TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television | Page 5
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Preview: Ice Pilots flies into the sunset

For the last six seasons, viewers have been able to experience what it’s like–visually at least–to climb aboard a DC-3 and jet around Canada’s north. Now it all comes to an end as Ice Pilots NWT takes off for the final time.

Airing Wednesday night on History, the series-ender “D-Day” is unlike most episodes of Ice Pilots in that it was recorded in June–the polar opposite to the sub-zero filming in Yellowknife’s winter months–and the only cargo are human beings. But what a group of human beings. Mikey McBryan’s two-year dream of celebrating the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Europe has finally arrived. He’s got 12 Canadian troops and 12 American Green Berets flying up to Yellowknife to participate in the event, a commemorative jump into Alberta’s Abraham Lake from just 1,200 feet off the ground. Not only that, but Mikey and long-time Buffalo Airways employee Corey are jumping too, in a separate exit from the DC-3 at 12,000 feet.


But, like the D-Day jump that was postponed due to weather, all of the planning and plotting Mikey had done seems for naught when Hurricane “Buffalo” Joe McBryan arrives on the scene and unhappy about the landing zone. Add to that a wall of bad weather and the entire project is set to be scrubbed.

I won’t ruin what happens next.

I was lucky enough to fly up to Yellowknife during a press junket for Ice Pilots NWT. The highlight, of course, was climbing into the back of the DC-3 and flying to and from Hay River with Joe in the cockpit. Bundled up in layers of clothing and packed into that fuselage, I realized I was one of a small group who’d had the opportunity to do it in real life. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Thanks, guys, for six great years on the air, and for welcoming a TV critic from the south into your lives for a day or two.

The Ice Pilots NWT series finale airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on History.

Review: Did Blackstone just kill off a character?

“Mom? Mom?” Alan’s drug-induced, hazy question to an open cell phone line was the shocking ending to what had otherwise been a very Jumbo-centric episode of Blackstone.

“Wolves vs. Sheep” concluded with the ultimate cliffhanger: Debbie, drunk and frustrated that Alan hadn’t come by to pick her up and drive her to see Andy, headed out behind the wheel. Alan’s call to her over an hour later arrived as she was ready to pull onto the highway and she missed the visual and aural tip that a tractor trailer was coming her way. The truck’s grille, splattered with blood, means Debbie is either dead or practically there. No way she’s unscathed.

That will leave the two Fraser men guilt-ridden; Alan for tossing his troubled mother to the side like a bag of trash and Andy for being unable to protect Debbie from harm.

As for Jumbo, his health is in question too. Over $50,000 in debt to Jack, the jig was up for Daryl’s right-hand man after both Gina and Alan confessed Jumbo was skimming funds from the club to pay for his increasing gambling addiction. His truck seized by Jack’s thugs, Jumbo has just five days to pay off the rest of what he owes. That’s going to be a major problem now that he’s unemployed. Unfortunately, Jumbo seems to have cost Daryl the only meaningful relationship I’ve seen him enjoy on Blackstone. That’s too bad, because at the beginning of Tuesday’s instalment it looked like Daryl was one two-minute hand-hold away from telling Gina he loved her. Now that’s up in the air thanks to Jumbo’s indiscretion.

How desperate is Jumbo to raise the funds to pay off Jack? Is he willing to take drastic measures, like steal from a bank, or will he flee the city and hope Jack and his men don’t find him?

Meanwhile, life for Victor has gotten a lot more complicated. The immediate money troubles the band is suffering from–the government is considering holding back on funds because of files burned up–could be alleviated by the oil company that wants to start fracking on the reserve. Victor’s flaw is that he wants everyone to be educated on the long-term effects fracking will have on Blackstone while the young men want the jobs and money ASAP. Victor has the support of folks like Wilma and Leona, but that appears to be it, especially after he was shot at and had “Frack You” spray-painted on the side of his truck.

Speaking of Leona, she and Gail at least talked about the latter’s alcoholism. Good on Leona for standing up to Gail’s excuses with her comment that she’s a recovering alcoholic too. I understand what Gail is going through, but enough is enough. If she truly wanted help she’d seek it out rather than make excuses, which is the classic denial phase of the issue.

With just two more episodes to go before the end of this season, there are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up, the most pressing of which is: is Debbie dead?

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

Link: Wendy Crewson Shines In Saving Hope

From Jim Bawden:

While waiting for Wendy Crewson to phone in I tried to think of all the times I’d ever interviewed her.

I’d seen her from afar on the set of Mazes And Monsters, a 1982 Toronto made TV movie where I was interviewing the lovely Anne Francis about her autobiography.

Others in that cast included Vera Miles, Chris Makepeace, Chris Wiggins and, oh, yeah, the star Tom Hanks as a twentysomething prankster. Continue reading.

Defending Corner Gas: the movie, the show, everything

From John Doyle:

So I came back to discover that Corner Gas: The Movie had been dissed. Here, there and some other places. I am outraged.

Some background – let me tell you a story. Some years ago, the editor of Television Quarterly, the august journal of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences – the people in the United States who do the Emmy Awards – wrote me a very nice, sincere letter. The gist was an invitation to write an essay for the Journal, explaining Canadian television. Continue reading.