Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

Hockey Wives returns April 19 on W Network

From a media release:

W Network heads into the third period with a brand-new season of fan-favourite Canadian docu-series Hockey Wives, premiering Wednesday, April 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The nine-episode season offers off-the-ice access to the busy lives of six ambitious women and their pro-hockey husbands. Facing the everyday struggles of balancing families, careers, and personal aspirations, the women must also live with being married to the game. The third season introduces four new faces, plus a look at hockey life in Europe with the show travelling to Austria, Germany, and Russia.

Returning to the Hockey Wives team for her third season, Montreal’s Maripier Morin and her fiancé Brandon Prust face a dramatic year. After getting engaged last season, Brandon was traded to the Vancouver Canucks and later became a free agent this past summer. Now he might have the chance to play abroad, but that means the pair must endure the stress of a long-distance relationship. Returning from season one is Emilie Blum, who, newly pregnant, must prepare for the possibility of living a solo parent life as Jonathon’s career takes him abroad to the KHL in Russia.

Viewers get behind-the-scenes access to some of the most high-profile players in professional hockey through new cast members Catherine LaFlamme – married to Pittsburgh Penguins’ Kris Letang – and Martine Auclair Vlasic – married to San Jose Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The season sees Catherine launch her new children’s clothing line and support Kris as his team pursues winning consecutive Stanley Cup trophies. Meanwhile, Martine helps Marc-Edouard navigate his booming career, including celebrating his World Cup of Hockey victory together.

New to Hockey Wives but familiar with long-distance relationships, Erica Lundmark manages to keep her career and three children together while her husband Jamie Lundmark plays for the KAC in Austria. Also new to the series is Vanessa Vandal, who returns to St. Louis after her boyfriend David Perron is traded back to the St. Louis Blues. She will face even more change after deciding to go back to school and finding out she’s pregnant again.

Hockey Wives is produced by Bristow Global Media Inc. in association with W Network. Executive Producers are Julie Bristow President & CEO Bristow Global Media, Megan Sanchez-Warner, and Christie Callan Jones.


HGTV Canada debuts two new Canadian series

From a media release:

This April, HGTV Canada showcases spectacular builds and designs inside and outside the home with two new Canadian original series featuring familiar and fresh personalities. Beginning April 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT with back-to-back episodes, savvy contractor Sebastian Clovis teams up with DIY designer Sabrina Smelko to rescue cash-strapped homeowners by delivering the renovation of their dreams on a budget in $ave My Reno. Starting April 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, also with back-to-back episodes, viewers are introduced to a new duo featuring contractor and design expert Brian McCourt and interior designer Sarah Keenleyside as they transform bland backyards into remarkable retreats with unique, one-of-a-kind structures in Backyard Builds.

In $ave My Reno (14x30min), cash-conscious homeowners don’t have to break the bank when Sebastian Clovis and Sabrina Smelko make homeowners’ dreams a reality with an outstanding renovation on a budget they can afford. Sebastian and Sabrina save by putting homeowners to work and hunting for salvaged goods to up-cycle into custom items. Sabrina is an award-winning designer and expert at finding restored pieces at great prices and Sebastian is a master at smart spends for breakout builds and custom surprises. Throughout the season, this duo tackles everything from tight layouts, unfinished renovations and outdated designs to transform spaces with open concept areas, storage solutions and custom repurposed furniture. After each episode of $ave My Reno, HGTV.cagives viewers a front row seat with stunning 360-degree room reveals.

When indoor space isn’t enough, Backyard Builds (8x30min) showcases the endless opportunities extended outdoor areas can provide. Starring contractor Brian McCourt and designer Sarah Keenleyside, the pair work with homeowners to maximize their backyard’s potential by creating tailored, one-of-a-kind structures and designs. Sarah is a creative, outgoing designer with a knack for unique projects while Brian is a renovation specialist with a well-rounded skill set. Throughout the season, whether it’s a converted shipping container, whimsical treehouse village, or roman-style outdoor theatre, this duo proves they can extend any outdoor space with a little imagination.


CBC’s excellent Keeping Canada Safe showcases everyday heroes

Last fall, Force Four Entertainment and CBC teamed for Keeping Canada Alive, a poignant documentary that showed the breadth and depth of our country’s health care in a 24-hour period. (Give Diane’s review of that a read, won’t you?)

Both companies have partnered again for Keeping Canada Safe, a 48-hour whirlwind look—spread over eight half-hour episodes—of the emergency personnel (and sometimes animals) charged with ensuring our safety last summer. With news of walls going up and national security in the headlines of late, Keeping Canada Safe is certainly timely. What sets this series apart from, say Border Security, is the 60-plus cameras dispatched across the country. Rather than being focused on one airport or border crossing—production was granted access to more than 47 organizations in 34 cities across 10 provinces and two territories—the program is able to profile a cross-section of this country and the personalities of folks who do this.

The debut instalment, airing Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC, wasn’t what I was expecting. With Border Security as my only reference, I assumed Keeping Canada Safe would spend most of the time at airports, borders and other high-profile transit points. After having seen Keeping Canada Alive, I should have known better. You do get those broader national security stories here, but Force Four connects with viewers by getting down to a local level, like an enraged Calgary man trying to break into his house as a police helicopter swoops overhead. That situation is used to explain the reason for a helicopter being in the air in the first place: it’s safer for police and citizens for a chopper to track a criminal in a car than a high-speed chase is.

Meanwhile, in rural Prince Edward Island, Lewie Sutherland is the police chief of Kensington and everyone calls him by his first name. Because of the small population—a mere 1,500—everyone knows each other, and the death of a citizen is felt by the community. It’s easy to assume Lewie’s life is easier than that of the guys working in Calgary, but I think it’s harder. In a metropolis, people can become somewhat faceless. But in PEI, a criminal or someone in danger could be your friend.

The most disturbing segment of Episode 1 is devoted to following Winnipeg’s Bear Patrol, a group of volunteers who strive to find missing women in the city. Within the span of mere broadcast minutes (but remember, this is filmed over just 48 hours), a handful of girls and young women are reported missing. The race is on to locate them in a neighbourhood known for violence and the sex trade.

Upcoming stories during the eight-episode run include an all-access look at Pearson International airport, including their K9 Unit, wildlife control with trained falcons and an emergency landing; a Kingston drug bust against a suspected meth dealer; and Ottawa scientists testing a compound of everyday chemicals and a bomb suit for first responders.

Beautifully shot and wonderfully written, Keeping Canada Safe really should be seen, both to be informed about the jobs being done behind the scenes for our security and to celebrate those who are doing it.

Keeping Canada Safe airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.


History’s Yukon Gold digs into Season 5

Somehow I totally missed covering Season 4 of Yukon Gold. No matter, the guys and gals who seek out the shiny precious metal in the most inhospitable of places—the Yukon—have stuck with it and return on Wednesday with Season 5 of the History program.

“Strike While the Iron is Hot” kicks off the new season at 10 p.m. ET/PT with a quick recap of what’s happened since we last visited the hardscrabble territory. And while folks like Big Al McGregor and Nika Guilbault and Chris St. Jean are back for this bunch of storylines, Karl Knutson, Bernie Kreft and Ken Foy and Guillaume Brodeur are no longer a part of Yukon Gold. No matter, there are more than enough interesting people sluicing. And with gold at a five-year high—$1,700 an ounce—there’s urgency to find the stuff and fast before the 16-week season ends.

Big Al has set himself a lofty goal, aiming to dig up 1,000 ounces (over $1.7 million). But Al’s infectious laugh and positive attitude hides his two-year struggle, first with the death of his wife, Colleen, and then cancer that caused him to lose feeling in his hands and legs. The result? He’s walking with the aid of canes and soldiering on in Colleen’s memory. You can’t help but hope he’ll get those ounces he’s dreaming of.

Meanwhile, young Whitehorse prospectors Ed and Riley are getting into the big game for the first time. Their first task? Transporting their $250,000 sluice plant through the mountains to their claim on Rabbit Creek. A rookie mistake shuts down their convoy for a bit, cutting into precious work hours but providing viewers with awesome, sweeping camera shots of the rugged Yukon terrain.

They may come from different backgrounds and have different levels of success mining, but everyone featured on Yukon Gold agrees on one thing: they deeply love where they are. The allure of living in the wilderness, eking out a living with the bare minimum and removed from the issues a big city presents is an intoxicating cocktail they simply can’t pass up. And having a little bit of gold is just gravy.

Yukon Gold airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.


William Shatner probes brilliant and creative minds in documentary The Truth is in the Stars

From a media release:

William Shatner, Star Trek’s original captain, examines the impact of the iconic television series on science and space exploration in the new original feature documentary THE TRUTH IS IN THE STARS. Commissioned by Bell Media’s The Movie Network, the documentary debuts Sunday, March 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET, featuring Shatner as he embarks on a journey to interview famous innovators, celebrities, and thought-leaders. Following its television premiere on The Movie Network, the documentary will be available on TMN GO and The Movie Network OnDemand.

THE TRUTH IS IN THE STARS features interviews in incredible locations, including: NASA mission control rooms, Ivy League Campuses, the USS Space Shuttle Enterprise, and Shatner’s own horse ranch. Insights from Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Stiller, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Seth Macfarlane, and Michio Kaku prepare Shatner for his intimate conversation with Professor Stephen Hawking in Cambridge, England.

In association with Bell Media, THE TRUTH IS IN THE STARS is produced by Ballinran Entertainment and White Pine Pictures. Peter Raymont, William Shatner, and Craig Thompson are Executive Producers. The documentary is written, directed, and produced by Craig Thompson.