Everything about Strange Empire, eh?

Hidden gems of the Canadian Screen Awards

The Canadian Screen Awards (aka CSAs aka Screenies aka#CdnScreen16 aka give the damn things an official nickname, would you?) were announced yesterday.

In one of the worst-designed websites you’ll find this side of GeoCities, the Academy helpfully tells us which awards we should care most about by selecting them for an easier to navigate “Selected Awards” television page. They think I’m more interested in Best Local News Anchor than any of the screenwriting awards? Don’t they know me at all?  After combing through a 55-page PDF of the complete television nominees I’ve found some gems and head-scratchers.

Favourite head-to-head match-up

Dan Levy versus dad Eugene Levy, both of Schitt’s Creek, as best actor in a comedy? Bring on the battle of the eyebrows. Eugene has the Canadian comedic royalty history but Dan’s portrayal of selfish, oblivious, vulnerable David won my heart and my funny bone. Both could be winners as producers, since Schitt’s Creek is up for best comedy, and Dan has one of two writing nominations for the series, which garnered a whopping 14 TV nominations (and one for digital).

Helen Shaver should direct everything

She has two of the five nominations for best direction in a drama, for two different series: Vikings and Orphan Black. Which also seem to me two of the most complicated series to direct, what with the multiple clones played by one person and the swashbuckling Vikings.

There’s a fine line

Still Standing, with comedian Jonny Harris touring the country doing standup and finding laughs and poignancy in small town Canada is most reminiscent of the Rick Mercer Report to me, yet they are in different categories: best factual program for Still Standing, best variety or sketch for Mercer. It both makes sense — Still Standing skews towards learning about the places he visits, Mercer skews more toward sketch, and yet illustrates the difficulty of categorization, especially for awards that have 55 PDF pages of categories to choose from.

I do not think that word means what you think it means

Bitten received two nominations, one for music and another for “best achievement in casting.” Yet none of the cast, including guest roles, was nominated. I wouldn’t take anything away from Bitten but one of the few nominations Schitt’s Creek did not get was casting, though nearly its entire cast was nominated.

Moment of panic

No This Life or Romeo Section? The Canadian Screen Award eligibility period for television is from September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015, so they won’t be able to enter until next year.  That five month gap between the period’s end and the nomination announcement — which expands to seven months until the awards are handed out — primes the Screenies to regularly honour already cancelled shows long after they last aired.

Speaking of cancelled series …

Strange Empire‘s Aaron Poole is deservedly up for best dramatic actor, and Woody Jeffreys for supporting in the same series. Blackstone has one last shot as best drama, an award its been nominated for before but has never taken home.

That said … holy 19-2

The Bravo series will be hard to beat, with 12 nominations including best drama series. Orphan Black has 13 nods but best drama series isn’t one of them (two of them are best writing for a drama series, though).

Canadian rules

Best international drama was added to  the Gemini Awards — the TV awards that merged with the Genies to create the Canadian Screen Awards — in 2012.  The perception was that international coproductions such as The Tudors and The Borgias had an unfair advantage over purely homegrown productions and naming them best Canadian drama was an embarrassment. Lately it’s the international drama category itself that’s an embarrassment, with only Vikings and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell earning nominations this year. With two contenders, why bother? I’d put my money on 19-2 over those two any day. And yet, this category made the Academy’s “Selected Awards” cut.

Tune in March 13 on CBC to see Norm Macdonald preside over the televised portion of the ceremony.



19-2 and Schitt’s Creek lead 2016 Canadian Screen Award TV nominations

Bravo’s gritty cop drama 19-2 and CBC’s high-profile comedy Schitt’s Creek topline the nominations for the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards. Announced Tuesday morning in Toronto at TIFF Bell Lightbox by Lyriq Bent (The Book of Negroes) and Aislinn Paul (Degrassi), 19-2 captured 12 nominations, including Best Dramatic Series and Best Performance nods for supporting cast and leads Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes; Keeso and Holmes recorded a video to mark the occasion (check it out below).

Meanwhile, Schitt’s Creek does battle in the comedic categories, with co-stars Eugene and Dan Levy facing off for Best Performance and the Tuesday night comedy fighting off fellow CBC series Mr. D, Mohawk Girls, Young Drunk Punk and Tiny Plastic Men for Best Comedy Series.

Space’s Orphan Black did well too, snagging 13 nominations including performance acknowledgements for Ari Millen and Tatiana Maslany, though it was shut out of the Dramatic Series list. Global’s final season of Rookie Blue was recognized by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, as Missy Peregrym and Ben Bass received nominations.

The nominees in the key television categories are listed below. Who do you think deserves to win? The two-hour Canadian Screen Awards gala airs Sunday, March 13, at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role

  • Gerry Dee, Mr. D
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Dave Foley, Spun Out

Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role

  • Adrian Holmes, 19-2
  • Jared Keeso, 19-2
  • Ari Millen, Orphan Black
  • Ben Bass, Rookie Blue
  • Aaron Poole, Strange Empire

Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role

  • Brittany LeBorgne, Mohawk Girls
  • Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
  • Belinda Cornish, Tiny Plastic Men

Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role

  • Kristin Lehman, Motive
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Megan Follows, Reign
  • Missy Peregrym, Rookie Blue
  • Jennie Raymond, Sex & Violence

Best Dramatic Series

  • 19-2
  • Blackstone
  • Motive
  • Saving Hope
  • X Company

Best Comedy Series

  • Mr. D
  • Mohawk Girls
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Tiny Plastic Men
  • Young Drunk Punk

Best Reality/Competition Program or Series

  • The Amazing Race Canada
  • Big Brother Canada
  • Dragons’ Den
  • Game of Homes
  • MasterChef Canada

Best Animated Program or Series

  • Endangered Species
  • Numb Chucks
  • Rocket Monkeys
  • Slugterra

Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series

  • Annedroids
  • Degrassi
  • Full Out
  • Max & Shred

Best Factual Program or Series

  • Emergency
  • Ice Pilots NWT
  • Jade Fever
  • Million Dollar Critic
  • Still Standing

Best International Drama

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Vikings

Best Lifestyle Program or Series

  • Buy It, Fix It, Sell It
  • Carnival Eats
  • Income Property
  • Masters of Flip
  • Survivorman Bigfoot

Best TV Movie or Limited Series

  • The Book of Negroes
  • First Response
  • Forget and Forgive
  • Kept Woman
  • Studio Black!

The rest of the television categories can be seen here.

As previously announced, comedian Norm Macdonald will host the 2016 event. Wendy Crewson—currently starring on CTV’s Saving Hope—will receive the Earle Grey Award for acting and Martin Short will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Canadian Screen Awards air Sunday, March 13, at 8 p.m. on CBC.


Results: Your Favourite Canadian TV Shows of 2015 are …

Fans of Canadian television shows certainly are a passionate lot, and they’re not confined to our borders either. Of the over 25,000 who voted for their Top 5 shows of 2015, dozens voiced their support from around the world.

Yes, the voting for a few shows took a suspicious jump over the last couple of days, but we’ll chalk that up to super-fans who simply love their programs … and know how to use technology to their advantage. (The voting wasn’t affected that much in the end.)

By the time the tally was taken, the Top 10 Canadian Shows of 2015 are:

  1. Dark Matter (27%, 7,269 Votes)
  2. Lost Girl (25%, 6,777 Votes)
  3. Killjoys (21%, 5,766 Votes)
  4. Heartland (20%, 5,384 Votes)
  5. Murdoch Mysteries (10%, 2,632 Votes)
  6. Orphan Black (8%, 2,147 Votes)
  7. Tornado Hunters (8%, 2,080 Votes)
  8. Rookie Blue (6%, 1,634 Votes)
  9. When Calls the Heart (6%, 1,557 Votes)
  10. Rick Mercer Report (5%, 1,486 Votes)

Aside from the Top 10 vote-getters, I was pleased to see several new programs perform well in the poll. Clearly, viewers love seeing three guys tooling around in a truck capturing wacky weather on film, as Tornado Hunters placed No. 7, not bad at all for a show that debuted late in the year and veteran The Liquidator finished just out of the Top 10.

Thanks again to everyone who voted. Check out the final results; you can still name your favourites in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.

What are your five favourite Canadian TV shows of 2015?

  • Dark Matter (27%, 7,269 Votes)
  • Lost Girl (25%, 6,777 Votes)
  • Killjoys (21%, 5,766 Votes)
  • Heartland (20%, 5,384 Votes)
  • Murdoch Mysteries (10%, 2,632 Votes)
  • Orphan Black (8%, 2,147 Votes)
  • Tornado Hunters (8%, 2,080 Votes)
  • Rookie Blue (6%, 1,634 Votes)
  • When Calls the Heart (6%, 1,557 Votes)
  • Rick Mercer Report (5%, 1,486 Votes)
  • The Liquidator (5%, 1,279 Votes)
  • Schitt's Creek (4%, 1,227 Votes)
  • Vikings (4%, 1,087 Votes)
  • The Amazing Race Canada (4%, 1,053 Votes)
  • Saving Hope (4%, 1,024 Votes)
  • Property Brothers (4%, 990 Votes)
  • Bitten (4%, 976 Votes)
  • Dragons' Den (4%, 970 Votes)
  • Continuum (3%, 955 Votes)
  • Haven (3%, 791 Votes)
  • Chopped Canada (3%, 786 Votes)
  • 22 Minutes (3%, 783 Votes)
  • MasterChef Canada (3%, 738 Votes)
  • Big Brother Canada (3%, 727 Votes)
  • Highway Thru Hell (3%, 686 Votes)
  • Canada's Worst Driver (3%, 684 Votes)
  • Degrassi (2%, 608 Votes)
  • The Nature of Things (2%, 580 Votes)
  • Love It or List It franchise (2%, 573 Votes)
  • The Fifth Estate (2%, 559 Votes)
  • Motive (2%, 557 Votes)
  • House of Bryan (2%, 549 Votes)
  • X Company (2%, 520 Votes)
  • Still Standing (2%, 480 Votes)
  • Strange Empire (1%, 397 Votes)
  • Marketplace (1%, 394 Votes)
  • This Life (1%, 394 Votes)
  • Hockey Wives (1%, 340 Votes)
  • Backroad Bounty (1%, 321 Votes)
  • 19-2 (1%, 311 Votes)
  • Remedy (1%, 266 Votes)
  • Mr. D (1%, 265 Votes)
  • Blackstone (1%, 262 Votes)
  • Polar Bear Town (1%, 252 Votes)
  • Ice Racer Showdown (1%, 214 Votes)
  • Young Drunk Punk (1%, 207 Votes)
  • Canada's Smartest Person (1%, 198 Votes)
  • Sunnyside (1%, 193 Votes)
  • The Next Step (1%, 174 Votes)
  • Mohawk Girls (1%, 170 Votes)
  • Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan (0%, 128 Votes)
  • Keeping Canada Alive (0%, 120 Votes)
  • The Other Side (0%, 113 Votes)
  • Chef in Your Ear (0%, 104 Votes)
  • The Romeo Section (0%, 99 Votes)
  • Blood and Water (0%, 93 Votes)
  • The Stanley Dynamic (0%, 88 Votes)
  • Make it Pop (0%, 81 Votes)
  • First Dates (0%, 68 Votes)
  • Unusually Thicke (0%, 67 Votes)
  • Open Heart (0%, 65 Votes)
  • Spun Out (0%, 58 Votes)
  • Sensitive Skin (0%, 47 Votes)
  • Max & Shred (0%, 42 Votes)
  • Some Assembly Required (0%, 30 Votes)
  • Crash Gallery (0%, 24 Votes)
  • Tiny Plastic Men (0%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 27,337

Loading ... Loading ...

WCG podcasts: Writers Talking TV

From the Writers Guild of Canada:

Writers Talking TV
Our screenwriting-focussed podcasts are recorded at WGC events in front of live audiences and are moderated by WGC members. The podcasts offer an opportunity to learn about the art and craft of screenwriting, as WGC screenwriters discuss their work.

To listen, click on the link and your player should automatically launch. To download the file to your Windows computer, right click on the link and click on the “save target as” option. Then browse to the location where you want to save the file and click save. Each file is between 20 MB and 40 MB in size. Continue to the podcasts.


TV, eh? podcast episode 184 – Full of Newsy Goodness

The team is at full strength and covering a lot of breaking news in the Canadian industry, including the cancellation and return of Degrassi, Martin Sheen joining the Anne of Green Gables TV-movie, Corus’ reboot of ReBoot and Season 1 and 2 of Blackstone heading to CBC for the summer.

Also discussed: Saving Hope gets a plum spot on CTV’s fall schedule, X Company and Strange Empire are available to binge-watch on Netflix Canada and Diane and Greg recap Rogers, Shaw and Bell Media’s fall schedules.

Want to contribute to the discussion? Post links and discussion topics on our Reddit page.

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.