The Icy Rush of Women


TV Week St. John's, NL

By Brian Gorman

Being the handsome good guy who gets the girl isn’t much consolation when everyone around you is living the life of a depraved feudal lord.

Ask Lucas Bryant, who plays hero Gabe McCall in the prime-time soap opera "MVP," which premieres Friday, Jan. 11, on CBC Television.

"It’s a challenge to be the straight man when everyone else is having so much fun being bad,' he says. "I don’t know how anyone could have fun playing that guy with those characters around."

"MVP" is Canada’s answer to "Footballers Wives," the British drama series about the off field lives of soccer players.

"MVP" revolves around the fictitious pro hockey team the Mustangs - but rarely swings very close to the ice.

"The only hockey I got to play was at lunchtime," Bryant says, "I’d get out and play with some of the crew guys."

"You see us preparing to go on the ice. And you see us coming off the ice. You don’t see much of us on the ice."

We do, however, get to see a lot of the seedier side of pro sports.

"This is a fun show," says co-creator and showrunner Mary Young Leckie ("Shades of Black"). "It’s not about hockey. It’s about people."

In the first episode of the series, the team's most seasoned player (Aidan Devine) - whose salary and drug problem have made him a liability - dies in a drug induced fall.

The team collects on his life insurance, and this enables management to sign promising young player Trevor (Dillon Casey).

Meanwhile, his wife (Deborah Odell) and daughter (Natalie Krill), who had been sleeping with a handsome young rookie, are thrown out onto the street because Daddy put his salary up his nose.

The implication is that the team owner (Matthew Bennett) may have killed off the veteran to make way for the new guy.

Through it all, team captain McCall - who also is the son of coach Chick McCall (John Robinson) - is called upon to keep a square jaw and lead the team through these tough times. There is one ray of light, however - he falls for Connie (Kristen Booth), a sweet, down-to-earth day care teacher who has no idea who he is and no interest in getting to know him.

So Bryant and Booth get to play out a story line that is almost pure classic screwball comedy in the heart of this soap opera.

"What he’s attracted to in Connie is that she’s not from his world," Leckie says. "The Gabe-and-Connie story gives it hope and fun..."

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