All posts by Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.

High Voltage: Energetic Spencer Watts stars in Gusto’s Watts on the Grill

Gusto has got their hands full with Spencer Watts, and that’s a good thing. The wildly energetic chef, who already hosts fellow Gusto series in Fish the Dish and Spencer’s Big 30, returns with a brand-new program that shows off not only his cooking skills on the grill but his larger-than-life personality.

Debuting on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Gusto, Watts on the Grill isn’t your typical barbecue program. Yes, there is a shiny gas grill, plenty of ingredients and a stunning backdrop—the Ottawa skyline—but something is missing, at least in the episode I watched: meat. Instead of ribs, steaks and burgers as the order of the day, that half-hour instalment was all about sides and desserts prepared on the barbecue. What did Watts make? Scalloped potatoes, a rocket and halloumi salad, stuffed pears and dessert kabobs.

“I want people to use their barbecues for more than steak,” Watts says on the phone prior to a media day to promote the 13-episode first season. “Especially when the weather is nice, you can go out to the barbecue and time it all out and make a rotisserie of grilled vegetables, meat and fish.”

If the screener episode I watched was any indication, not only will viewers—Gusto is in a free preview by the way—be inspired to recreate Watts’ dishes in their own homes, but they’ll be entertained by the man himself. The classically-trained chef is high energy, enthusiastic and full of good humour. His jokes, facial expressions and charm are as refreshing as the recipes—look for smoked chicken, steak, and tips and tricks in the coming weeks—he whips up. I’ve watched a lot of cooking shows, and Watts is a unique talent.

“Everybody needs to eat and I can understand that for a lot of people cooking can be terrifying,” Watts says. “I’m having fun. When I get really excited about things, I want that to come through the camera. I want people to finish watching Watts on the Grill and say, ‘You know what? I’m doin’ it.'”

Watts on the Grill airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Gusto.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.


The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition — Meet Chewy & Happy, Courtney & Adam and Dylan & Kwame

The Amazing Race‘s 10 teams have finally been revealed and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only is this season of the Race—returning Tuesday, July 3, at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV—being dubbed Heroes Edition because of the inspirational folks involved, but we actually got a chance to meet the teams before they began the Race. Not only that, but we were among a small group of Canadian media who observed a leg of the Race being run! More on that later; in the meantime, check out our interviews with the 10 teams competing this summer!

Corey “Chewy” Liddle and Mark “Happy” LaVerdiere
Occupations: Retired Air Force Pilots

You were nominated to participate in The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition. Any reservations about taking part?
Happy: None. We’re pumped. We made a video about what we did and how we got our call signs.

So, should I ask how you got your call signs?
Chewy: Sure! First of all, you don’t pick your call signs. This isn’t Top Gun. It almost always comes out of something you’ve done that is stupid or by mistake.

Happy: And there is a process to it. You gather with all of your peers and there is a naming ceremony.

Chewy: I broke my ankle playing hockey 15-20 years ago. I’ve already got a bit of a limp, a bit of a strut. And one day I was walking to the jet and I was wearing all of my survival gear, so my strut was even more pronounced as a result of that. Someone just said, off the cuff, ‘Man, you look like you’re walking like a Wookie.’ It was just one of those things.

Happy: For me, there is a very handsome actor by the name of Adam Sandler that did this movie in the 90s. And with my hockey background and playing golf … when the whole Happy Gilmore thing came out, it instantly stuck. And, as a fighter pilot, I wanted an aggressive call sign. No, Happy.

Do you think The Amazing Race Canada will be easier than some of the things you have done, seen and experienced as part of the Canadian Armed Forces?
Chewy: It’s not going to be easy, no. I think we’ll be able to use the skills that we’ve learned over the years, especially being able to approach these challenges in a calm, cool, collected manner and methodically work through our options. I think we’re well-suited to handle some of the challenges.

Happy: We’re the oldest team too. We’re almost 50 years old, but I think our life experience and our situational awareness will allow us to keep cool under pressure.

Do either of you have a secret skill that you think might give you a leg up on the competition?
Happy: We’ve never been asked that, but we’re just average Canadians. We’re normal dudes. We’re the dad. Our skill is just working the problem and strategize. Even if we’re the last team to check in and having difficulties we just have to stay the course.

Will you team up with others if it means you succeed in a task?
Chewy: We’ve agreed that, in the early stages, we’ll help other teams. And decision we make will be to benefit our game, obviously, but we’ll try to do it through fair play. The teams that did the best seemed to minimize their own errors and not worry about the other teams.

Courtney Berglind and Adam Kovacs
Occupations: Nurse (Courtney) and Firefighter (Adam)

Do you know you nominated you?
Courtney: We assume our friends and family.

Adam: Whoever it was, we’re super grateful.

This is a Heroes Edition of The Amazing Race Canada. What do you think makes a hero?
Courtney: There are so many different heroes. We’re so honoured to be on this season. We were going to apply before we found out what kind of season it was.

Adam: It’s many-faceted. You can have your everyday heroes, someone who makes the smallest difference in somebody else’s life through just a smile or a word. That can mean the world to someone. Or it can be someone who puts themselves out there and sacrifices their own time or money or well-being for another person.

The two of you interact with people, sometimes on the very worst days of their lives. How do you deal with that? Do you talk it through together?
Courtney: We’re incredibly lucky to have each other in that sense. People who don’t have that type of job have a hard time relating to it. To keep in mind that you’re doing it to help somebody is a good way to keep your spirits up. You know you’re making a difference and you’re there at a time when someone needs you.

Adam: Our department is really getting on board with the road to mental wellness. The cliché of the tough fireman who is immune to everything has kind of gone by the wayside. It’s more about your mental well-being and watching out for the other guy. And, at home, having somebody that I can talk to and relate to, joke with … talk about how something affected me … it takes a load off your shoulders.

You deal with stress every day. Will that help you in The Amazing Race?
Courtney: We perform well under pressure. I was like that in school. I was a procrastinator and would leave my papers until two days before they were due. I would stay up all night and get it done. It’s a totally different experience in the sense that there will be things that are super-scary.

Adam: You never know what you’re going to get when you go in to work and it’s the same thing here. We’ll take whatever comes at us and be as ready as we can.

Dylan Elias and Kwame Osei
Occupations: Youth Mentor/Sport Program Developer (Dylan) and Phys Ed Teacher/Football Coach (Kwame)

What is a hero to you?
Dylan: Someone who gives service to others as much as they humanly can.

Kwame: I feel the same way. Everybody in the world can be a hero. It doesn’t matter how many people consider you a hero. As long as one person considers you a hero, you’re a hero.

What did you do for your tape?
Kwame: What we usually do. Me bugging him.

Dylan: We told a couple of stories.

Kwame: We did it at his house surrounded by his cats.

Dylan: Don’t talk about my babies.

Kwame: His cats that he wishes were dogs. [Laughs.]

Why will you two win? What will put you on the podium and not anyone else?
Kwame: We have the drive that is very rare. Dylan and I firmly believe in a whole bigger cause. If it was just he and I, it would be easy for us to quit any challenge. But we know this is bigger than us. There is more to it. We’re not going to give up, and we’re going to make sure we win for the thousands of people who are supporting us.

Dylan: This is our cause. This is what drives us.

Anything that might slow you down?
Dylan: Definitely math. We realized neither of us is very strong in that area [Laughs.] but I think we’re both good enough that we’ll get through.

Kwame: We might need to create some kind of alliances along the way.

In what circumstances would you work with other teams aside from math?
Kwame: Find the math people early! And, maybe some other team will want to use us for our physicality. A wise man once told me, ‘If you’re not being used, you’re useless.’

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Comments and queries for the week of June 15

I love the free-spirited atmosphere of [Workin’ Moms] storylines and the characters seem to enjoy their parts. It is real, entertaining and the length of each episode is ideal. Thank you Catherine Reitman :-) I am looking forward to Season 3. —Marilyn

Finally got a chance to catch up with the first two years. The show feels raw yet soothing. I love the energy and seeing the rainbow of friendships. Every Kate needs an Anne and vice versa. —Chad

I wouldn’t complain if Bell cancelled Mystbusters, but Daily Planet is one of a very few worthwhile shows left watching! So incredibly sad. —Lise

I guess I can cancel my subscription to Discovery Channel now! Daily Planet was the only thing I watched on this channel. Sad to see it go! —Herbert

This was about the only reason I was still watching regular TV (except for hockey) this was the only REALLY GOOD SHOW left on a Canadian Channel. Sad to see it go. Strange how this will help them if they are struggling with attracting advertisers using the current line-up of the crappy shows from the U.S.A.? —Mike

As a science teacher, I would always talk about, refer to or mention an episode to my students. I’m just flabbergasted about this very sad news. —M. Forest


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


Anaïd Productions and AMI-tv announce the start of production on the second season of Mind Set Go

From a media release:

Following the success of the first season of Mind Set Go, Anaïd Productions and AMI-tv announced today that production on the second season of the Vancouver-shot documentary series has begun.

Mind Set Go follows the three-month journey of eight Canadians as they push their limits and overcome the physical and mental barriers preventing them from reaching their fitness and wellness goals. Season 2 of Mind Set Go will air in 2019 on AMI-tv and will feature eight, one-hour episodes.

In each episode, one participant seeks to understand and overcome their negative coping behaviours with insight from returning fitness and health experts Lowell and Julie Taylor (Amazing Race Canada), and from Canadian Paralympians and para-athletes. Learning that a positive mindset can go a long way, these athletes, who have triumphed over adversities in their own lives, share their experiences with participants to help them overcome their biggest obstacles. At the end of three months, each participant tackles a demanding fitness goal that reveals the progress they’ve made throughout their journey.

Mind Set Go features Integrated Described Video (IDV) and is accessible to audience members who are blind or partially sighted.

The series is developed and produced by Anaïd Productions in association with Accessible Media Inc., with the participation of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Canada Media Fund, Rogers Telefund, and the Province of British Columbia Film Incentive BC.


Link: Banff: Netflix launches Canadian charm offensive amid bid to regulate U.S. digital players

From Etan Vlessing of The Hollywood Reporter:

Link: Banff: Netflix launches Canadian charm offensive amid bid to regulate U.S. digital players
Behind the scenes, Tanz and fellow Netflix execs heard a familiar chorus from local critics about the U.S. streamer’s evil algorithms, its unfair Canadian market advantage and how it doesn’t play by the same rules as domestic broadcasters. And on the eve of Banff, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in Ottawa unveiled an expert panel to investigate ways to regulate online video and music streaming services and tax their growing business presence north of the border. Continue reading.