Canadian family TV series are mostly unheard of outside the country despite gems that had viewers returning week after week. Some series became staples, and ran long enough to have syndicated reruns airing weekdays with the weekly new episode on weekends. Shows like The Littlest Hobo and The Beachcombers were staples in the three- or four-channel universe pre-cable and even after cable TV became popular. The Beachcombers had the advantage of being made by and airing on the CBC, the national public broadcaster with a mandate to be available in Canada despite distances.

The Beachcombers ran for nineteen seasons, running from 1972 until 1990, with 387 episodes featuring Bruno Gerussi as Nick Adonidas and his life a log salvager based out of Gibsons, British Columbia. The series also starred Pat John as Nick’s business partner, Jesse Jim; Robert Clothier as rival salvager Relic; Rae Brown as Molly, the owner of the café, Molly’s Reach, the central setting of the series; Robertson Davies as RCMP officer Constable John Constable; Bob Park as Molly’s grandson, Hughie; and Nancy Chapple then Juliet Randall as Molly’s granddaughter, Margaret. The series’ success made Gerussi a confirmed Canadian star, allowing him to launch a second series, Celebrity Cooks, running from 1975-1984.

Cast photo, 10th anniversary, from the CBC

The series was an example of the cultural mosaic encouraged by the Canadian government. Nick was Greek-Canadian. Jesse was Indigenous and on an equal footing with Nick with the Persephone. Relic has a Welsh background. While Nick’s Greek heritage came up in a few episodes, Indigenous culture also had its fair share of the spotlight, almost unheard of when aired.

The focus of the series was life in Gibsons as log-salvagers. Nick, Jesse, and Relic’s main job was to go out and recover logs that escaped logging booms used by lumber companies while harvesting. These stray logs could be hazards to navigation or wash up on the beach. The difference between how Nick and Jesse worked compared with Relic drove the conflict through many episodes. Nick and Jesse’s boat, a logging tub named Persephone, had power but not speed, allowing her to tow multiple logs and reclaim logs that would otherwise be stranded on land. Relic’s jet boat, the Hi Baller 2 had speed, allowing the cantankerous salvager to speed out, grab a log or two, then return and then go back out.

WIth almost twenty years on the air, plus more through syndicated reruns, The Beachcombers is much a part of the Canadian psyche as hockey. The building that was used for the set of Molly’s Reach is now Molly’s Reach, a café laid out as shown in the series. Nick and Jesse’s boat, the Persephone, was restored and is now in a park close to the café. Fans of the series can go to Gibsons, BC, to see where episodes were shot.

In 2022, in time for the 50th anniversary of the first airing of The Beachcombers, Blair Peters and Slap Happy‘s Josh Mepham gained the rights to animate the series. The announcement was made by the original show’s production manager, Nick Orchard, in 2022 during the anniversary celebration at Molly’s Reach. The project is working with some of the original writers with support from co-creator LS Strange. The animated series has since been delayed, having been originally planed for spring of 2023.

*The Beachcombers Animated* from Slap Happy Studios.

The goal the animated series has is to update the series without losing the charm the original had. The original Beachcombers was for the entire family, so there was comedy and drama to engage everyone. One drawback the animated series has is that the core cast has passed away, with Gerussi passing away in 1995, Clothier in 1999, John in 2022, and Brown in 2000. The voice talent will have to try to recreate the voices enough to be passable, at least at first. Series evolve, as seen in multiple past reviews here, and The Beachcombers Animated won’t be an exception.

With the success of series like King of the Hill, another animated show about a working-class family, The Beachcombers Animated, once launched, should gain a following. The older members of the audience who watched the original will tune in to see how the new series compares to the original. New audiences might be intrigued at the concept. The writers need to remember that Relic isn’t the villain; he’s Nick’s foil and rival. They can be in conflict, but they’re professional. Besides, there is more to the potential than just that rivalry. Updating the series means bringing Nick and Relic into the era of the smartphone and GPS, and having them learn how new technology affects their jobs and lives.

The animated Beachcombers has potential. The characters are down to Earth and compelling. It’s the execution of the idea that remains to be seen.


This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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