Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

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.

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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.

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Wild Bear Rescue returns for Season 2, premiering June 22 on Animal Planet

From a media release:

Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, B.C. is bursting with rambunctious cubs for Season 2 of Animal Planet’s original Canadian series WILD BEAR RESCUE. Featuring 44 black bear cubs and a strong-willed grizzly prowling inside the rehab pens, Season 2 of the series premieres June 22, and airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT on Animal Planet. Bristling with drama, humour, and irresistible cuteness, the 12-part series follows Angelika and Peter Langen and their family-run operation that rescues, raises, and rehabilitates the cubs for their safe return back into the wild.

In Season 2, Angelika and Peter Langen return with their daughter Tanja, son Michael, son-in-law Shawn, and an array of dedicated volunteers who work to provide medical care, housing, and food for wounded and orphaned animals across the region. Throughout the season, the Langen team offers essential treatment to bear cubs, as well as lynx, fawns, birds, moose, cougars, and other wildlife. With a record number of animals in need, and faced with an unforeseen housing crisis, the Langen family must pull together and work harder than ever to provide these animals with the rehabilitation and care they need in order to survive.

WILD BEAR RESCUE is produced by Omnifilm Entertainment in association with Animal Planet. Executive Producers are Gabriela Schonbach and Michael Chechik. Series producers are David Gullason and Brad Quenville.

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Preview: CBC’s Back in Time for Dinner is an education in living in Canada decades ago

I grew up the 1970s, the era of strange casseroles and questionable ingredients suspended in Jello salads. Mine was a childhood filled with Cheez Whiz smeared on celery, macaroni loaf sandwiches and copious amounts of Cool Whip on things. I look back on all of that fondly, but I wouldn’t want any of it if offered to me today.

That’s not the case for the Campus family, who signed on to Back in Time for Dinner, CBC’s newest documentary series that transports one family back in time to eat, dress and live like Canadians of yesterday. Hosted by TV veteran and all-around nice guy Carlo Rota, Back in Time for Dinner is a social experiment that takes the Campuses—a middle-class suburban family of five from Mississauga, Ont.—and strips away their modern diets and lifestyle to go back in time.

Starting in the 1940s and landing in the 1990s, their home becomes a time machine as it’s stripped to the studs and transformed into a new decade each week. I’m a sucker for series like this—check out the excellent British series Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm on YouTube if you haven’t already—so I was jazzed to see how the Campus family would adapt to old-timey living and the bumps in the road along the way.

Thursday’s first of six episodes at 8 p.m. on CBC begins in the 1940s with the five-person family arriving to see the interior of their house has been totally transformed to reflect that time period. Gone, of course, are modern trappings like big-screen TVs, central heat and—GASP!—the Internet in favour of a fridge-sized radio, an electric stove, icebox and laundry done by hand.

It was the time of the Second World War, and Canadians were enlisting to fight overseas. This country was also a major supplier of food to the Allied countries and that meant food rations at home. It was also a different time in snacking. No chips, cookies and gummy things for teens Valerie, Jessica and Robert. Instead, sardines and other canned meats are the rules of the day. So too were the societal guidelines. Mom Tristan and her daughters are in charge of keeping the house ship-shape inside and purchasing from a grocery list hemmed in by ration coupons. Rather than her usual overflowing grocery carts, Tristan is given a small basket containing her essentials.

As if being a teen wasn’t tough enough, the Campus kids have to attend school in their period-perfect clothing and eat 1940s lunches. Needless to say, Robert is not a fan of his yeast-based bread and “sauce.”

Back in Time for Dinner is certainly fun to watch, but it’s a fantastic history lesson too, thanks to Rota. In between Campus family footage, he narrates what life in Canada is like during those days, from footwear and clothing and hairstyles. As for Night One’s dinner? Pan-fried kidneys with celery sauce on toast and boiled potatoes. (“Every once in awhile you get a whiff of … urine,” Tristan observes as she pan-fries the morsels.)

The first instalment of Back in Time for Dinner is surprising and informative and made me appreciate everything I have today. I can’t wait to see more.

Back in Time for Dinner airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: APTN’s Queen of the Oil Patch is the story of triumph and acceptance

Until a screener landed in my inbox, I wasn’t sure what Queen of the Oil Patch was going to be about. According to the press release, the documentary series, debuting Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET on APTN, tells the tale of Fort McKay resident Massey Whiteknife and his alter ego, Iceis Rain. Whiteknife’s business empire was shattered when oil prices took a tumble followed by fire sweeping through nearby Fort MacMurray. Cameras capture Whiteknife as he attempts to get back on his economic feet.

But Queen of the Oil Patch is so much more than that.

When we catch up with Whiteknife, he shows off his two businesses in Fort Mac, Tatonka North Contracting, a construction company and Iceis Safety, a full-service occupational health and safety consulting business. But at night, Whiteknife becomes someone else … Iceis Rain. Iceis is a critically-acclaimed recording artist, booking dates across the country, and was nominated at the 2014 Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards, where she also performed. She’s also an anti-bullying advocate, speaks to suicide prevention and has a wicked wiggle.

Whiteknife’s plan? To spend a year transitioning fully into Iceis Rain. How will that go over in Fort Mac? Will being a woman ruin his day-to-day business? Whiteknife is willing to take that chance to be who he is.

Kah-Kitowak Films, a Vancouver-based production company that works in partnership with Great Pacific Media, has captured something really special in Queen of the Oil Patch. Métis producer-director Neil Grahn and producers Kelly McClughan and Mark Miller have gained the trust of their subject. The result is an intimate, honest portrait of a person who is passionate about what they do and wants to help their fellow First Nations people find full-time jobs while becoming who they truly want to be.

It’s inspiring, meaningful and riveting stuff. Don’t miss it.

Queen of the Oil Patch airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on APTN.

Image courtesy of Great Pacific Media.

 

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