BRAMPTON, Ont. — TV shows come and TV shows go, but they rarely come and go as often as Paradise Falls.
The weekly prime-time soap, about the shady and steamy goings-on at an Ontario tourist town, returns for a third season Sept. 2 on the specialty network Showcase.
What is unusual is that the new season and the previous two have been spread out over eight years, with the show originally premiering in the spring of 2001.
Even more bizarre is that the latest batch of 26 episodes wrapped production almost two years ago.
“They may as well call it Phoenix Rising,” said Art Hindle, who plays Pete Braga, the slick and slippery mayor of Paradise Falls.
“It’s like the woman you never stop thinking about,” he added.
“She scorns you and you don’t hear from her, you think that’s it. And then you’re on again and trapped right back into it.”
Hindle, a veteran Canadian actor whose credits range from the ’70s hockey drama Face Off to a stint on Dallas and a starring role on the ’90s drama E.N.G., has been with Paradise Falls from the beginning.
Others back for the third season include Chantal Quesnel, Dixie Seatle, Victoria Snow and Cameron Graham.
Many other Canadian actors and actresses — veterans and up-and-comers — have spent time on the series, including Kate Trotter, Debra McGrath and Carla Collins.
“We’ve managed to get practically all the cast members back,” said Hindle.
Paradise Falls was originally developed as a series for CBC, but when the racy content scared off some advertisers, it landed at Showcase. The initial 52 episodes were cranked out in just four months — despite only 10 scripts having been written.
Described as a cross between Melrose Place and Twin Peaks — although shot for a fraction of the budget of those two U.S. network shows — the series is notorious for pushing the boundaries of sexual content.
But Hindle suggests it isn’t as “out there” as it was in 2001.
“It fits right in with what’s happening in television today” on shows like True Blood or Dexter, he said.
The difference, he added, is that his show “doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
And it can’t afford to. The series was shot in Muskoka and Toronto in off-season, early fall, which was a chilly time for the actors to be pretending it’s the height of summer.
Hindle recalls one picnic scene, filmed in late November, that had to be shot from a ladder shooting straight down onto the one patch of green grass not covered by snow.
The cast was shivering in T-shirts, shorts and summer bikini gear (and, in some cases, nothing), while the crew stood by in parkas. Actors had ice cubes in their mouths to try and stop their breath from showing.
Still, there is plenty of heat onscreen in Paradise Falls, and the racy gay and lesbian storylines in particular have earned the series a small but devoted following in the U.S., where it airs on cable on the here! network.
Gay weddings, porno shoots and Pride Day celebrations are all part of the mix. One character, marina owner Bea Sutton (Seatle), is a transsexual and both the ex-fiancee of Hindle’s character Braga and the ex-husband of another character.
Hindle hopes there will be a fourth season and that it won’t take another four years to produce it.
“Everybody is looking for the odd, weird show,” he said, “and we’re the oddest, weirdest show out there.”