Tuesday, January 06, 2009

By Any Other Name

Last night the new dramedy series Being Erica premiered on the CBC, and tonight the one hour drama Wild Roses makes its debut.

Now first just let me say I mean no disrespect with this post. I haven't seen a frame of the series, and in fact know several colleagues who worked on it so wish the show all the success it deserves (though today Doyle takes a few shots in his review)...but as more or less an outsider, like most viewers hopefully tuning in this evening, I got to wondering about the title. Wild Roses. Wild Roses. What does it tell us? What does it connote?

What does it mean?

When I first heard about the series, the working title was "Cowgirls" I believe. Then, when the series got greenlit earlier this year, I read some press that referred to the show as "The Wild Roses". My takeaway from that was an image of a Coyote Ugly-like series set on the ranches and oilfields in and around Calgary, and the name of one of the families portrayed was Rose.

But Rose it's not. It's the Henrys and the McGregors.

From CBC/Official Website:

Two families, the wealthy McGregors and the debt-ridden Henrys, clash over land, love and loyalty in Calgary, Alberta.

Okay...okay...I get that. Sounds like a Canadian Dallas, with perhaps a little Coyote Ugly tossed in for fun. But still...Wild Roses (after dropping the 'The')? What's the connection between that title and the show? So I dug a little deeper.

Here's the opening title sequence, and the trailer:

Sure seems like a "Dallas" for the new millennium...and even looks like there's some "Coyote Ugly" action happening, but then I read this quote in an interview with lead actress Michelle Harrison:

Michelle Harrison got a conspiratorial look on her face when it was suggested Wild Roses is a contemporary Dallas.

"We were told not to say it's a contemporary Dallas," Harrison said with a shy smile. "But it really is, you know? There actually is no better way to describe it."

Told not to say it? Really? How...odd. In fact, most of the current press releases from the network describe the show as 'Shakespearean'...odder still.

Anyway, I'm not here to nitpick...I'm here trying to figure why it's called "Wild Roses".

Not a clue.

Maybe one of the families were called the Roses at some point, and then they changed the family's last name but forgot to change the show title...I really have no idea. But to be perfectly honest, the fact that I can't seem to see or find an obvious connection between title and show kinda bugs me.

Believe it or not, series titles are important. Very important. Whether to entice new viewers, or hold onto the fans, or just to simply, clearly, and succinctly relate what's it all about...the title of a series plays a huge role in defining the show.

Wild Roses. What's your takeaway?


Diane Kristine said...

I have seen it and it's an attempt at a contemporary Dallas (but done badly). Wild Rose is the flower of Alberta, but it's not the best title and tells you nothing... though I think that's the least of its problems. They want people to be misled/in the dark about what the show is. If you read any interviews, they are saying it's Shakespearean, like Deadwood, like Friday Night Lights. I was told it was like an HBO show though there's no way I was printing that. It's very much none of those things. And fine, whatever, it is what it is - Dallas in Calgary - but the SELL IT TO PEOPLE WHO LIKE THAT KIND OF THING. Anyone who tunes in expecting anything grand is going to be far more disappointed than if they were expecting cheesy escapism.

Ahem. Sorry. The publicity on this one has turned into a pet peeve.

Trevor B. Cunningham said...

Diane's right. Alberta is 'Wild Rose' country.

DMc said...

Yup. In fact, it says "Wild Rose Country" on the license plates of Alberta. Or at least it did. But clearly that's not as imprinted a slogan as people think it is.

"Live Free or Die" is the New Hampshire slogan, and it's also very much associated with the Revolutionary War. So when they chose the title, "Live Free or Die Hard" for the fourth Die Hard movie, it was cool. And I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that not a lot of people thought that the movie would be about New Hampshire.

The problems with using slogans like that is the universality. They want young women. Will Young Women get the Wild Roses reference? I don't know, but probably not.

Cowgirls is the name of a very famous bar in Calgary, but it also on first glance might not be the sexiest title.

I think Wild Roses is a little better. But it's a tough call.

And I'll have to write up my take on the WR publicity based on my interview next week. It's a hoot.

wcdixon said...

So hang on a sec. Is what you three...Diane, Trev, Denis...are saying is that because the Wild Rose is the Alberta flower, and the series is set in Alberta, therefore the characters in it are all 'wild roses'? I could maybe make the leap if it was just about a group of women...but its being sold as being about two warring families. Oil vs. Ranching.

I'm still not making the connection, even with the new info (to me) that the wild rose is the provinces flower. Wild Rose Country actually makes more sense to me than "Wild Roses", because it connotes a 'place' (which the series seems more about) whereas Wild Roses connotes 'the people'.

Oh well.

Frank "Dolly" Dillon said...

gee thanks...

because of you I have now bitten my tongue clean off.

Cunningham said...


"They tell us NOT to say it's a contemporary DALLAS..."

Yeah - like it's a bad thing to compare it to a series that ran for 13 seasons, sold globally, and has generated millions of fans and dollars...

Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

To me, "Wild Roses" says - you can't tame them, but they sure are pretty.

Mef said...

way way off topic here:
everytime I read "Live free or Die" I think of Rich Hall's joke/observation in which he imagines what it's like to be in prison printing that slogan on license plates.

Corey said...

Bad shows seem to always have bad titles. Not that I have seen Wild Roses, but lets just go with that assumption. Has a good show ever had a bad title?

Gladly they didn't call MASH, On the Line or Duck Soup. Weeds is about growing weed. The Office is about an office. Magnum PI was about, you guessed it, a guy named Magnum who is a PI. Clear and simple.

At the time, Dallas the word, the city, was synonymous with oil wealth in the States. What was the show about? A wealthy oil family living near Dallas. Hit the mark.

Wild Roses says what? Female biker gang? Rebellious horticulturalists? Yes we can guess that Ranchers are Wild, Women are Roses. Alberta's slogan is in there, but its not as well know as some might think. Do viewers want to figure out the title of a show? No, its TV.

Calling it Shakespearean is so CBC and so misleading. CBC clings to the old idea that it portrays high art - between repeats of The Simpsons who I adore. Maybe CBC is trying to ride the momentum of the smash hit The Tutors and tying them together via The Bard. If Wild Roses is Shakespearean, then it better be either a melodramatic bloodbath like Macbeth, or a whimsical farce like A Midsummer Night's Dream. That is Shakespeare. I don't predict either of those story lines for this series. Just a guess.

I wish them luck and hope the show does very well.

wcdixon said...

One insider emailed me to say it sounded like a new female douche brand...'shrug'...

Thanks for stopping by mef and bringing some funny to the room...even if waayyyyyy off topic

Mef said...

you're welcome. I think.

Mef said...

And it could have been worse: I could have complained about Jpod being cancelled.

M J Reid said...

I agree with Corey - the combination of "Wild Roses" and the repeated "Shakespearean" promo tag scream MARKETING COMMITTEE to me. "Watch this because it's like THE TUDORS! Which (because of the clothes and the accents) is kinda SHAKESPEAREAN! And it's also maybe like a HARLEQUIN ROMANCE! That's what you desperate housewives want, right? RIGHT? Please validate our ridiculous salaries!"

God forbid they try to market it as escapist soapy Canadian melodrama. Which can be fun, but doesn't look as good to the CBC snobberati.

M J Reid said...

I just can't figure out why they didn't call it "Cowtown".