TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television | Page 4
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Link: Killjoys: Michelle Lovretta talks “Johnny Be Good”

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Killjoys: Michelle Lovretta talks “Johnny Be Good”
“Adam Barken wrote such a beautiful episode, and I’m really glad he explored Dutch and Pawter. We had a lot of great talks about those scenes — it was important to me that we allow the audience the same insight into Dutch’s heart that we writers have, not because “ew, jealousy, girl power!” but because the real answer drives her series arc.” Continue reading. 

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Four in the Morning boasts humour and bittersweet-ness in debut

In this premiere episode of Four in the Morning, created by Ira Parker, we are treated to a bit of magic realism: a talking pig named Albert a.k.a. Buzz. More on that later.

Four in the Morning is being touted as a comedy. I would, however, describe this as a surreal dream that definitely takes itself seriously.  The dialogue flies by and the puns are delivered so deadpan that if you are not listening, you might not catch them all. But this is not a laugh-a-minute show. It delves a little deeper despite the many f-bombs and a few other liberal-isms that we  typically do not see on the CBC.  It features four (get it? FOUR!) twentysomethings experiencing life at 4 a.m..

Parker himself describes the series: “Four in the Morning is about that feeling you get after a long night of drinking with your friends, fluctuating somewhere between euphoria and misery. It’s about the things we say to each other that we couldn’t during our more sober hours. This is the world our show lives in.”

We open with a quick walking tour through the Patrician Grill—the 219 over the door should be a dead giveaway to Torontonians—and land downstairs in the the ladies’ room with Mitzi (Lola Tash, formerly of Republic of Doyle) sharing the news with her best friend Jamie (Michelle Mylett, “Katy” of Letterkenny) that her talking pet pig has died. See, I really wasn’t kidding about the pig.

Meanwhile, back in the booth, Bondurant (Daniel Maslany, whose credits include Corner Gas), confesses his love for Jamie to Jamie’s boyfriend William (Mazin Elsadig). Eventually, the foursome reunite in a scene reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally—we all remember that  “famous” scene in Katz’s Delicatessen—and the whole thing comes together like you would imagine a Seinfeld episode if it were written by David Lynch. Quirky is a bit of an understatement.

Anyhow, William turns to his girlfriend Jamie in frustration, “I am starting to get why your parents abandoned you,” and with that, the foursome becomes two twosomes, setting up a series of back and forth, his and hers scenes. We learn through Bondurant’s confession to William that he has lied to everyone about his acceptance to Julliard. We also learn via Mitzi’s  own confession to Jamie that she is merely “transitorily pregnant” and plans to abort Bondurant’s child because it is her belief that he has been accepted to Julliard.

This sequence of bantering scenes feels more like a one-act play than television sitcom, giving 4 a.m. a very fresh charm. It crams in a good deal of background information with its fast-paced dialogue.  Parker even gets a bit meta with his dialogue; William calls Bondurant out for dropping a famous Carnegie/Massey Hall joke.

We close with  the knowledge that Mitzi’s pig squealed on Jamie and Bondurant, while Bondurant contemplates his future, sans trumpet,  from the stage of an empty and darkened Massey Hall.

This is truly a refreshing blend of humour and bittersweet-ness. Definitely a standing “O” to the CBC for allowing Parker free reign with his creation. This, I hope, will be a really fun ride!

Will Mitzi decide to keep Bondurant’s baby? What do you think will happen next? Do you have a favourite line from the show? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Four in the Morning airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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Reaction to CRTC’s Policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds

By Anonymous 

UPDATE: If the intent is to attract “top talent” that will make all these new “American” Canadian shows more viable, the CRTC should probably know that even some of the most successful Canadians in L.A., like the showrunner/creator of Bones, isn’t impressed.

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Canadian Television is about to become slightly less full of Canadians, thanks to a major CRTC decision released quietly yesterday.

The CRTC is allowing the independent production funds (including the Shaw Rocket Fund, Rogers Fund, Cogeco Program Development Fund, Telefilm Canada, and the Harold Greenberg Fund) to reduce their “point system” for what determines Canadian-ness of a project from 8 to 6. The general effect of this will be to allow for the hiring of non-Canadians in key creation and starring roles (ie: Americans will be able to create and star in “Canadian” TV series).

This, in fact, by the CRTC’s own admission, was one of the points of the decision:

“The current criterion requiring eight out of 10 Canadian content certification points to qualify for CIPF funding is restrictive and excludes many productions that could otherwise be of high quality and qualify as Canadian. Moreover, a reduced requirement could help smaller and perhaps more innovative projects to qualify for funding. A reduced requirement of at least six points could also facilitate the hiring by production companies of non-Canadian actors or creators, who may increase a project’s attractiveness and visibility in international markets.”

Reaction from the Canadian creative community was swift, and critical.

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What’s particularly unusual about this decision is that something with far-reaching implications was done as a “paper hearing,” ie: the CRTC did not hold any public consultations.

The last time something like this was proposed, the Writers Guild of Canada brought a group of screenwriters to Hull to appear before the commission. They made a convincing case as to why this “flexibility” wouldn’t lead to better quality Canadian programming. It seems that current chairman J.P. Blais was determined to not repeat this exercise.

Of concern to fans of actual Canadian TV shows, of course, is the fact that once again in no way was the audience consulted. The CRTC didn’t bother to seek out or try to understand the feelings of fans who celebrate unique Canadian points-of-view and creative directions on display in Canadian-created shows such as Orphan Black, Flashpoint, X Company, Letterkenny, Wynonna Earp, Lost Girl, Rookie Blue, Saving Hope, Motive, or many more.

As Peter Mitchell, executive producer and showrunner of Murdoch Mysteries explained on Facebook, even the premise of the CRTC’s decision is faulty:

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The problem with the CRTC’s decision is that it really doesn’t advance any new idea. Many Canadian producers have been doing their level best to copy “American-style” shows for years, watering down the Canadian creative role as much as possible. They never seem to do as well as the original work such as Orphan Black or Murdoch Mysteries. That’s why you’re not seeing Season 4 of the forgettable XIII, and why Houdini & Doyle, which debuted to so much fanfare, died a quiet death.

The idea that Canadian producers will be able to attract top American talent is dubious at best. Because if you’re American, and you’re working in the American industry where there’s more money, and more prestige, why would you take a massive pay cut to work in Canada? Instead of top American talent, you’re likelier to get the people who can’t get hired anymore, who might have had credits in the 1980s or 1990s. And now the CRTC has blessed the idea that these marginal players are more valuable than the top homegrown talent who are responsible for the industry’s top successes.

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There are other ways to approach the idea of creating hits, rather than this failed road. But the CRTC seems to be enamored with the fantasy that “flexibility” fixes all, rather than actually supporting talent.

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And the best part? A government that ran at least partially on a platform of promoting culture is signalling to the next generation of storytellers not to bother—that it’s time to leave:

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So there’s nothing good here if you’re a Canadian writer or actor hoping to star in or create a Canadian show. Or if you’re someone who likes the unique point of view you see from Canadian TV shows. But the producer’s association loves it. I’m sure you’ll be getting something great from that writer who did one episode of Simon & Simon any day now.

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Great news, isn’t it?

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Link: Lola Tash previews Four in the Morning

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Lola Tash previews Four in the Morning
“I auditioned and at first I didn’t get it, and a year later I got a phone call that they wanted me for it. [Mitzi] is, at first, an emotionally withdrawn banker who is really easygoing and approaches everything with detachment and then you see that she is detached for a reason and gets hurt easily and cares more than she lets on.” Continue reading.

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