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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Tonight: Rick Mercer Report, 22 Minutes, Bachelor Canada

Rick Mercer Report, CBC
Rick joins a Dalhousie University project tagging sharks in the ocean off Halifax and then he goes flour bombing with the Kingston Flying Club in Kingston, ON.

22 Minutes, CBC
NDP Leader, Thomas Mulcair and Calgary’s Mayor, Naheed Nenshi make special guest appearances.

Bachelor Canada, City
Bachelor Tim and the ladies visit Tuscany to experience the ultimate in romance…but when Bachelorette’s shocking indiscretion steals centre stage, Tim is left wondering who is here for the wrong reasons.


TV, eh? podcast episode 168 – Whisper to a Stream


Anthony, Greg and Diane mull over the news that Rogers and Netflix make strange bedfellows with a new series called Between, why the CRTC doesn’t regulate movie theatres, HBO’s internet streaming plans, the Conservative Broadcasting Corporation, how the CBC lost everything — like, everything — with the new hockey deal, and Greg’s Ice Pilots NWT online chat.

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.


Review: Murdoch Mysteries gets wild in Western themed tale

After having the first two episodes of Murdoch Mysteries deal with some pretty dark subject matter–human trafficking and the after effects of Brackenreid’s awful beating–I was glad for a rollicking good ride thanks to a couple of miscreants from the annals of history.

“Glory Days,” written by Peter Mitchell and Jordan Christianson and directed by star Yannick Bisson, welcomed Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh–also known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid–to Toronto where they became embroiled in a storyline focusing on William Barclay “Bat” Masterson (Steven Ogg), the frontier lawman, gambler and sports writer who pulled a gun on the notorious duo moments before a prize fight featuring Canadian boxer George “Little Chocolate” Dixon. Higgins and Jackson were in the audience and tackled Bat before he squeezed off a shot in the packed room.

Bloody hell indeed.

With Bisson directing, the somewhat light-hearted episode turned its focus to not only whether the dastardly duo was in Toronto but to Murdoch and Julia’s upcoming nuptials. Turns out Margaret Brackenreid wanted to take over the planning of their happy day. Or something as small as taking care of the flowers. Anything, Brackenreid confessed, to get Margaret to stop talking about it during dinner. Speaking of the wedding, Julia wasn’t so sure she wanted to have the ceremony in Murdoch’s Catholic church, so she went to speak to Father Clements (Anthony Lemke) about it and was challenged to consider her own faith in the church.

As it turned out, the men Bat saw at the fight weren’t Butch and Sundance but the lawman (who took great pleasure in showing Julia his, um, six-shooter) wasn’t about to give up on the hunt. He grew only more bold when two men robbed the Bank of Toronto at gunpoint and were identified by the stuttering manager that Butch and Sundance were on the loose. Things got serious when a train headed to Simcoe, Ont., was robbed of its Grand Trunk Railroad payroll by the criminals and a man was killed in the process. It was then the truth came out: Butch and Sundance weren’t really in the city but Bat lied they were because he missed his “glory days.”

There were several funny moments during the chase, most notably Brackenreid, Crabtree and Murdoch standing outside a house of ill repute while Bat “questioned” a young woman who claimed to have seen the two. Murdoch Mysteries can be serious to be sure, but it can be very, very funny too. Who else howled when Murdoch stumbled into the table after he was proffered by the prostitute or snickered in anticipation of Crabtree’s bachelor party for the detective?

And a special thank you to Mitchell and Christianson for including “horseback ride” in Monday’s script; having the Toronto coppers play cowboy–complete with an expansive accompanying soundtrack–was a great nod to the wild West. And Murdoch’s football tackle of a baddie through the wall of a hay loft? Just awesome.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.


Review: Strange Empire explores the hearts of darkness

So that John Slotter, he’s not such a bad guy after all, right? In this episode, “Other Powers,” he had a preacher shot in cold blood, desperately turned desperate people out of their shelters and cut off their access to supplies, and he’s skimming from his father’s railroad and acting as a pimp to fund his lavish lifestyle … I mean, sinking his mine … and he may or may not have had a caravan full of men murdered and put their women to whoring.

But there is a heart in there somewhere. I’m not saying it’s a large one, but he was dismayed when his father shot at Kat and seemed relieved to learn she was still alive. No taste for senseless murder, as his father thinks, or a bit of a taste for Kat?

Plus he seems to have genuine affection for Isabelle. She thinks so, anyway, even if daddy dearest thinks John married her to spite him. Captain and Mrs. Slotter aren’t exactly romance novel material but she does occasionally “gentle” him into thinking he’s a good man, as Kat put it last episode – or at least gentle him into not completely poisoning himself with alcohol and whatever else is eating him up inside. “I am to burn in hell.”

Aaron Poole is killing it (heh) by painting Slotter with many shades of grey. All of them dark, crossing over into black, but nuanced nonetheless.

The miners are threatening to leave if they don’t get their late payroll now, but Cornelius is not letting his supposed grandson or his son — a son who didn’t merit inheriting his name the way the fake grandson did — sway him into giving them the funds they need to not lose everything. It takes Isabelle’s wiles and her steely will to do that.

The child’s natural mother, little more than a child herself, soothes the crying baby while creepy Cornelius paws at her, but the secret seems safe after Isabelle’s earlier threats. “You sold your boy and I bought him. What kind of a mother does that?” Good question, Isabelle. What kind of mother buys a child?

With few options and her husband destroying himself rather than agreeing to a minority share, Isabelle gives herself to Cornelius.  She’d been his whore before, but this is another example of the lengths she’ll go to in order to make her new life work, and how little regard the man has for his own son. The first thing Janestown needs, after Mrs. Briggs gets her saloon/bakery, is a family therapist.

Beautifully directed by Amanda Tapping, the episode starts with a shot of the telegraph wire, bringing news from far away, turning into a shot of the preacher, offering news from their dead — and charging $1 a shot for holy water, but even a preacher’s gotta eat. While telling people the money goes to charity.

Mrs. Fogg and her tarot cards and Isabelle and her seances are nothing compared to Robin’s ability to see dead people. She first demonstrates the gift when the women go to bury their dead while Kat crosses the Montana border to get reinforcement. Robin is calm and even comforted by the sight while the women digging graves bond in their grief.

Meanwhile in Montana, a powerful lens flare and Jeremiah’s horse waiting at the trading post makes Kat believe she sees her missing husband walking toward her. Instead another attractive man steps into focus. It’s hard not to side with the girls who believe Jeremiah must be dead, even if Kat is determined to wait for him to find her, but as long as she has hope, I will too. Neil — one of the boys they adopted — has resurfaced, after all.

The Montana visit is a reminder that south of the border is at least an attempt at law and order, with Marshal Caleb Mercredi (Tahmoh Penikett), half Indian like Kat, trying to prevent the US army from clearing the land of Indians.

Though Kat has demanded her place in the what-passes-for-society of Janestown, becoming mother and protector for many of the outsiders, Mercredi is dismissed as a half-blood and as powerless north of the border, where he tries to talk to the women and to Slotter about the massacre. “I’d have to be a genius or a madman to work such evil,” Slotter reassures him unreassuringly.

This strange empire is “birthing a town” as one of the women puts it, envisioning a newspaper, school, a whole community. At some point law and order will probably have to enter into it as well, but that day is not today.

It already has two medical professionals, though. Rebecca continues her socially awkward ways by flirting with a kind man without knowing there was flirting going on. She’s strangely — and I do mean strangely — good at it, until she learns the valuable lesson that disclosing the man three times your age is your husband and not your father is a sure-fire way to end that kind of encounter.  I wouldn’t bet on her understanding why.

When Rebecca tells Thomas about killing her attacker and shows him the drawing the aorta where she stabbed him, he’s horrified by her sangfroid. He’s reassured that the killing was justified and that Mr. Case, who buried the man, will stay silent, but not reassured by her single-minded desire to understand what she was raised to try to understand.

When she wishes she could shock the preacher’s faintly-beating heart, Thomas slaps her for her vision. He’s not wrong that his foster daughter-turned-wife is not blessed with an abundance of empathy or social mores, but maybe he needs to learn the lesson that if you raise someone as a science experiment, they might see the world as a science experiment.

Mrs. Briggs is among those who have a vision of what Janestown could become, putting out feelers about how to get supplies so she can fill the miners’ bellies. The Slotter’s cook sneaks some supplies for her, but knowing that all supplies into the camp go through Slotter doesn’t bode well.

Neither does the fact that Cornelius Slotter laid down the edict that no union or community must be formed in his son’s nascent mining town, causing his son to wreak even more havoc than his usual havoc making.

Even so, these women are up for a fight. With the help of sharpshooter Kat, Mrs. Briggs and her daughter steal the wagon full of provisions and leave the drivers pantsless. It’s a laugh out loud moment in a show that doesn’t dole out many smiles.

After the preacher is buried, Rebecca confesses to Kat that she cares less about the men below the ground as the science within them she could learn from. “I am no believer but in nature.” Kat, who is likely more used to being called the savage than asked if she sees savagery, smiles and asks Rebecca to walk with them.

The episode ends on a more hopeful note than some, with Robin seeing the beatific figure of the preacher with his hands full of roses. “He’s at peace. He’s promising peace for us too,” she shares. Probably not within the next several episodes, I’ll wager.

But Cornelius Slotter is too late. This is a community already. A brutal, strange, in-progress one, but a community nonetheless.

APTN sets Season 4 of Blackstone for Nov. 11


From a media release:

Blackstone, the critically acclaimed hit drama recently highlighted in the New York Times, returns to APTN for season four with eight new episodes. Winner of 28 television awards, Blackstone is an authentic drama that explores the raw and real dynamics of family, power and politics on a First Nation reserve.

This season, Blackstone delves into the often taboo topic of residential schools – and their lasting effect that reverberates in communities today, the high number of Aboriginals in prison, and the plight of missing Aboriginal women. Actors Jennifer Podemski and Glen Gould join the all-star ensemble. Produced by Prairie Dog Film + TelevisionBlackstone season four airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. starting Nov. 11 on APTN

The fourth season picks up on Blackstone as the community tries to rebuild after the reserve was set on fire. Manipulative and tormented Andy Fraser (Eric Schweig of Longmire, Maïna, The Last of the Mohicansfaces his demons in the remand prison while trying to elude a murder charge. Leona Stoney (Carmen Moore of Arctic Air, Supernatural, Godiva’s) searches for two missing youth when rumors arise they may be involved in an underground human trafficking circle in the city. Gail Stoney (Michelle Thrush of Jimmy P., Hell on Wheels, Fargo) continues to be haunted by the stabbing of Darrien, the death of her child, and past addictions. Actress Jennifer Podemski (Empire of Dirt, Jimmy P., Degrassi) joins the cast as a psychologist, Dr. Crowshoe, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. Glen Gould (Mohawk GirlsRhymes for Young Ghouls) plays estranged brother to Leona and Gail, Smokey Stoney.

Canadians can catch up on seasons 1, 2, and 3 at In the US, viewers can watch on and Hulu Plus. As well, Blackstone will be featured at the Canadian International Television Festival this November in Toronto.

Blackstone is produced by Prairie Dog Film + Television, with Ron E. Scott as Executive Producer, Writer & Director and Jesse Szymanski as Co-Executive Producer. The series currently broadcasts in Canada on APTN, in the United States on Hulu and HuluPlus, in New Zealand on Maori Television, and in Australia on SBS/NITV. Blackstone has been nominated for 75 awards, including Best Dramatic Series, and Best Dramatic Writing at the Canadian Screen Awards this year.

Blackstone is produced in association with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the Canada Media Fund, with the assistance of the Government of Alberta, Alberta Media Fund, with the participation of Rogers Cable Network Fund, and with the assistance of the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.