Everything about The Nature of Things, eh?

CBC’s inspiring Sickboy celebrates laughing in the face of deadly disease

“If all of us are affected by illness in some way, then why can’t we just talk about it?” That’s the question put forth by Jeremie Saunders, who aims to get people doing just that in “Sickboy.”

Airing as part of CBC Docs POV—the rebranding of Firsthand—Dream Street Pictures’ “Sickboy” follows 29-year-old Jeremie (he’s in the centre of the picture above) as he lives life on borrowed time. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and told he wouldn’t live past 25, Jeremie literally laughs in the face of disease and seeks to discuss it with friends, family and the world via the Sickboy podcast that aims to alter the way people view serious illnesses like cancer, depression, PTSD and epilepsy.

Written and directed by Andrew MacCormack, “Sickboy” begins on Jeremie’s 29th birthday, as he reflects on the fact that—according to what doctors told his parents when he was a baby—he should already be dead. But, rather than let the fact cystic fibrosis—mucous buildup in the lungs causing scarring in the organs that will eventually kill him—the Halifax native prefers to celebrate every day he has with optimism, discussion and, most importantly to him, laughter. See, Jeremie believes laughing at cystic fibrosis keeps it at bay and takes away its power over him.

Then it’s off to meet Jeremie’s two friends, Brian Stever and Taylor MacGillivray, in the studio recording Sickboy podcast, where the trio invite others on to talk about being diagnosed and living with disease or sickness. But, as Taylor points out, the point of the podcast isn’t to speak to the illness one has, but the individual experience with the illness. For podcast guest Carole, that means describing waking up from an epilleptic seizure half out of an elevator with the door bumping up against her. For Jeremie, that means fully embracing YOLO—you only live once—to the max.

It’s not all fun and laughs, however. MacCormack captures serious, sobering moments too: Jeremie opens what looks like bags of groceries to reveal the dozens of bottles of medication he takes to keep cystic fibrosis at bay, the hacking coughing sequences are heartwrenching, and the first frank talk about CF with his wife, Bryde. Some of the most touching sequences are between Brian and his mother, who open up about her cancer diagnosis, and how the deaths of two friends of the podcast shatter the trio.

“Sickboy” is educational, entertaining and, most importantly, inspiring to watch; I’ve already subscribed to the podcast and look forward to the conversations Jeremie, Brian, Taylor and their guests have.

“Sickboy” airs as part of CBC Docs POV this Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBC. Listen to the Sickboy podcast.




The Nature of Things returns with stunning “The Wild Canadian Year”

It’s no secret that I love documentaries. No matter how jam-packed my days and nights are, I can always find time for another doc. The best is not only educational but beautifully filmed, impeccably scored and wholly entertaining. That’s certainly the case for “The Wild Canadian Year,” the five-part documentary kicking off the newest season of The Nature of Things on CBC.

Moving to Sundays at 8 p.m. this fall, “The Wild Canadian Year” is the perfect way to start the long-running series’ season. Filmed by award-winning documentary filmmakers Jeff and Sue Turner of River Road Films, “The Wild Canadian Year” turns cameras on this country’s wildlife during the four seasons (the fifth episode is a making of). It all begins Sunday with spring, as Arctic fox pups take their first steps and black bear cubs learn to climb trees after the long cold days of winter while female caribou make the dangerous trek to reach their calving grounds.

With 4K ultra-high definition providing the visuals and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra the soundtrack, “The Wild Canadian Year” truly is a spectacle. I don’t have 4K in my home, but watching a screener of Episode 1, I can only imagine how incredible this project looks. My laptop’s retina screen captured amazing detail—droplets of water as part of a thunderous waterfall, the nostril flare of a seal, the feathers on a hummingbird—so the better the screen the more breathtaking this will appear.

A spectacular 75 stories were recorded in Canada’s provinces and territories for the series, beginning Sunday with a caribou herd in northern Quebec that treks far north while the area’s lakes and rivers are still frozen. The animals follow each other, creating a beaten path that expends far less energy than breaking new ground. That energy store is needed at a moment’s notice: the pack is constantly hunted by hungry wolves.

Fauna isn’t the only thing to be focused on in “The Wild Canadian Year.” The thundering Hay River is explored next, as thick ice plunges over a waterfall creating into the vicious tumult below. Then it’s to the boreal forest of the east where a truly fascinating thing is documented. Cameras show the rebirth of a tree frog, frozen solid during the winter months thanks and revived during the snow melt. The camera work is so detailed you can see cataracts of ice over each eyeball and its first breath of the new year.

“The Wild Canadian Year” is the stunning result of nature and technology combining for stellar storytelling set to a magnificent soundtrack. Don’t miss it.

The Nature of Things returns Sunday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. on CBC with “The Wild Canadian Year.”

Images courtesy of CBC.




CBC announces its 2017-18 primetime schedule

From a media release:

CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster and the number-one media brand in Canada,* today announced broadcast premiere dates for its fall 2017 television season, featuring a uniquely Canadian lineup of new and returning series including Canada’s most-watched homegrown drama and comedy series, MURDOCH MYSTERIES and KIM’S CONVENIENCE.**

New original series launching on CBC this fall include the highly anticipated miniseries ALIAS GRACE (6×60) premiering Mon.Sept. 25, written and produced by Sarah Polley, directed by Mary Harron and starring Sarah Gadon, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood; THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (8×60), the homemade version of the popular British competition bringing together 10 amateur bakers from across Canada hosted by Dan Levy and Julia Chan, premiering Wed. Nov. 1; FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (11×60) from the producers of Murdoch Mysteries, following Toronto’s only female private detective in the 1920s, premiering Mon. Nov. 6; and THE STATS OF LIFE (4×30); a factual series that humanizes a range of population statistics to reveal the surprising truths about how Canadians live today, premiering Fri. Nov. 24.

CBC will also offer the exclusive Canadian broadcast of Jane Campion’s acclaimed drama TOP OF THE LAKE: CHINA GIRL (7×60) premiering on Wed. Oct. 25, starring Elizabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman. The BAFTA-nominated British series THE DURRELLS (6×60) will also premiere on Wed. Sept. 13.

Returning drama, comedy, factual and arts series include CORONATION STREET (Sept. 18), with six new episodes per week this fall including back-to-back episodes on Mondays; DRAGONS’ DEN (Sept. 28), featuring Arlene Dickinson’s return to the Den as the sixth Dragon; arts series EXHIBITIONISTS (Sept. 22); weekday daytime series THE GOODS (Sept. 18); HEARTLAND (Sept. 24); Emmy-nominated political arts series INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM (Oct. 13); KIM’S CONVENIENCE (Sept. 26); MR. D (Sept. 26); MURDOCH MYSTERIES (Sept. 25); RICK MERCER REPORT (Sept. 26); and THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES (Sept. 26).

On Mon. Nov. 6, flagship news program THE NATIONAL launches with a new format hosted by Adrienne Arsenault, Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang and Ian Hanomansing. CBC News’ investigative series MARKETPLACE, THE FIFTH ESTATE and THE INVESTIGATORS WITH DIANA SWAIN also return with new seasons on Fri. Sept. 15.

CBC’s award-winning documentary programming moves to Sundays starting Sept. 24 including David Suzuki’s THE NATURE OF THINGS, which will launch its new season with THE WILD CANADIAN YEAR (5×60), showcasing Canada’s extraordinary wildlife; and CBC DOCS POV (formerly FIRSTHAND), which launches with Bee Nation, a charming documentary following students as they prepare for the first-ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee in Canada.

Also this fall, CBC SPORTS will provide compelling coverage and storytelling leading up to the OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES PYEONGCHANG 2018 and connect Canadians with high-performance athletes each weekend with ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES, which launches its fall season on Sat. Oct. 21 with coverage of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating from Moscow, Russia.

CBC’s fall 2017 broadcast premiere dates and times are as follows –
All series will also be available to stream on the CBC TV app and at cbc.ca/watch (all times local with the exception of Newfoundland, please add half an hour to all times)


  • 2 p.m. The Goods (Season 2 premieres Sept. 18)
  • 7 p.m. Coronation Street (fall premiere Sept. 18)
  • 8 p.m. Murdoch Mysteries (Season 11 premieres Sept. 25)
  • 9 p.m. Alias Grace (Miniseries premieres Sept. 25)
    [Frankie Drake Mysteries series premieres Nov. 6]
  • 10 p.m. The National (launches Nov. 6)


  • 8 p.m. Rick Mercer Report (Season 15 premieres Sept. 26)
  • 8:30 p.m. This Hour Has 22 Minutes (Season 25 premieres Sept. 26)
  • 9 p.m. Kim’s Convenience (Season 2 premieres Sept. 26)
  • 9:30 p.m. Mr. D (Season 7 premieres Sept. 26)


  • 8 p.m. The Great British Baking Show Season 7 premieres Aug. 23
    [The Great Canadian Baking Show premieres Nov. 1]


  • 8 p.m. Dragons’ Den (Season 12 premieres Sept. 28 with a two-hour special)


  • 8 p.m. Marketplace (Season 45 premieres Sept .15)
  • 8:30 p.m. The Investigators with Diana Swain (premieres Sept. 15)
    [Interrupt This Program Season 3 premieres Oct.13]
    [The Stats of Life series premieres Nov. 24]
  • 9 p.m. The Fifth Estate (Season 43 premieres Sept. 15)
  • 12:30 a.m. Exhibitionists (Season 3 premieres Sept. 22)


  • 6:30 p.m. ET Hockey Night in Canada


  • 7 p.m. Heartland (Season 11 premieres Sept. 24)
  • 8 p.m. The Nature of Things (Season 57 premieres Sept. 24)
  • 9 p.m. CBC Docs POV (Season 4 premieres Sept. 24)



Link: Cracking Cancer: Must-See TV

From James Bawden:

Link: Cracking Cancer: Must-See TV
The future of Canadian TV is bright –I make this statement after watching the brilliant new homegrown documentary Cracking Cancer which premieres on CBC-TV’s Nature Of Things Thursday night at 8 on CBC TV.

The subject is daunting enough –the advent of POG or Personalized OncoGenomics but this new technique in battling cancer is personalized by the true tales of patients. Continue reading. 


The Nature of Things decodes the fascinating world of body language

I know body language can give you away. The way someone sits, leans, turns their head or fidgets can betray what one really thinks despite what words are said. If a picture can say 1,000 words, what can body language tell you? A heck of a lot more than I first assumed.

That’s what I came away with after watching a screener for “Body Language Decoded.” Broadcast as part of this Thursday’s The Nature of Things, written and directed by Geoff D’Eon and created and produced by Edward Peill, “Body Language Decoded” is a fascinating peek into how our bodies communicate in the most subtle of ways.

The instalment begins with the face and 43 muscles capable of creating thousands of intricate expressions that are hardwired into the brain. Why? Facial expressions were the key component to communication between early humans. Those automatic reactions have served FBI agent Joe Navarro well; he spent 25 years reading body language for the Bureau, earning the nickname “The Spy Catcher.” And while Navarro did read faces in order to gauge what was really going on with someone, he found an unlikely source for reading body language: the feet. Part of the limbic system, our feet and bodies tell the true tale of how we’re reacting to the world and each other.

Knowledge of the limbic system comes into play for Dr. Jillian Glass, who heads to the Santa Monica Pier to do one of my favourite pastimes: people watching. It’s there she can see how a young woman’s body shows her devotion to a man, and how his posture betrays his aloofness. Toes turned towards your mate? There’s a good chance the relationship is solid.

One of the most interesting segments of “Body Language Decoded” spends time covering the art of deception and the physical signs we give off when trying to lie. Footage of former U.S. president Bill Clinton is shown denying relations with Monica Lewinsky, and Nova Scotia mother Penny Boudreau who pleaded for the return of her missing daughter, Karissa. In the former case, lies were effectively told; in the latter, Boudreau was found guilty of murdering Karissa, showcasing how the body can hide or reveal a lie.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of Tell Tale Productions.