Mary Walsh and Mary Sexton reunite to deliver the laughs and the joy as everybody’s
favourite dysfunctional family reunites in A Christmas Fury just in time for the holidays
Hatching, Matching and Dispatching was a beloved television series based on the antics of the Furey family. Led by matriarch Mamie Lou, played with guts and glory by Mary Walsh, the Fureys ran businesses that cared for livyers from the cradle to the grave, operating a wedding parlour, ambulance service and a funeral home in their tiny rural community of Cat’s Cove.
Fureys’ crazy cast
The six-episode series ran for one season in 2006 and featured a stellar cast that included Shaun Majumder, Joel Thomas Hynes, Sherry White, Jonny Harris, Rick Boland, Adriana Maggs, Mark McKinney and Susan Kent. And of course, the one and only Mary Walsh.
More than 10 years after the last episode aired, Walsh says she had no trouble rounding up the Fureys’ crazy cast of characters.
“We got everybody back, even Governor-General (Literary) Award winner Joel Thomas Hynes,” Walsh begins with a grin. How was getting together with the old crew? Delightful, she says.
“When we did Hatching, Matching, there was a certain energy with that crowd, with our crowd, and it just didn’t go away. It was back there. It was like we had just done it the day before.”
Walsh says she ran into Jonny Harris’ father long after filming the reunion Christmas special, A Christmas Fury. He told her how happy his son was to be working with everyone again.
“Jonny has two shows on the go, Sherry White was working in L.A. and she said they were doing Ten Days in the Valley and she didn’t have any time at all, but she said she’d do Myrna. She’s giving up acting, but she’ll do Myrna until the end of time. So there’s a real sense that everybody is so joyful. Shaun Majumder, every time he did an interview in his life he’d go, bring back Hatching, Matching and Dispatching. They created this great family, dysfunctional as heck – I don’t usually say heck, I don’t know what was wrong with me – but it was wonderful at the same time.”
Mary Sexton, producer on the project, smiles. “Everybody loved the show. We had a huge fan base, but there was changing of the guard in Ottawa and there was a dislike for that kind of humour; the colourful language. Mary always wanted to (bring the show back) because there wasn’t a month that went by that someone didn’t say, ‘when is Hatching, Matching coming back?’ She worked on it for four years.”
Walsh interjects. “It was always bubbling in the background.”
Sexton shares that getting director Paul Pope to come onboard helped manage everyone’s busy schedules.
“Everyone was all scattered and they came back together … and we all came out feeling really positive about it. Everyone who sees this show will laugh out loud and want to see it over and over again.”
The Christmas story
So, what’s the story that united this cast of characters about?
“Just as in the Christmas story, a child is brought into the world to redeem the world and that’s what happens in A Christmas Fury, a child is brought into the family and in a way there’s been huge inter-generational conflict. Mamie Lou is going to leave, everybody is fighting for the business, and a child comes into the world and everybody comes together over saving that child,” says Walsh.
Will fans of the original show be happy? Walsh says she feels positive. “I hope so. It has an ending, a beautiful ending, (but you have) harsh inter-fighting … I think it hits all the boxes. It’s really funny, but it’s also that hopeful Christmassy kind of thing.”
Walsh adds that fans of Hatching have “gone mad.” There’s a buzz, she says. To keep those fuels flamed, they will be launching a 12 days of Fury social media campaign (hatchingmatchingdispatching on FB)where every character will get their time to shine as the count down to the show, which airs Dec. 3 at 8:30 pm NL time on CBC, winds down.
It wouldn’t be a Newfoundland production if we didn’t talk weather.
“We shot it in February, outside, in Newfoundland, and it was remarkable that we got through it at all,” says Walsh. Oh, there were storms, they just happened to strike on the weekends when they were off. Sexton says it all added to the beauty of the movie.
“It looks magical. There’s like 10 feet of this virgin snow. It’s pretty spectacular.” Besides praising the weather, Sexton has kind words for her friend and co-worker. “Mary did such an amazing balance of each character, it’s not like one character gets all the attention. It flows really nicely and everybody gets a little acknowledgment in how they work and fight together, but come together at the end.”
‘They are the story’
Walsh says she had little choice. “You can’t have Shaun Majumder and Jonny Harris and Sherry White and Mark McKinney and Joel Thomas Hynes, and Rick Boland and Susan Kent on for nothing. You can’t have them with nothing to do. Can’t have them just there in the background. They bring the whole thing alive. They are the story.”
So, we know why Newfoundlanders love the Fureys, why did a national audience take to them as well? Because they are funny, says Walsh.
“In many ways, over and over again, in the national news, we’ve been funny, interesting and clever and smart. That’s who Newfoundlanders are, and we continue to be that. And sometimes people get tired of watching people in the middle of Manhattan or L.A. just as we’d get tired seeing people in the middle of Toronto. It doesn’t seem grounded or real to the rest of the country. So the Fureys, like the Trailer Park Boys and other shows of that ilk, really do feel more like us. We recognize ourselves,” she says.
Sexton has a theory as well. “I think people live vicariously through them too because of their humour and they are striving to survive.”
People also like to see Newfoundlanders do their thing, Sexton adds. “Even just the weather. Most people would completely shut down a set where we were (claps) and going, yeah! We don’t have to get a snow machine in! We used it to our advantage.”
What was it like playing Mamie Lou again? Walsh smiles. “I love Mamie Lou,” she says. Walsh recalls that one of the second shows they did for CODCO back in 1975 was called Sickness, Death and Beyond the Grave. Touring Newfoundland with Cod on a Stick, at the time the three big stories were sickness, death and the afterlife.
It got her thinking how unique Newfoundlanders were. “I had a friend whose father died in Connecticut and he never knew what was wrong with him and he’d been sick 12 years … absolutely impossible in Newfoundland! You’d know every single aspect (of his deterioration) right down to the death. It’s a fascination that we have at that level, so to have a family and a character that’s involved in weddings, ambulance service and in funerals, it just seems like a perfect fit.”
And the show was ahead of it’s time. “It’s kind of a mockumentary kind of style, talking to the camera. It was ahead of the curve,” says Sexton proudly.
Walsh says she hopes old fans and new ones tune in to see A Christmas Fury. “It’s not going to be so sucky and Christmassy that you won’t enjoy it if you are coming back looking for Hatching, Matching because all that’s there too, but there is a certain level of Christmas joy that you get also. It’s like Hatching, Matching and Dispatching 2.0, whatever that means.”
Sexton agrees. “We want our fans back and we want our fans to scream from the heavens that they’d like to see Hatching, Matching and Dispatching back on the air.” Besides wanting the show back for the fans, they want it back for themselves too. “It’s home,” says Walsh.
Sexton smiles. “In all honesty, Hatching, Matching was a great time for the cast and crew. All the people who worked on it throughly enjoyed themselves.”
Walsh says they wouldn’t be greedy. They’d just want another 5, 10… 24? more years worth of Hatching. “I would like to go out on a high note and have people say; I wish there was more of that. It was so funny.”