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Family dysfunction meets medical mayhem in new Canadian TV drama 'Remedy'

Sarah Allen (left) and Sara Canning are photographed in a Toronto hotel room on Tuesday February 18 , 2014, as they promote the new television series 'Remedy' which will be shown on the Global network. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – Family dysfunction collides with medical mayhem in Global’s new series “Remedy,” a Toronto-set hospital drama that star Enrico Colantoni says puts a new spin on the well-worn genre.

The former “Flashpoint” lead plays a hospital boss and loving patriarch in his role as acting chief of staff Dr. Allen Conner, who oversees a white-coat crew including youngest daughter/surgeon Dr. Melissa Conner, eldest daughter/intensive care unit nurse Sandy Conner and her doctor fiance Brian Decker, and prodigal son/hospital porter Griffin Conner.

“That’s what makes this show unique and fresh and different than other medical dramas,” Colantoni said in a recent interview alongside co-star Dillon Casey, who plays the floundering Griffin.

“There’s a dysfunction and the dynamic of that family inside this world that I don’t think I’ve ever seen on TV. You watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and they always refer to themselves as, ‘we’re family,’ but this is actually family — with all the ugliness of family. It’s not all pretty.”

Those conflicting duties play out in a myriad of ways, he continues, pointing to one early storyline in which Sandy, played by “Murdoch Mysteries” actress Sarah Allen, willingly defies hospital policy.

“But she’s got her dad who’s going to either hold her accountable or not,” notes Colantoni, also known for playing dad/private investigator Keith Mars on “Veronica Mars.”

“If it was just another medical drama, the chief of staff would hold her accountable or maybe they’d have a love relationship or something that would complicate it. But we’re dealing with my daughters messing up — not just any nurse. My son is coming back, my other daughter is messing up, these are things that you get in a family drama that you don’t otherwise get in a medical drama.”

That’s not to say there isn’t the standard trauma-of-the-week.

Allen says those juicy tales abound, but the patient stories tend to serve a larger theme by mirroring the emotional or psychological turmoil going on within the family.

“And so often the patient will end up being the one who cures the doctor or the nurse or the orderly or whoever,” Allen says in a separate interview alongside “Vampire Diaries” actress Sara Canning, who plays Melissa.

“We affect each other — everyone who enters the hospital affects one another.”

As a general surgeon, Canning’s character Melissa gets some of the bloodiest scenes with the actress joking that she’s “sticking (her) hands in prosthetic livers all the time.”

“Now I’m kind of obsessed with organs, I think, in a strange way. In a healthy, TV way,” chuckles Canning, adding she’d be interested in witnessing a real surgery one day.

“I watched a lot of YouTube surgeries. The first couple … I was like, ‘I can’t eat while I watch these.’ And now it’s just like a second-nature thing.”

Pains were taken to present treatments accurately — Canning says shooting involved “surgical rehearsals” and carefully choreographed movements to realistically mimic what a real surgeon would reach for and do when presented with a patient.

But the scripts are not slaves to detail, adds Allen, whose mother and aunts were nurses and whose friend is an ICU nurse like Sandy.

“You have to be fluid in your storytelling to make it a good story.”

Casey, who was on the verge of moving into a new place in Los Angeles when he was lured north by “Remedy,” says he could easily relate to growing up in a competitive family.

The Oakville, Ont.-bred “Nikita” star says his dad was a urologist. As a result, Casey grew up familiar with a particular type of medical lingo.

“I heard the word catheter a lot, I’m not even joking,” Casey says as Colantoni cracks up beside him.

“I knew what a catheter was, I knew what a radical prostatectomy was…” he adds as his TV dad groans upon mention of the intimate procedure.

Colantoni says the nitty gritty of doctor duties doesn’t really interest him, noting he didn’t bother spending much time in hospitals to observe professionals at work.

It’s the show’s writing and the characters that will sell the series, he says, and that’s what he focused on.

“The things that motivate people — those things I was interested in.”

“Remedy” debuts Monday on Global.