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.
The beginning of the end is drawing near for 2017 Canadian Screen Award winner for Best Dramatic Series, ORPHAN BLACK, and in anticipation of the Season 5 premiere on Saturday, June 10 at 10 p.m. ET, Space has revealed 10 first look images. Each episodic image offers clues to what unfolds in the much-anticipated final season of the Space original series.
Donnie (Kristian Bruun), Alison (Tataina Maslany), and Felix (Jordan Gavaris)
Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) and Ira (Ari Millen)
Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), and Kira (Skyler Wexler)
Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) and Cosima (Tatiana Maslany)
Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) and Sarah (Tatiana Maslany)
Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy)
Ferdinand (James Frain)
The fifth and final season of ORPHAN BLACK brings Sarah and the sestras (Tatiana Maslany) to their darkest days in an effort to finally cut off the head of the snake and win their freedom. Throughout the season, the sisters individually delve into their past to confront personal struggles and emerge stronger through these self-explorations. Despite the great risk to attain freedom for themselves, their families, and the host of clone sisters they’ve yet to meet, clone club uncovers the missing pieces of the insidious conspiracy to finally learn the story behind their origin.
You might say Bell Media was the saving grace for What Would Sal Do? Or maybe the Canadian company was doing God’s work? Whatever the cliché, without CraveTV, Sal might never have been aired. It’s a resurrection of biblical proportions. OK, we’ll stop now.
All eight half-hour Season 1 episodes of What Would Sal Do? arrive Friday on CraveTV, but in the summer of 2016, Andrew De Angelis’ comic creation was dead in the water. Last June, Allarco Entertainment was granted creditor protection. Allarco owns Super Channel, Sal‘s original home. With creditor protection in place, What Would Sal Do?, Slasher and Tiny Plastic Men couldn’t air on the pay channel and were released to their production companies to be shopped around. Sal‘s producers, New Metric Media, landed a deal with Bell Media. No wonder, really; New Metric’s Letterkenny has been a success for CraveTV and Sal is a natural fit.
Sal stars Dylan Taylor (most recently of CBC’s Pure) as the titular character, a foul-mouthed overachiever who has lived a life of laziness and questionable decisions in Sudbury, Ont. That all changes when his mother, Maria (Jennifer Dale) blows his mind with the following info: Sal is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
“The show actually came from two ideas in my head,” De Angelis—who has written for Mr. D, 18 to Life and Orphan Black—says of Sal‘s origins. “One was just this thought of if there was a Second Coming, how would it go in today’s world? What would the difficulties be? I’ve also been fascinated with the entitled generation who are raised—mine included—spoiled rotten and they just think they’re great and that everything they do is wonderful. Once they’re adults they’ll realize how ill-prepared for the world they are.”
That’s established in the opening minutes of the debut, “Punches Pilot,” as director Samir Rehem pulls in on Sal sitting at the dining room table. A distraught Maria—a dear friend has just passed away—slumps into a seat, heartbroken. Sal, hoping to help, offers to make her some pasta. Just one problem.
“So, how the fuck do you make pasta?” he asks.
“Oh my God,” Maria sighs. It’s then she reveals to Sal his lofty expectations. He is, understandably, incredulous … and overwhelmed.
“It’s a pleasure to be in a Canadian comedy,” Taylor told us during a 2015 set visit to Sudbury. “We’re playing this so straight. It’s written so well and the scenarios are so funny. This is clown work and a clown is someone who is just in over their head. Sal is told he’s Jesus and he’s woefully unprepared for it.”
At first blush, Sal isn’t a likable guy. Strutting around Sudbury, wearing tearaway pants and making fun of everyone isn’t the stuff of a lead, more like the obnoxious friend. Taylor says the balance they struck to connect with viewers is to portray Sal as someone who is a good person at his core who “became a douchebag because he was spoiled and because of how he was raised.” The love he has for Maria and best friend Vince (Ryan McDonald) makes him endearing.
“This was the opportunity to play a completely unique and original role like nobody has ever seen before,” Dale said of signing on to Sal. “If anybody had said to me 10 years ago, ‘This is what you’ll be doing,’ I could never have dreamed the part.” Aside from the series’ originality, Dale said Maria is a grounded character full of contradictions. She is a religious person whose doubts are creeping in, has a mouth like a truck driver and has no sexual experience.
“It’s not because she’s ugly or anything,” Dale explained. “She has made this choice and that’s a very hard thing to imagine. It’s kind of like playing an alien.”
What Would Sal Do? marks not only a departure for Dale but Scott Thompson too. After almost exclusively comedic roles throughout his career, the Kids in the Hall member jumped at playing Father Luke because it’s so different from his usual gigs.
“There have been other somewhat serious parts I’ve been cast in, but the difference in those is that they had an agenda,” Thompson said during a break in filming. “This is the first part that’s just a part. I’ve been hired on [in the past] because of my comedy but also because I was gay and they wanted me to do gay parts. [Father Luke] is not about my persona and my baggage.” Sal is a comedy, but there a several serious and downright tender moments. One notable few minutes in Episode 1 features Luke and Sal arguing over religion and peanut allergies; you see the paternal qualities in Luke that extend past his title.
“You understand that Father Luke is not a charlatan, he actually believes,” Thompson said. “What I like about that scene is Luke is filled with this conviction that God is talking through Sal. It’s funny, it’s dramatic and he also wants to use this to advance his career.”
Season 1 of What Would Sal Do? arrives Friday on CraveTV.
The folks at Heartland ranch have been through a lot this season. After being away for months Ty (Graham Wardle) returned to Canada a very sick man. Amy (Amber Marshall) is about to give birth. Lou (Michelle Morgan) is struggling to expand the business into New York City and Tim (Chris Potter) … well, Tim’s world is always in disarray.
Georgie’s life has been a roller coaster this past year too. She witnessed Lou and Peter (Gabriel Hogan) break up, then Mitch (Kevin McGarry) started dating Lou, she competed to land a spot on the Extreme Team and now she and Adam (Kataem O’Connor) have broken up. That’s a lot for someone to endure, so we landed a chat with Alisha Newton to discuss her character’s experiences in Season 10 and a hint as to what Sunday’s season finale of Heartland, “Greater Expectations,” is all about. (And, as most fans already know, Heartland has been renewed for Season 11.)
Congratulations on five seasons of being on Heartland.
Alisha Newton: Thanks! It’s been quite the journey.
You’re not filming now, are you?
No, we’re on a break between seasons and I’m just catching up on school. I’m in a program where I can attend school when I’m home but the rest of my courses can be done online. It can be really hard to focus on set sometimes because I’m in and out of the school trailer a lot. It’s hard to stay caught up when you’re given that must responsibility and you don’t have teachers making sure you’re doing your work.
Georgie has been through a lot over the past couple of seasons. Lou and Peter separated and Mitch has been dating Lou. Georgie then competed to be on the Extreme Team, helped out Bob and Ty at the animal sanctuary and now the situation with Adam. What have you thought about all of these different storylines?
I’ve really loved all of the storylines I’ve had these past few seasons. It’s been a lot of fun to play a character that’s grown so much over the years. I’m really grateful to have these really interesting storylines and a lot of teens can relate to them. I really love them.
Is it tough to play emotional scenes?
Because I’ve been acting for so long it kind of comes naturally for me now to turn on the waterworks and get into it. It can be hard some days when I can’t seem to focus or if I’m dehydrated if can be really hard to cry sometimes.
That’s the secret to crying? Water?
Yup, drink lots of water. [Laughs.]
Heartland’s storylines have always been grounded in reality. It would have been so easy to have Georgie and Adam get back together, but instead, they’re just friends. I respect that.
It makes it a lot more interesting when the characters get rejected and it’s not always a happy ending. It’s a lot more realistic than having them get back together. It’s interesting to be able to play the relationship that isn’t always perfect and we’re not always doing the same thing. It is a little bit rocky.
The winter season finale was really dramatic. Tim had a concussion and the horse trailer tipped over with one trapped inside.
Personally, I love those scripts. I loved filming that episode because I love working with Chris [Potter] and Amber [Marshall] because they’re brilliant actors and the scenes for that episode were really well shot. I like it when everyone is on the edge of their seat and not sure what’s going to happen.
I’ve loved the scenes Georgie has had with Jade this season. How much fun have you and Madison Cheeatow had this year?
I love working with Madison. She is definitely one of my best friends on-set and we’re just as good friends off set. I like that Heartland shows a lot of the younger generation’s storylines as well. It’s really cool.
Do you have a favourite horse co-star?
This season my favourite horse was probably Morgan, the horse that survived the barn fire. At the beginning of shooting that episode, a lot of the male wranglers on set were complaining because Amber and I and the female wranglers were turning him into a girly horse. Before he was working with me he was this tough horse and the guy wranglers loved him. And now he’s a treat suck and loves snuggles. [Laughs.]
You own horses and train them in real life. Could you compete in a real Extreme Team?
Every once in awhile they’ll have me perform a bit of a little trick. In one of the last episodes, I was working with a horse named Tab and was trying to train him to be a trick riding horse and was doing these stunts where I would get half off the horse and then putting my leg back over. We were just doing that at a trot and it was so difficult. I don’t know if I would ever join the Extreme Team or do trick riding myself because it scares me so much.
What can you tell me about Sunday’s season finale?
I think it’s going to be a little bit of everything. It’s going to be very exciting and everyone will be on the edge of their seat for sure. The ending of the last episode is one of my favourite endings yet in the series and I’m really excited for fans to see it.
Heartland‘s season finale airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on CBC.