, who would classify himself as “more of a mover than a dancer” had to do a scene where he was crumping. Holly laughed as she was recalling the read-through for this scene and Evan couldn’t stop blushing. He said not only was this scene ridiculously fun to shoot, but it was a scene that really helped him face his own fears. He said that he took one look at the script and said, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this,” but he was able to rely on those close friendships with his cast mates to get him through it, and now it’s just something they are able to laugh about.
During a question about music, Evan said something that really resonated with me. He was talking about how there’s so much out there to listen to these days but he really believes that “the cream rises to the top” and that the good music shines through the not-so-good stuff.
And that just made me smile. Because I really think the same is true for television and actors. The cream really does rise to the top. And I really think Baxter is the cream. You guys are going to love it.
Baxter premieres today, May 24th, at 4pm ET/PT with two back-to-back episodes. The regular timeslot for the series will be Saturday and Sunday at 10am ET/PT beginning on May 29th.