This weekend has seen a coming together of the fans of Endgame, a TV series produced by Vancouver’s Thunderbird Films for Showcase, a Shaw Media television station. This ragtag group of people, who hail from all over the globe have been chatting up their love for the show and its actors on Twitter, FaceBook, through hangouts on Google+ and on IRC, hoping beyond hope that there will be at least a Season Two for the show – especially now that the show has been nominated in five categories by the Gemini Awards, including one for the interactive episode that puts you behind the eight ball with a challenge to solve the crime.
The fans of the TV show banded together when it was learned that Showcase had cancelled the quirky crime drama after its inaugural season. Prior to the nomination announcements, Showcase had removed Endgame from its show list, but it was hastily re-added to the site shortly after the Gemini Awards press conference.
For those not familiar with the show, Endgame is set and filmed in Vancouver, with the Westin Bayshore taking on the central role as The Huxley, a hotel in which Russian chess master Arkady Balagan (Shawn Doyle) has unwittingly become imprisoned. At the start of the season, and in small clues doled out as the weekly drama unfolded, viewers would learn that Arkady’s beloved fiancee Rosemary (Lisa Ray) had been the victim of a violent and lethal attack in front of the hotel. Witness to the attack and her death, Arkady has become an agoraphobic unable to walk out the front door of The Huxley.
As a chess master, Arkady has become adept at solving very difficult puzzles with his mind, and it is through this talent that he is able to remain the sole tenant in one of The Huxley’s penthouse suites – much to the chagrin of hotel security chief Hugo (Patrick Gallagher) and hotel manager Barbara Stillwell (Veena Sood), who would much rather see the self-absorbed and world-renowned barefoot genius vacate the hotel. Arkady works his way through each episode’s puzzle – everything from a kidnapped boy to saving a polar bear from ending up as bear steaks – with logic and visualization. With his inability to leave the hotel, Arkady depends on hotel staff members to assist him in finding the missing pieces to bring each case to the right conclusion.
Arkady’s right hand man is college student Sam (Torrance Coombs), who is studying to become a game designer. As a fan of the chess great, Sam willingly runs errands and gathers information in exchange for chess matches with Arkady. Also aiding Arkady are bartender Danni (Katharine Isabelle) and chamber maid Alcina (Carmen Aguirre). Added to the mix are security assistant Gurjit (Gary Gill), and Rosemary’s sister Pippa (Melanie Papalia).
As the season unfolds, viewers are brought deeper into the lives of each of these central characters, catching glimpses of their pasts and personal mysteries. The central plot to the show is of course who killed Rosemary, and web journalist Pippa is determined to solve the crime, often butting heads with the grieving Arkady, who alternates between wanting to solve the one puzzle whose solution eludes him and wanting to let go. Pippa continues to overturn rocks, often disturbing what lies beneath, and the first season ended with a cliffhanger that saw a staff member dead and Arkady bound with duct tape, driven around the city, threatened, before being dumped on The Huxley’s front drive.
Fans of the show, ourselves included, were extremely disappointed by Showcase’s decision to drop the show, and began a public-awareness campaign to reach Endgame fans around the world, calling them to action in a last-ditch effort to save the show. A web site was launched, followed by a petition, which led to the Facebook page and a growing community of viewers who did not want to see Endgame fade to black forever. The petition currently has 6137 signatures, with more added every day. Next came an auction of Endgame memorabilia, which is open for bids until September 21st, 2011. The community members held a vote, and decided that proceeds raised through the auction would be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association in honour of Arkady Balagan and to draw attention to the very real conditon of agoraphobia.
What is perhaps most surprising is the number of international fans Endgame has won over – considering the show has only aired on Showcase Canada. Finding the show through various online channels, these people have come together to fight to keep Endgame in production. Over the course of this weekend, the fans have gotten to know each other on a more personal basis, talking together on irc – where they have been treated to conversations with some of the show’s stars – Shawn Doyle, Torrance Coombs, Patrick Gallagher, Melanie Papalia and Gary Gill have all been present throughout yesterday and today, discussing Endgame’s plots as well as their careers – and expressing their thanks for the effort to get Endgame on the air with a new season. As I was writing this, efforts were being made to get Veena and Carmen to pop by for a visit as well.
They have all been real troopers, answering many, many questions (when they could) about life behind-the-scenes at The Huxley, what they’re working on now, as well as general chat. The actors have shown another reason why they, and Endgame, are fan favourites – their chemistry and camaraderie both on and off the set, their approachability, excellent humour and all-around human-ness. Also stopping in for a brief chat was Alyssa Campanella – the reigning Miss America, Canucks fan and significant other of Torrance Coombs. She came in for a visit while awaiting her flight to the Miss Universe Pageant taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The chat room has also seen a few Vancouver actors stopping by to express their support for Endgame.
Since the Gemini nominations, Endgame has been getting more and more attention, being listed as the Number 1 show to watch by the Globe and Mail in its daily “5 Shows to Watch Tonight” feature on August 9th, and several publications, including The Vancouver Sun, have taken note of the efforts to keep Endgame going. It is the group’s firm belief that with proper promotion and an appropriate time slot, possibly on another network such as Global, Endgame and its story will flourish, and it is this belief that fuels the support of the show’s global fan force.
This weekend has proven the power of social media in bringing together a group of strangers from around the world, uniting them in a common cause to save not only a high-quality television show, but in putting their passion towards helping the well-being of those inflicted with mental health challenges.
Are you listening, Showcase? We’d like our show back. Thank you.