TV Review | The Foundation 1.1: “The Face of Hope”

Warning: spoilers.

Showcase’s reboot has its good and bad points.  While Showcase has gained positive publicity with the announcement of the Pure Pwnage television show, it also has a bad habit of stockpiling shows.  The Foundation (Showcase: premieres September 13, 10:40 PM ET/PT and September 16, 9:00 PM ET/PT) is one such show, originally set to debut last season.

The Foundation has a strong pedigree.  Co-creator/executive producer/director/writer Michael Dowse is responsible for FUBAR and It’s All Gone Pete Tong.  Mike Wilmot, a constant in Dowse’s films, is a decent standup comic.  The premise – not-for-profit charity run by dumbass failed real estate developer – should birth the mirth.

The Foundation is the first Canadian show I’ve seen in a while that does exactly what it says on the tin – nothing more, nothing less.  It’s a black comedy with an unsympathetic antagonist in Michael Valmont-Selkirk (Wilmot), a man who likes to profit from charitable works.

Valmont-Selkirk is a dunce about ideas more complex than enriching himself, which is where Chief Financial Officer Barry Anderson (Martin Sims) comes in.  Executive Vice President Cynthia Dollard (Rebecca Northan) is the token competent at the Selkirk Foundation, initially in the dark about the charity’s true motives.

Sylvie Boucher stands out as Marnie Mathers, The R.J. Selkirk Foundation’s well-meaning chief spokeswoman.  She is revealed in the first episode to have multiple sclerosis, of which she is in the early stages.  It’s hard to escape the fact that The Foundation uses Boucher’s character for laughs, but the show isn’t making fun of MS.  Mathers is merely a pawn in Valmont-Selkirk’s game.

The Foundation‘s first episode revolves around a girl named Chara (Juliette Gosselin), the dying cripple of the moment.  She suffers from necrotizing glomerulonephritis, although Valmont-Selkirk and company dumb this down to “super bad kidneys.”  Chara wants to meet Apollo (Paul J. Spence), a “rock opera” star.  His rock opera looks like The Phantom of the Opera, if it had robots and sexy girls.

By the end of the episode, Apollo has become The R.J. Selkirk Foundation’s new spokesman, a way to get Mathers to switch jobs and make the Selkirk Foundation more salable.  I admit I’m spoiling parts of “The Face of Hope,” but Apollo’s a recurring character, so what can you do.

CBC.ca oversells The Foundation as “the funniest thing to hit Canadian TV since we met Ricky, Julian and Bubbles.”  It isn’t.  If Hotbox has taught me anything, other than how liking a show people hate fucks with my credibility, it’s that the oversell doesn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong, The Foundation is a worthy show.  Compared to recent Showcase offerings, it’s great.  Improving on Cashing In, the third season of Paradise Falls (gah) and G-Spot is not much of an accomplishment, but there’s no reason for Showcase to promote The Foundation as weakly as it has so far.  Who schedules a season of five episodes, anyway?

The Foundation has its weak spots – Apollo isn’t much of a character, and the show can stand to be more outrageous than it already is.  All the same, I’m interested to see how the show’s next four episodes play out.  I’ve a feeling The Foundation is not long for this world.  Prove me wrong, Showcase!

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer