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Wild Roses serves up wealth, passion and a dash of ’80s cheese

It's easy to draw parallels between the new CBC-TV drama Wild Roses and those '80s nighttime soaps Dallas and Dynasty, admits star and veteran performer Gary Hudson.

It's easy to draw parallels between the new CBC-TV drama 'Wild Roses" and those '80s nighttime soaps "Dallas" and Dynasty," admits star and veteran performer Gary Hudson.

It treads similar ground - the exploits of outrageously rich families and their no-holds-barred clamour for wealth, power and love. And Hudson should know, since he was there when those iconic serials were common on the dial.

"I did those shows - I did 'Dynasty' for a season, and I did guest on 'Dallas' so it is like that," says Hudson, who played football player Skip Maitland on "Dynasty" in 1987.

"But the difference is that those shows, we always shot on sound stages, we were on sound stages and they did exteriors. Our show, we're on location, we're in Calgary, which is incredibly beautiful. Dallas is a great city but Calgary just has its own unique beauty and the hills and the mountains and the lakes and the weather and the sky is so big."

The distinctly Albertan production features sweeping vistas of Calgary's booming downtown and countryside, with a good dose of ego clashes and sex thrown in, too, of course.

The series centres on the Henry family and their struggle to keep their beloved ranch, River Cross, out of the greedy hands of an oil exploration company run by Hudson's character, David McGregor.

Complicating matters are the romantic ties that link the Henry women to the McGregor sons, and the contentious circumstances under which the Henrys obtained the ranch in the first place.

It's a fairly physical show for Michelle Harrison, who portrays the eldest daughter Kate Henry, a headstrong tomboy who runs River Cross after the death of her father, the beloved ranch hand who inherited the property from McGregor's father.

None of the actors knew much about horses much when they shot the pilot last summer, Harrison admits, but that changed quickly as they underwent intensive saddle sessions.

"When we first shot that pilot we didn't really ride much and we learned," says Harrison, whose character is seen riding bareback and barrel racing at a rodeo.

"We learned fast. And we worked really hard because we wanted to look authentic, like we'd grown up on a ranch, so I think at this point it's pretty believable. I feel very comfortable on a horse. We actually miss our horses when we're not there with them," says Harrison, who hails from the town of Puyallup, Wash., just south of Seattle.

Much of the drama within the Henry family comes by way of prodigal daughter Lucy Henry, the wannabe rock'n' roll star who returns to the homestead after chasing fame in Calgary. She represents the slick, urban side of Alberta that is little seen in the rest of Canada, says actress Sarah Power, who is from St. John's, N.L., and jokes that half of Newfoundland has moved to the western province.

Although her character provides a good dose of the pilot episode's sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, Power says the raunchy series never strays beyond the believable.

"It never feels over the top," she says of the storylines. "It's always based in realism and the writing is realistic. It's just that crazy things happen. But crazy things happen in life."

"Wild Roses" debuts on CBC-TV on Tuesday.

 
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