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Cracked Star David Sutcliffe Says Canadian TV is About to 'Explode'

The psyche, the subconscious: David Sutcliffe, the star of CBC TV's Cracked, was tossing out a bit of psychological jargon while holding court at Toronto's Soho House Monday night (March 11), there to take questions from the intimate crowd and moderator Reshmi Nair (CBC News Now) as part of a conversation about his fledgling show.

If you own a box set of Gilmore Girls, you might know the Saskatoon-raised actor as "Rory's Dad." (The nickname was a running joke all Monday night.) But on Cracked, Sutcliffe plays Detective Aidan Black. He's a Toronto cop grappling with the effects of post-traumatic stress - flashbacks, freeze-ups on the job. And assigned to a special team of the Toronto police, the Psych Crimes Unit - a special fictional team of the Toronto police - a few psych textbook terms were bound to surface in an hour-long Q&A. Learning by osmosis and all that.

While Cracked co-stars including Dayo Ade took in the scene, Sutcliffe and series creator Calum de Hartog touched on the real-life psychological issues that inform the show; the series has strived to open the conversation on mental illness, after all, and it's next episode, airing March 19, will address suicide and bullying. (If you wanted scoop on whether Cracked will return for a second season, or whether Aidan will finally hook up with Dr. Ridley, you'll have to hold tight; "You have to ask the writers about that," is all the actor will say.) 

-- Christian Carter

But it was a topic, not a person, that was under the most analysis Monday night.

How, exactly, is Canadian TV doing?

Sutcliffe's February interview for CBC's Q first started that conversation. "Sometimes I feel a sense of complacency," he told Q's Jian Ghomeshi at the time, discussing the state of Canadian film and TV production. "I don't think people are shooting high enough sometimes."

Watch the interview:

"It created a bit of a stir, some conversation at least," Nair said Monday of his comments on Q.

And Sutcliffe's diagnosis of Canadian TV remains mostly unchanged. Canadians in film and TV - and maybe every industry - need to work on their self esteem.

"I think there's just a subtle, unconscious restriction - like a ceiling that's somewhere in the psyche," Sutcliffe said, explaining why he thinks the Canadian TV industry isn't living up to its potential.

The silver lining: Sutcliffe, and Cracked creator de Hartog, both think we're on the verge of a breakthrough.

"I got a lot of positive response from what I said with Jian," Sutcliffe said. "A lot of people came up to me and said, 'I appreciate you saying that. [...] But I think people feel this longing to go further, to take more risks, to work at a higher level. I don't think there's any reason -- especially with how television is with Netflix and iTunes, you're selling to a worldwide market -- why the next Breaking Bad or the next Mad Men can't come out of Canada. I think it should."

"We don't give ourselves enought credit for what it is we're doing," Sutcliffe continued.

"We're surprised when we succeed," offered Nair at one point.

"Right," said Sutcliffe, "except in hockey."

-- Christian Carter

"There's great people out here making great stuff," he said. "I think Republic of Doyle, you look at that and what Allan Hawco has done with that show, I think it's incredible," said Sutcliffe, also shouting out another CBC show, the recently wrapped Being Erica.

"Up here, I think the passion is here, I think the talent is here, I think the scale is different," said Cracked creator de Hartog, adding his take on the Canadian TV climate. "We're just starting to see it - just a bit of a different structure in the way things are being made and I think it's making some really cool shows."

Names were not named; Cracked, perhaps, was implied.

"And I think it's going to get better and better," said Sutcliffe, "I can feel the intention."

"My feeling is it's just starting, that this industry is just about to explode here in Canada and that's one reason I came here because I want to be a part of THAT.

"It's all about cracking that ceiling."

Before They Were Stars: David Sutcliffe
VIDEO: Stars of Cracked Spill on New CBC Series
The Stars of Cracked Hit Cannes for MIPCOM
VIDEO: Calum de Hartog's City Life Project



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