[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
It was just a short three months ago when we brought y’all news that this series was in production in Vancouver, and kudos to UP TV for getting it on the air so fast. Ties That Bind (they dropped the preceding The) premieres Wednesday at 9/8c and is the network’s first scripted drama.UP made the premiere available to the press, and I’m happy to tell you that it’s a solid hour that deftly mixes a procedural with a family drama–and both sides are family-friendly.
The hook for me with this show is twofold–Jonathan Scarfe, who I have already written about, most recently for his arc as Sidney Snow on Hell on Wheels (which just netted him a Leo Award in June), and the Vancouver setting. Either way, I’m in.
Here’s what to expect: Allison McLean (Kelli Williams) is a tough and experienced police detective in suburban Seattle, partnered with Devin (Defiance’s Dion Johnstone). Her hands are full, balancing a demanding and dangerous job and a family–husband Matt (Scarfe), and teenagers Jeff (When Calls the Heart’s Mitchell Kummen) and Rachel (The Firm’s Natasha Calis), when her world drastically changes after her brother, Tim (Luke Perry), is convicted and sent to prison.
His two teenagers, Cameron (Good Witch’s Rhys Matthew Bond) and Mariah (Strange Empire’s Matreya Scarrwener), teeter on the brink of foster care. Allison feels compelled to do the right thing as a sister and aunt, but it won’t be easy. The series will focus on Allison and Devin as they investigate local crimes, and follow Allison’s family as they figure out the joys and struggles of their new environment at home.
The strong pilot sets up the dynamic of a fractured family dealing with the fallout of one member heading off to prison and leaving behind his two teenage children. In the initial hour, we spend more time on the adults in the scenario, which works for me (see above) but I have a feeling we’ll see more of the kids as the story progresses–think ABC Family’s current lineup. It’s super refreshing to have a procedural where nobody swears, and guns are drawn but we never see one fired.
It’s great to see Kelli Martin back on TV. She and Johnstone are fun as partners, and she and Scarfe have a nice energy together as spouses and parents. The kids are a good fit, too. I’ll be watching to see where the season goes.
The series got the Television Critics Association Press Tour treatment last week in Los Angeles, and here’s what series star Kelli Williams and series creator and executive producer Sheryl J. Anderson (Charmed) had to say.
Williams, on the balance of work and family for her character:
“[There’s] a true balance in the show, the hybrid quality of the show where it follows my work life. But then the thing I love about it is then you’re finally going home, and that transition that we all have. We’re working parents and trying to balance the two and do them both well. And some days you do them well, and some days you don’t. And I think that’s one of the things I love about the show…how it affects our marriage [and] the kids. It’s not always easy. It’s a lot of the fun.”
Anderson, on the network’s mandate for the show, how the idea for this story came about, and what she wants for Perry’s character:
“I had been talking to Barbara [Fisher, SVP of Original Programming, UP Network] about what the network was looking for and the mandate was simply real people making real choices and real mistakes and paying real consequences. And this came about at a time of loss for my family. I had already lost my dad. My mom passed away, and I realized what an incredible blessing it was that I have the best brother in the entire world. And I began to think about what life would be like if I didn’t have the best brother in the entire world. And that…gave birth to the relationship between Allison and [Tim] because [I wondered if there was] anything my brother could do that I wouldn’t forgive him for. And then everything grew from that.
I’m hoping [the series] will be on the air long enough to see [Tim’s] entire journey. In this first season, it’s his absence that they’re grappling with more than anything else. [Matt] and Allison are confronted with helping their niece and nephew process the reality of Tim’s situation, but also making sure that they feel loved and accepted. And there’s a tremendous amount of resistance from the kids, as you can imagine…they start in an incredibly raw and angry place, and Tim is not very happy either. So when we see him throughout the season, the thaw is still a ways away.
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