Cancelled Too Soon – ENDGAME
Endgame is a 2011 procedural drama starring Shawn Doyle which tragically lasted for only one season, first premiering on Showcase in Canada. The series also featured Patrick Gallagher, Katharine Isabelle and Torrance Coombs.
Here is a breakdown of the show direct from its creator Avrum Jacobson:
Endgame is an original drama series centering on brilliant chess master, Arkady Balagan. Traumatized by the murder of his fiancée, Balagan has become a prisoner in his luxury Vancouver hotel, terrified to step outside. To pay his bill, Balagan starts solving mysteries – using an unlikely band of hotel employees and chess fanatics to do his legwork.
Arrogant, brilliant and charismatic, the Russian-born Balagan uses the skills that made him chess champion of the world to solve the crimes that mystify others. He imagines events, interviews the living and the dead, and runs conflicting scenarios – all in his head. And we get to watch right along with him as he solves crimes that baffle the police. In Endgame, we see genius at work.
When I started watching this show I was paying a lot less to attention to TV as an industry than I do now as someone who covers TV/Film news and events even so it was interesting to have a show firmly set in Vancouver. I knew that yes some of the shows I watched from American networks were set in Canada but as someone outside of that it didn’t mean that much to me. When you get to see actual references made to Canadian cities though within a show it makes a difference.
Back to the show itself though it was a novel take on a procedural featuring a lead who was neither law enforcement nor a private detective. The twist of our lead being unable to leave the hotel due to the trauma of losing his wife is definitely something I have not heard of before. I wonder if in an alternate universe where this show went to four or five seasons if it would continue to work thought. Another change from most procedurals with a single lead is that this is a widower with no obvious love interest or even any hint of it throughout the season which made sense given that Arkady is a widower.
The team around Arkady is also worth mentioning with Toorance Combs character being his eyes and ears when the investigations move outside of the hotel. Katharine Isabelle as Danni is great and reminded me of her starring role in Ginger Snaps which is a horror worth checking.
Also thinking back there was a parade of guest stars that I recognised but could not always place, I think the one that springs to mind without heading over to the IMDB page would be Agam Darshi who showed up during a mystery around an Indian wedding.
I can’t discuss this show without paying special attention to the casting of Shawn Doyle as lead. I don’t think I had seen him in many roles before but this. The show, despite only lasting for 13 episodes, left an strong impression of him with me. I particularly remember his turn on the first season of The Expanse. I feel a bit like his casting was against type as a central protagonist in terms of what I’m used to. When we see what Arkady has to do when he wasn’t making amazing deductions it makes so much sense.
What I am trying to say is that this was a show that came out of nowhere and did things just a little bit different and made quite an impression on me as I am sure it did with a lot of others even if it wasn’t enough to earn a renewal.
You can catch Endgame in the UK and US on Prime Video.