Patrick Tarr has done pretty much everything one can do on a film set.
And yes, I realize how that sounds. I have a feeling Patrick is doing the ultimate eye roll right now but hear me out, all right?
A quick scan of Patrick’s IMDB page reveals the Saving Hope writer/producer has been a set decorator, production designer, a part of the art, camera and electrical departments and he’s even been listed as “miscellaneous crew” which could mean he’s done everything from sweeping floors to hiding bodies for directors/out-of-control actors.
Seriously, Patrick is “Da Man!” (as the kids apparently say) in the world of Canadian television. I’ve asked him to be here today based on his work on the CBC series, Cracked, and of course, the exceptionally-well-scripted CTV series, Saving Hope, a show that holds a special place in my heart.
And guess what, Murdochians? Patrick won the 2012 Writers Guild of Canada Award for Shorts and Web Series for the MM webisode series The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs. He was also a story consultant for Season Four.
If you’re not familiar with Saving Hope (word of advice: don’t admit you’ve never seen this show, you’ll be mercilessly mocked) you really need to get to YouTube, Netflix or your local proprietor of DVDs.
In a blogging nutshell, Saving Hope is all about Dr. Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks) a Chief of Surgery at Hope Zion hospital who, after a car accident, spends Season One as a hospital-bound apparition, interacting with and saving other spirits. His fiancé, Dr. Alex Reid (Erica Durance) spends her first season attempting to save Charlie. She succeeds, but much to Charlie’s dismay, he can still see and interact with ghosts.
Now this is where Hope could have stumbled, kids; the initial premise could have weighed the show down but instead, Patrick Tarr and his fellow writers expanded Hope’s reach and explored intriguing medical conundrums and fascinating characters. Just like Murdoch Mysteries, Saving Hope is much more than it appears. The show has wrapped production on its final season but it has carved a niche for itself in television history as an unparalleled, wholly-original medical drama.
And today’s guest is a big part of that success. Murdoch Mysteries is a program my entire family watches together, but Saving Hope?
That’s a father/daughter thing.
Any parent will tell you that childhood is far too fleeting. Our kids grow up in a heartbeat suddenly they’re off living their own lives with their own family. Watching, and sometimes live-tweeting, Saving Hope produced some of the best parenting memories of my life. I remember being retweeted and responded to by Michael Shanks for the first time; my daughter went nuts! And when Patrick responded to some of the tweets my daughter fed me? Well, that was just the icing on the cake.
To my daughter and myself, writers are heroes. Actors are amazing; they bring characters to life, interpreting a script and so they get all the glory. Writers, however, are gods; they create that life. Take the writer out of the equation and all you have is a bunch of beautiful people standing around as their plastic surgery degrades.
Yes, I do think Patrick Tarr is an exceptional human being – and not just because he agreed to slum on my blog – thank you ever so much for noticing. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Take it away, Patrick!
ONE) I know spoilers are verboten but can you tell us anything about the future of the doctors, patients and spirits of Hope Zion?
I can tell you that a couple of much-loved doctors will be coming back for a visit, and that romantic entanglements among the HZ staff will continue to be filed under ‘it’s complicated’. I can tell you that some of the patients are going to get pretty personal – read that however you choose. And I can tell you that we’re going places with the spirit world in season 5 that we’ve never gone before.
How’s that for vague yet intriguing?
(You read it here first, Hope fans. Patrick truly rocks.)
You’re not far off – walking an 80lb non-puppy with my family in High Park and then going for tacos is guaranteed happy times. Also, can you repeat the ‘brilliant’ part for my fellow writers? They couldn’t always see it in the room. I guess it’s like being too close to the sun, or a medium-sized lamp.
PATRICK TARR IS A BRILLIANT WRITER. PERIOD.
(How’s that, Patrick?)
THREE) Saving Hope has wrapped production (everyone reading this is screaming inside right now) but did you accomplish everything you wanted to with the series from a writer’s standpoint?
The great thing about knowing from the get-go that we were writing the final season was that we could pull out all the stops. It was the last chance for us to tell these stories, so we really went for it and left it all on the ice (I use hockey metaphors despite not being much of a sports fan).
But having said that, I’m now constantly coming across stories that would be perfect for setting in Hope Zion, so maybe I’ll pitch an animated SH spinoff to Treehouse. ‘L’il Hopers’ has a nice ring to it.
(Hey, I’d watch it.)
FOUR) My daughter believes the Illuminati are responsible for Saving Hope’s demise rather than a collective decision to go out while the series is on top. What say you, Patrick Tarr?
The Illuminati have a lot to answer for lately, but not this.
I’ve seen a lot of disappointed fan response and even anger at our ‘cancellation’. But the fact is, we weren’t cancelled – there was a feeling among all the people who make Saving Hope that the stories of our doctors and patients and spirits were coming to a natural end. We’ve all seen shows keep treading water beyond that and it usually doesn’t turn out well. I hope we can temper fan disappointment with what I think is a really great final season, possibly the best block of episodes we’ve ever done.
“How long do we have to hold this pose, Hook? Season Five doesn’t start until next year!”
FIVE) The television landscape is changing by the second these days. (Network cutbacks. New platforms. Film actors and crew members horning in on jobs.) As a TV veteran, what’s biggest change you’ve seen so far?
The truth is, we’ve been quite sheltered from the storm working on Saving Hope these past years and we’re all pretty nervous about what the big bad world has in store for us moving forward.
I haven’t seen any major changes yet, but like everyone else I’m very concerned about the recent CRTC ruling and what else is coming down the pipe for Canadian creatives. All we can do as writers, directors, producers, and actors is fight to get our voices heard, put our very best work out there and hope that it finds a home.
If it doesn’t, we’ll just have to come perform new Saving Hope episodes live at people’s houses to make a few bucks until things get better. You interested? I’ll bring tacos.
(My daughter loves tacos more than like itself. It’s a deal.)
And that, kids, is all I have for you today. But after 1,227 words, I doubt you’re complaining, right? Patrick Tarr has my eternal gratitude – and maybe a gig or two -for being here today. As always, thank you for being here to keep me company.
See you in the lobby and on Canadian television, friends…