This refers, in general terms, to the broad notion of launching a TV series--which is never less than a long-odds gamble and more often than not ends in cancellation-fuelled failure--and, more specifically, to the premiere of Cashing In, a made-in-Manitoba comedy/drama that seeks to captivate viewers with the humour and heat generated in a fictional native-run casino resort.
Sadly, Cashing In--a six-part series that premieres tonight at 9:30 on APTN and tomorrow at 10 p.m. on Showcase--comes up snake eyes, despite honourable intentions and an admirable attempt at injecting big-budget production values into a modest, made-for-cable production.
The concept behind the series is both timely and relatable--an exploration of the power struggles, romantic entanglements and small-town quirks at a First Nations casino development whose owners are eager to expand it into North America's biggest native-run gambling destination.
But the narrative foundation on which it's built seems a bit shaky. Rather than being content with examining the people and events at the fictional North Beach Casino on the equally whimsical Stonewalker First Nation, Cashing In's producers feel the need to overlay the out-of-the-way storyline with a Toronto-based mega-casino corporation that runs North Beach from afar and sends big-city operators to rural Manitoba to run the betting-parlour show.
That decision--one that seems at odds with the local-focused manner in which real-world First Nations casinos are run--does make it easier to create the fish-out-of-water scenario that drives Cashing In's drama, but it also diminishes the small-town charm of the setup and leaves one wondering if the show's writer's took the quickest and easiest way in.