Saturday, January 19, 2013

I get booked by Beachcombers' Jackson Davies

For speaking with me in Vancouver, Jackson Davies was
awarded a brand new Lincoln Escapade
VANCOUVER--Had an arresting conversation Friday with Jackson Davies, a.k.a. The Beachcombers' Constable Constable.
Jackson is promoting The Beachcombers at 40: Bruno and the Beach (Harbour Publishing, where else?). The book is written by series creator Marc Strange and Davies, who played Constable Constable from 1973--a year after the series debut--until it ended in 1990. He helped breathe new life into The Beachcombers in a couple of TV-movie spin-offs, including a 2004 effort featuring Dave Thomas.
The folks at Degrassi recently claimed they had surpassed all others as the Canadian TV drama with the most episodes. True if you add them all up, concedes Davies, but there have been a few generations of the Degrassi franchise and there was a ten year gap before the current version took off. Beachcombers' 387  episodes ran in consecutive seasons.
Think about that, Canadian TV producers: 387 episodes. There are only a handful of American TV dramas that have run longer.
There are plenty of great stories in the book, including one I heard first-hand several years ago from Conan O'Brien. I've spilled this here before but it is worth repeating.
Before he became a late night TV host, the red-haired comedian and his Harvard writing pal Greg Daniels (The Office) decided to take a road trip to Vancouver. Turning on the TV in the hotel, they became mesmerized by this strange series about a B.C. logger. Inn particular, they were fascinated by the performance of Pat John, who played Jesse Jim, partner of Nick Adonidas (Bruno Gerussi). The two young Americans decided to look up the actor. Using the phone book, they found his address and dropped in on him at home, posing as TV producers. It was a pretty awkward meeting.
Both O'Brien and Daniels have told me this story, with Daniels going so far to tell me his agent keeps urging him to turn it into a movie.
For the book, Davies tracked down John and asked him if he remembered these two tall dudes paying a visit. John told him a lot of guys were doing that back in the day.
No he wasn't.
Davies also has memories of Bones' showrunner Hart Hanson, who got his start in the TV business writing episodes of The Beachcomber in its last season or two. Hanson wrote an episode where he had a character call the constable "Bum Chin," a reference to Davies' Kirk Douglas-like chin dimple. Davies objected to the line in the script, asking Hanson to remove it, but everybody else liked the line and it stayed. Sure enough, Davies had to put up for years with "Hey, Bum Chin!" shout outs from fans--even though there was only ever that one reference in the entire series.
Davies has so many stories he could write another book. Among his claims to fame: he was also in what many regard as the worst movie of all time, Tom Green's horrendous 2001 epic Freddy Got Fingered.
He is still playing hockey with the Canucks alumni and his hockey stories as as good as the ones about the TV series. He's also passionate about preserving Canada's TV heritage, and bemoans the fact that only about the last 60 or so episodes of The Beachcombers are currently in syndication, airing on APTN. Let's see the other 300, he says.
He says the CBC archives in Vancouver did a pretty good job of preserving the original show material and that a reel or two of outtakes even exists. I'm hoping Davies will help me pry some of that loose for an uncoming "TV on Film Project" screening; details on that to follow.
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