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

Link: How a comic book heroine inspired an animation empire

From Martin Knelman of the Toronto Star:

How a comic book heroine inspired an animation empire
When Hirsh, Loubert and Clive Smith formed a film-production company in 1971, they chose the name Nelvana because of the comic book. It had a nice mystical ring to it, it was Canadian and it sounded a bit like “nirvana.”

It took years before Nelvana became a powerhouse factory for TV animation for children. A turning point came in 1977 when George Lucas chose Nelvana to make a 10-minute cartoon as part of a holiday Star Wars project. That led eventually to two series of Star Wars cartoons. Continue reading.

Link: Brad Smith sharpens his blade for Food Network’s ‘Chopped Canada’

From Sean Fitzgerald of 24 Hrs:

Brad Smith sharpens his blade for Food Network’s ‘Chopped Canada’
Brad Smith likes to talk food. The ex-CFL player, who recently transformed his image from reality show personality on The Bachelor Canada to TV interviewer on Breakfast Television, has joined the Food Network’s Chopped Canada as the host for its third season. The new episodes start airing in January, but you’ll be able to watch the affable Smith before that, as he hosts the five-part special Chopped Canada Teen Tournament starting on Nov. 28. Continue reading.

Comments and queries for the week of November 27

Your favourite Canadian TV shows of 2015

It was a hard choice to choose but my No. 1 will always be Bitten. —Chris

Where’s The Stanley Dynamic? :) —Isabel

We just added it to the poll!

I had a really difficult time picking just five, but my choices were Orphan Black, Vikings, Rookie Blue, Remedy and X Company. The next five after those would be Degrassi, When Calls the Heart, Bitten, Mohawk Girls and Still Standing. —Ally

I could easily pick 10! So many good shows on CBC! —Kate

It was hard to pick five — I wanted to pick Love It or List It and Dragons’ Den and a few more. So many good Canadian shows… —Maggy

So many hard choices. You’ve reminded me I haven’t caught up on a few shows! —Iris

Season 2 of The Other Side returns to APTN

I’ve just watched the program on orbs and have two orbs pictures I wish that Jeff could see. Both were at the birthday of my husbands’ sister in 2010, two years after he passed away. One definitely has his face in it when enlarged and the second is a half orb between a picture of his siblings exactly where he would have fit in. I totally believe that orbs are spiritual. —Eleanor


Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? or via @tv_eh.

Production begins in Toronto on Global’s Houdini & Doyle

From a media release:

Shaw Media announced today that production has begun on Houdini & Doyle in the Toronto area. Starring Michael Weston (Six Feet UnderHouse) and Stephen Mangan (Episodes) along with Canadian actress Rebecca Liddiard (Between, MsLabelled), the mystery adventure drama series, scheduled to premiere on Global in 2016, is shooting the final two episodes of the 10-episode drama on location in Toronto and Southern Ontario until mid December. A Canada/UK treaty co-production from Shaftesbury and Big Talk Productions, the first eight episodes of the series were filmed in Manchester, UK from July to November 2015.

In Houdini & Doyle, Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) – master magician, escape artist and paranormal debunker – and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Stephen Mangan) – prolific writer, creator of “Sherlock Holmes” and paranormal aficionado – grudgingly join forces in 1901 London and Canada to investigate unsolved and inexplicable crimes with a supernatural slant in collaboration with New Scotland Yard Constable Adelaide Stratton (Rebecca Liddiard). Inspired by true events, the series will draw heavily on the rich history of the period.

The 10-episode drama was ordered straight to series for ITV Encore in the UK and Global in Canada and licensed in the US on FOX. Jeff Renfroe (RemedyHaven, Beauty and the Beast) is serving as director of the final two episodes filmed in Canada.

Related: Our sneak peek at Houdini & Doyle

Discovery heads into a new Frontier

Allan Hawco is up front that Frontier is not “an Allan Hawco vanity project.”

He says that a couple of times during the course of our chat about Discovery Canada’s first foray into scripted television. Yes, he’s set to co-star in the six-parter about the fight for wealth and power in the North American fur trade of the late 18th century, but he’s not the lead. That honour goes to Jason Momoa. Instead, Hawco will remain largely behind the scenes, serving as an executive producer alongside his fellow Take the Shot Production partners, two of whom—Rob (on the right in the above picture) and Peter Blackie—actually conceived of the project.

“There are so many stories to mine from history around the world, especially here in Canada, that has never fully been exploited,” Hawco says. “That’s just bizarre to me. I think there is a real appetite from Canadians to hear their stories told in an interesting and thought-provoking way.” Hawco, who starred, directed, wrote and produced Republic of Doyle for six seasons describes Frontier as being the story of the birth of capitalism in North America, and the greed, blood and power that went along with it. Frontier begins with The Hudson Bay Company, which has a monopoly on what’s happening during the fur trade in the region that will one day be Canada. Smaller factions seek out their own piece of the pie; Hawco portrays Douglas Brown, who plots alongside his brothers to steal some of the HBC’s thunder.

Rob Blackie explains the idea for Frontier came about thanks to a chance meeting at MIPCOM between business parter Alex Patrick and Discovery’s Edwina Follows. The network’s interest in having more dramatic, scripted programming lead to the brothers kicking around ideas for a time period history-based series; they presented Follows with two projects and Frontier was greenlit.

‘It’s an interesting, super-violent part of Canadian history that not a lot of people know about,” Blackie says. “As soon as we started researching it, we were shocked at how little we knew and how conflictual the time period was. The deeper we got, the more interesting it got.” Momoa plays the series’ anti-hero, a part-Irish, part-Cree man named Declan who works with a gang and becomes an unlikely host to a boy named Michael who has been living on the streets of London. Other cast includes Alun Armstrong, Landon Liboiron, Zoe Boyle and Jessica Matten.

Production just wrapped filming in England and has set up shop in St. John’s until a Christmas hiatus. Then it’s on to Louisbourg, N.S., to film at the famous fort and Morrisburg, Ont., to capture action at Fort Wellington in February.

“Winter has an inherent beauty and, if you can capture it, an amazing production value,” Blackie says. “And it’s true to the story. Winter was an important part of the fur trade.”

Frontier debuts on Discovery Canada and Netflix outside of Canada in 2016.

(Photo credit: Duncan de Young on set of Frontier.)