TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television | Page 3
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Production begins in Toronto on Global’s Houdini & Doyle

From a media release:

Shaw Media announced today that production has begun on Houdini & Doyle in the Toronto area. Starring Michael Weston (Six Feet UnderHouse) and Stephen Mangan (Episodes) along with Canadian actress Rebecca Liddiard (Between, MsLabelled), the mystery adventure drama series, scheduled to premiere on Global in 2016, is shooting the final two episodes of the 10-episode drama on location in Toronto and Southern Ontario until mid December. A Canada/UK treaty co-production from Shaftesbury and Big Talk Productions, the first eight episodes of the series were filmed in Manchester, UK from July to November 2015.

In Houdini & Doyle, Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) – master magician, escape artist and paranormal debunker – and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Stephen Mangan) – prolific writer, creator of “Sherlock Holmes” and paranormal aficionado – grudgingly join forces in 1901 London and Canada to investigate unsolved and inexplicable crimes with a supernatural slant in collaboration with New Scotland Yard Constable Adelaide Stratton (Rebecca Liddiard). Inspired by true events, the series will draw heavily on the rich history of the period.

The 10-episode drama was ordered straight to series for ITV Encore in the UK and Global in Canada and licensed in the US on FOX. Jeff Renfroe (RemedyHaven, Beauty and the Beast) is serving as director of the final two episodes filmed in Canada.

Related: Our sneak peek at Houdini & Doyle

Discovery heads into a new Frontier

Allan Hawco is up front that Frontier is not “an Allan Hawco vanity project.”

He says that a couple of times during the course of our chat about Discovery Canada’s first foray into scripted television. Yes, he’s set to co-star in the six-parter about the fight for wealth and power in the North American fur trade of the late 18th century, but he’s not the lead. That honour goes to Jason Momoa. Instead, Hawco will remain largely behind the scenes, serving as an executive producer alongside his fellow Take the Shot Production partners, two of whom—Rob (on the right in the above picture) and Peter Blackie—actually conceived of the project.

“There are so many stories to mine from history around the world, especially here in Canada, that has never fully been exploited,” Hawco says. “That’s just bizarre to me. I think there is a real appetite from Canadians to hear their stories told in an interesting and thought-provoking way.” Hawco, who starred, directed, wrote and produced Republic of Doyle for six seasons describes Frontier as being the story of the birth of capitalism in North America, and the greed, blood and power that went along with it. Frontier begins with The Hudson Bay Company, which has a monopoly on what’s happening during the fur trade in the region that will one day be Canada. Smaller factions seek out their own piece of the pie; Hawco portrays Douglas Brown, who plots alongside his brothers to steal some of the HBC’s thunder.

Rob Blackie explains the idea for Frontier came about thanks to a chance meeting at MIPCOM between business parter Alex Patrick and Discovery’s Edwina Follows. The network’s interest in having more dramatic, scripted programming lead to the brothers kicking around ideas for a time period history-based series; they presented Follows with two projects and Frontier was greenlit.

‘It’s an interesting, super-violent part of Canadian history that not a lot of people know about,” Blackie says. “As soon as we started researching it, we were shocked at how little we knew and how conflictual the time period was. The deeper we got, the more interesting it got.” Momoa plays the series’ anti-hero, a part-Irish, part-Cree man named Declan who works with a gang and becomes an unlikely host to a boy named Michael who has been living on the streets of London. Other cast includes Alun Armstrong, Landon Liboiron, Zoe Boyle and Jessica Matten.

Production just wrapped filming in England and has set up shop in St. John’s until a Christmas hiatus. Then it’s on to Louisbourg, N.S., to film at the famous fort and Morrisburg, Ont., to capture action at Fort Wellington in February.

“Winter has an inherent beauty and, if you can capture it, an amazing production value,” Blackie says. “And it’s true to the story. Winter was an important part of the fur trade.”

Frontier debuts on Discovery Canada and Netflix outside of Canada in 2016.

(Photo credit: Duncan de Young on set of Frontier.)

Say Yes to the Dress Canada returns for Season 2

From a media release:

Corus Entertainment’s W Network kicks off the new year with a brand-new season of Say Yes to the Dress Canada. Season 2 features bigger budgets, more designers and lots of new dresses as wide-eyed brides from across Canada shop for their dream wedding dress to match their style, image and budget. Say Yes to the Dress Canada Season 2 premieres with back-to-back episodes Wednesday, January 6 at 10 p.m. and10:30 p.m. ET/PT on W Network.

Throughout the new season, brides from across the country continue the search for the perfect gown. It’s not always easy with family and friends at their side offering their unfiltered opinions. Filmed at one of Canada’s leading bridal destinations, Amanda-Lina’s Sposa Boutique in Toronto, the series goes behind-the-scenes and uncovers the hurdles every staff member faces to ensure each bride feels happy and beautiful in her dress on one of the most important days of her life.

Say Yes to the Dress Canada brings the heart of the U.S. series north to our beautiful Canadian brides. This season, bridal fashion expert and “bride whisperer” Tyrel joins the series as Fashion Director, alongside bridal boutique owners Sam and Rachelle, seamstress Maria and Amanda-Lina’s team of seasoned bridal consultants.​

This season’s brides include a Raptors Dance Pak performer in a scandalously low back; a feisty divorce lawyer in a fairy-tale gown; a fitness competition athlete keen to show off her buff bod; a romance novelist striving to realize her fantasies; and  follows Say Yes to the Dress Canada’s consultant, Dimitra, as she changes roles to become a bride herself, slips into her gorgeous gown and shares her magical day. This season, Michael Hill Jewellers returns as a lead sponsor of Say Yes to the Dress CanadaSay Yes to the Dress Canada is produced by Temple Street Productions in association with W Network and based on Say Yes to the Dress produced by Half Yard Entertainment for TLC, distributed by Discovery Studios Group.


Blackstone’s new/old chief

I’ll never skip reviewing episodes of Blackstone again. Of course this is the final season, but by skipping reviewing the last two weeks, I missed out on opining at length about two major characters.

Two weeks ago, Julian Black Antelope turned in an incredible performance as Darrien Tailfeathers. The man everyone has loved to hate over the past two seasons—especially when he kidnapped Wendy—showed a side of him we’ve never seen: a man abused when he was a child and fighting to keep off that same path. When Darrien took hostages, I feared the worst: he’d go down in a hail of bullets, a victim of violence. Instead, we saw a tearful, tender side to Darrien and he turned himself in. I’m hoping the producers supply the Academy with his scenes and he’s nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. Yeah, he’s that good.

As for last week’s instalment, Blackstone said goodbye to Victor. The victim of an apparent broken ankle, Victor almost made it back from the brush before collapsing on the reserve’s border, expiring from exposure. After flirting with a bit of romance last season, Victor came under fire as the new chief and never really lived up to expectations. Of course, Sarah doesn’t believe Victor died simply of a broken ankle (I don’t either), and it remains to be seen if anyone will be brought to justice for his death.

There was a lot going on this week too. As “Back in the Saddle” began, Andy continued, and was successful, in his plans to resume being chief of Blackstone with Leona as his only challenger for office. Right off the bat, the episode featured a simple, yet dramatic scene as Francine spoke of long-past better days on Blackstone, before leaders stole from the people. But can Andy change his ways now that he’s had the murder charges dropped? (The fact that Francine could see and was talking to Andy’s dad clearly freaked him out.) On the surface, Andy’s plan for Blackstone to build timber homes is a step in the right direction, but after so many scams and false promises, can anyone trust him?

Unfortunately, by episode’s end it looked like Andy had been bluffing the whole time. But I’m not buying it. I think his declining health (coughing up blood is never good) is a message to Andy that now is the time to turn things around and make a lasting, positive legacy behind.

Gail’s life, meanwhile, has taken an interesting turn. Her visit to Wilma’s new home has clearly opened a new, artistic door for her to express her feelings. Sure, she’s still quick to bark at people—the artist was just trying to help—but seeing Gail spread paint out on the page is a wonderful outlet. She obviously loves it.

Blackstone airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on APTN.

Link: Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark and the Canadian Kids’ TV Boom

From Michael Rancic of Now:

Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark and the Canadian Kids’ TV Boom
Those factors, combined with a low Canadian dollar, add up to the cultural climate that spawned Are You Afraid Of The Dark. The show premiered in 1991 and was one of the first major live action children’s shows to be co-produced between Canada and Nickelodeon in the U.S., the network that carried AYAOTD had been importing Canadian-made shows in its early days like Special Delivery, Science International and most notably, You Can’t Do That On Television. But it was Night Heat, a live action adult-oriented drama co-produced between CTV and CBS that proved early on how successful co-productions could be in both markets. Continue reading.