Little Dog, a new half-hour comedy set in St. John’s, written by and starring Joel Thomas Hynes, is premiering on CBC on Thursday, March 1st at 9:30pm.
Newfoundland author and actor Joel Thomas Hynes’ most recent novel We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night was shortlisted for a slew of awards including the glamorous Scotia Bank Giller Prize, and won the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction.
After wrapping up 2017 as a bona fide literary icon, Hynes is swinging into 2018 as the star of his own TV show.
Little Dog is named after Hynes’ character, a washed up boxer who is given an opportunity to redeem his reputation years after walking out on a career-defining match.
Sherry White, who played alongside Hynes in Mary Walsh’s Hatching, Matching and Dispatching, is a producer and show runner on Little Dog. White has worked on a number of blockbuster shows, like Ten Days in The Valley, Frontier, Shonda Rhimes’ The Catch, Rookie Blue, and Orphan Black (just to name a few).
Although she is a long time fan of Hynes’ work as a writer and an actor, White was skeptical about the premise of the show at first. She explained her initial reaction was that there are already enough male-driven shows featuring macho characters, “but the fact that Joel wanted to explore the boxer’s vulnerability, his moment of cowardice, and get underneath the masculine shell of the character – that really interested me.”
While boxing is integral to the story and there’s no shortage of shots of people getting punched in the face, Little Dog is really about how difficult it is to re-invent yourself in a small town.
A lot of the drama in the show comes from the tension between Little Dog and his mother (Ger Ross) and sister (Katharine Isabelle), who are both deeply invested in whether he will return to ring or not because of the impact his decision will have on their family’s reputation.
“One of the things I love about him as a person is that he’s interested in complicated, strong women who don’t have to be young and perfect and that’s definitely true in his writing.” – Acclaimed Filmmaker Sherry White
“Joel wrote the first draft of the script uninfluenced by me and [the mother and sister] were very strong characters right from the beginning, “ White said, “Joel really has an attraction to strong women, one of the things I love about him as a person is that he’s interested in complicated, strong women who don’t have to be young and perfect and that’s definitely true in his writing.”
White describes the show as playing with the grey area between drama and comedy – a zone that is becoming more and more popular in contemporary television.
Little Dog makes use of witty banter and physical humour (like when Hynes tries to jump a fence to escape a reporter and ends up being interviewed hanging upside down from the chain-link by a pant leg) but there are also moments where it forces us to sit with Hynes’ character’s despair and really feel it.