Debuting Tuesday on CBC is Wild Roses, a sweeping soap set in Calgary and the surrounding ranch lands and oil fields. While the network is calling the show Shakespearean, it's most obviously J.R. Ewing-ean.
"Some of the bigger themes are quite Shakespearean, like loss and love and betrayal," explains star Michelle Harrison, who doesn't disagree with the Dallas comparison either. She points out that the two dueling families at the heart of the series — the debt-ridden ranchers, the Henrys, and the oil-rich McGregors — also have a Capulet and Montague vibe. "The love that shouldn't happen is happening all over the place," she laughed.
The Vancouver-based actress plays Kate Henry, the eldest of three sisters, who took over the ranch after her father's death. "I think I'm responsible, I just don't know how to ask for help," Harrison says of her character. "I do everything on my own, and only when it's completely messed up do I finally ask for help."
Middle sister Lucy (Sarah Power) has been living in Calgary, trying to make it big with her rock band, while youngest sister Charlotte (Clare Stone) is a teenager struggling with her feelings about being adopted. In the premiere episode, mom Maggie (Kim Huffman) spurns the affections of McGregor patriarch David (Gary Hudson), leading to a showdown between the two families.
Kate is determined to save the family ranch when David McGregor threatens to take it back. As the series progresses, Harrison says the audience will start seeing through Kate's toughness to the softer side within the cowgirl. One of the McGregor sons already seems determined to coax out some of that softness.
"There are so many different characters, so many different people from different families and social backgrounds, there's someone for everyone to relate to," Harrison believes. "It's different from anything you've seen on CBC before. It's got kind of an edgier feel to it. It's a bit racier — definitely an adult show."
Wild Roses premieres Tuesday, January 9 at 9 pm on CBC.