Cardinal quietly launched at SBS On Demand in October last year where it has built a devoted following. The dark and moody first season of the show evoked a similar tone of Scandi Noir dramas, with its mysterious lead character and a complex murder-mystery plot. It has returned this week for a second season, starting with a brand new mystery.
It's possible to get started on the series from the second season, but both of the first two seasons are now streaming anytime at SBS On Demand.
It's based on a Giles Blunt series of novels.
There are six books in the Giles Blunt series of John Cardinal novels. The first season of Cardinal is based off the book Forty Words for Sorrow. With season two , the producers of the series are using the third book in the series, Black Fly Season. The fouth and fifth books in the series, By the Time You Read This and Crime Machine, will be used for the show's already commissioned third season.
The conflicted character at the centre of Cardinal
As the Cardinal TV series begins, we meet Cardinal - a troubled and brooding police officer in Algonquin Bay. He had been removed from the homicide squad when his bosses felt he was going too far in his investigation of a missing Native Canadian girl. After the girls body is discovered, Cardinal is reassigned to the case with a new partner who is quietly also investigating him over corruption suspicions.
The show stars Billy Campbell
Billy Campbell is one of those great TV and movie actors who never quite found that breakthrough role suited to making them a household name. Instead, he has been constantly turning in good work in series after series. Many viewers would recognise him from the US adaptation of The Killing as Mayoral candidate Darren Richmond. He has also starred in several other series including Moon Over Miami, The 4400, and Once and Again. A generation of kids grew up with him as the star of the Disney superhero film The Rocketeer. But SBS viewers probably know him best from his recent turn on the second season of the Scandi series Modus.
Last year when talking to SBS, Campbell, a rabid fan of Scandi Noir dramas, explained what led him to Modus:
I did a small bit on Modus, which was the first thing I’ve done in Scandinavia. So, I’m really excited about that. I have a Norwegian wife and child and I live mainly between Copenhagen and her family’s farm in the south of Norway. So, I’m eager to start working over there so I don’t have to pack by bags and leave all the time. It was exciting to me to have even a small part in a Swedish show, which we shot in Stockholm. I’m hopeful there will be more of that kind of thing in my future.
What critics have said
"Cardinal had a slow but promising start and those who like their detective shows to veer towards the macabre won’t have been disappointed."
-Claudia Connell, Daily Mail
"it's a consistently intriguing thriller, its appeal ensured by the bone-chilling glories of the scenery."
-Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ
"Cardinal is engrossing and deliberately paced, and as a native Canadian and now Wisconsinite, I've seldom seen the impenetrable white of a Canadian winter portrayed on screen as well as it is here."
-Rob Thomas, The Capital Times
Stream the first two seasons of Cardinal now at SBS On Demand: