So after decades of ignoring the place, Hollywood has apparently set some sort of television show in “North Dakota”.
“Blood and Oil”, starring Don Johnson (who some of you may remember from, ahem, thirty years ago) airs on ABC – which is one of those “TV Networks” your parents used to talk about before even they switched to Netflix. It gives off the appearance of being a Dallas-style soaper.
How do you think it turned out?
That was the question no doubt going through the minds of many people in the state when ABC’s new drama “Blood & Oil” premiered last week to modest ratings. The show is ostensibly set in North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields, though it’s hard to tell, given the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains looming in the background of exterior shots.
The Rockies, in case you needed an update on your geography, reside hundreds of miles to the west of North Dakota.
There were other guffaw-worthy moments for North Dakotans in the show’s first episode. A character killed a white moose at one point — moose aren’t at all common on the prairies of North Dakota — and a scene depicting two characters wrestling in jet black oil was downright incongruous.
But it could have been changed – with the help of subsidies, naturally. North Dakota doesn’t offer them; Utah does:
Turns out it’s all about money. Utah offers filmmakers a 25 percent tax rebate. For filming “Blood & Oil” in that state, the Utah Film Commission gave the show’s creators an $8.34 million tax credit.
North Dakota, on the other hand, offers filmmakers exactly nothing. Which is why some in the state think subsidies could fix “Blood & Oil’s” scenery problem.
It’s the same reason Gran Torino, whose screenplay was set in Saint Paul, was filmed in Detroit; because Michigan has a program to transfer wealth from Detroit to Hollywood.
Which is something North Dakota’s legislature turned down by a 2-1 margin.
Which is roughly the ratio of Republicans to Democrats in the North Dakota legislature.