Everything about Flashpoint, eh?

Poll: Who are your favourite Canadian TV cops?

Have you heard the news, Rookie Blue fans? Season 6 of Global’s homegrown cop drama returns on Thursday, May 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Andy, Swarek, Oliver, Dov and the rest make up the latest crop of cops created for Canadian TV shows. How do the Rookie Blue folks stack up against Det. Murdoch and the Toronto Constabulary? Where do Haven‘s east coast coppers rate against B.C. boys and girls in blue?

We’ve put together an exhaustive list of current and past Canadian TV cops for you to choose your three favourites from. If we missed any, type them up in the comments section. Let the voting begin!

Who are your favourite Canadian TV cops?

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Link: Can’t-miss Canadian cinematic television

From Amanda Clarke of Toronto Film Scene:

Can’t-miss Canadian cinematic television
General wisdom is that films are superior to television, but there’s no denying that television has become really good in the past few years. As the line between film and television has begun to blur, it’s the big American cable networks that have started to gain a lot of critical attention with big budget cinematic series. It could be said that Canadian television gets less attention, but Canadian television is just so good that you can barely tell the Canadian from the Hollywood on the small screen. Here is some Canadian cinematic television you should check out for the big screen experience in the comfort of your own home. Continue reading.

He Said/She Said: How Canadian does Canadian TV have to be?

Join Greg and Diane on Mondays as we debate a TV-related issue that’s on our minds. This week: How Canadian does Canadian TV have to be?

He said:

It’s an argument I have been reading and discussing for years while I was at TV Guide Canada, and has evolved to be weekly (and often daily) for me at TV, Eh? Just how much should a Canadian TV show prove its Canadian-ness on the small screen?

The topic came up again following last Sunday’s Canadian Screen Awards and Orphan Black winning Best Drama. Among the online backslapping were several commenters that didn’t think Space’s drama was in fact Canadian because of the partnership with BBC America. Let’s put that one to rest right now: Orphan Black is Canadian and always will be.

The other discussion surrounded whether or not Toronto was adequately represented in the show, as if the Canadian flag had to be fluttering in the background or a Canada Post mailbox had to be on every corner. It’s a topic that came up during Flashpoint‘s run too. I recall the characters referring to Toronto streets and buildings where standoffs were occurring, and that was just fine with me.

Are we that self-conscious we need to have “this is Canadian!” trumpeted in every scene of a series that is a Canadian production or co-production? I don’t think so. I watch a lot of international dramas and it doesn’t happen there, nor do we see it south of the border. Television is all about the story and characters for me and the setting comes second. I’d never tune into a program solely because it was filmed in a Canadian city. I don’t watch Motive or Continuum because they are filmed in Vancouver. I didn’t watch Corner Gas because it represented the Prairies. I don’t check out Haven because it’s filmed in Halifax. And to argue that that should be part of the show’s selling point cheapens the product.

A great television show is that regardless of where it is being filmed and that’s no different in this country.

If you really want to know if a program is Canadian or not, wait until the end credits roll: a homegrown series will thank all of the funding and grants that ensured it got on the air in the first place.

She said:

The rules for what qualifies as Canadian content are fairly arcane, but to me, if it’s written and directed by and starring Canadians, it’s Canadian. Period.

However, specificity of place is important to great storytelling. And our homegrown industry should — but often doesn’t — aspire to be great in all facets. The number of Canadian shows set in Genericville leads to much grumbling about our generic shows.

That place doesn’t need to be Canada. My wishlist for the next Canadian literature to be adapted is Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, which is entirely set in India. But it’s very decidedly India, and could only be India.

That place doesn’t even need to be our world. Stargate created its own universe, as does Orphan Black to an extent, despite its real-world grounding.

But the lengths some shows go to never revealing a setting — or only explicitly revealing it after the US broadcaster has pulled out — often add a blandness that should make our industry run screaming. With no detailed sense of setting — even foreign, even fictional — a show loses the ability to use the personality of place as part of the story.

And producers can’t have it both ways or I’m going to call them hypocrites. You can’t market a show as “showing Toronto as Toronto” when onscreen you avoid any mention of setting, avoid shooting licence plates and mail boxes, and only people who live in Toronto would recognize the scenery — if that. Either embrace the setting or don’t pat yourselves on the back for  it.

What riles some of us up is intention. Our Canadian shows are often shorn of any on-screen identity so that they’ll be more appealing to the US market. That inspires neither national pride nor faith in their own storytelling. Tell a great story — and details of setting contribute to great — and international markets will follow.

How many of us are binge-watching British and even Scandinavian shows on Netflix lately? Happy Valley and Broadchurch might not really exist, but they’re set in defined areas of England and now I feel I’ve been there.

The genesis of this website was me sitting in a Banff TV Festival session on how to create Canadian TV that foreign audiences would want to see, and me steaming that they should focus on creating Canadian TV that Canadians want to see. Start there and the rest will be easier.

One of our most popular shows, Murdoch Mysteries, is also popular in the UK and (on a lesser known channel) the US despite being decidedly set in long-ago Toronto. I’d argue “despite” should really say “because of” — it’s a show that embraces and uses its time and place to enhance storytelling.

If the makers of a show seem embarrassed to be too Canadian, it’s no wonder some Canadians are embarrassed of those shows. I can’t deny they’re still Canadian, but I can wish they wouldn’t deny it, either.

TV eh B Cs podcast 10 – Doug Slater’s Designs on Television

Doug Slater

Doug Slater has been Set Designer on Lost Girl, Orphan Black, and Flashpoint. He’s worked as a Set Designer or Art Director on The Listener and Nikita and on such films as Resident Evil: Retribution, Total Recall, The Thing, Devil, Death Race, Lars and the Real Girl, 16 Blocks, and Dawn of the Dead.

He’s currently working on the upcoming science-fiction series Dark Matter and talks about how The Brady Bunch led him to design the deck of a spaceship.

Listen or download below, or subscribe via iTunes or any other podcast catcher with the TV, eh? podcast feed.

Want to become a Patron of the Podcast? We’ve got a Patreon page where you can donate a small amount per podcast and get a sneak peek of each release.

Interview: Flashpoint’s Amy Jo Johnson tackles filmmaking

Credit Flashpoint with re-energizing Amy Jo Johnson. The American actress–she’s currently working on getting her Canadian citizenship–had moved to Montreal and was giving up on acting for good. Then her agent called with an audition that changed and made her fall in love with acting again.

CTV’s Flashpoint ran for five seasons, garnering critical and fan acclaim and turning Johnson, Hugh Dillon, Michael Cram, Enrico Colantoni, David Paetkau and Sergio Di Zio into household names. Johnson says the experiences on Flashpoint gave her the confidence and education to head down the path she’s currently on, writing and directing her own projects. The latest, The Space Between, stars Cram and Sonya Salomaa as Mitch and Jackie, a couple who are desperately trying to get pregnant with no success. The movie recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to amass funding in advance of a spring 2015 shoot.

Before we talk about The Space Between and what’s coming up for you, let’s go back in time to Flashpoint.
Amy Jo Johnson: OK, I like going back to that.

Flashpoint was a multiple award-winning drama that really ushered in a new group of great dramas in this country. What was it like to be a part of that while it was happening?
It was amazing. I had actually just sort of quit acting before I got the show. I had moved my life to Montreal and was trying to decompress and sort of switch gears. And then I got a call for an audition for Flashpoint the same moment I learned that I was pregnant. I was like, ‘OK, I’ll go if they know I’m pregnant.’ And they were like, ‘Yup, we love her, we want her on the show.’ I came to Toronto to shoot and I got a look at the original pilot and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I just hit the jackpot. This is an amazing show.’ I fell back in love with acting again. Those five years were just amazing. I sort of found my confidence and found my new home as well. I love Toronto.

When you say you regained your confidence … does that mean you had lost it?
I think so. I was turning 35, I was living in L.A., I was single, I was starting to panic about not having a family and children yet. I found the environment in L.A. … that I was constantly comparing myself to the people around me and it was destroying me. I needed to get out of that. I thought that I didn’t like acting. I thought that I was quitting acting, but I was just letting go of that part of my life.

I constantly hear from actors and actresses about the grind that pilot season is. Now it’s a year long thing and it must be a grind.
I can’t stand it. I’m driving my agents nuts right now because I’m so focused on The Space Between. I had an audition for Suits today. Who wouldn’t go in for an audition for Suits? Guess what? This girl is not going in. [Laughs.]

Why not audition?
Right now it’s because it’s taking every second I have to get The Space Between off the ground while balancing being a mom and having the time for that. And then also, honestly, I think I’m in a transition period in my life too. Getting older, the heartache that you go through getting yourself ready, putting yourself out there that way is so draining. In your 20s it’s fine and it’s fun, but now … [Laughs.]

Well, if you’re in control of your own stuff, writing and acting in projects that you’ve created…
Exactly. That’s fun and amazing. I did Covert Affairs earlier this summer and that was really fun. They offered me the part and it was so amazing of them to do that. That was a little blessing.

Was it hard to shake off the character of Jules Callaghan after playing her for five seasons?
No, it wasn’t hard. I miss wearing the tactical uniform!


Working with the show’s creators, Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis, was kind of your eduction for what you’re doing now.
I certainly found it incredibly inspiring. They made this fantastic show and they were actors before and started writing and now they’re doing their second show. They were very, very inspiring.

OK, let’s shift gears to The Space Between. You’ve already written and directed shorts … how did the idea for this one come about?
The first short I did was called Bent and that was about lifelong friends and there was a part in Bent where this pregnant woman confessed during the story that she had slept with somebody else and the baby wasn’t her husband’s. That’s where I got the idea and the characters in The Space Between are based off of Jackie and Mitch from Bent, but it’s a different story because it’s a departure. In The Space Between they’re trying to get pregnant and can’t because of infertility on Mitch’s part. She goes and gets pregnant with somebody else who happens to be a red-headed university kid. She does this behind Mitch’s back and the beginning of the movie is him finding out the baby is not his. It’s a comedy.

Let’s talk about the Indiegogo campaign for The Space Between. How important is it for a budding writer and director like yourself to have a community that helps you create your own projects?
For me, it’s the only way at this point to create this new career for myself. It gives the film a life and a following even before it’s been made, which is such a gift. It’s nice to have the supporters, the people who have followed my career through the years, come on this journey with me as well. Through the campaign there are ways for people to become part of the film and be a part of the process. I like creating a community around the movie before it’s even made.

Is your goal to ultimately use these smaller, community funded projects as a stepping stone to bigger things?
It’s definitely a stepping stone for so many reasons. It’s proving to me that I can do this and it’s giving me practice. I have a script called Crazier Than You which is really may baby and the one that I’ll do maybe after The Space Between, but it’s the one that I wrote about my mother’s life and I can’t wait to make that film. But I want that to be a $5 million budget. So, we’re going to make my first feature and prove that I can direct and make a good little film with a much smaller budget.

Check out Johnson’s Indiegogo campaign for The Space Between and make a donation.