This week’s podcast begins with Greg recounting his experience screening the first episode of Showcase’s new Canadian original, Travelers. Developed by Brad Wright and nine students at the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time TV Program, the sci-fi project stars Eric McCormack.
Greg and Anthony cover the next two weeks of Canadian TV programming, followed by Bill Brioux’s news about ratings for Kim’s Convenience and Murdoch Mysteries and finish discussing Greg’s upcoming set visit to YTV’s Anne of Green Gables TV-movie.
Who was driving the black car shadowing Daisy all episode long? That was just one of many questions asked during Episode 2 of Shoot the Messenger on Monday night. By the time the hour had come to a close, the driver stepped out of the vehicle, but only his shoe and leg were shown. I’m guessing hoping we get an answer next week.
Written by Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland, the second instalment furthered the drama introduced last week, as an injured Hassan attempted to lay low and heal, but that wasn’t happening. Meanwhile, violence on the street escalated, as Khaalif sought to avenge Khalid’s murder by targeting a member of a rival gang for the killing. Instead, a young girl was killed in a hail of gunfire and Kevin collared Khaalif for the crime. Pair that with Hassan wanting to meet up with Daisy, and there was a lot going on with that storyline.
I’m quickly realizing that Shoot the Messenger is definitely not the type of series you can just air in the background while reading emails. Not only do the storylines command attention with their intricacies, but the visuals are stunning. Sweeping views of the city at night, a dead girl’s head being slowly pulled out of a congealing pool of blood … you have to watch.
The characters are becoming more fleshed out and complex too. Kevin is a by-the-book cop in some ways, but his relationship with Daisy causes him to push boundaries, perhaps to the point of putting his gig or life in jeopardy if he’s not careful. Daisy, meanwhile, seems to be using her feminine wiles to get her way; she slept with Simon because—as she said—she was “curious.” Now Simon is conflicted—he is engaged to be married, after all—about his feelings for the rookie reporter.
Squeaky-clean Simon seems headed for some dirt too. In a bid to chat with basketball star Orlandio Spence (Jamaal Magloire) about his relationship with Khalid, Simon made a deal with his cousin, sports agent Greggor (Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson) to leak a document to The Gazette‘s sports reporter pressuring the team to sign Orlandio to a new contract. (As an aside, Robertson may not be an actor, but he’s very good in Shoot the Messenger so far.)
Shoot the Messenger has a lot of balls in the air right now and things threaten to get a little confusing. But I’m enjoying the ride I’m being taken on and am excited to see where it goes.
Shoot the Messenger airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Talk about a dramatic conclusion for Murdoch Mysteries. After setting up Julia’s potential demise at the hands of a ghostly Eva Pearce, William struggled to save his wife from the flames as The Great Fire consumed Toronto.
Also unveiled during “Great Balls of Fire, Part 2”? Crabtree and Nina are still going strong, so much so he invested in Sam’s garage, William has staked out him and Julia’s dream home and Henry learned his cigars were not the cause of the fire.
In the first of our season-long discussions with Murdoch Mysteries‘ writing staff, we broke down Monday’s episode with showrunner Peter Mitchell and got a hint into Episode 3.
Was there ever any talk that “Great Balls of Fire, Part 1” and “Part 2” be a two-hour movie instead of two episodes?
Peter Mitchell: Briefly, but I don’t think seriously. It easily could have been done, but it never came up as a serious request.
The scenes that involved fire were impressive. It looked as though you used a combination of CGI and real fire. Was that the case?
It was probably 70-30 real fire.
Safety would have been an issue, no?
It was dicey because, though you do a certain amount of flame retardant, there is always the fact that the bones of the set have been around for quite some time, so there is always a flammability factor in play. Not so much danger to the actors because long lenses and flame bars can disguise proximity. There is a bit more distance between the actors and the flame than the eye would tell you. There is always a tiny risk anytime you do anything, but our main concern was that we didn’t actually start The Great Fire of Scarborough. But we had fire engines on hand and all that stuff.
Did you build extra sets onto the original set that was part of the fire?
We built additions on to the existed set that could be used, especially for the after-effects of the fire. They were sort of modular pieces that could be put into play and then removed. We built a couple of sets that, even though they looked damaged, were remarkably undamaged after the fire effects were done. The CGI that was done after the fact lent to the slightly greater carnage.
I really enjoyed the moment where Brackenreid was narrating the toll of the fire while sepia-toned footage of fighting the blaze was shown. Did you use actual footage from the intermixed with the cast acting it out?
We used as much archival footage as we could find. There is actually some film of the fire from the time. We used the archival footage that we found and then shot some elements and then aged and treated them to look like they fit the archival footage.
Was it a challenge to not focus too much on the fire and stick to the murders when the fire was such a big event?
Quite frankly, the amount of resources it would have taken to do a full episode about the fire would have been beyond our abilities. I liked the idea of using the archival stuff and thought it worked really well. Because it is a murder mystery and it is a fairly well-known event, we acknowledged the one victim of the Toronto fire. We didn’t want to create a falsehood that the fire was used to cover up a murder. We wanted to be more journalist that storyteller in that moment.
Because of the extent of the blaze in real history, will it be referenced at all going forward?
We see that from time to time, in some places. If you look at the actual city maps and the areas that were affected, it was certainly considerable but there are large parts of Toronto that weren’t affected by the fire. We didn’t really want to do Murdoch Mysteries: The Dresden Files. [Laughs.]
What about Julia’s mental state? By the end of this episode, she recognizes killing Eva was necessary. Has that story closed for good?
I think it’s pretty much closed. It was a good opportunity to deal with it, but I think it runs its course. There’s always the danger when you have strong female characters of turning them into a damaged character. I want to stay away from that. Brackenreid got better after being screwed up two years ago; there’s no reason Julia can’t.
It was a nice full-circle moment when Julia told Elizabeth that killing will change her.
We all compartmentalize, right? Who knows, maybe it will pop out sometime, but not in the immediate future.
Crabtree and Nina seem to be going strong, especially after he invested money in Sam’s garage.
Crabtree is on the up part of the roller coaster right now. Then it goes down. [Laughs.] But then it goes up again! And down. What we’ve enjoyed about that is opening up that Star Room set to us. It allows us to have our cops because they are red-blooded males, someplace to hang out and give us some visual colour. We get to use the burlesque routines as a bit of commentary on the show. There is a debutante routine in the first part and a firefighter routine in the second part, which are just fun little bits and very much what burlesque vaudeville would have been at the time.
We got to see William’s plot of land where he’s planning to build the house. Will we spend much time watching it built?
I think there is enough of that on HGTV. [Laughs.] And things don’t always go as planned.
What can you tell us about next week’s episode?
George may be on the way to finally finding love, Julia may be on the way to being healed and Murdoch may well be on the way to a crushing mortgage.
Link: Shoot the Messenger’s cast talks block shooting the first season
“It was a very difficult and interesting experience but one that I’m so excited that I had, because a month later [I did it again] and I was in my element and I found myself at an advantage because of that experience. It almost makes sense to block shoot at this point. Change [and] the unknown are always things that I embrace. Things that scare me are the things that make me go at it. Everybody really pulled their bootstraps up and said, ‘this is what we’re doing.’” Continue reading.
Travelers debuts tonight on Showcase with one of the most memorable opening scenes I’ve seen on television. Viewers are going to be blown away, and the storytelling continues at an intense pace after that initial hook.
Created by Brad Wright (Stargate), Travelers stars Eric McCormack as Grant MacLaren, an FBI agent who isn’t what he seems. Despite walking around in our timeline, he is actually the consciousness of a man from the future who inhabits Grant’s body. That’s the case for Marcy Warton (MacKenzie Porter), Trevor Holden (Jared Abrahamson), Carly Shannon (Nesta Cooper) and Philip Pearson (Reilly Dolman) as well. All are “Travelers” from hundreds of years in the future, sent back to perform missions. This group, along with thousands of other travellers around the globe, are trying to change history and save humanity from a horrible future.
We spoke to MacKenzie Porter and Eric McCormack about the 12-episode Season 1 and what fans can expect starting tonight.
I’ve never seen a show begin the way Brad Wright did with the first episode of Travelers. People are going to be saying, ‘What the heck is going on?’ It must have been exciting to read that first script.
Eric McCormack: On paper, it was great. MacKenzie went off and learned incredible martial arts stuff. And to have the least fortunate girl get her revenge right at the beginning of the show, was a pretty kick-ass beginning.
MacKenzie Porter: It was pretty nerve-wracking for me because it’s the first time anyone sees my character and it’s a pretty big scene to open up a show.
I also like the fact Travelers is rooted in the present, with the consciousnesses going back in time rather than have folks wearing outrageous outfits or carrying otherworldly technology. And the show also plays on the fact we rely on social media so much for facts and can backfire when it comes to Marcy.
MP: It’s a bit of a misfire with my character. Her social media profile was made up.
EM: They don’t get all of the information. I think that premise, that in the future they’ll be able to rely on everything people write on Twitter or this Facebook page … you can’t. We’re all communicating with each other all the time, but relying on them only part of the time. There is nothing reliable about the permanent record they’re relying on.
The whole concept of what a fact is is gone. There used to be a set of facts and you could argue both sides of it. Now there are just two sets of facts, period. Good luck trying to convince someone who is voting for Trump in your facts.
Let’s talk about the future the travellers are coming from. Do you know what it’s like? Will viewers? Will we see the future at any point via flashback?
MP: There are no flashbacks.
EM: We know. We asked lots of questions. On Day 1, it was sort of question time and we said, ‘Brad, tell us what we need to know.’ But he made it clear that the audience would only know this little by little and not visually.
MP: I like that we don’t see the future. That might get a little cheesy, creating that world. We’re always in present day and I think that’s what makes our show a drama, and very realistic.
EM: The audience is going to be hungry for that and we will give it to them in little pieces. There is a mystery to be solved there and that is ‘Why are we here and how bad could it be that this was worth doing?’
Are the missions this team goes on integral to changing our fate?
EM: I think it’s in Episode 4 when reference is made that there are travellers all over the world and some of their missions will involve elections, some will involve assassinations. In this case, we start off pretty big with an anti-matter device and we don’t even know until Episode 6 what we need it for. I kind of like that sort of Second World War idea where you only know the code for the thing you have; anything else would endanger your life because you’re not allowed to know. We’re kind of operating in the dark.
The music and lighting are atmospheric and dark, as is the overall storyline, but there are crucial moments of levity like Grant spitting out coffee because it has cow’s milk in it, or Trevor having a morning erection. You need those breaks.
MP: I think it’s important because that’s how you fall in love with the characters. I love that scene with Jared when he wakes up.
EM: You also find out that Jared’s character is in fact the oldest one of all of us, so for him to land in the body of a 17-year-old with a constant erection is even better. A lot of the funny of the show are your scenes with David because Patrick Gilmore is hysterical and because Marcy is such a serious character. He brings out a romance and a smile.
The press materials talk about how the travellers are there for a mission and they have unexpected relationships with people in our time. But, I see this show as about people getting a second chance and living a new life. Is that part of it?
EM: I think so.
MP: The future people have been training for years and I don’t know if they would fall in love the way we do today. For them it was all about survival in that time. Coming back and living in an easier time, they loosen up a bit more, especially Marcy.
EM: So often in time travel, someone from now goes into a time of the Black Plague or something and it’s not a lot of fun. These people are from a horrible time and, suddenly, there is so much delicious stuff. There is fresh air and sunshine, so they’re very much seduced in a way they didn’t count on.
Travelers airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Showcase. It will be broadcast on Netflix internationally later this year.