12 Months to the Day
The Little Things
The Dividing Line
Dad Knows Best
Northern Rescue is a melodramatic familial drama that tries to nail the tone of more serious offerings like This Is Us but comes off much closer to unrealistic soap operas like Station 19. It’s a shame too as there’s some nice ideas here and the modern parenting slant is certainly a welcome inclusion. Unfortunately, with so many other choices in this saturated genre Northern Rescue just doesn’t do enough to stand out.
After an expository laden opening introduction from older daughter Maddie, we’re introduced fully to the West family. This seemingly perfect family unit is turned upside down when mum Sarah dies, leaving John alone to raise their three kids, Scout, Maddie and Taylor. The end of the first episode sees the family pack up and move to a small town and it’s here where the bulk of the story takes place.
As the kids struggle to adapt to their new lives away from Boston, dark secrets from the past threaten to come out while each of the children deal with their own problems. Scout tries to adjust to life without his girlfriend whilst struggling to stay out of trouble, Maddie grapples with her anger issues and the aforementioned secret she holds while Taylor feels the pressure of being at a new school.
While these individual subplots play out, Search and Rescue commander John deals with his own concerns with raising his three kids while taking part in a different operation every episode. All of this builds toward several dramatic interludes to keep things interesting including the penultimate episode which is full of emotional moments.
In all honesty, the story itself is serviceable and at times enjoyable, especially late on when things get really dramatic. Unfortunately, the acting and general tone of the series constantly let this one down from being a better title. Northern Rescue can’t quite decide what sort of story it wants to tell, pulling between the three subplots for the main children whilst keeping the focus predominantly on struggling dad John.
Northern Rescue could and perhaps should be Netflix’s big familial drama hit. Unfortunately, while it tries to reach the lofty heights of shows like This Is Us and Modern Family, it falls much closer to a cliche-riddled cable series. There’s a whole wad of expository dialogue every time a new character is introduced and the melodramatic bursts of stock music are certainly quite distracting too. It’s such a shame as well as some of the themes explored, especially the complicated relationships between the kids and their father, are really nicely implemented but are drowned out by unnecessary tonal choices.
Northern Rescue certainly isn’t a bad show. Nor is it a particularly good one either. It’s a middling, average family drama with some nice ideas and a whole lot more mediocrity. It’s quite predictable at times and between this melodrama, questionable acting and cable-TV feel, Northern Rescue unfortunately can’t rescue itself from its own problems.