Campus Vets show keeps winning formula for second season
By Colleen MacPherson
As he oversees filming of a second 13-episode season of Campus Vets, the producer of the popular veterinary medical series is sticking with what has proven to be a winning formula for making compelling, often emotionally charged television.
From his office with The Eyes Project Development Corporation in Vancouver, Stan Feingold said the first, and very successful, season of the Life Network series shot at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) showed what makes a good vet story – “good access to animal owners who are willing to share their thoughts and feelings, an interesting scientific or medical angle, an unusual species, or an unusual human/animal bond”. This combination of people, animals, science and the learning experience of WCVM students is what he’s after again for season No. 2.
“The new shows will be pretty consistent stylistically with the first 13,” he said, but the key is to follow the most interesting cases, highlighting a couple already on film. One involves a great horned owl found with baling wire wrapped around its wing. The bird’s treatment and rehabilitation ends with what Feingold described as “a tremendous release scene”. In another new episode, a vet-med student’s own pet, a chameleon, must be put to sleep. That student, he said, experiences firsthand what many owners go through at the WCVM.
A number of new animal species will make appearances in the second season, including a mule, a mouse and a snake. This kind of variety means “it’s always fun coming to work on this series.”
The show is also trying to document the “greatest structural problem” in veterinary medicine, that being “an owner who doesn’t have the money to employ all the latest technology for treating their animal”.
Viewer ratings from the first 13-episode series of Campus Vets showed it to be among the top five shows on Life Network, with a very consistent audience. One episode involving a septic foal that had to be euthanized has proven to be particularly popular, even in reruns, drawing some 105,000 viewers “which is a pretty good number for Life Network”.
The show won a LEO Award from the British Columbia film industry last summer for best information series. It was also presented at the 2004 Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival.
In addition to being a success in Canada, Campus Vets has attracted the attention of broadcasters in the United States, “but we need to build up more episodes”. A second season will make the show more appealing to potential buyers, Feingold said.
Filming resumes at the WCVM early in 2005, and the new season could air as early as the third week in February.