Arctic Air

The first in my “What am I watching” reviews, a show set in the colds of Yellowknife.

I spend a lot of time watching TV. I’m an avid collector of series and usually am in the middle of watching two or three series at any one time. I’m hoping to reguarly comment on some of the shows that I watch. These are not intended as reviews – there are much better sites out there for that – but just my thoughts on the shows and how I enjoy them. Be warned – will contain spoilers.

Arctic Air follows Dene Indian Bobby Morgan’s (Adam Beach) return to his childhood home, Yellowknife, and the business his father helped build, Arctic Air. Along with his fathers partner, Mel Ivarson (Kevin McNulty), and childhood friend Krista Ivarson (Pascale Hutton), Bobby steers Arctic Air through a series of misadventures while attempting to grow and modernise the fleet. The cast also included various family members, rival Indians, mechanics and other bush pilots.

Arctic Air is an aging bush airline flying to airports in the arctic wilderness of the Northwest Territories. The fleet consists of at least two aging Douglas DC-3s, DHC-3 Otters, a few aging Cessnas, and eventually a helicopter. Arctic Air performs a vital service in a region where many communities are cut of from civilisation during the winter months, relying on Arctic Air and airlines like them for food and supplies. In the latter seasons Arctic Air even starts a Search and Rescue business.

I first started watching Arctic Air in 2012, when it first aired, and recently returned to the show when I discovered it had been cancelled. I watched all three seasons over a period of about two weeks. Initially drawn in by the aviation aspect of the show, I was hooked by the beauty of the Arctic scenery. Arctic Air was cancelled after three seasons due to budgetary cutbacks at Canadian national broadcaster CBC-TV. The channel lost the rights to air NHL broadcasts to commercial broadcaster Rogers, which resulted in a slew of cuts.

While the characters and the premise showed promise, ultimately the show was let down by what felt like a lack of cohesion. There was no overarching storyline to the show. Instead the show lurched from episode to episode and “disaster of the week” storylines. Several longer storylines tried to launch but ultimately failed in catching this viewers attention. The preposterous scenarios the Arctic Air crew found themselves in stretched believability to its limits, with almost every flight shown having some kind of a drama, every camping trip ending in a search and rescue mission. Obviously a show about an airline that successfully completed every flight would not make for good television.

The series finale managed to romantically tie up most of the major players, but fell short in tying up all the loose ends from three seasons and felt rushed. However, considering the cancellation came as a surprise in the last months of season 3 the writers did a good job wrapping up what they could.

While Arctic Air ultimately proved to not be an epic tale it was a quick and enjoyable tour of a beautiful part of the world. I hope one day to visit Canada and enjoy the –40 degree weather this show highlighted. I won’t be flying with Arctic Air though.

Featured Image: “sharing air space” by Scott Lough on flickr.