I watch a lot of movies and probably way too much television, as my wife will attest, but one of favourite TV shows over the past six years has been The Blacklist staring James Spader.
It’s an FBI inspired spy show, but the synopsis is way too detailed to get into here and you can Google the show if you’re really curious.
Besides, while a recent episode of the show that aired on March 29 led to this week’s column, I really don’t plan on spending my allotted space talking about it.
Instead, the real reason I brought up the show in the first place was because during that episode two of the show’s main characters had an extended conversation about a presumed-deceased felon taking refuge in Truro, Nova Scotia, of all places.
While the conversation made it sound like the criminal had taken to hiding at the far edges of the world, I did find it intriguing that Nova Scotia had been worked into the storyline.
This is not the first time that The Blacklist has used Nova Scotia as an exotic getaway location. In a 2016 episode, the show referred to Cape Breton as a good place to hide away and seek refuge if one was trying to lay low. In this recent episode, however, they took the step of staging a scene someplace that doubled as Truro and even went so far as to include a car with the words “Truro Police” emblazoned on the door.
It’s always fun to hear Nova Scotia referenced in popular television shows and movies. It happens more than you think. In fact, in my recent book, The Nova Scotia Book of Lists, I asked Michael Melski, a Halifax-based film director, writer and producer whose works include the award wining, The Child Remains, to give me a list of Nova Scotia references in popular films and television.
From The Simpsons to The West Wing to The Royal Tenenbaums, you’ll find Nova Scotia on the screenwriters’ radar.
Just for fun then, let’s have a look at the list Michael provided.
This is one to stump your friends with, and more relevant than ever with visits from twitter-darling Hilton The Shark who’s made Nova Scotia her summer home in recent years. In the movie, when Ellen Brody is looking through her husband’s shark research texts and arguing with her husband that their son is perfectly safe in his new sailboat tied up to the jetty, she turns a page to see a drawing of a great white biting through the hull of a dory. This portrait is the most famous representation of the ‘Forchu Rammer,’ a great white shark attack on a boat off southern Cape Breton in 1955. Suddenly, Ellen doesn’t think her son is safe in his boat tied at the wharf any more.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
George Mihalka’s slasher classic is my favourite Nova Scotia shot horror film. While ‘the little town with a big heart’ seems to be somewhere in the U.S., those shots of the cliffs and ocean make it unmistakeably Cape Breton.
World War Z (2013)
The survivors of the zombie invasion in this Brad Pitt blockbuster take refuge in the last safe refuge — Nova Scotia. The final shot appears to have them in Peggy’s Cove. … Wait ’til they see what the summer tourist invasion is like.
South Park (2011)
“The little mushroom people of Nova Scotia, screaming in horror ...” Need I say more?
The first stop for Sean William Scott’s dim, yet endearing enforcer is playing for the Halifax Highlanders in Canada’s best homegrown hockey comedy. Extra points for the donair reference.
The Daily Show ‘West Bank Story’ (2014)
“Is the real Jewish Promised Land in Halifax, Nova Scotia?” suggests this hilarious fake news video on the sublime and awesome Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Correspondents John Oliver and Aasif Maandi duke it out with dueling pronunciations of 'Halal-ifax'.
Not a great film, but a fun cheesy line as a jet lands at an airport, subtitled: Halifax, Nova Scotia — “You gotta be kidding me. The U.S. is going to be attacked today and we just arrived at the ass end of Canada!”
How I Met Your Mother (2013)
In which Geddy Lee of Rush declares that his first Tim Hortons donut was a Walnut Crunch eaten in Nova Scotia.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
As major weather events lead to environmental and human disasters around the globe, and as the movie’s heroes struggle to survive, in one of the scenes a newscast is heard: “In Nova Scotia today, the ocean rose by 25 feet. What we have feared the last few days has indeed happened. The cold front moving down from the Arctic has created an enormous storm system, which incredible as it sounds, looks more like a tropical hurricane. If this system moves south, we could see a wind-driven storm surge that could threaten the entire eastern seaboard.”
The Simpsons (2002)
The episode in which Bart tells Lisa during social studies that the way to remember the four original Canadian provinces including Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario and Nova Scotia, is to remember the acronym — “Quiet Nerds Burp Only Near Schools.”
We love making our own movies here in Nova Scotia, but it’s always fun to see references to our beautiful province in mass media, or at least that’s the view from here.
Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books.