Cardinal (TV series)

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Created byAubrey Nealon
Written by
  • Aubrey Nealon
  • Russ Cochrane
  • Sarah Dodd
  • Jennica Harper
  • Alison Lea Bingeman
Directed by
Composer(s)Todor Kobakov
Country of originCanada
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes18 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Jennifer Kawaja
  • Julia Sereny
  • Daniel Grou
  • Jocelyn Hamilton
  • Armand Leo
  • Aubrey Nealon
  • Sarah Dodd
  • Patrick Tarr
Producer(s)Jessica Daniel
Production location(s)Sudbury and North Bay, Ontario
  • Dylan Macleod
  • Steve Cosens
Editor(s)Teresa De Luca
Running time40 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original release25 January 2017 (2017-01-25) – present

Cardinal is a Canadian crime drama television series, which was first broadcast on January 25, 2017, on CTV (in English) and Super Écran (in French).[1][2][3] The series adapts the novels of crime writer Giles Blunt, focusing on police detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and his partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who investigate crimes in the fictional city of Algonquin Bay.[3]

Across six episodes, the first series adapts the novel Forty Words for Sorrow,[4] which focuses on the investigation of the murder of a young girl.[1] On February 28, 2017, CTV renewed Cardinal for a second and third series, each containing six episodes.[5] The second series adapts Blunt's third Cardinal novel, Blackfly Season, while the third is slated to adapt the novels By the Time You Read This and Crime Machine, the fourth and fifth novels in the series.[5] Episodes from the second series premiered a day in advance of their television broadcast on on-demand service Crave TV.[6]

Filming on the third series completed in July 2018,[7] and shortly after, CTV announced that the programme had been renewed for a fourth series. Internationally, the series is broadcast on BBC Four in the United Kingdom, C More in Scandinavia, Calle 13 in Spain, Hulu in the United States, SBS in Australia and Germany, and Channel 11 in Israel.[8][9][10][11]


The first series was directed by Daniel Grou, and produced by Sienna Films and eOne Entertainment.[4] It commenced production in Sudbury, Ontario in February 2016, with some additional location filming taking place in North Bay, Nipissing First Nation and Atikameksheng Anishnawbek.[3] The first series was given a production budget of $1,800,000 per episode.[12] Locations included the former studios of CBC Northern Ontario and the North Bay Public Library, which served as the Algonquin Bay police station.[13]

The second series was directed by Jeff Renfroe, and was produced primarily in North Bay.[14] The show's theme music is adapted from the song "Familiar" by Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel. Background music featured in the series is composed by Toronto-based Todor Kobakov. Vanasse, who is Québécoise and had previously had appeared in the American television series Pan Am and Revenge, commented that Cardinal is the first time that she is playing a Québécoise, rather than European, character in an English-language television programme.[15]


John Doyle of The Globe and Mail praised the series, calling it "a gripping, superbly made crime drama" which ultimately lands as "landmark Canadian TV".[16] The series received twelve Canadian Screen Award nominations at the 6th Canadian Screen Awards in 2018. It won six awards, including Best Actor in a Limited Program or Television Film (Campbell),[17] Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Program (Macdonald),[18] Photography in a Drama Series (Steve Cosens), Editing in a Drama Series (Teresa De Luca), Music in a Fiction Program or Series (Todor Kobakov) and Best Casting (Jon Comerford and Lisa Parasyn).


Series 1: Forty Words for Sorrow[edit]

John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) is a troubled and brooding police officer in Algonquin Bay, who was removed from the homicide squad as a result of chief Noelle Dyson's (Kristen Thomson) belief that he had become obsessed with his investigation of a missing Native Canadian girl. When the girl's body finally turns up, he is reassigned to the case with new partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse); what he does not know is that Delorme is being assigned to investigate him, as part of a federal police corruption probe which has identified Cardinal as possibly collaborating with a local drug dealer who has repeatedly managed to elude arrest. However, the investigation soon widens, when a new missing persons case with some similar patterns leads Cardinal to believe that a serial killer may be active in the area.

Series 2: Blackfly Season[edit]

A young woman, suffering from amnesia after having been shot in the head, appears in Algonquin Bay. Soon mutilated bodies, in accordance to some occult religious rituals, are discovered. The bodies are members of a local group of bikers known for trafficking drugs. John Cardinal and the team suspect that someone is trying to replace the gang in the drug trade. Meanwhile the mental health of his wife still worries Cardinal and Musgrave thinks he has finally found the evidence he is looking for against Cardinal.


Main cast[edit]

  • Billy Campbell as Det. John Cardinal
  • Karine Vanasse as Det. Lise Delorme
  • Glen Gould as Det. Jerry Commanda
  • Eric Hicks as Const. Derek K. Fox
  • Kristen Thomson as Det. Sgt. Noelle Dyson
  • Deborah Hay as Catherine Cardinal
  • Alanna Bale as Kelly Cardinal
  • David Richmond-Peck as Sgt. Malcolm Musgrave
  • James Downing as Det. Ian McLeod
  • James Thomas as Det. Hannam (Series 1)
  • Zach Smadu as Det. Ash Kular (Series 2—)

Series 1 (2017)[edit]

Series 2 (2018)[edit]


Series 1: Forty Words for Sorrow (2017)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateCanada viewers
11"Cardinal"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon25 January 2017 (2017-01-25)1.38[19]
The body of a missing young girl is found in winter in a disused mineshaft in Northern Ontario. John Cardinal and Lise Delorme investigate what transpired.
22"Delorme"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon1 February 2017 (2017-02-01)1.30[20]
The Algonquin Bay Police Department attempts to make amends with the community for the botched investigation into Katie Pine's disappearance. Delorme risks exposure of her investigation of Cardinal.
33"Edie and Eric"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon8 February 2017 (2017-02-08)1.04[21]
Concerned that Cardinal is onto her, Delorme digs into the reasons behind her secret investigation.
44"Woody"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon15 February 2017 (2017-02-15)N/A[22]
A criminal breaks into Eric and Edie's basement and finds Keith, their next intended victim; Cardinal takes risks in the investigation.
55"Keith"Daniel GrouRuss Cochrane22 February 2017 (2017-02-22)N/A[23]
A discovery by the police leads Cardinal to Eric.
66"Catherine"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon1 March 2017 (2017-03-01)1.04[24]
Cardinal wonders if he and Delorme are still missing a piece of the puzzle; Delorme concludes her investigation of Cardinal.

Series 2: Blackfly Season (2018)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateCanada viewers
71"Red"Jeff RenfroeSarah Dodd4 January 2018 (2018-01-04)1.08
Shot out in the woods, a young red-headed woman shows up in town, amnesiac, the bullet lodged in her brain.
82"Kevin"Jeff RenfroeJennica Harper11 January 2018 (2018-01-11)1.12
Cardinal and Delorme find a connection between a local biker gang and the shooting of "Red".
93"Terri"Jeff RenfroeAlison Lea Bingeman18 January 2018 (2018-01-18)0.99
John and Lise uncover Red's identity; a shooter looks to finish the job.
104"Toof"Jeff RenfroeJennica Harper25 January 2018 (2018-01-25)N/A
John and Lise work with Terri; Delorme gets a major break in the case.
115"Northwind"Jeff RenfroeAlison Lea Bingeman1 February 2018 (2018-02-01)0.93
John and Lise connect evidence from a new crime to a ritualistic murder and Terri's memories help make a connection to a possible suspect.
126"El Brujo"Jeff RenfroeSarah Dodd8 February 2018 (2018-02-08)N/A
John and Lise race to find Ray before he kills Terri and her brother. A betrayal threatens Cardinal and Delorme's case and their lives.


  1. ^ a b Tony Wong (January 25, 2017). "Cardinal could be The Killing for Canada". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Marie-Josée Roy (January 23, 2017). "Karine Vanasse, détective aguerrie dans "Cardinal"". Le Huffington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "CTV and Super Écran Partner on New Serialized Drama". Broadcaster, February 11, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "eOne, Sienna Gets Greenlight For 'Cardinal' Murder Mystery Drama at Canada's CTV (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter, November 13, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "CTV's Cardinal gets two more seasons". Toronto Star, March 1, 2017.
  6. ^ "January CraveTV Highlights: SHOWTIME®'s new drama series THE CHI from Lena Waithe and Common, new spy thriller COUNTERPART starring J.K. Simmons, and STAR TREK: DISCOVERY returns – Bell Media". Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  7. ^ Stein, Charlotte (2018-07-27). "Cardinal TV series writer from North Bay speaks in Parry Sound". ParrySound. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  8. ^ Roxborough, Scott (February 9, 2017). "Berlin: eOne Sells Hit Canadian Series 'Cardinal' Across Europe". The Hollywood Reporter. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Robert (February 10, 2017). "BBC Four Picks Up Canadian Crime Drama 'Cardinal'". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Vlessing, Etan (May 10, 2017). "Hulu Nabs 'Cardinal' and 'Gap Year' in Multiseries Streaming Deal with eOne". The Hollywood Reporter. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  11. ^ Kreuzer, Gine (October 4, 2017). "Play By Day: Serienstart von Cardinal bei EntertainTV". Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  12. ^ Marc-André Lemieux (January 10, 2017). "La série Cardinal avec Karine Vanasse : un thriller fort efficace". Le Journal de Montréal. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  13. ^ "CBC Sudbury's former office transformed into a police station for TV mini-series". CBC Northern Ontario, January 17, 2017.
  14. ^ "Cameras rolling in North Bay on Cardinal season two". Playback, June 1, 2017.
  15. ^ "Karine Vanasse takes on Canada and the U.S. as a French-Canadian actress". q. January 25, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  16. ^ "John Doyle: New CTV series Cardinal is landmark Canadian TV". The Globe and Mail, January 20, 2017.
  17. ^ "Canadian Screen Awards 2018: Maudie, Anne, Kim's Convenience win top prizes". CBC News, March 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "CTV’s Cardinal cleans up on Night 2 of Canadian Screen Awards". Toronto Star, March 8, 2018.
  19. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  20. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  21. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  22. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  23. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  24. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)

External links[edit]