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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Wynonna Earp, Letterkenny and X Company top WGC Screenwriting Awards

Writers for Wynonna Earp, Letterkenny, X Company and Degrassi: Next Class were among the winners at the 21st Annual Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards in Toronto on Monday night.

The event, held at the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning’s Koerner Hall, celebrated the country’s screenwriting talent in television and film. Wynonna Earp writer Alexandra Zarowny won Best Script from a Rookie Series for her Season 1 script “Bury Me With My Guns On,” and thanked her fellow writers and fans for their support.

“There is an entire writing room behind this award,” she said. “This goes to James Hurst, Brendan Yorke, Caitlyn D. Fryers and Emily Andras. I love you, Em, and as the last five years have shown, I’ll follow you anywhere. And to all our social media fans, Wynonna Earp is the little engine that could and I’m so proud of this little demon-hunting show and the LGBTQ community was a huge, fierce, loud and proud part of that. They got a second season made.”

Letterkenny‘s Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney won the TV Comedy for their Season 1 script, “Super Soft Birthday,” while X Company‘s Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis took home a trophy for the Season 2 episode, “August 19th.”

Comedian and writer Laurie Elliott hosted, getting the night off on the right foot. “To all the writers in the room, look at us in our outside clothes!” she began. “This is a fancy party to celebrate writers.”

Andrew Wreggitt was the recipient of The Denis McGrath Award for his service to the Writers Guild of Canada, Aaron Martin was given the Showrunner Award, Diana Frances the Sondra Kelly Award and Daniel Whidden the Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize.

The television category winners are:

Odd Squad, Season 2 “Drop Gadget Repeat,” written by Tim McKeon

Movie of the Week & Miniseries
Bruno & Boots: Go Jump in the Pool, written by Adam Barken

Best Script from a Rookie Series
Wynonna Earp, Season 1 “Bury Me With My Guns On,” written by Alexandra Zarowny

TV Comedy
Letterkenny, Season 1 “Super Soft Birthday,” written by Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney

TV Drama
X Company, Season 2 “August 19th,” written by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern

Tweens & Teens
Degrassi: Next Class, Season 1 “#TeamFollowBack,” written by Ian MacIntyre


Link: Wynonna Earp: What we learned about Season 2 at C2E2

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Wynonna Earp: What we learned about Season 2 at C2E2
The cold Calgary weather where the show shoots is still very much a character in its own right in Season 2. While Rozon joked that he “thought it wasn’t that cold,” his costar Anderson was quick to disagree. “It was very cold. I’m still defrosting,” he joked. While it makes shooting rough, Andras thinks it’s worth it in the end. “It looks beautiful though. That’s one thing I kind of like because you don’t’ see a lot of winter on television. It gives that added danger,” she said. Continue reading. 


Another Side of Canada: The Story of Us — book-ended in gold

Episode 5 of CBC’s Canada: The Story of Us, entitled “Expansion,” is far better than what we have seen thus far, tackling Canada from sea to sea to sea.

Dr. Hayden King

We begin Sunday night with the story of B.C.’s gold rush and end with the story of the Klondike gold rush sandwiching the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway, a vital bargaining chip used by Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald to cement Confederacy. But we learn the expense of this iron road is paid not just by currency, but also in the blood of both First Nations people and Chinese immigrants. We also see the return of Dr. Hayden King, and this time he is not tokenized by the CBC, as he was in Episode 1.

Overall, I found the story of the Klondike most interesting and/or engaging. The reiteration of the grit and determination that those who explored and sought their fortunes for me always grabs my attention. What kind of person does this, and that so many were driven to do so? When David Plain and I spoke, he too was pleased by the retelling of the history of the gold rush, but did mention:

“I was surprised to hear, only four minutes in, a professor of anthropology said, ‘the quest for gold was something that almost all cultures shared.’ In the Indigenous cultures of North America gold didn’t hold any real importance as a ‘precious metal.’ Nor was it a thing that was necessarily sought after. It was a shiny metal that glittered and had some use in the making of jewellery, but was too soft to be of much use in the manufacturing of the really important things in life such as tools, weapons, arrowheads, etc. But Professor Davis is right if he was talking about western cultures. Gold drives them crazy.”

This episode also attacked a few of the darker episodes in Canada’s history. The treatment of First Nations and the unfairness of the Numbered Treaties, Louis Riel—despite being all too brief—and the importation of slave labour from China, all for the purpose of uniting this country. David also said he “was particularly pleased to hear admissions that those who resisted the railroad, and western expansions were only looking to protect their people and their way of life. The Metis leader Louis Riel is described as passionate about protecting Metis rights, and Big Bear is described as one of the true heroes of the new nation and as a man of peace.”

Was it right for the Canadian Government to do this? I think in hindsight most of us can say no. But we need to know about it and recognize it in a revealing light.

What I do have to applaud at this juncture is the scope of this undertaking. Canada’s history is as vast as the country itself, and no one person can be an authority on everything. While there are gaps, and there is a lack of depth on any one topic, I do feel Canada: The Story of Us deserves merit. Even the gaps and their repercussions have sparked conversations that may not have been had otherwise. Anyone unfamiliar with any one segment may be driven by curiosity to learn more. I know this episode motivated me to quickly review items of interest, particularly my own collection of reports from the North-West Mounted Police.

However, I have to wonder if this episode was re-cut and re-edited in response to the backlash that CBC has been receiving in its treatment of in particular First Nations’ history and the darker blemishes on our past. CBC is now hosting weekly online interactive chats with historians on Tuesday evenings in order to address omissions. The format we have taken here on TV-Eh to review the series was in response to address those same gaps. I noticed a marked difference in the positionality of the storytelling this week, as did David.

“This episode has made me feel thankful that I didn’t change the channel,” he said. “It was not afraid to cast government decisions and entrepreneurs’ actions in a bad light. Things such as the numbered treaties and the treatment of the country’s Indigenous people are called a stain on Canada’s history. And the exploiting of imported Chinese workers is called one of the several black marks on the nation’s past. However, all in all, I found this episode much more evenly presented than previous ones.”

That both of us noticed a change, but each of us from very different cultures, I would be very curious to learn if indeed this episode was somehow retooled at the last minute. Either way, “Expansions,” seemed to broaden its own ideological horizons with respect to the marginalized people in Canada’s past, and the blemishes upon our united history, and that is a good thing. That these black marks are sandwiched in gold I find rather ironic from a teaching perspective. When we assess, we try to “hamburger” an area that needs improvement with positives on either side. Bounded in gold indeed.

My thanks go out once again to David Plain for sharing his thoughts on this week’s episode.

Canada: The Story of Us airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

David Plain B.R.S., M.T.S., is the author of five books with a sixth, The Exmouth Chronicles: A Memoir due out  April 2017 by Trafford Publications. You can reach David on Facebook or Twitter.


APTN’s Mohawk Girls ending after five seasons

It’s the end of the road for Mohawk Girls. That’s the word from co-creator, co-executive producer and director Tracey Deer, who broke the news to TV, Eh? during a one-on-one interview at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference. Deer was part of a panel entitled I Am: A Discussion on the Female Gaze alongside Shoot the Messenger‘s Jennifer Holness, Degrassi‘s Courtney Jane Walker, Odd Squad‘s Robby Hoffman and moderated by Saving Hope‘s Katrina Saville.

“This is our final season,” Deer confirmed. “[Cynthia Knight] and I have always known where we wanted to get these girls, from the three-arc conception of the show, so we’re doing it.”

Filmed and set in Montreal and the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Mohawk Girls stars Brittany LeBorgne as Zoe, Heather White as Caitlin, Maika Harper as Anna and Jennifer Pudavick as Bailey. Pre-production on Season 5 begins next week; the last six episodes were greenlit by APTN two weeks ago.

Mohawk Girls has been nominated for several Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Comedy Series, Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series, Best Writing in a Comedy Program or Series and Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Comedic Role for LeBorgne.

What can fans expect from Season 5? Deer was mum on details but did say the series’ final scene makes her cry every time she thinks about it.

“The final scene is going to be traumatic [to film],” Deer admits. “There is an event that is going to take up a lot of the final episode and there is a pool involved.”

Are you upset Mohawk Girls is ending? Do you have a message for the cast and co-creators? Comment below.