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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Teamwork threatens to tear the Travelers apart

Last week on Travelers, Philip put the team in jeopardy when he attempted to save the life of a young boy named Aleksander. In Phil’s eyes, they’d been sent back to save the world, so why not save some extra folks along the way? Trouble is, that’s contrary to the mission, something The Director sternly warned them about. For the second time. By episode end, Trevor realized one of the names Philip wrote down on the hideout’s wall was one he knew. So, was it one of his parents? Girlfriend Rene? Best bud Kyle?

Here’s the official episode synopsis for Monday’s new episode, “Hall,” written by Pat Smith:

MacLaren’s leadership is challenged when he’s directed to assist a more experienced team of travellers that wants to join forces.

And here are a few more non-spoilery tidbits we can tell you:

Louis Ferreira alert!
Fans of Stargate Universe, Motive and This Life rejoice! Mr. Ferreira appears as a shady individual named Hall that Grant and Forbes (Arnold Pinnock) are keeping tabs on when a deal of some kind goes bad. One of the men on the scene—a traveler—gives Grant a message that sends them off-mission.

Our team works with another group
Remember how we were told there were thousands of travellers on earth all working separate missions? That’s the case tonight, as Grant et al. aid another. Also? It turns out that, like Philip, not every traveller is interested in the mission they’ve been given; some go rogue. That makes things very complicated for everyone and Marcy’s past, er, future comes back to haunt her.

Trevor has more fun in his new body
He’s enjoyed fresh air, hamburgers and morning erections; no Trev hits the track to give his muscles a workout. And his family meeting with Ms. Day about his marks? Classic.

Jeff tries to work himself back into Carly’s life
It’s a one-sided conversation, but Carly really shouldn’t ignore just how dangerous her baby daddy is. After all, he did see the security footage of Marcy and he’s a cop.

Travelers airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showcase.

Image courtesy of Corus.


Frontier runs amok in Season 1

Canada is a brutal, wild place and the folks that inhabit it are pretty much that way too. That’s what we’ve learned after Sunday’s debut episode of Frontier.

“A Kingdom Unto Itself,” written by co-creators and executive producers Peter and Rob Blackie and Perry Chafe, served not only to introduce viewers to the key players in Season 1 but to get the storylines going at a frenetic clip.

There’s Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) an Irish lad who stowed away on a ship when he was caught stealing from it and woke up at sea, on the way to Canada. There’s Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) the stern former military man who’s in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Company and aims to take out a man named Declan Harp. There is Harp (Jason Momoa) himself, a hulking man whose violent nature and Métis lineage makes him a successful fur trader. Add in supporting characters like Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk), Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) and Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) and Frontier is jam-packed with action.

By the end of Episode 1, Michael has been successful in locating Harp for Benton, but the young lad was on the verge of becoming another pelt in Harp’s collection. We spoke to the Blackie brothers about Frontier and where the show will go in Season 1.


Peter, congratulations on Season 1 of Frontier and on Season 2 being ordered already. Was it always in the back of your minds to have Frontier last multiple seasons?
Peter Blackie: For sure. That was always our hope. You always go into a scripted series wanting to do a number of seasons if you can. But the real telltale is if they don’t like the first the season you’re probably not going to get another.

Rob Blackie: We’re actually in production on the second season right now, so this is a huge sign of confidence from Discovery Canada and Netflix.

Frontier is incredible visually, character and story-wise and wardrobe-wise. You’ve successfully introduced all of these characters and yet it doesn’t feel bloated or cluttered. It must have been difficult to have so much contained in six episodes and not feel bogged down.
RB: Pilots are interesting because they are burdened down with all of these required introductions. We spent the vast majority of our time working with our writing team and producing partners and director for the pilot, Brad Peyton, and making sure the ‘introductory elements’ have their own story engine so that when you watch them as a viewer they feel like a forward-moving story. It’s much more difficult to do it that way but we had a lot of people working hard on it for a very long time.

PB: Another thing that helped make it work, in particular for the pilot, was having actors in the show of a Shawn Doyle calibre who are able to really elevate everything because of their abilities.

There are several storylines going on in the first episode, but it feels very much like we’re seeing this world through Michael’s eyes and that he is our guide. Is that true?
PB: We refer to him as our protagonist. The show is set up to do multiple perspectives and kingdoms, but he functionally is the way into the show.

RB: And Declan Harp is our antihero. He’s the major star of the show and is introduced in the pilot in a very dark way. We are experiencing Declan Harp’s dark view of the world from Michael’s perspective.

Jason Momoa is listed as an executive producer. What did that title entail? Was he involved in day-to-day decisions?
RB: He didn’t have any day-to-day line producing or anything like that, but someone like him plays such an integral function in the profile and promoting of the show. He’s very, very interested in the arc of the show and the arc of his character and participates heavily in that part of the process. It’s a common practice for a someone like him who shows a tremendous amount of interest. He’s a filmmaker at heart and has directed his own material and has his own production company. We produced a small feature film with his production company last winter in addition to doing Frontier and he is an absolute film artist at heart and that makes his a really good fit for our team.

Photo credit: Duncan de Young on set of Frontier
(l-r) Peter and Rob Blackie (Photo credit: Duncan de Young on the set of Frontier)

Why did you decide to start Frontier with the Hudson’s Bay Company crumbling rather than show how it began?
PB: That’s a great question. Rob and I spent a lot of time at the very beginning wrestling through where we wanted to be, specifically, and why. The reason we picked the general era that we picked it is about a century after the monopoly was granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company and their dominion started to falter. The only company in history that ever properly did rival the HBC in the New World was the North West Company and it, essentially, was an amalgamation of a bunch of separate companies with smaller interests, predominantly run out of Montreal. They ultimately realized they were not able to complete as separate entities and were forced to combine their energies and formed a company that was, scale-wise, able to compete with the HBC. We picked this era because it’s sort of the David and Goliath scenario.

Are any of Frontier’s characters named after any real-life people from history, or are they all a mix of real folks made into fictional ones?
PB: Everybody who is in the show is, at most, amalgamations of different characters from different times or characters we completely created from scratch.

RB: Earlier in the process we had taken a run at including ‘real characters’ from history and we found that, with the amount of historical fiction, it started to feel more limiting, and putting words into the actual mouths of people from history didn’t feel right to us. So we went with fictional characters and drew from as much research as we could from history and real people from history. The real people from history have the craziest stories.

Can you talk a little bit about the research you did into the canoes, wardrobe and discussions you had with First Nations people to get this right?
PB: We did, and we relied quite extensively on help from experts and people from within the communities. It’s been an interesting learning process for us. The deeper we went the more we realized how easy it is to make basic mistakes and we learned just how complex the socio-political landscape this country was like pre-contact. Once you introduce the idea of Europeans coming in, the complexity rolls over onto itself. We found ourselves in a spot where we didn’t have the tools to do the basic things and we reached out in a bunch of different directions to get help, including and not limited to wardrobe, language and representation.

We had very patient, thoughtful, smart people who have committed to us not making mistakes and inspiring us to dive in and tell these stories.

Frontier airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Discovery Canada.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Jealousy rears its head on Heartland

It’s not often that an episode of Heartland goes by without some closure. A problem or issue arises and by the end of the hour things are almost always settled and Sunday concludes with some great song as the credits roll.

Alas, though we got a fantastic closing tune by Reuben and the Dark called “Heart in Two,” there were strings left hanging. “The Green-Eyed Monster,” written by Bonnie Fairweather, was—as expected given the episode title—dealt with jealousy between horse and human and human and human.

For Amy, it meant realizing she’s spent so much time focusing on keeping busy while Ty has been away that Spartan went neglected. The result was an irritated horse that stumped Jack and Amy. It wasn’t until Amy began working with mounted archer Norah and her horse, Doc, that she understood: Doc was jealous of Norah’s infant son and Spartan was upset with Amy because she was neglecting him. Her solution was to take Spartan into the woods and work on liberty training; paired with “Heart in Two” it made for a stunning and emotional final scene as they reconnected.

Sadly for Georgie and Adam, there was no happiness for them. Adam, who has evolved from standoffish genius to an emotional boyfriend, assumed Georgie was seeing Clay and jealously spurned her. As much as I want to be angry at Adam for his actions, I totally get it. Being in a relationship at that age is an all-consuming thing and you want to be with them 24/7. But smothering the person you love isn’t the answer and these two are going to have to figure out the right mix or things will be over.


Speaking of over, Mitch and Lou certainly seem to be. One of the frustrating things about some of the Heartland characters is their stubbornness and unwillingness to let the other person speak. That was certainly the case with Lou, who assumed Mitch’s coldness while fly fishing meant he doesn’t like her. Of course, that’s not the case—the dog tags mean Mitch was remembering fishing with a friend who’s no longer alive—but she wouldn’t let him explain and, honestly, he didn’t try hard enough.

The only person who had anything go right was Jack. After Lisa accidentally chucked his stew jar it was recovered. Well, at least there was that.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.


Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Bea Santos and Daniel Maslany

From You’ve Been Hooked:

Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Bea Santos
“I have a lot of respect for Louise’s career focus. I love how driven, and maybe a little bit pushy, she is. In terms of being passionate about what we do we are the same. It will also be revealed in later episodes that we have some surprising cultural similarities. Can’t really elaborate, you’ll just have to watch!” Continue reading.


Link: 5×5 With the Hook: Daniel Maslany
“It was a very collaborative effort and evolution from start to finish. Simon’s writing of Watts was fantastic, and very rewarding to be able to bring to life. He created this character with many quirks and peculiar opinions but they all felt grounded in a believable and playable reality.” Continue reading. 


Link: New system for funding Canadian content would rely on tax credits

From Kate Taylor of The Globe and Mail:

Link: New system for funding Canadian content would rely on tax credits
Canada desperately needs an update to its cultural policies but, like many Liberal initiatives, the review announced last spring by Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly feels pretty mushy. To date, the consultations about nurturing Canadian-content creation seem mainly to have produced pieties about the digital age but few concrete suggestions. Continue reading.