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

Season 4 of TVO Original series Political Blind Date dives deep into the issues that matter most, beginning January 19

From a media release:

Season 4 of the ground-breaking TVO Original series Political Blind Date returns Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 9 p.m. ET on TVO, tvo.org, and the TVO YouTube channel. Produced by Open Door Co. and Nomad Films, in association with TVO, this season shines a spotlight on hotly debated issues facing all Canadians in a pre- and post-COVID 19 world: hospital capacity, the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, the safety of Great Lakes water, threats to migrant labourers, religious symbols in Quebec’s public spaces, and protection of Ontario’s green spaces.

Each of the six half-hour installments matches two politicians – each with a different point of view on an important issue affecting Canadians – and sends them out into the community on a “date.” Through meaningful conversation and an effort to find common ground, each politician introduces the other to interesting people and places that best bring to life his or her side of the debate.

Season 4 of TVO Original Political Blind Date includes the following episodes, airing weekly:

January 19 – Hallway Medicine
Sara Singh, NDP MPP and Deputy Party Leader (Brampton Centre, ON), and Natalia Kusendova, Conservative MPP and emergency room nurse (Mississauga Centre, ON), kick off the season by diving into discussion concerning the challenges of hospital capacity, bed shortages, and health program cuts in Ontario, in a pre- and post-COVID climate. Will hospital capacity and services be overtaxed again and are the Ontario government’s plans to transform much needed health services going to be enough?

January 26 – Pipeline Politics
Elizabeth May, Green Party MP and Former Party Leader (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) and Cathy McLeod, Conservative MP and Shadow Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, B.C) unwrap the pros and cons of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and its impact on Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across British Columbia. What does the building of a second parallel pipeline mean for those living along its route?

February 2 – Clean Water
Karen Weaver, former Mayor of Flint, Michigan (2015-2019) and Mitch Twolan, Mayor of Huron-Kinloss, ON explore how to ensure clean water for the nearly 40 million Canadians and Americans who live around the Great Lakes. They debate the Flint Water Crisis and the potential building of nuclear waste repositories near the Lake Huron shoreline in Ontario. Can politicians on both sides of the border truly listen for the future of Great Lakes water?

February 9 – Migrant Labour
Taras Natyshak, NDP MPP (Essex, ON) and Dave Epp, Conservative MP (Chatham-Kent-Leamington, ON) debate potential solutions to the problems that face the migrant labour population in Southwestern Ontario, where workers have been exposed to COVID-19 in living conditions that some critics call inhumane. Can politicians share empathy for both foreign workers and Canadian farmers to find real solutions?

February 16 – Religious Symbols
Michael Coteau, Liberal MPP (Don Valley East, ON) and Christopher Skeete, Coalition Avenir Québec MLA (Sainte-Rose, Québec) face off about Bill 21, the law in Québec that bans public servants (eg.judges, police officers, teachers) from wearing religious symbols while carrying out their duties. Is Bill 21 a human rights infringement or is it a continuation of Quebec’s evolution as a secular society free of religion in public life?

February 23 – Cities and the Environment
Andrea Khanjin, Conservative MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (Barrie-Innisfil, ON) and Jennifer McKelvie, Toronto City Councillor (Scarborough-Rouge Park, ON) review the Ontario government’s environmental record and discuss what needs to be done to preserve green spaces in Toronto and across Ontario. Can governments work together to find the right balance between economic growth and responsible environmental stewardship?

Political Blind Date is produced by Open Door Co. and Nomad Films, in association with TVO. Creator and Executive Producer is Tom Powers of Open Door Co., alongside Executive Producer, Writer, and Director Mark Johnston and Executive and Series Producer Amanda Handy of Nomad Films. From TVO, Jane Jankovic is Executive Producer of Documentaries, Linda Fong is Independent Production Officer, and John Ferri is Vice President of Current Affairs and Documentaries.

6 x 28 min episodes broadcast each Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, beginning January 19.

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Uvagut TV Breaks Ground as Canada’s First Inuit-Language TV Channel

From a media release:

At 12:01 a.m. Monday, January 18, Nunavut Independent Television (NITV) makes history when it launches Canada’s first all-Inuit Inuktut TV channel.

Uvagut TV (“Our” TV) will broadcast 168 hours a week of Inuit-produced culture, arts, movies and information programming available nationally to more than 610,000* Shaw Direct customers as well as Arctic Co-ops Cable subscribers in Nunavut and NWT. Other satellite and cable systems will be added over the months ahead. Viewers around the world can stream Uvagut TV online 24/7 at uvagut.tv
(* Subscriber count current as of November 30, 2020)

Breaking ground as the first Indigenous–language channel and, with APTN, only the second Indigenous television service among 762 broadcasting in Canada, Uvagut TV increases total Indigenous-language television programming available to Canadian audiences by 500%.

Uvagut TV builds on the hard work of countless people over the past four decades who dreamed it was possible to deliver Inuktut television to Inuit audiences to preserve, promote and revitalize Inuit culture and language. The team behind Uvagut TV represented Canada at the 2019 Venice Biennale of Art, presenting the Inuit-language film One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk to mark the 2019 United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages.

“For me, Uvagut TV is a dream come true – to see Inuit culture and to hear our language full time on TV,” says Lucy Tulugarjuk, NITV Chair and Executive Director, and director of the Inuit-language children’s film, Tia and Piujuq. “As our elders pass away, we are fighting against time to keep Inuit culture and language alive for our children and grandchildren. TV in Inuktut all day every day is a powerful way to keep a living language for future generations.”

Filmmaker Dr. Zacharias Kunuk O.C., NITV co-founder and Head of Isuma, welcomes the historic breakthrough. “We’ve been independent from day one and after 35 years we finally have our own channel,” he says. “Our ancestors survived by the strength of their wits and their community. These new ways of storytelling can help Inuit survive for another thousand years. People who turn on Uvagut TV any time of day or night will see our own stories in our own language.”

Uvugat TV broadcasts five hours every day of Inuktut children’s programs including Inuit Broadcasting Corporation’s award-winning Takuginai series and programs by Inuvialuit Communications Society; shows by Isuma, Arnait Video, Artcirq, Kingulliit and Taqqut Productions; award-winning Inuktut movies like Atanarjuat The Fast Runner; classic series, documentaries and new programs like Silakut Live From the Floe Edge and Tunnganarnik broadcasting live from Nunavut communities and the remote arctic wilderness. Uvagut TV also will include live coverage of the upcoming Nunavut Impact Review Board Public Hearings into the controversial Baffinland Iron Mine Phase 2 expansion, bringing vital transparent coverage of this issue live to Inuit, national and global audiences.

About Uvagut TV & NITV
Uvagut TV is Canada’s first 24/7 Inuktut television channel created by Nunavut Independent Television Network (NITV) and IsumaTV with programs from Inuit Broadcasting Corporation and other Inuit independent producers hosted on www.isuma.tv. NITV is an Inuit-owned and controlled non-profit Northern Online Distributor and Eligible Broadcaster. Founded in 1991 in Igloolik, Nunavut, as a training centre for Inuit community filmmaking, NITV is dedicated to the enhancement and preservation of Inuktut and Inuit culture through the creation and exhibition of Inuit video art linking Nunavut communities through Internet television channels and local access internet-TV, media training and digital literacy initiatives, and the production and distribution of Inuktut video, film, and now broadcast television.

Uvagut TV gratefully acknowledges launch support provided by the Indigenous Screen Office.

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CTV original series Holmes Family Effect to premiere following Super Bowl LV, Feb. 7

From a media release:

The Holmes family is set to help local heroes continue to make a difference in their communities in the new CTV Original series HOLMES FAMILY EFFECT, premiering directly following SUPER BOWL LV on Sunday, Feb. 7 at approximately 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on CTV, and the all-new CTV.ca and CTV app. Following the premiere, HOLMES FAMILY EFFECT moves to its regular Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT timeslot beginning Feb. 14 on CTV, and begins streaming Friday, March 12 on Crave.

Starring TV personality and professional contractor Mike Holmes, along with his daughter Sherry and son Michael, the new inspirational series shows the heart, grit, and determination of the Holmes family as they tackle their most important projects to date. Working with people who are making positive impacts in their communities, each episode follows the Holmes family as they surprise these deserving individuals. From a neglected school building to a rundown youth centre, Mike, Sherry, and Michael transform the spaces and help these community heroes so they can continue to make a difference.

As previously announced, Bell Media expanded its partnership with FOX Entertainment completing a deal with the network for their acquisition of HOLMES FAMILY EFFECT, with the series airing on FOX as part of the network’s 2020/21 midseason schedule.

The organizations featured on HOLMES FAMILY EFFECT include Judith Nyman Secondary School (Feb. 7), Solid State (Feb. 14), Working Gear (Feb. 21), and The FORT (March 7).

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Murdoch Mysteries: Showrunner Peter Mitchell recaps “Rough and Tumble”

[Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched “Rough and Tumble.”]

Well that was certainly a change of pace, wasn’t it? Whereas Murdoch Mysteries‘ Season 14 debut was more lighthearted, Monday’s latest was a truly rough and tumble affair. Written by Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries showrunner Peter Mitchell, Bobby Brackenreid was reunited with his family in the most stressful of ways: accused of murder. That meant Thomas had to walk a tightrope between being a copper and bringing Bobby in for questioning or keeping Bobby hidden while investigating the case himself.

By the episode’s end, Bobby had been cleared of the murder charge, but his future is uncertain. In our latest post-episode interview, we spoke to Peter Mitchell about the instalment.

Congratulations on Season 14 of Murdoch Mysteries and Season 4 of Frankie Drake Mysteries! How challenging was it to run both shows while addressing COVID-19 safety measures?
Peter Mitchell: Probably not as challenging as working in a grocery store. Shaftesbury, the production company, placed an extremely high value on crew safety. We also worked with people who were all following the same protocols and were very serious about making sure both themselves and the people they were working with, stayed safe. That said, I’m a bit of a water-bug on set, moving from prep in the office with writers, pre-production with staff, shooting with the crew, and post-production with sound, music, and film editors. Multiply that by two shows and that is eight separate pods. My freedom of movement was very restricted and sometimes that was a pain. That said, meetings and the like conducted over Zoom went much quicker as people were much more focused. I also have a wonderful Associate Producer, Elsbeth McCall, who could handle things when I could be two places at once.

How did you adapt both series’ writing rooms so that scripts could continue?
PM: Less is hopefully more. We had fewer scenes per episode, fewer characters in the scenes, and fewer background performers. Physical distancing was often a bit of a problem and we had to carefully plan out stunts and degrees of closeness between performers. Fortunately, the directors and assistant directors on both shows were able to block and choreograph the background actors so, I think, this will not really be all that noticeable to the audience. Both shows did fewer ‘days on the road’ than we have in the past. In the writing rooms, we didn’t spend as much physical time together as we have in the past and we often met in smaller groups than we have in the past. The demands of quarantine and distancing meant we had to show up focused and ready to work when we all got together (either virtually or in-person). It wasn’t as much fun as it usually is.

Was there an added benefit to writing from home, or was it largely a pain?
PM: Once one got used to handling the tech, there was hardly a difference. I’ve spent most of my career writing everywhere, at home, in a crowded writing room, on-set and, very, very occasionally in a bar, so it was no different for me.

“Rough and Tumble” marked the return of Bobby Brackenreid, who was accused of murder. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Bobby. How did this storyline come together so that he would be the accused?
PM: We’d always joked about turning Bobby into a serial killer. And while he isn’t that in the episode in question, we wanted to have a bit of a bang when he was reintroduced into the Brackenreid orbit. I think on some level seeing all the videos this summer of how demonstrations and the like could turn into random violence also tweaked the idea. And the release of Bob Dylan’s album Rough and Rowdy Ways kind of lit the flame.

It’s always interesting to see the Brackenreid family interact, especially now that Nomi is in the picture. Will the results of the case, Bobby guilty of a lesser charge, affect the Brackenreid’s again this season?
PM: Well, that would be giving away a bit too much now, wouldn’t it? Safe to say, both the fates of Bobby and Nomi impact the Brackenreid’s this year.

It was wonderful to see Goldie Huckabee return and impact on William and Julia the way she did. Has the decision to have William and Julia appear in more light-hearted scenes been a conscious decision, or has it happened organically?
PM: Jonelle Gunderson, who plays Goldie, has a delightful comic touch. It would have been a real shame not to utilize it. I have also been a fan of the “annoying neighbour trope.” The decision to have more light-hearted scenes with William and Julia came about because, well have you looked at the world out there, we felt we could use a little of it right now. Also, because it was difficult to film physical intimacy, we wanted to show that the two do love each other and if one way to do that was to see them laugh together more.

Who did you have in the Murdoch Mysteries writing room this season? Any new faces?
PM: Murdoch has most of the same group it has had for the last couple of years, Paul Aitken, Simon McNabb, and Noelle Girard but this year we added Christina Ray and Caleigh Bacchus both of whom were wonderful additions who wrote very strong scripts for us.

Who did you have in the Frankie Drake Mysteries writing room this season?
PM: The writing room at Frankie Drake was composed of Mary Pedersen (who I stole from Murdoch), Jennifer Kassabian (who was on the show last year) Keri Ferenz, and Robina Lord Stafford.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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