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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Link: Young Drunk Punk: An Interview with Arnold Pinnock

From Janelle Tyme of

Young Drunk Punk: An Interview with Arnold Pinnock
“One of the things that I really do like about it, is the fact that it really does challenge you as an artist. When you first read it, you grasp the basics, then when you read it again you see the multiple layers and situations that set up something two episodes ahead or brings back something from three episodes back. That, to me, is really good writing and a really good showrunner.” Continue reading.

Tornado Hunters spins up wild weather drama on CMT Canada

Hollywood disaster movies never have much in the way of reality in them. Take Twister. Monster tornadoes tear up the American midwest, growling like Godzilla, spinning cows and water towers around while a couple on the verge of divorce alternately chase and outrun them? Outrageous, right?

“The only fake part of that movie is Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt’s love life,” says Greg Johnson. “They actually under-did the tornadoes.” He should know. The former Parliament Hill staffer, former hockey referee and former marketing executive left the rat race behind to race after tornadoes and other extreme weather. With veteran storm chaser Chris Chittick and extreme sport enthusiast Ricky Forbes alongside, the trio are the Tornado Hunters. Debuting Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT Canada, Tornado Hunters climbs into a truck alongside the boys on a wild ride across the Canadian and American prairies in search of wild weather and, hopefully, some twisters.

Unlike other funnel-themed programming on the dial, Tornado Hunters showcases all kinds of extreme weather and captures it with video and still cameras, creating stunning works of photographic art. There’s nothing more awe-inspiring and educational than time-lapse images of bruised purple clouds roiling thousands of feet in the air while enrobed in bristles of lightning.


“You’ll watch a tornado once, and then that’s it,” Forbes says. Johnson concurs, explaining tornadoes are extremely rare; if his team captures a half-dozen on-camera in a summer season, it’s been a good year. To fill time in between storms—and to allow viewers to get to know them better—Saloon Media’s cameras follow the boys during various hijinks, from Chittick winning a push-ups bet against his buddies to Forbes’ phobia of snakes revealed in a hilarious way.

Technology has come a long way in the past several years, enabling photographers and camera people to capture images of incredible beauty. Chittick says the Tornado Hunters stand apart from other storm chasers because they use the latest tech to great effect.

Meanwhile, the three are protected by a souped-up Ford, capable of withstanding a violent beating at the hands of Mother Nature.

“People ask about safety, and we’re in an armoured truck that has a roll cage,” Forbes says. “We’re not being cowboys about this; we have radar and we have the training. There are three of us on the team and we have specific responsibilities and watch each other’s back.”

“There’s video of a truck like ours that rolls 15 times down a hill and the cab survives,” Johnson says. “Of course, we don’t want to be in that situation.”

Tornado Hunters airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT Canada.

Comments and queries for the week of October 16

Continuum’s end … and new beginnings

A bittersweet ending for sure. Kiera and Liber8 accomplished what they set out to do, but Kiera has lost everything. She should have stayed in 2015. I’m glad Alec and Emily got back together. I am curious as to what happened to Brad and Garza. I thought after Kellog realized he had killed his daughter he was going to sacrifice himself to stop his people from invading but nope, he was his old, selfish self. I hated that he killed Dillon. He got what he deserved in the end. —Sarah

Kiera is a mom—no way she’d just sit tight in 2015 if she had half a chance to know if her son was OK, lost or even never born in the new timeline. She’d be tortured in 2015 to always wonder—feeling she abandoned him and maybe played a role to prevent him ever existing except in her memory. She had to know. Tough but simple choice consistent to with her character to step into the unknown for her son. —B K

Kellog didn’t want to go back to 2077, he wanted to go back to 2012 and kill everybody when they arrived, to make a new future with poor, kid Alec. —JC

That was my understanding of Kellog’s plan too, but it left me with heaps of new unanswered questions. Like how did Kellog expect to take on Kiera, Garza and Travis in 2012 (even assuming he’d have other Kellog’s help and that Curtis would be neutral)? He’s not such a great combatant. Why didn’t 2030s Kellog send Brad to do that in the first place? —Emily

Comparing the major party platforms on culture

You need only look at PBS within the last 15 or so years as a prime example of what happens when a public broadcaster is cut financially and having to be creative to survive. They got lucky with Downton Abbey. But the kind of programming PBS once relied on, such as cooking shows, are entire networks in Food Network and Cooking Channel, plus online media sources in YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and so on. It’s why strong public media is a must, not a luxury. —Allan

I don’t think people realize how important exposure to Canadian storytelling is to their worldview and in turn the perceived value of anything coming out of this culture, whether it be the arts or goods and services. We have become quite apathetic and have massive inferiority complexes about our own country because we would rather evaluate ourselves through the eyes of American media. It might be conducive to business people who sell out our opportunities for the sake of an easier dollar, but it has been very culturally degrading.

Almost none of our broadcasters have any reason to exist so long as they don’t own their own content. We essentially have forfeit our ability to build a profitable industry. If you only spend a dollar on a show, you better expect a dollar for it. We need to get past the precipice into an atmosphere where investment is seen as worthwhile and then build on that momentum. The CBC doesn’t have to be a drain on our tax dollars if we give them the means to make a worthy product and build a name for itself worldwide like the BBC. Those are my thoughts on the matter, anyway. Cheers. —Andrew


Got a comment or question about Canadian TV? Sound off a or @tv_eh.

Links: Romeo Section is unapologetically Canadian

From Brad Oswald of the Winnipeg Free Press:

Vancouver-set spy series unapologetically Canadian
It figures that the hero in a Canadian-TV spy thriller would be rumpled, reserved, less than thrilling and perhaps even not all that Canadian. Wolfgang McGee is no James Bond, that’s for sure. And that’s what makes the new CBC series The Romeo Section, for better and worse, something other than a standard-issue espionage drama. Continue reading.

From Adrian Mack of the Georgia Straight:

The Romeo Section is banking on your human intelligence
We’re a brilliant and terrible species, all things considered. “Lying is number two on the list of things we need to survive,” says Chris Haddock, talking to the Straight from the set of his highly anticipated new series for the CBC, The Romeo Section, premiering tonight (October 14). “We’re such manipulative beings. People who manipulate and can lie well have great chances of success, and those who lie easily and imperceptibly seem to rise to the top of the heap.” Continue reading.

Frank Van Keeken & Laura Harbin launch Beachwood Canyon Productions

From a media release:

Multi-award winning producers, Frank van Keeken and Laura Harbin, are pleased to announce they have joined forces to launch Beachwood Canyon Productions.  Beachwood Canyon Productions will develop and produce original film and television programming, currently focusing on the tween market.

Canadian comedy and television veteran, Frank van Keeken, was a writer for the hit series Mad About You and Raising Dad.  After 10 years in Hollywood van Keeken returned to his Canadian roots and has served as Executive Producer and writer for The Dating Guy (Teletoon) and Billable Hours (Showcase).  He created and Executive Produced Wingin’ It (Family, Starz), and the hit tween series The Next StepMost recently, he was creator and Executive Producer for Lost & Found Music Studios premiering in winter 2016 on Family Channel in Canada, CBBC in England, and Netflix in the rest of the world.

Laura Harbin began her career at Shaftesbury Films where she was on the producing team for over 35 titles, including Murdoch Mysteries (City TV), ReGenesis (TMN/MC/Global) and Life with Derek (Family).  In 2011 she joined Temple Street Productions as Senior Director of Scripted Programming, overseeing development and production of the highly rated, award-winning series Being Erica (CBC), Winging’ It (Family, Starz), the hit tween series The Next Step (Family, Hulu) and the music-based tween series Lost & Found Music Studios which she also Executive Produced. 

Beachwood Canyon Productions has numerous projects in development.  Frank van Keeken and Laura Harbin are also currently Executive Producing Season 4 of The Next Step for Temple Street Productions in association with Family Channel.