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

Killjoys: Showrunner Adam Barken discusses Season 4

When we last left Team Awesome Force, things were in a bit of a disarray. Dutch and Aneela (Hannah John-Kamen) had entered the green to do battle against The Lady, leaving Johnny (Aaron Ashmore) and D’Avin (Luke McFarlane) stunned.

Killjoys roars back on Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Space with one heck of a fun ride in “The Warrior Princess Bride.” Creator Michelle Lovretta bridges the current timeline with the past, mixing the trio of Dutch, Aneela and Khlyen (Rob Stewart) with the Dutch-Johnny origin story. It has everything Killjoys fans have come to love over the last three seasons: humour, snark, action and heart.

With two final seasons of Killjoys to look forward to, we sat down with new showrunner Adam Barken—who has been a writer and producer with the series since Season 1—to get the scoop on the adventure ahead.

Congratulations on becoming showrunner for Seasons 4 and 5 of Killjoys. What does that mean for you? Is that just more meetings?
Adam Barken: It’s more of everything. When we were done with Season 3, Michelle was feeling like, ‘All right, I kind of need to take a break and step back,’ and didn’t want to leave the show completely, so when she and I talked, we discussed how we would go forward. I still loved the show and had been her No. 2 for the last two seasons and had been on since the first, so she basically said, ‘I would still like to be involved if you were running it,’ and I said, ‘I’d only run it if you were still involved,’ so that worked out. So what it basically means is I’m here every day. I am vetting all the scripts, I’m breaking all the stories. Michelle’s involved to basically watch that process, to help me kind of shepherd them.

As both of the people who have been writing the show the longest, we kind of take a pass on everybody’s scripts and then yeah, a lot of meetings. A lot of meetings, which is just how you make television.

When I spoke to her in Season 2, she was already saying, ‘I would love to do this for a certain number of seasons and then step away because I’m always about the world building.’ She really loves that part that.
AB: Loves it. She’s great at it.

What about you? Do you like the world building as well?
AB: I love the world building as well. Not that she doesn’t, but I really like making TV. I like the meetings to a certain degree. I like the production stuff, and I love being in a writing room. I’m happy to go in and out of the room more so that I can kind of keep an eye on all the different departments and keep track of everything that’s going. Thankfully we’ve got the whole writing team back from last season.

How important is it to keep that writer’s room intact? I mean, so many writer’s room people that I talk to like yourself, there tends to be a couple of new faces every year. Other people rotate out. Why is it important to have everybody, this same group?
AB: It’s great because you just have an institutional memory, right? Everybody is …

You’ve got a shorthand already.
AB: Yeah, everybody knows everyone. We’ve kind of worked out all the personality kinks. We all know each other. We all know when to leave each other alone and when to bug each other. Then it also just means that everybody … any time a new person comes in a room, it can be a great experience because they bring fresh eyes but you also spend a lot of time going, ‘Yeah, we did that story already. Yeah, we’ve already done that beat.’ In this one, with this, you’ve always got a team going, ‘Oh, we already did that. All right, let’s do something new. Let’s do something different.’

What do you look for in a writer?
AB: Personally, what I love in a writer, especially in a writing room like this is you want ideas people. The job of a showrunner is to say no and so it’s very similar to a director in that what you want are people coming to you with five options and you being able to go ‘Yes, no, no, no, no,’ and you say no more than you say yes, so you’re looking for writers who have lots of ideas, throw them out constantly and then at the same time move on when an idea has been ‘No, we’re not gonna do that,’ and not take it personally and understand this is part of the job.

As I learned when I started in a writing room and was that person is first you’re like, ‘Oh, but that was a good idea,’ but then I get to save that for my show, which is nice, and what you’re trying to do is basically you’re all pulling together but you are pulling together towards one person’s vision, or in the case of this season, I would say two people’s, because Michelle and I are both intimately connected in terms of what the vision of the season is going forward.

The press release that Space sent out when they announced that they were going be the two final seasons, I think you were quoted, certainly, Michelle was, about the importance of being able to tell the story and having two seasons that do that. Why is it important? I mean, I think I know the answer, but why is it important to know that you’ve got two 10 episode seasons to finish with?
AB: Well, I mean, look. If we had known that we were only getting one season, we would have made that work as well. The idea that it was important was just knowing we had an endpoint, because when you know you have an endpoint, then you can build your stories to go towards it. With two seasons, it was great because even before we had gotten the order, Michelle and I had been talking, and we said, ‘You know, there’s a way to do what we were talking about,’ because we had some general ideas and tent poles, as if we had two seasons, we kind of know exactly how this would break out, so when they ended up saying, ‘How about two?’ We were like, ‘Great, we’ve already kind of thought that would be the way to do it.’

I think five is a good and a round number for television regardless of how many episodes. It’s five seasons, so with four we can kind of do some interesting stuff. We can mess around with our convention, but end on a cliffhanger that points to specific things. You know, Season 3 obviously ended on some pretty big cliffhangers, but they were pretty open-ended because we didn’t know if we were coming back, so our feeling was, ‘OK, if we don’t come back, then basically we’ve given the audience a sense of, like, the adventure continues.’ With this, we’re able to end it in a way that feels like … put a bit more of a bow on it.

Do you already know what the end scenes are? The final lines are at the end?
AB: We’ve definitely got some strong ideas about what those moments are and what the feeling is that we want people to come away from, and we’re just kind of still … as we’re figuring out season five, we’re … you know, making TV is definitely building a bridge from both sides and hoping they meet in the middle.

How often do things change, where you think, ‘Well, this will be what the end is,’ and then you’re getting there. You’re like, ‘Well, no, that isn’t going be the end, because things have changed.’
AB: Constantly.

Tony Nappo is playing Big Joe, what can you say about Big Joe?
AB: Joe was a character we introduced back in Season 1 and so he was Dutch’s mentor who, by then, had gone to seed and obviously we killed them, so how are we having them back? So what we’re doing is we got to do something really fun at the beginning of this season because we wanted to shake things up a bit and actually tell basically an origin story and we wanted to do a story of what happens when Dutch and Johnny first came to the quad.

Because we loved Tony and I remember doing the read through of 106 and I remember him reading it and getting really good and then he gets to the end and goes, ‘Ah, fuck, I’m dead?’ I was like, ‘That’s why you should always read the script before you do the read through, Tony.’ But it also … we felt the same way. We were like, ‘Goddammit, we got this great actor, this great character,’ so we get a chance to see him in action and see what he was like as a Killjoy, which was a lot of fun, so yeah, I’m very excited about that one.

Killjoys is one of those shows where no line is ever a throwaway line, no scene can just be like, ‘Oh, I can just rest because this won’t matter.’ Everything matters on this show.
AB: We want you guys to watch it many times. We hope that, yeah, the stuff that we work on … because that’s, you know, from our perspective, if we’re gonna get people’s eyeballs for 44 minutes, we want to be able to give them not only something that is a fun, hopefully fun diversion, that if they feel by the end, ‘OK, I got what I wanted,’ but if they’re gonna go back, hopefully, they’ll see that, you know, we’re trying to make sure everything feels like it matters.

Stephanie Morgenstern will direct this season. How did that come about?
AB: Because as we were looking for directors, we knew that Stephanie had stepped up and been directing in X Company. I’d been working with Stephanie since she and Mark [Ellis] created Flashpoint, so it just seemed like a no-brainer. We knew we wanted to have somebody in that was good, smart, and Stephanie just fit the bill. And Temple Street had worked with her on X Company, of course, so it just seemed like a no-brainer.

Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Wynonna Earp: Showrunner Emily Andras sounds off on Season 3

Canadian Wynonna Earp fans have had to wait a few days longer than our friends in the U.S. That’s because Syfy offered up a special preview of “Blood Red and Going Down” this past Monday while those grumpy Guses at Space stuck to their guns (see what I did there?) and are waiting until Friday for us to see it.

Being a member of the media has its advantages. I’ve seen Season 3’s return “Blood Red and Going Down.” Simply put? It’s sublime. After a year away, sliding back into Purgatory alongside Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano), Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), Doc (Tim Rozon), Dolls (Shamier Anderson), Nicole (Kat Barrell) and Jeremy (Varun Saranga) has been ever so sweet. And with new characters via Kate (Chantel Riley) and big bad Bulshar (Jean Marchand), this pile of episodes promises to be a thrill ride.

We spoke to Wynonna Earp showrunner Emily Andras while we were at the Banff World Media Festival and she had the following to say.

The support behind Wynonna Earp has been incredible, especially from folks like Josh at Syfy.
Emily Andras: Yes, I feel like we are so lucky that we have tapped into something that we just can’t buy, which is kind of fan-driven passion. So I’m so happy people are leaning in. Even the excitement around the trailer, like ‘We trended on Twitter.’ I just think everybody’s kind of having fun with it and being like ‘OK, anticipation, here we go.’

I am constantly fascinated by the passion of the fans and how they really latched on and it’s beloved. So that said, can you not kill anybody on the show now?
EA: I think I have to still make the show be dramatic, how about that? Because … it is still a supernatural show with huge stakes and it’s terrifying. Yes, it’s terrifying, especially when you don’t have Walking Dead numbers. We kind of have a cast of six, maybe eight if you’re doing some funky Canadian TV math. Yeah, it’s incredibly challenging but at the same time, it’s a show about life and death. The metaphor I always use, I drive it into the ground is ‘I’m gonna drive the bus. You can get on the bus, you can be drunk on the bus and probably should be. You can scream at the bus driver, you can get off the bus and flip the bird and say I’m not riding this stupid bus anymore but we can’t all grab the wheel of the bus or the bus is going over a cliff.’ I definitely feel it’s a fascinating time for creators insofar as with so much immediate feedback, does that help or hinder storytelling? I’m like, ‘If Nicole Haught wears the wrong sweater, I’m gonna hear about it. My family is going to have to go to witness protection.

I’m only partially kidding. I went to a panel in Austin and I wanted to be really careful about this. It was about modern fandom and there was a lot of bemoaning from people about ‘Well the fans just don’t understand behind the scenes why decisions were made.’ And so often it’s budget or a network executive or an actor wants to lead is another thing that happens, a ton of times. But at the same time, as the showrunner, I feel like the buck stops with me and that’s the covenant with the fans. I have asked them to be on social media helping me push this delicious content so when they’re unhappy it super sucks but … maybe you just gotta weather it a bit. So remind me I said that. If anything terrible happens this year.

It’s true because you walk that line as a showrunner, a head writer and you’ve got a room full of writers, you’re writing the show for yourselves.
EA: Exactly.

But you also have to walk that fine line with the fans because you want to keep them entertained, you want them in your corner. You don’t want to anger anyone but you also don’t want to make a show that’s just for the fans to keep them happy because then you’ve got a boring show.
EA: Lots of people would like domesticated Wayhaught sitting on the couch making cookies and I’ll try to give you that scene if I can but that is not a Syfy show and Syfy’s not going to want that show. And you’re not actually going to love that show. It’s going into a third season because this is it. In the first season, we made the whole thing. We were running around the woods in Calgary and being like ‘Is there even film in this camera?’ But it kind of felt like we were doing some crazy demon hunting skits in the woods and then it dropped and people liked it.

And then in the second season, people were just so happy to have more of it. But now in the third season, there’s no doubt. People have expectations, people have wants, people have put their hopes and dreams on characters and storylines. I have done this dance before with Lost Girl … with semi-Canadian success comes semi-Canadian responsibly. So I’m ready, but I think the only rule I tell my writers to keep us all grounded when we’re kind of flailing and nervous is the one rule is the story has to be consistent with character.

The characters have to act the way the characters would act. Even if terrible things happened or they make mistakes, or they die, or they break up, or what have you, as long as it feels like, ‘Yes, this character would do it,’ even if you hate their decision as you would hate it if your friend made a terrible decision, I hope to fans are at least like ‘I don’t love this but it still feels like my show.’ That’s the only thing I can try to do. It’s not to do with story for story’s sake but to have it come from who these beloved characters are.

This third season, is this where you’re chugging along like ‘Yeah, this is where I wanted to be’?
EA: Yes, great question. The third season is batshit insane. So we’ll see if people like it. But there’s such a confidence to the performances in particular. It’s so delightful. Everybody just hits the ground running, very few people are pregnant this season, some would say none.

I’m just so incredibly proud of this cast because you feel it in the confidence. And their confidence with the material, their confidence to deliver both wit and quips while fighting a demon and hopefully getting the emotion and ending in tears.

Every year from the writer perspective, you have to be like, ‘How are we gonna up the stakes, what crazy cliffhangers are we gonna have?’ But there is a confidence this year that just feels like if you love the show, I just think you’re going to be so happy from the first moment you see Wynonna to hopefully the last.

Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Space.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.
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Blueberry pies and Express Passes on The Amazing Race Canada

Last week’s episode of The Amazing Race Canada unveiled a couple of firsts for this season. The first Express Passes were captured by Nancy and Mel, Anna and Todd and Mar and Leanne, and it was also the first non-Elimination Leg, saving Zainab and Monica from a trip home.

This week the teams headed back to British Columbia and Salt Spring Island’s thriving art scene. Todd and Anna departed first and were feeling confident thanks to their Express Pass. Akash and Joseph, who thought they’d missed the airport in Dawson City, were the first out of the terminal in Vancouver and off to the harbour airport for the quick jaunt to the island. No more flights were going out that night but the two friends were booked for the first one the next morning. Could they turn their luck around this Leg?

I was a little jealous each team had to consume two blueberry pies because they sure looked good. But before Zainab and Monica could chow down they had a Speed Bump to contend with. That involved correctly identifying different kinds of fleur de sel. Because of the editing, it’s hard to tell how long it took them to complete the extra task, but it sure looked like they did it quickly, and using smell alone. Akash and Joseph were the first to finish their pie (Joseph looked like he was going to throw up) and darted to their Chevrolet for an exit. Todd and Anna and Leanne and Mar opted to forgo their pies and used their Express Passes. I think I’d have saved them, but I wasn’t there eating a pie and wondering if I’d ever finish it. Mel and Nancy refused to use their Express Pass, putting them in last place.

Mount Erskine Provincial Park was the next destination and clues behind one of three pint-sized fairy doors. Akash and Joseph teamed with Todd and Anna to find the clues. The weird thing was that, despite the team play, they really couldn’t help each other. You either found a clue card or you didn’t. Akash and Joseph did and grabbed a ferry to Crofton and the Road Block. Because the ferry was small, it potentially meant several trips would be needed to get all of the teams across and a levelling of the playing field. That was integral to Mel and Nancy—who used their Express Pass to skip the fairy door search—and Dylan and Kwame staying in the Race. I can’t remember the last time all of the Express Passes were used in the same Leg.

Next up? A little driving behind the wheel of a Corvette in under three minutes without exceeding 80 km per hour. Todd nailed it, in the rain, his first time and he and Anna left in first place in favour of some quality time with raptors. Courtney the RCMP officer aced her track time but Courtney the nurse did not. Leanne got a green light, as did Joseph. In the end, Nancy and Courtney were the last ones to complete the car test. It’s easy to get down on yourself like Courtney did; kudos to Adam for being supportive.

Meanwhile, Todd and Anna picked up their next Road Block and attempted to tie a knot to hold a bird of prey onto their glove. With teams appearing and taking a shot at the knot, Mar came to Anna’s rescue. Taylor was the first to finish, on his fifth try, and the RCMP officers were off to find Jon on the mat at the Kinsol Trestle Bridge. Leanne and Mar were hot on their tail followed by Anna and Todd. Adam simply nailed the raptor knot in his first try and vaulted he and Courtney into sixth place with Dylan and Kwame in the fifth spot.

Sadly, the knot was Akash’s undoing; he and Joseph were the last team to arrive and were eliminated from the Race. What did you think of this latest episode? Who do you think has the best chance of winning? Would you have used your Express Pass or kept eating the pie? Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Courtney and Taylor (trip for two to Boston)
  2. Anna and Todd
  3. Leanne and Mar
  4. Martina and Phil
  5. Dylan and Kwame
  6. Courtney and Adam
  7. Zainab and Monica
  8. Nancy and Mel
  9. Akash and Joseph (eliminated)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

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Global renews high-stakes drama Ransom for third season

From a media release:

Today Global announced a fourth renewal to its slate of Canadian content for the 2019 broadcast year, as suspense drama Ransom has been greenlit for Season 3. From global studio Entertainment One (eOne), Korda Studios, Big Light Productions, and producers Sienna Films, the 13-episode series will shoot in Budapest, Hungary, beginning in October 2018 and premiere next year on Global in Canada and CBS in the U.S. This announcement comes on the heels of Global’s recent renewals for Mary Kills PeoplePrivate Eyes, and Big Brother Canada.

With principal cast returning including Luke Roberts, Nazneen Contractor, Brandon Jay McLaren, and Karen LeBlanc, Season 3 of Ransom follows the world of international crisis and hostage negotiating with Eric Beaumont (Roberts) and his elite team as they save lives when no one else can. Eric understands criminals better than they understand themselves and uses his insight into human behaviour to resolve the most difficult kidnap and ransom cases.

Viewers who missed any of the action from Season 2 can catch up on Ransom now on GlobalTV.comGlobal GO (available on Apple TV and Chromecast), and On Demand.

Ransom is inspired by the professional experiences of distinguished crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert, who, along with his partner, Marwan Mery, are among the top negotiators in the world. They travel the globe to help multinational corporations and government agencies with complex negotiations and conflict resolution.

Ransom was created by David Vainola (DiamondsCombat Hospital) and Frank Spotnitz (The X-FilesThe Man in the High Castle) who also serves as Executive Producer. Ransom is a Canada-Hungary treaty co-production, produced by Entertainment One (eOne) with executive producers Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny (Sienna Films); Daniel Kresmery and György Rajnai (Korda Studios) are co-producing. The series executive producers include Valerie Pechels and Odile McDonald (Wildcats Productions). Ransom is developed in association with Corus Entertainment Inc., with the participation from the Canada Media Fund, and produced with the financial assistance of the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.

eOne controls worldwide rights to the series.

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