Tag Archives: Corner Gas

A (Corner) Gas of a time on MasterChef Canada

Tuesday’s “Cooking with (Corner) Gas” episode of MasterChef Canada was full of challenges for the Top 7 home cooks. They had to compete in a Mystery Box Challenge and, FINALLY, a classic MasterChef Canada Tag Team Challenge. But just hold on and let me tell it in order.

As the seven remaining home cooks entered the kitchen they saw a MASSIVE Mystery Box. What could be in it? Or perhaps, who could be in it? Tonight’s challenge was elevated diner food and the contestants got a little bit of help from the cast of the hit series Corner Gas Animated, including Brent Butt, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Lorne Cardinal and Nancy Robertson. For me, it was a good opportunity to add one more great Canadian series to my watch list. For the cooks, winning would give them a huge advantage in the upcoming Elimination Challenge.

All of the cooks rushed to the pantry and got baskets full of delicious products. And then there was Beccy, who had just a couple of grapefruits, eggs and butter. I was looking forward to seeing what she had in her creative mind and what the judges would get in the end. The atmosphere in the kitchen was easy and fun. The Top 7 cooks were cooking passionately and had so many great ideas, like chicken and waffles from Eugene, a Japanese play on steak and eggs from Kaegan and a tuna melt from Marissa. But chefs Claudio, Alvin and Michael made their choice and decided to try three dishes out of the seven; the lucky ones were Nadia, Andy and Beccy. Nadia made a stuffed French toast with smoked applewood brie and spicy berry fig sauce and the judges loved her brie! Beccy cooked an elevated diner pie with grapefruit and basil with Italian meringue and crumble; the presentation was extraordinary. Andy prepared a Thai Burger with vegetable tempura.

Chef Alvin was very impressed by Andy’s dish … and he was the home cook who won the challenge. Which dish would you like to try?

The Elimination Tag Team Challenge was a replication of an Asian box with five different dishes. It contained perfectly crafted Chinese bao with pork belly, cucumber and Asian pear, jellyfish salad and Banh Mi sandwich, and Takoyaki. And for the dessert? Fried banana in coconut batter. The home cooks had 70 minutes to master the box. Andy was safe from elimination but as well had a power to make teams for the Tag Team Challenge. He made Eugene and Beccy a team, Michael G. and Kaegan the second team and Nadia and Marissa the third. The heat was on. The teams were rushing to finish. The normally quiet Beccy was very vocal, urging Eugene to work faster. The judges started to sample the dishes. The first team to get all of their items in their box were Kaegan and Michael G. The Banh Mi was great, the takoyaki and the bun were good, but the bananas were burnt. Beccy and Eugene missed a couple of details but still made a great box. Nadia and Marissa, unfortunately, disappointed judges and Marissa left MasterChef Canada.

MasterChef Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

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TV Eh B Cs podcast 81 — Wine and McDonald’s with Corner Gas Animated’s Tara Spencer-Nairn

Note: Unfortunately, something weird happened in the downloading of the files for Tara and my conversation. The result is some crosstalk that is, at times, super annoying. I sincerely apologize to my listeners and Tara for this. 

Tara Spencer-Nairn returns as the deadpan police officer Karen Pelly in Corner Gas: Animated—airing Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on The Comedy Network—a role she played in the Gemini-winning, No. 1 rated CTV sitcom Corner Gas, earning a Gemini Award for Best Ensemble Performance in 2007 and two Gemini nominations in 2004 and 2006.

A graduate of the Vancouver Film School, her big breakthrough came in 1999 when she was cast in the highly acclaimed New Waterford Girl. The film screened at the Sundance Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival and received seven Genie Award nominations including Best Picture.

Spencer-Nairn appeared in the recurring role of Sandy in CTV’s hit drama The Listener. She has appeared in numerous other television productions including The Outer Limits, The Strain, Murdoch Mysteries, Waking Up Wally: The Walter Gretzky Story, Flashpoint Saving Hope and Degrassi. Most recently she could seen in the third season of Syfy/Space hit series Killjoys as a recurring guest star.

Spencer-Nairn was born in Montreal, raised in Vancouver and now calls Toronto home. The youngest of three siblings, the actor spent 12 years as a competitive gymnast. She is married and the mother of two young sons.

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MasterChef Canada reveals its Top 12 for Season 5

It’s doesn’t really feel like spring—at least to me anyway—unless MasterChef Canada is on the air. And, after four excellent seasons on CTV, it’s become a rite of this time of year. As flowers bloom in gardens and those first crops begin to grow, home chefs from across the country are sweating it out in the kitchen fighting for the grandest of prizes: $100,000 and the title of MasterChef Canada.

Back to judge, critique and encourage are Claudio Aprile, Michael Bonacini and Alvin Leung, who will put the contestants through their paces and the emotional ringer each week. Last year it was MCC staffers who dropped off cases to the home cooks. This time around it was the judges themselves shocking folks in their hometowns—in kitchens, the workplace, while hunting—to deliver the good news they’d made it into the competition and a request to bring a special ingredient that represents them and their community to the kitchen for their audition dish. In an interesting twist, the three judges were walking around, watching the home cooks during the 60-minute challenge. If they weren’t impressed, a home cook was tapped on the shoulder, signalling they had been eliminated. It was an ingenious way of shaking up the audition process and a reminder you can never get comfortable in the MCC kitchen.

An early exit befell Dawn and her blueberry grunt and Oyak, who’d cut himself and was struggling with nerves and his pot of rice.

With Season 5’s return on Tuesday night, there were a few contestants of the Top 21 who I made note of right out of the gate either because of their skills or signature dishes on the road to scoring that all-important white apron and the Top 12.

  • Beccy, of course. Her beetroot and steak wowed the experts. The fact she’s only 19 serves notice that youth is not a hindrance and may, in fact, help her in the weeks to come.
  • Jonathan. He showed skill in taming the heat of the ghost pepper for this chicken stew. I’m hoping he uses his Trinidadian background as much as possible to keep things interesting.
  • Reem. I loved her statement on her Muslim background and her baba ganoush. I wanted to reach through the TV and devour it.
  • Eugene. I’m impressed by his resilience and guts for keeping his nerves in check when called upon to re-do his audition dish a different way. He’s got some promise, but I worry his nerves could let him down in future weeks.

Next week the competition gets going for real as the Top 12 head into Mystery Box challenges, team challenges and Pressure Tests designed to break spirits and weed out the weaklings. Guests this season include the cast of Corner Gas, Lloyd Robertson, past MasterChef Canada winners and dogs. Many, many dogs.

MasterChef Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

 

 

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Corner Gas returns with “magic and sorcery” in Animated series

When I first read the news Corner Gas would be returning—this time as an animated version—I scratched my head and asked myself a few questions. Why are they doing this? Didn’t everyone do what they wanted over six seasons of live action? What would make this different?

“I didn’t want to do something for the sake of doing something,” creator, writer, actor and executive producer Brent Butt says of Corner Gas Animated, debuting Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The Comedy Network. “The legacy of it was too important to me. I’m up for a shameless cash grab—don’t get me wrong—but it had to feel right.”

“I honestly thought that the movie was it because Brent is a man of his word and said that was it,” Tara Spencer-Nairn says. “But then I busted Virginia Thompson one day in a Shoppers Drug Mart shortly after the movie came out. I was in line and saw Virginia and she was on her phone saying loudly, ‘I don’t like how the Oscar character looks.’ I was like, ‘Virginia, I’m right here!'”

Thompson, the show’s executive producer alongside Butt and executive producer David Storey, admits the idea for an animated take on the lives of the folks living in small-town Saskatchewan has been in the works for years, but really gained momentum following the success of 2014’s Corner Gas: The Movie. After six seasons on CTV and a final farewell to fans with a feature film, Thompson figured that was it. But an outpouring of support—and demand for more stories from Dog River—caused the trio to recall something they’d kicked around as a joke years ago: an animated series.

“Brent, David and I got together and had lunch and said, ‘What do we want to do?’” Thompson recalls. “The animated concept kept popping up. We’re really excited about this because it really does come from Brent’s imagination and brand of comedy. It’s a different angle to Corner Gas.” Butt’s love of comic books—he and a friend started a publishing company and his first comic, Existing Earth, was nominated for a Golden Eagle Award before he left that for a standup career—and skills as an illustrator (he designed Corner Gas’ station logo) means that the world can expand beyond the limitations of physical television production.

“I think graphically,” Butt says. “I think in cartoon terms. Corner Gas was always written to be a live-action series because it was loosely based on what I imagined my life would be like if I hadn’t pursued stand-up comedy.” During production of the original Corner Gas, some of the ideas he came up with were dismissed as “too cartoonish.” Butt jokes he spent six years de-cartooning Corner Gas; now he can let Dog River and its citizens go wherever he wants with no live action constraints.

 

Being unfettered pays off within minutes in Monday’s debut “Bone Dry,” when Brent and Oscar Leroy (Eric Peterson) argue over Brent having forgotten to order more fuel for Corner Gas’ tanks. They’re dry, leading Oscar to surmise the small town will devolve into a world where people fight to the death for gas. Cut to the elder Leroy’s imagination and a riff on The Road Warrior with Oscar, hilariously, as The Humungus. Butt and Peterson are reunited with the rest of the original Corner Gas cast—Gabrielle Miller as Lacey Burrows, Fred Ewanuick as Hank Yarbo, Lorne Cardinal as Davis Quinton, Spencer-Nairn as Karen Pelley, Nancy Robertson as Wanda Dollard—with Corrine Koslo taking over the role of Emma Leroy following the death of Janet Wright.

With half of the cast based in Vancouver and the other half in Toronto, a unique way of capturing their voices for the first season’s 13 episodes was decided on. The technology is good enough that each group could enter a recording studio in their perspective city and do a group read of the scripts.

“We had this lightning in a bottle with these people who were cast to populate this world and interact,” Butt says. “We had that magic chemistry that sometimes happens. That chemistry is a big reason for the success of Corner Gas. Having the actors from each city together means they can react to each other and react over the phone line in Vancouver.”

“We all play off each other,” Spencer-Nairn says. “I feel like if we didn’t do it this way we’d miss a lot of beats. There would be so much comedy lost if we weren’t working together this way and able to react to what the other person is saying live.”

“We could have done it piecemeal,” Butt says. “But there is an intangible chemistry and magic that these people have when they get together and the way they interact is magic and sorcery.”

Corner Gas Animated airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The Comedy Network.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

 

 

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Bell Media announces MasterChef Canada return; The Detail and Corner Gas Animated debuts

If you were watching the Super Bowl on NBC—or skipped watching the game altogether—you missed a trio of big announcements made during the game broadcast on CTV.

Bell Media revealed the return date of MasterChef Canada and the debut dates for cop drama The Detail and the animated version of Corner Gas called, simply, Corner Gas Animated.

MasterChef Canada
The fifth serving of MasterChef Canada kicks off on Tuesday, April 3 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT, with the return of stalwart judges Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung. Casting for Season 5 took place last summer followed by production on the top-secret 12 episodes. Edmonton’s Trevor Connie took home the Season 4 title, beating out Vancouver’s Thea VanHerwaarden in the finale.

The Detail
Cop drama The Detail (above) bows Sunday, March 25 at 9 p.m. ET/MT, on CTV. Starring Shenae Grimes, Wendy Crewson, Angela Griffin, Ben Bass, David Cubitt and Al Mukadam, the 10-episode project centres on three fiercely talented female homicide investigators who work tirelessly to solve crimes while navigating the complicated demands of their personal lives.

Produced by Ilana Frank (Burden of Truth), The Detail was developed by co-showrunner and co-executive producer Ley Lukins alongside Adam Pettle. Executive producers are Ilana Frank, John Morayniss, and Linda Pope, with co-executive producers Jocelyn Hamilton, Sonia Hosko and Gregory Smith. The writer’s room includes Naledi Jackson, Sarah Goodman, Graeme Stewart, Katrina Saville, Joe Pernice and Matt Doyle. Directors on The Detail include Gregory Smith, Jordan Canning, Kelly Makin, Sara St. Onge, Grant Harvey, John Fawcett and James Genn.

Corner Gas Animated
Finally, Corner Gas Animated debuts Monday, April 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, on The Comedy Network. The 13 half-hour episodes will return to Dog River for more adventures with all of the original cast—Brent Butt, Fred Ewanuik, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Gabrielle Miller, Lorne Cardinal, Nancy Robertson and Corrine Koslo replacing the late Janet Wright—voicing the beloved characters.

“Fans of Corner Gas are going to see a similarity to the series and movie that they love,” co-executive producer Virginia Thompson told us back in December of 2016. “But we can expand the fantasy sequences and get into the characters’ heads and see what’s going on in there.” (Or, perhaps in the case of Hank, what isn’t going on in there.)

Which of the three Bell Media series will you be watching? Which are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below. Keep track of Canadian TV debuts, returns and finales with our handy calendars.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

 

 

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