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'X Company' is World War II From the Canadian Viewpoint
February 19, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments

One of the most fascinating subtexts of Ovation’s entertaining World War II resistance drama X Company lies in the fact it’s not seen through American eyes.

X Company, whose first eight-episode season premieres at 10 p.m. ET Monday, follows a resistance squad that operates in occupied France and is directed from Lake Ontario, Canada.

It’s based on Camp X, a real-life World War II Canadian operation.

Hugh Dillon (top) plays Duncan Sinclair, the operation’s director, while Warren Brown plays Neil Mackay, the leader of the resistance cell.

Jack Laskey (right) plays Alfred Graves, a wild card who is sort of like the Good Doctor of the group.

He has serious psychological issues that caused him to quickly flunk out of military training. That includes a physical aversion to noise, which of course is hard to avoid in combat theaters.

He also has a brilliantly retentive mind. He’s like a human encyclopedia of climate and geological data, among other things, enabling him to project where, when and how operations could or should be carried out.

The rest of the core squad includes Aurora Luft (Evelyne Brochu), Harry James (Connor Price) and Tom Cummings (Dustin Milligan). Their common thread is that none had any training for or inclination toward the sort of ultra-dangerous work they are now doing.

Like most of the ground soldiers of World War II, they were ordinary people doing ordinary things in businesses and universities when the war changed everything.

Suddenly they found themselves having to save the world in a situation where they had barely a 50-50 chance of saving themselves.  

U.S. productions about covert operations in World War II tend to have, subliminally in some cases, an unspoken assurance that it was just a matter of time before the Allies beat back the Axis.

There is pointedly no such sense here. When Sinclair is recruiting Alfred, he admits that as brave as his resistance units are, as clever as they are learning to become, they are losing the war.

The first episode focuses on German occupation of a small French town. While life for civilians appears to be more or less normal, it soon becomes clear that no one is safe. The occupiers have no moral reservations about killing anyone for any reason – young or old, civilian or soldier.

We do have the token ambivalent German soldier, the one who wants to become a doctor and has a family of his own back in Germany. He quickly falls into disfavor with his superiors, who view traditional moral considerations as signs of weakness.

The occupying Germans in general are portrayed as arrogant evil, largely for purposes of illustrating what the outmanned and outgunned resistance fighters are facing.

It’s a role American audiences are used to seeing American actors play. This portrayal is just a shade different. Sinclair remarks at one point that the Americans just got into the war and do not yet have either adequate physical resources or a ground-level understanding of the situation, whereas the Canadians have been in it with the British for several years.

Whatever the nationalities, X Company tells its story well. True, the bad guys sometimes don’t seem to shoot straight, but the good guys rarely find their plans unfolding smoothly, either.

In some cases, victory is survival, and survival is set against the backdrop of a larger war in which most of Europe remains under the heel of the German jackboot.

X Company has completed its three-season run in Canada. It’s worth a look down here.

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David Edwards
I will check this out via other nefarious means
Really Dude, bad form referencing the Alfred Graves character with another a rather obtuse reference to another show.
Feb 20, 2018   |  Reply
Mark Isenberg
Because it is on awful Ovation,few will watch it but I will take a look despite the fact Ovation is a pretend arts network for many years.
Feb 19, 2018   |  Reply
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