Tag Archives: CBC

Preview: A sequential killer stalks Toronto on Murdoch Mysteries

There are three new faces in the Murdoch Mysteries writing room this season. Dan Trotta, Natalia Guled and Noelle Girard joined the long-running, high-rated CBC drama after Michelle Ricci and Carol Hay departed to create Frankie Drake Mysteries and the untimely passing of Jordan Christianson.

Tonight, Dan Trotta—who most recently wrote and produced on the Omni drama Blood and Water—gets the spotlight with “Dr. Osler Regrets,” directed by Alison Reid. Here’s the official synopsis from CBC:

A spate of murders staged as suicides leads Murdoch to suspect a sequential killer targeting the elderly.

And here are a few more tidbits we caught after watching a screener.

Louise Cherry returns
I’ve read the comments on the Murdoch Mysteries Facebook pages and fans are pretty clear in their feelings regarding Ms. Cherry: they don’t like her. It will be interesting to see what fans think of Ms. Cherry after this week’s instalment because she’s up to her old tricks again.

Kristopher Turner guest-stars
I’ve missed Kristopher Turner since This Life was cancelled—watch both excellent seasons via the CBC site—so it’s a treat to see him in Detective Murdoch’s world as Jack Borden. Also after appearing on Murdoch Mysteries once before as Dr. Lawrence Abbott in “Buffalo Shuffle,” Stewart Arnott re-appears in the role of Dr. William Osler. You can read up on Osler’s real-life achievements here; among his accolades, Osler was one of the founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital. We get a nice little bit of backstory with regard to Julia’s education and how Osler factored into it.

Violet gets her hands dirty
It doesn’t take long for Violet to contribute to the team. Within minutes she’s up to her elbows in guts at the city morgue, helping Julia determine a cause of death in the episode’s first victim.

George reveals a timely hobby
Julia isn’t the only one we learn something about. After 11 seasons Crabtree unveils an interesting hobby.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.




Preview: Murdoch Mysteries introduces its newest cast member

It was just two weeks ago on Murdoch Mysteries that Rebecca James announced she was leaving Toronto for her own private practice in Chatham, Ont. And, after an excellent episode featuring a return appearance of Alexander Graham Bell and the introduction of Helen Keller and hotel detective Ralph Fellows, we’ve got a new face in the morgue. As previously announced on the Murdoch Mysteries Facebook page, Shanice Banton has joined the cast in a recurring role, capably filling the void left by Ms. James.

Here’s the official CBC episode synopsis for Monday’s new episode, “The Canadian Patient,” written by Simon McNabb and directed by Laurie Lynd:

Murdoch investigates a surgeon whose cutting-edge organ transplants wreak medical havoc and run afoul of Mary Baker Eddy and The Christian Science movement.

And here’s some non-spoilery info from us after watching a screener.

Meet Violet Hart
Shanice Banton portrays Violet Hart, who is introduced immediately after the opening credits, manning a booth at the Toronto Medical Exposition. Her easy smile and good humour make an immediate impression on George. Speaking of George, he has a hilarious speech in the morgue that fans will love.

Jayne Eastwood guest stars
The veteran actress plays Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement, who believes sickness can be cured by prayer.

George’s gift shines
We love it when George just misses coming up with the trademarked name for a real product. He’s up to his old tricks again on Monday when he just misses naming an invention Violet is promoting.

Julia and William’s Season 11 journey?
Showrunner Peter Mitchell teased a new domestic drama will consume Julia and William’s lives this season. We’re pretty sure we know what it is after watching Monday’s instalment thanks to a woman named Marilyn Clark.

Margaret returns!
Seriously, it has been too long since Mrs. Brackenreid was back in our lives. We’re still chuckling over her interactions with H.P. Lovecraft. When we catch up with her in this episode, she’s pretty upset with her husband, and for good reason.

Murdoch‘s crew comes through
I’ve always been impressed with the work the Murdoch Mysteries does to make everything as historically accurate as possible. Everyone involved in the operating theatre scene is to be congratulated for their work on set decoration, wardrobe, special effects, lighting and camera angles. It’s stunning.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.




CBC’s inspiring Sickboy celebrates laughing in the face of deadly disease

“If all of us are affected by illness in some way, then why can’t we just talk about it?” That’s the question put forth by Jeremie Saunders, who aims to get people doing just that in “Sickboy.”

Airing as part of CBC Docs POV—the rebranding of Firsthand—Dream Street Pictures’ “Sickboy” follows 29-year-old Jeremie (he’s in the centre of the picture above) as he lives life on borrowed time. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and told he wouldn’t live past 25, Jeremie literally laughs in the face of disease and seeks to discuss it with friends, family and the world via the Sickboy podcast that aims to alter the way people view serious illnesses like cancer, depression, PTSD and epilepsy.

Written and directed by Andrew MacCormack, “Sickboy” begins on Jeremie’s 29th birthday, as he reflects on the fact that—according to what doctors told his parents when he was a baby—he should already be dead. But, rather than let the fact cystic fibrosis—mucous buildup in the lungs causing scarring in the organs that will eventually kill him—the Halifax native prefers to celebrate every day he has with optimism, discussion and, most importantly to him, laughter. See, Jeremie believes laughing at cystic fibrosis keeps it at bay and takes away its power over him.

Then it’s off to meet Jeremie’s two friends, Brian Stever and Taylor MacGillivray, in the studio recording Sickboy podcast, where the trio invite others on to talk about being diagnosed and living with disease or sickness. But, as Taylor points out, the point of the podcast isn’t to speak to the illness one has, but the individual experience with the illness. For podcast guest Carole, that means describing waking up from an epilleptic seizure half out of an elevator with the door bumping up against her. For Jeremie, that means fully embracing YOLO—you only live once—to the max.

It’s not all fun and laughs, however. MacCormack captures serious, sobering moments too: Jeremie opens what looks like bags of groceries to reveal the dozens of bottles of medication he takes to keep cystic fibrosis at bay, the hacking coughing sequences are heartwrenching, and the first frank talk about CF with his wife, Bryde. Some of the most touching sequences are between Brian and his mother, who open up about her cancer diagnosis, and how the deaths of two friends of the podcast shatter the trio.

“Sickboy” is educational, entertaining and, most importantly, inspiring to watch; I’ve already subscribed to the podcast and look forward to the conversations Jeremie, Brian, Taylor and their guests have.

“Sickboy” airs as part of CBC Docs POV this Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBC. Listen to the Sickboy podcast.




Interrupt This Program reveals art created in the world’s wounded places

Art can be a powerful tool. It can be used to make a statement, get a response and cause social change. That’s certainly the aim of the art and artists showcased in Interrupt This Program, returning for Season 3 this Friday at 8:30 p.m. on CBC.

Montreal documentarians Frank Fiorito and Nabil Mehchi of Noble Television have travelled the world, recording a quartet of artists and a Canadian who are immersed in the local culture of a city, creating art that speaks out against injustice. Friday’s return instalment heads to Mexico City, where violence erupts daily.

“In Mexico every day, women are killed just for being women,” says Andrea, a local artist as the episode begins. “So we use art as a language to speak what we are feeling or living.”

“If you want to criticize your country, use art as a tool for change, art as a weapon of choice,” says another.

Described by Andrea as a safe place to walk around when she was younger, Mexico City has become a battlefield, with murder a daily occurrence and bodies lying in the street the norm. Femicides, in particular, are on the rise; Andrea and her group of artists—the Women Engraving Resistance—convene to carve intricate designs into wood that are printed onto massive posters to be hung in neighbourhoods. “It’s Not Enough to Survive, Women’s Lives Matter,” reads one. “Does Killing Me Make You More of a Man?” reads another. Aside from the words themselves, the images on the posters are stunning.

Meanwhile, Canadian photographer François describes art centred around a moment in Mexico City’s recent past. Desensitized to the gory images of dead bodies shown on the first page of newspapers, François recalls how 43 students headed to a demonstration went missing. Since then, pop-up art reading simply “+43,” paintings of each missing student have shown up around the city and songs have been written about the incident, bringing together the arts community with a common goal: to find out the truth of what happened.

Other cities visited during Season 3 of Interrupt This Program are Jakarta, Nairobi, Warsaw and Karachi. And, for the first time, the program focuses on an American city: Chicago. With a murder rate since 2001 of 8,384—more than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined in terms of Americans dead—The Windy City is a conflict zone as serious as any other Fiorito and Mehchi have visited.

Interrupt This Program airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.




Murdoch Mysteries: Amanda Richer sounds off on playing Helen Keller

Monday’s newest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “8 Footsteps,” involved a particularly interesting setting for a murder: a pitch-black room. Under suspicion? None other than Helen Keller, guest of honour at the dinner hosted by Alexander Graham Bell. We’ve seen John Tench in the role of Bell before, but never Keller, the deaf and blind American author, lecturer and political activist.

Playing the role of Keller was Canadian actress Amanda Richer, who we contacted to discuss the notable gig, being a deaf actress and some of her other work you should definitely check out.

Can you give me the Coles notes version of how you were cast in the role? Did your agent contact you? And did you have to audition?
Amanda Richer: Yes I had to audition. I have to thank Diane Kerbel for reaching out to my agent. I think I drank my weight in water prior to auditioning to calm my nerves! I wanted this role, bad, and walked into the room prepared and just poured everything I had into it! I left feeling really good. The audition was on a Monday, and on that Tuesday I was told my tape had made its way to the producers, and by Wednesday afternoon I got the much-anticipated call that the role was mine!

Helen Keller, unlike some of the characters on Murdoch Mysteries, was a real person. Did you do research into her life? I actually had no idea Helen and Alexander Graham Bell really knew each other.
Oh, I researched! I read up on every aspect of who she was; how she lived her life, and the legacy she left behind. I obviously knew who Helen Keller was, but quickly realized just how much I didn’t know about her! She was truly a political force, an activist, an advocate for human rights, and an incredible inspiration and voice for a lot of people. I didn’t realize how young she was when she met AGB, and if it weren’t for AGB, Helen would never have met Anne Sullivan, and well, the rest is history…

Helen had a close relationship with Anne Sullivan and I thought Severn Thompson and yourself did a wonderful job portraying that.
Thank you! I met Severn at the readthrough and we hit it off immediately! She is not only an incredible person, but a terrific actress. We had a lot of fun!

You already tweeted about this, but what was it like working with Colin Mochrie?
Colin Mochrie! What a guy! He is a great person with such a big heart! No matter what he’s talking to you about, you can’t help but crack up! He’s so good at what he does, so it was a pleasure watching him work.

You aren’t blind; was it difficult to train yourself not to look your fellow actors in the eye?
Being hard-of-hearing I’m very dependent on the lips, so direct eye contact isn’t something I normally do to begin with. Helen Keller was almost in her own little world being both deaf and blind, so I really tried to focus on ‘feeling’ what I’d otherwise see, and sort of shut out what was physically happening around me.

Does being deaf present a particular challenge as an actress?
If anything, I think it gives me a uniqueness! Being a deaf actress (or just deaf in general), I’ve inherited the ability to tap into another level of emotion, concentration and communication. I communicate and listen with my entire body rather than just my ears. I like to think of it as my superpower!

The challenge right now for so many deaf actors/actresses is that deaf roles are being given to hearing actors. If you want true, authentic characters and performances, that should be a huge consideration in casting.

What made you decide to go into the film and television business in the first place?
It sounds cliché to say, but I think I always knew I was headed down that road. It was more about just how I get there! After realizing my disability didn’t define me, I embraced that confidence and chased after every possibility and opportunity to be on set, both behind and in front of the camera … and here I am!

I just finished watching your short film Longhand, and it’s pretty amazing. Was it always your intention to not only be in front of the camera but behind it as well, creating your own characters and producing and directing your own projects? Why is it important for you to do that?
Thank you! Longhand means a great deal to me, and to have positive responses from people means a lot! When you watch a movie or a television show, a powerful character, performance, or storyline naturally impacts you and leaves you inspired. That feeling is exactly why I wanted to create my own work. I want to tell stories that provoke those emotions. To me, that’s the ultimate reward! Also, many actors know that you can’t just sit by the phone willing it to ring, you have to create your own work also!

I can’t let this interview go by without asking you about Deafplanet.com. That TVO series was really groundbreaking at the time. You must be really proud of it.
I’m super proud of it! It was an amazing show, and I’m just sad that it didn’t go on to get more seasons. I owe a lot to Matt Hornburg and Mark Bishop from marblemedia for sparking the acting bug in me! Being a part of the deaf community, I’m still best known for my role as Kendra, and every so often a kid will tell me it was their favourite show to watch, and to me, that speaks directly to the integrity and influence of the show itself.

And, what was it like to work on The Shape of Water as the sign language coach?
It was a dream! An absolute dream job! It was an incredible four-month journey working with Sally Hawkins. I was invited to the TIFF première, and I was just beaming with pride! The love and admiration I have for Sally is beyond words.

Geek question: Did you get to meet Guillermo del Toro?
I did! Pan’s Labyrinth is one of my Top 5 favourite films, so I totally geeked out before I met him! He is the sweetest man and just such a remarkable talent. Watching him work, and witnessing his vision being brought to life was a once in a lifetime experience! I feel incredibly lucky to be apart of it.

Last question: what are you working on next that you can talk about?
I have some secrets up my sleeve, but I’m available for hire guys!

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Got a question or comment for Amanda? Write in the comments below!