TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Secret Path: The Pathway to Reconciliation?

The opening segment of Secret Path, set to the haunting song “The Stranger” sung by Gord Downie, is perhaps the most illustrative for me. It juxtaposes Chanie Wenjack’s home, and his treacherous walk home. Comic artist Jeff Lemire’s use of colour was perfection. But what I found particularly refreshing was the lack of stereotypical representations. Chanie’s father was not the “wild man” that he and all of mainstream Canada were taught to believe. He was simply a father loved by his son, like fathers everywhere. And this is the secret. But I will come back to that.

Throughout Secret Path, Chanie is illustrated as a dark-haired boy clothed in nondescript clothing. A young, terrified and alone dark-haired boy. He played on swings like all children do, he liked to fish, like so many children learn to do. Even the scenes that illustrated punishment and abuse at the hands of a priest, could have been about any boy in attendance at any religious school—of which we now know there were many worldwide.

Following the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, Calls To Action were made recommending mainstream Canadians learn about Indigenous culture. And why is this so important? It is not to make mainstream Canadians feel guilty—although we as a collective bear the burden of guilt—but rather to recognize the humanity of an entire segment of Canada that has been ignored, even denied, for centuries.


With the gravitas the name Gord Downie brings to this project, this animation attempts to bring attention to the inequities present in the northern communities. Secret Path was not designed to teach the story of the Residential School System. That is told elsewhere. This project was, however, about honouring the life of a little boy, about recognizing who was to blame for the death of that little boy, and it was about reminding mainstream Canadians to be empathetic. Chanie, drawn as Lemire did, deliberately suggests he could be could be any little boy anywhere in rural Canada. He could be any child, living with happy childhood memories, any child with a family who loves him.

It is also important to keep in mind that while students in the RSS were being inculcated to believe they were heathen, dirty, subhuman beings not worthy of decent food let alone humane treatment whilst in the care of church and government, so too was mainstream taught the same. Secret Path is teaching us that for reconciliation to truly begin, all people living in Canada need to see the humanity in each of us. It is only with this acceptance that we can use that empathy as a motivation to build the bridges between cultures, from both shores. Chanie’s sister Pearl states, “As big as the world is, we are all connected in some way. I don’t know how, but I know that.” This is the very connection that the Canadian government and the RSS sought to destroy. This is the spark of humanity that is the key, the secret, to begin healing those connections again.

Will this be a project destined for classrooms everywhere? Perhaps. Regardless, it was beautifully structured, and Lemire’s work continues to mature. I was already a huge fan of his illustrative talents. Now I am more so!

What did you think of Secret Path? Comment below.


Murdoch Mysteries’ Paul Aitken breaks down “A Study in Pink”

One of my favourite recurring Murdoch Mysteries characters is Winnifred “Freddie” Pink. Not only is she a childhood friend of William Murdoch’s, but she’s his equal when it comes to solving crimes.

But, as viewers saw on Monday night, Freddie found herself on the other side of the investigation during “A Study in Pink” when she was accused of murder. Interestingly, Freddie wasn’t part of the storyline when the episode idea was first broken, something co-executive producer Paul Aitken told me during our chat. Read on for more details, and a sneak peek into Episode 4.

Is the episode title, ‘A Study in Pink,’ an homage to Sherlock’s first episode or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first story to feature Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson?
Paul Aitken: It’s an homage to Doyle’s A Study in Scarlett. Her name is Pink and we went through a number of bad suggestions using the word pink in them. We wanted to get pink into the title because it was about her. You can’t reference the plot because there is a very specific twist and you don’t want to give that away.

This was a technology-heavy episode. There was the return of the Truthizer and the unveiling of a rudimentary GPS system. What Craig Grant created was amazing. Was that description in the script, or does Craig just create on his own?
It’s a bit of both. Obviously, I had to come up with the concept of the tracking device and how it worked and I consulted with Craig, of course. But beyond that, when it comes to the look of it, Craig has a field day. We knew that the device had to look like it could do the job and as stupid as possible. That’s part of the fun of these things. It’s always a collaboration with Craig, but the look of the pieces that he puts forth is what he brings to the table. The headphones were from an earlier episode ‘The Filmed Adventures of Detective William Murdoch.’ No reason not to use them.

It must be fun with work someone with Craig, who creates these articulate objects that look like they’d really work.
What’s great about Craig is that he has a very deep understanding of the science of the thing. I suspect it’s an interest of his, as it is mine, and it’s important for both of us, and for everyone on this whole team, that it should look like it would work.


Who was the voice of Constable McNabb? We heard him but didn’t see him. Was it writer Simon McNabb in an uncredited role?
[Laughs.] I have no idea who it was. No idea.

Let’s talk about the return of Freddie Pink. I really like the chemistry and history she has with Murdoch. Talk a little bit about the crime and her being the focus of the investigation and her being framed by the Murphys.
Using Pink was, I think, Pete’s idea. We have used her before and we know her. When we were first breaking this episode, we realized it felt a little empty. We had the basic plotline and the idea of what it was before we threw Pink into the mix. We realized it felt empty if you didn’t really, really care about whether this person was guilty or not. We thought, ‘OK, who would that be?’ Pink was an obvious choice because we do know her and the audience will recognize her because she’s been on the show a couple of times. We also don’t know her that well that it would be a given that she didn’t kill this person. The only way that story works is if you don’t know which way it’s going to go in the end. Most people will come at this thinking she’s innocent, but wondering how we prove that she’s not innocent.

This also gave you the opportunity to give some of Freddie’s back story. Up until this point we really only knew she was from Montreal and there was trouble.
What was fun was that we got to plan that. We only knew that something had happened in Montreal, so we worked from that.

Did you leave Freddie’s back story open back when she first appeared on Murdoch Mysteries so you could fill in the gaps in an episode like this or was it just a coincidence?
I suspect, at the time, it just wasn’t something we needed to worry about. I had no thought we’d be going back and revisiting Montreal. It’s kind of like the situation with Crabtree and his aunts. We created this world where Crabtree had multiple aunts, an impossible number, all with flower names. We had no idea why and never bothered to find out why until Crabtree returned to Newfoundland. Then we came up with the idea that they were all hookers and it worked out well.

Is it pretty common for things to just fall into place like that?
Every single episode. Seriously. Every episode there is something … ‘OK, how are going to get out of this plot?’ and someone will come up with something clever and actually fits and makes sense. Plot construction is a complicated process and one of the things we do is hope and pray that we think of something.

Is that the last we’ll see of the Murphys this season?
I’m pretty sure, yes.

What about Freddie? Will she return?
I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say, but yes, she’ll return later in the season in a great little episode.

What can you tell me about Episode 4?
There is a new detective from another police station and we meet him for the first time.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.


Link: Mohawk Girls: Six reasons to tune in for Season 4

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Mohawk Girls: Six reasons to tune in for Season 4
With so many television programs out there it seems there’s a show for everyone. However, it can also mean that viewers are so overwhelmed by all those choices, that a show truly worthy of our time and attention somehow slips under the radar. One show we here at The TV Junkies would hate to see that happen to is APTN’s Mohawk Girls, which returns for Season 4 on Tuesday, October 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET.  Continue reading.


Travelers takes on its first mission

Time travel sci-fi series are my jam, and Travelers has been one heck of a pleasant surprise. Readers of this site know I was heartbroken when Continuum ended; thankfully, Travelers has sufficiently filled that hole.

Part of that is because Travelers‘ creator, Brad Wright, has built a world we can relate to. Our own. Rather than set the series in another galaxy or future time it’s set today and has brought people from another era back to us by transferring their consciousness into bodies of folks who are about to die. That makes everyone immediately relatable. And while the travellers’ task is to change things in the present to ensure a future, there is room for humour through these folks encountering 2016 technology, food and social mores.

After setting up the show’s premise in last week’s debut, Grant (Eric McCormack), Marcy (MacKenzie Porter), Carly (Nesta Cooper), Trevor (Jared Paul Abrahamson) and Philip (Reilly Dolman) are off on their first task. But Monday’s first mission, “Protocol 6,” isn’t without its flaws, and the team learns not succeeding can have deadly consequences.

Here are some non-spoilery hints to get you ready for tonight:


A veteran sci-fi actress checks in
We’ve been fans of Kyra Zagorsky since Season 1 of Helix—and she was great in the last season of Continuum—so it’s fantastic to see her on Travelers, and it appears she may have more than a guest-starring role. She plays Dr. Delaney, a scientist who has created an object Grant and his team need to get. Problem is, another group wants the same item and both battle to get it.

Trevor is quickly becoming a favourite
Maybe it’s because we know something about his character McCormack swore us to secrecy about—it’ll be revealed in a few more weeks—but Trevor’s wide-eyed innocence about walks in the park, clean air and sunshine have got us appreciating our lives just a little bit more. He also provides some humour when things get dark and dangerous.

Not everything in 2016 is great
Just ask Grant, who has a very funny reaction to a certain beverage.

Grant and Carly are an item
At least their future selves are. Aside from a glib comment about age, we’re not given any insight into their relationship other than they seem to be keeping it a secret from everyone else. That makes sense; this is a military team and not high schoolers on a field trip. The fact Grant has a wife in this time period certainly complicates things. He’s there on a mission, but he’s also human and has emotions. And those are piqued by Kathryn (Leah Cairns).

Travelers airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Showcase.

Images courtesy of Corus.


Heartland knows “When to Let Go”

Heartland has an ensemble cast, and it’s sometimes lost on me just how gifted they are. With so much time per week spent on Amy and Ty (I’m not complaining, I’m stating a fact), the other players don’t get as much screen time. But, like a drummer or bass player in the band, they’re laying the groundwork for the tune. And, in some cases, step into the spotlight for a solo.

I was reminded of just how damned good an actor Shaun Johnston is during Sunday’s new episode, “New Horizons,” written by Heather Conkie. Shaun’s Jack went through awful stuff last year when he said goodbye to Paint, but for the most part, he’s there to calm Tim down or rile Tim up. This season has seen much of the same—he and Tim talking to Katie about death is a standout comedy-wise—until last night’s instalment. That scene between Jack and Ty, discussing regrets, decisions made and moving forward in life, was simply incredible. Johnston’s ruddy face portrays so much emotion (can we nominate his moustache for a Canadian Screen Award?) with so few words; it reminds me that, sometimes, fewer words spoken means so much more. Graham Wardle was just as good as Johnston, and their quiet, even, honest conversation was the heart of the episode. Yes, Ty’s ultimate decision—with Amy’s unwavering support—was the emotional conclusion to the storyline, but the climax for me remains that heartfelt discussion in the muted nighttime light of the barn.


Kudos also to Chris Potter for his playing of Tim this week. His outburst at the dinner table where he called Ty (and Peter) an idiot for abandoning Amy to go and save the Gobi bears was out of line but totally understandable. Where Jack sits back and considers every angle before voicing an opinion, Tim wears his heart on his sleeve and tells you what he thinks at that moment. It can hurt your feelings, but Tim means well. He’s just looking out for Amy and to him, jetting to Mongolia isn’t it. Still, his respect for Ty is there and he let Ty follow his heart.

Almost lost in the shuffle were Georgie and Jade converting up-tight Maggie’s into a cool hangout. Sure, free wifi and fries may attract kids, but you can’t turn your loyal customers away. Finding a happy medium means Maggie’s will be equally popular with everyone in town.

Where does Heartland go from here? With Ty and Lou both away (she may very well return next week), that means everyone left will have to pick up the slack at Heartland. From a hands-on standpoint, they’ll be busy. But from a fan standpoint, I’m looking forward to seeing the supporting cast step to the front of the stage.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.