TVO's first commissioned drama series, Hard Rock Medical, provides a fresh and entertaining look at the unique challenges of delivering healthcare in Northern Ontario. Hard Rock Medical follows the lives of eight medical students, their struggles to succeed, and the obstacles they face in adapting to practising rural medicine and living in the North. Patrick McKenna heads a Canadian ensemble cast in this series airing Sundays at 8 pm, from June 9 to August 25 and at hardrockmedical.com.
The views expressed in TVO's Hard Rock Medical blog series are solely the opinion of the cast and filmmakers.
Melanie Truscott: The Hard Nut of Hard Rock U
The character of Melanie Truscott made a lot of sense to me. As actors we're often playing out some of our own inner-demons, sort of a psychological exercise in living them out -- and maybe even growing from them.
Becoming a doctor is on Melanie's Type A bucket list. She's already worked successfully as a lawyer, "has two degrees and an IQ of 150," as she brashly states to a fellow competitor at the entry interviews. Clearly anyone who brags about their IQ score has a much lower EQ. This is Melanie's biggest learning curve: drawing the distance between the more logical, rational and combative mind of law, closer to the more emotional, mystical and compromising heart of medicine.
This is where the lessons of Hard Rock U's particular medical program will be very valuable to Melanie. On one hand, she has the intelligence and sharp wit to make quick decisions and executions. On the other, she is stubborn, frustrated, and deeply biased against men in particular, who are guilty before proven innocent in her mind. She's seen a lot of bad eggs in the courts and has a hard time shaking her negative perspective.
Melanie's attitude might work with criminals, but with patients she seriously lacks in bedside manner. And with Sudbury's working class, who are, as one of her patients tells her, "no BS kinda people," she will really have to let her guard down in order to be trusted in the northern community. No one actually wants an anal-retentive-lawyer-type giving them an actual anal examination! There is way more sensitivity required to be a doctor.
Luckily, Melanie has a dynamic character-arc throughout the season -- an actors' dream! We see her intense competitive game-face in the first couple of episodes, but the challenges Hard Rock U presents start to break her down. In the nickel mine she comes face-to-face with her misconceptions. In working closely with such a small tight-knit group of students, she discovers truths that were far from her initial judgements. And finally, through friendship, she's able to open up and be vulnerable. It's facing her own weaknesses that actually make her stronger, and in turn more empathetic towards both her patients and her colleagues.
At the heart of Melanie, she left law because she truly wants to help people in a more hands-on way. She's deeply loyal, caring, and protective, particularly to Gina the youngest and most susceptible in the program. This big-sister role grounds her and really helps her grow. If Melanie can convert some of her strength into compassion, she stands a chance at becoming an excellent doctor and a better person in the process.
Hard Rock Medical has beautifully shot landscapes, is laced with amazing music from local talent, and has plot lines that could only take place in Northern Canada. It really does capture the north in a special way. But I think the real strength of the series is its ensemble character-driven stories. There are 12 very well-developed and unique characters that all have inspiring journeys. These four years of medical school can lead the students down an endless number of paths. It's worth tuning in every week to see what will happen to each and every one of them.