‘Coroner’ helps lead new charge of foreign series to American TV

Mystery series is one of several imports coming to U.S. television

Serinda Swan stars in "Coroner," premiering Wednesday on The CW.
Serinda Swan stars in “Coroner,” premiering Wednesday on The CW.

What do you do if you’re a broadcast-network executive with a schedule to fill, but few series are being made?

One answer: Go shopping for shows that already are ready.

The shutdown of production by the coronavirus pandemic was bound to impact television schedules as this year progressed, forcing many decision-makers to look elsewhere for somewhat fresh content. Some are coming from other countries and some from streaming and On Demand services, with the majority of American viewers not having seen the programs before.

One example is the Canadian drama “Coroner,” which The CW gives its U.S. debut Wednesday, Aug. 5. Serinda Swan (“Ballers”) has the title role of a widow whose occupation draws her into medical investigations of strange deaths in the Toronto area, where she’s partnered with a homicide detective (Roger Cross). A teenage son (Ehren Kassam) and a new love interest (Eric Bruneau) also factor into her efforts to keep her mind on her job when necessary.

Of course, such pickups from across the border aren’t new for The CW. Kristin Kreuk’s drama “Burden of Truth” recently ended the third season of its American run, but that round first was seen last winter on its originating network, Canada’s CBC (also the initial home of “Coroner”). Meanwhile, England has supplied The CW with “Bulletproof” lately and also will yield “Dead Pixels,” a mix of live action and computer animation that starts Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Serinda Swan stars in "Coroner," premiering Wednesday on The CW.
Serinda Swan stars in “Coroner,” premiering Wednesday on The CW.

In terms of sharing a show with a streaming source, The CW has been running episodes of “DC’s Stargirl” the night after they premiere on DC Universe — which also is providing The CW with “Swamp Thing” for fall. (The CW will have “Stargirl” exclusively for Season 2.) And sister operation CBS All Access has furnished The CW with the two existing seasons of the anthology “Tell Me a Story.”

Acquisitions by U.S. broadcasters don’t stop there. NBC is importing the Canadian drama “Transplant,” a big hit in its native country earlier in 2020, with Hamza Haq as an emergency-skilled doctor who flees Syria with his sister and restarts his career in (logically enough) Canada.

For its fall season, Fox will inherit “L.A.’s Finest,” the police drama presented first by the Spectrum cable system’s On Demand channel, and teaming Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union. Fox’s audience may see as much of the show as is available before its second season begins, since recent events delayed the On Demand premiere of its sophomore round.

Certainly, shows from outside providers have made their way to American TV before — “Rookie Blue,” “Flashpoint,” “Saving Hope” and “Private Eyes” are among examples — but there’s a bit more urgency to getting those now. And luckily, they exist.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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