With a happy combination of all-American values, will-they-won’t-they romance and back-to-nature scenery, Netflix’s Virgin River has proved such a hit that the show has returned to Netflix for a second season.
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Based on the 20-strong book series by Robyn Carr, season two follows nurse Melinda ‘Mel’ Munroe (Alexandra Breckenridge), her ‘will-they-won’t they’ relationship with Jack, and life in the laid-back small town of the title.
In the books, Virgin River is specifically placed in northern California, among redwoods, waterfalls and good fishing. While sticking to a similar palette, the TV version is rather more evasive – and for good reason, since it’s made a long way from the Golden State. In fact, this is Hollywood North, the new filming centre that has sprung up around the Canadian city of Vancouver over the past two decades. It’s here that other all-American shows such as Netflix’s own Riverdale, The Flash and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are filmed, as well as buckets of sci-fi and fantasy from Caprica and Stargate SG-1 to Fringe and Supernatural.
Although variety is one of the area’s attractions for film-makers, one of the key locations in Virgin River may be familiar to viewers. Mel’s waterside cabin, to which she reacts with big-city horror on arrival, is the well-photographed caretaker’s house in Murdo Frazer Park, on Vancouver’s North Shore. Built in the 1950s, it’s become a screen staple, seen in everything from Fringe and Once Upon A Time to Fairly Legal, Siren, Travelers and The Flash. You’ll find it at the centre of this green space, which is urban enough to have a pitch and putt course but sufficiently country to be home to wandering bears.