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

Rick McCrank explores empty lots in Viceland’s Abandoned

Growing up in Brantford, Ont., there were lots of abandoned places to check out. There was one just a short bike ride away from my house, a crumbling house hidden in a forest and purportedly haunted. My friends and I stayed well away from the place—even during the day—more because it was tumbledown and disused than reports of ghosts. (That came years later, in an empty sanitarium next to the Trailer Park Boys set.)

In Abandoned, debuting Friday on Viceland, Vancouver skateboard legend Rick McCrank boogies right on into empty places to check them out. In the first episode of 10 of the Canadian original, “Ghost Mall,” McCrank enters what used to be Randall Park Mall in Cleveland. As McCrank explains, the area the mall was in used to enjoy strong economic times, but those are long gone.

McCrank doesn’t just shuffle through darkened hallways filled with dusty old benches and broken glass; he gives a nice history on the modern shopping mall, a creation born in 1950s America, gleaming, convenient spots where families could spend hours dropping money on clothes, electronics, housewares, food—the sky was the limit—all under one roof. Shopping malls hit their stride in the 80s, a ubiquitous sight in cities. But the good times ended when online shopping became more popular, and the sprawling complexes began to close.

Accompanied by photographer Seph Lawless, who captured images inside for his book Black Friday—The Collapse of the America Shopping Mall, McCrank wanders around Randall Park Mall, observing not only the decay but how quickly nature is reclaiming the land with life.

Two things struck me as I watched “Ghost Mall.” The first was how misty-eyed folks got remembering the time they spent in these now-shuttered behemoths. The second? How I totally related to what they felt. Growing up as a child of the 80s, I spent copious time in my local Lynden Park Mall, poking around Coles bookstore, Sunrise Records or sitting in the food court hanging out with friends. Lynden Park Mall is still thereit’s changed a lot on the inside—but I still get that pull in my heart when I drive by.

I guess that’s the point of a show like Abandoned. McCrank tours defunct properties around Canada and the U.S., showing how life rolls on while milestones of the past crumble. Upcoming episodes find McCrank in east coast fishing towns, empty schools in St. Louis and flooded missile silos in the Pacific Northwest.

Abandoned airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Viceland.

Image courtesy of Rogers.


DGC disappointed with CRTC’s decisions to reduce Canadian participation in CIPF-funded productions

From a media release:

CRTC’s Epiphany: Canada will win on the world stage by becoming America

The DGC is profoundly dismayed by the CRTC’s decision to reduce the participation of Canadian talent in productions supported by the Certified Independent Production Funds.

Last year with the Let’s Talk TV decisions and now with revisions to the policy that governs Certified Independent Production Funds like Shaw Rocket Fund, Harold Greenberg Fund, Rogers Fund, Canadian talent continues to be a vanishing species. The Commission’s approach for creating a robust, successful domestic production sector is to divert Canadian citizen’s money to pay American writers, directors and actors to make generic programming which tells the world nothing about who we are as a nation or as a people. Once again Canada misses a chance to shine at home and on the world stage by proposing to eliminate all that is unique in what we make.

There is no evidence that reducing Canadian creative involvement will make these shows more successful.  In the current Canadian landscape of risk adverse decision makers the DGC has time after time sought the resources necessary for Canada’s storytellers to create innovative, original compelling content. Instead, the Commission once again proposes the elimination of Canadian writers, directors and performers – the very elements which make niche television from countries outside the USA so compelling to audiences everywhere.

The CRTC’s decisions reflect an outdated approach that is a legacy from the former Harper government.  Success in the Golden Age of Television rests on distinctiveness and originality. In a word: voice.

It is time to change the channel; the path to a greater diversity of high quality made-in-Canada content begins with promoting, not diminishing, opportunities for Canadian talent.


The Amazing Race Canada crashes in Cape Breton

It’s ironic that a beautiful section of Canada like Cape Breton was the most physically demanding on the remaining teams. And yet that’s what happened during Tuesday’s new episode of The Amazing Race Canada as Steph and Kristen battled Jillian and Emmett at the front of the pack while Joel and Ashley fought Rita and Yvette at the bottom.

The odd team out, and that may play to their advantage, were Frankie and Amy. As Emmett said just before he U-Turned Rita and Yvette, he viewed the mother-daughter team as physically weak and therefore the ones to keep in the Race. And while I do agree with him to a point, Frankie and Amy surprised me with their physicality during the Leg and have the smarts to outwit in a mental challenge.


In what’s become a usual sight in Season 4, Steph and Kristen were neck-in-neck with Jillian and Emmett, swapping between first and second-place pulling mannequins from the water during the Canadian Coast Guard College challenge, the brutal Feel the Burn Detour involving the caber toss, farmer’s walk and stone’s throw, and final challenge, to push six heavy barrels through Fort Louisbourg to the cannon. It was a cool bit of history to watch as a viewer, so I’m glad Emmett—despite Jill’s protests—took the time to drink it all in.

With the Double U-Turn hanging over all, Steph and Kristen chose Joel and Ashley as the team to complete both Detours, putting them in direct competition with fellow U-Turned team Rita and Yvette, who’d already faced a setback in the Speed Bump after placing last in Cuba. The sisters stamped Christmas Island on letters quickly—if a little messily—and had a good laugh over the situation. The laughs turned to gritted teeth once they were U-Turned.

Jill and Emmett made it to the Pit Stop—the Louisbourg Lighthouse—mere steps in front of the girls, landing a trip for two to Mexico and making the east coast proud. I can’t wait to see how Jill replaces the shoe she lost; I’m pretty sure she didn’t pack and extra pair.

Rita and Yvette made a game of it and battled back from the Speed Bump, but weren’t able overcome the setback and were eliminated.

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

  1. Jillian and Emmett (trip for two to Mexico City)
  2. Steph and Kristen
  3. Frankie and Amy
  4. Joel and Ashley
  5. Rita and Yvette (eliminated)

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

Image courtesy of Bell Media.


Link: Q&A: Motive showrunner Dennis Heaton bids farewell to beloved crime drama

From Francois Marchand of the Vancouver Sun:

Link: Q&A: Motive showrunner Dennis Heaton bids farewell to beloved crime drama
“Before I got the (cancellation) news I was thinking about Season Four, and Season Five, and Season Six. I had a story arc for Angie for Season Five that I was originally going to write Season Four to. And then I got the news, and what ended up happening is that I took those ideas for those later seasons and incorporated aspects of them into the arc for Season Four. In a way, Season Four is actually Seasons Four, Five and Six.” Continue reading.


Future of Super Channel originals Slasher, What Would Sal Do? and Tiny Plastic Men in limbo

Note: This story is a re-post of the original, which was published earlier this month and lost during a website crash.

It wasn’t the news the creators and producers of Slasher, What Would Sal Do? and Tiny Plastic Men wanted to hear. Making a television show in Canada is difficult enough, but it’s impossible when the company responsible for broadcasting your series goes into creditor protection.

That’s the sad scenario facing the trio of original Canadian productions after Super Channel’s parent company, Allarco Entertainment, was granted creditor protection for 30 days under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act in early June. Now, two months later, things are dire. All three properties have been released back to the production companies to be shopped around to new broadcasters. Because the case is still in the courts, the series’ creators, showrunners and producers aren’t able to comment, but Super Channel did provide an official statement regarding What Would Sal Do?

“Unfortunately, we will not be moving forward with the series at this time,” Melissa Kajpust, head of creative development, said. “Due to our recent CCAA filing we have had to do some financial restructuring and unfortunately this was one of the projects affected.” That, to put it frankly, sucks. Shot in Sudbury, Ont., Sal stars Dylan Taylor as entitled underachiever, Sal, who is challenged to be a good person when he discovers he’s the Second Coming of Christ. The modern day parable also stars Jennifer Dale as Maria, Sal’s mother, a virgin and devoted catholic, Ryan McDonald as Vince, Sal’s best friend and Scott Thompson as the career driven Father Luke, Maria’s friend and confidant. TV, Eh? visited the set while cameras were rolling and we’ve seen the first couple of episodes and it’s not only damn funny and boundary-pushing, but it’s heartfelt. Taylor, in particular, is splendid as Sal.

Sal is written, created and executive produced by Andrew De Angelis alongside writers Kurt Seaton, Mark Forward, Alex Levine, Mark DeAngelis and Brandy Hewitt. Sal director Samir Rehem has been nominated for a Directors Guild of Canada Award for his work on the pilot episode, an additional kick in the crotch for a series that has eight instalments filmed, edited, in the can and ready for broadcast. And yet it has nowhere to be broadcast. New Metric Media is currently seeking a home for the series.

If there is a second season of Slasher, it won’t be on Super Channel. Created by Aaron Martin, the horror series—filmed in and around Sudbury and Parry Sound, Ont.—starred Katie McGrath as Sarah Bennett, a young woman who returns to the small town where she was born, only to find herself the centrepiece in a series of horrifying copycat murders based on the widely known, grisly killings of her parents. Slasher co-starred Brandon Jay McLaren, Wendy Crewson, Steve Byers and Dean McDermott. The series’ production company, Shaftesbury, couldn’t comment on what was happening with regard to a sophomore season.

Tiny Plastic Men, meanwhile, was in the middle of production on Season 4 when the filing shut them down. The Canadian Screen Award and Canadian Comedy Award nominee, from Mosaic Entertainment, stars writers Chris Craddock, Mark Meer and Matt Alden as Crad, October and Addison, three man-boys who test bizarre toy prototypes in their playroom of an office at the eccentric Gottfried Brothers Toy and Train Company.

Fingers crossed things are sorted out for all three.