Review: Zero Chill By Kirstie Falkous
The Gist: Kayla MacBentley (Grace Beedie) is a talented 15-year-old figure skater, but has been out of sorts since her family moved from Canada to England, so her twin brother Mac (Dakota Taylor) can hone his talents at a prestigious hockey academy run by Anton Hammarström (Oscar Skagerberg), a former NHL superstar and teammate of their father Luke (Doug Rao).
She does these transatlantic practice sessions with her best friend and skating partner Jacob Schimmer (Kenneth Tynan), sneaking out of her new house and sneaking into the rink where the Hammarström team plays. But she is still frustrated and resentful that her father and mother Jenny (Sarah-Jane Potts) tore her out of her comfort zone in order to move for Mac’s hockey career.
For his part, Mac his having a little discomfort fitting into the flow of the team. He knows he’s the best on the talented squad, and he won’t let everyone on the team forget it. The team captain, Bear Seltzer (Jeremias Amoore), is trying everything to keep the other players from alienating Mac, but Mac is not making it easy.
After Jacob tells Kayla that he can’t keep doing these FaceTime practices anymore, Kayla becomes even more disgruntled at the move. Her fit of pique is alleviated a little bit when she meets and becomes fast friends with Sky Tyler (Jade Ma) who works at the rink’s cafe, which is owned by her mother Holly (Christina Tam). But Sky is holding a secret, about both her health and her skating ability, that will definitely affect their new friendship.
As Kayla practices in the rink, she sees a mysterious skater, dressed in full hockey gear, whose identity she desperately wants to find out, because that skater is pretty darn talented and they skate well together the only time they get a chance.
Our Take: One of the things that made us scratch our heads about Zero Chill, created by Kirstie Falkous and John Regier, is that the MacBentley’s moved away from Canada, the hockey capital of the world, to England, a country that has little to no hockey heritage, in order for Mac to further his hockey career? It seems counterintuitive, especially because Mac is as talented as he supposedly is. It feels like a bit of a complicated setup, all things considered, a way to get Kayla as far away from home as possible but make sure everyone there still realistically speaks English. It took a good 5 or so minutes to wrap our minds around this reverse migration, especially because Kayla and Mac’s mother is English herself.
Once you get past the strange setup, though, Zero Chill is a pretty harmless family show. Do the MacBentley twins show a bit of a privileged personality? Absolutely. If the worst that can happen to Kayla is that she lost her skating partner, so be it. And Mac is so arrogant that he cares less about his sister’s skating career than it seems her parents do.
That kind of stuff feels minor compared to Falkous’ and Reiger’s ability to flesh out their characters pretty quickly. For instance, just having Sky draw a mustache on her face because she sees the annoyed Kayla doing it, leading to their fast friendship, was a cute way to introduce her as a character and says a lot about the kind of person she is. It’s a show, don’t tell moment that incorporates all sorts of exposition into one quick move.
The other characters need a little more depth, but at least the parents are written as real people and not just humiliation machines for their teenage kids.