Welcome to Meade. (Secretly Dettah.) Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio
Alaska Daily, the TV drama series starring Hilary Swank that took over Dettah for two days last month, airs its first episode on CTV on Thursday evening.
The show follows Swank as an investigative journalist moving from New York City to a daily newspaper in Anchorage. It airs at 8pm MT on CTV Calgary and 11pm MT on CTV Vancouver.
Tom McCarthy, who wrote and directed the 2015 film Spotlight about investigative reporting at the Boston Globe, is Alaska Daily’s creator. He masterminded the new show’s pilot episode.
Don’t expect Dettah to feature immediately.
Parts of the small Northwest Territories community were transformed for two days into a fictitious Alaskan community named Meade.
US and Alaska flags flew from some Dettah buildings during filming, a supposed “Meade police” truck cruised the community, and producers even constructed a graveyard for the show’s purposes.
As filming wrapped up in early September, NWT film commissioner Nancy Shaw said Alaska Daily’s visit was “the real thing” and “really exciting” for the territory’s prospects of attracting other, bigger-budget dramas to supplement its regular diet of documentaries and wilderness reality shows.
The Anchorage Daily News, a real-life newspaper previewing Alaska Daily this week, said McCarthy had been inspired by the paper’s own work in recent years covering sexual violence and “repeated failure points within the criminal justice system” in the state.
McCarthy wanted to explore the lives of journalists, the Anchorage Daily News said, and the newspaper was intrigued by a way to show audiences inside a small newsroom and instil faith in local news.
“In the last 10 years, the sort of rhetoric and vitriol directed specifically at journalists has really been amped up. And I think, incredibly unfairly and quite on purpose,” the newspaper quoted McCarthy as saying.
“So I thought, man, what’s something I could do if I had an opportunity to make a TV show? And I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to really get to know who are these journalists, specifically involved in local journalism. … Can I humanize journalists? Can I get a sense of who they are and what makes them tick and why they do the work they do?”
The few reviews of Alaska Daily so far are split on its merits as a TV drama.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Alan Sepinwall dryly observed the series is “yesterday’s news,” stating that Swank’s character is “among the more insufferable TV protagonists we’ve had in a while.” Marya E Gates, in The Playlist, calls the show “yet another run-of-the-mill drama.”
But Variety found the show’s pilot had “something fresh behind the basics” and Newsday called it a “particularly sharp pilot that also builds a plausible character study in local print journalism.”