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

Comments and queries for the week of October 18

This episode is not at all interesting! This is my first negative review of my favourite show. Perhaps due to high expectations from the directorial work of Yannick Bisson, but it turned out gray and corny. The appearance of unknown relatives, adventurous projects have already been used in the plots more than once, but before that it was exciting. It is completely incomprehensible why Yannick Bisson made this episode without the bright and talented Hélène Joy. In Episodes 1 and 2, Julia was too nervous a feminist, in Episodes 3 and 4 she was not present at all. For an unknown reason, the authors of the show oust Julia from the plot. If in the next episode’s William-Julia main storyline is lost, then Murdoch Mysteries will become an ordinary, boring detective series. I hope this does not happen. —L

DULL is becoming the main theme of the series. This is the second episode where Julia is conspicuously out of the picture. Hélène Joy is made executive producer, so she does not get to act anymore? Yannick Bisson is also an executive producer and he directs as well, and he is still very much front and centre. Violet Hart also gets enough screen time as a dull coroner. There may be valid reasons for Hélène Joy’s absence and if there are, fans would perhaps accept it better if they knew what they were. Not knowing, I am losing interest in the series. Nothing to look forward to. The character of Murdoch is dull by design for the procedural aspect, it is Julia who makes him interesting. She also makes other characters interesting. Without the chemistry and the banter between the two of them and the other two main characters, the show is becoming very dull as well, despite the distinguished guests. I am saddened when I see what has become of the show after Season 11 and very nostalgic about earlier seasons, especially when Julia was coroner. It was even interesting when she was a psychiatrist, but not as a surgeon. How many episodes can there be around her performing surgery? She also no longer has reasons to interact with the other main characters. Very dull. The point: they were a team, working well together to solve crime cases. That was the winning formula of the show. No more. If that’s the case, I hope this season is the last. Perhaps all those involved are getting tired of the show and want to move on to something else. It is usually the case with actors. That is why it is better not to get too attached to a show, after all, it is just a business. —Noele

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.

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Link: Who’s a good boy? Hudson & Rex star living his best doggie life

From Melissa Hank of Postmedia:

Link: Who’s a good boy? Hudson & Rex star living his best doggie life
Vom Burgimwald’s character Rex is the kind of wounded soul fans swoon for, a true underdog. He was logging hours in the K9 unit when his partner died and then was transferred to major crimes at the St. John’s Police Department, where he was paired up with Hudson. Continue reading. 

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The Beaverton skewers Canada’s federal election in a new CTV special

The politicians are on the campaign trail, struggling mightily to win your vote. That means long days and nights, crisscrossing the country. It’s an ambitious and deeply tiring schedule. Equally exhausting? Covering it.

That’s what the folks at The Beaverton aim to do. Airing Friday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV, the one-hour special The Beaverton Mocks the Vote puts the federal political leaders in their crosshairs as co-anchors Emma Hunter and Miguel Rivas skewer every step the political parties have taken since the election was called.

We spoke to the pair about what viewers can expect when they tune in to The Beaverton Mocks the Vote.

How much planning has been going into this? Is this a typical writer’s room where you are getting together on the week and figuring stuff out as you work towards the 18th?
Emma Hunter: We are preparing the skeletal outlines for what things could be with a couple of variations, depending on if it goes right or left. We always think we prepare ourselves to have a full, calm day on set and it is always a madhouse. [Co-creator] Luke Gordon Field hasn’t showered, [co-creator] Jeff Detsky is sweaty, somebody’s throwing a muffin and there are a hundred coffees. It’s just chaos in the best way. So I think it will be that. I anticipate that the two days before the taping will just be absolute chaos, but it’s sort of a sick, pleasurable chaos.

Miguel Rivas: We can only write the most relevant stuff as the election is approaching. We’ve already been together for weeks, full time just starting to write other pieces and stuff because it’s going to be a full hour. We’re going to explore lots of elements of the election. So it’s not all necessarily timely related to news that breaks. There are bigger stories that we can dive into in the timeframe.

Anything that you can talk about? 
MR: We’re really excited about what’s going to frame the election and that we’ve already had something big break. The brownface scandal is obviously ongoing, unfortunately, due to Trudeau’s comments and the nature of the fact that it’s time to discuss the harmfulness of brownface and blackface again. That’s the nature of race and immigration and obviously all the candidates mainly from the Conservatives, but also from the Liberals and NDP who’ve been exposed for having said other racist stuff in the past on Twitter. So, we’re taking a huge look at how we identify as Canadians and how it relates to race and stuff.

This election campaign has seemed to be a lot more mean-spirited than in the past. Do you attribute that to what’s going on in the States? 
MR: Yeah, for sure. I think everything we do is affected by the U.S., but the global climate, in general, is one of harshness, shall we say. And yeah, I do think that there’s a tenor that comes with that and I think elections are kind of being redefined in people’s minds what they mean. And personal figures have always been important, but they seem to become so much more important. The symbolic member of the party, Justin Trudeau, Scheer, Trump, whoever, and the cult of personality that builds up around them … I think the nature of that starts to lean into personal attacks rather than discussions of policy. I think many people, if not most people, would consider the biggest issue facing Canada in the world is climate change. And every party has now sort of waded into the waters of talking about climate change, but it still feels like secondary or even third or fourth or fifth in line to issues of is this guy a racist or is that person nice to me?

EH: It’s exhausting and it’s disappointing and I think this brownface thing just left everybody with just this sort of exhalation of like, ‘Really? Really?‘ And I think the way everybody handled it was to be expected, trying to capitalize on it and use it and it was such an easy thing to do. Of course, they would. So it’s just cutthroat out there. It is such a specific thing to want to do with your life, to put every moment that’s potentially vulnerable out there for the rest of the parties to feed on. I have no idea why they do it. I hope the motivation is to make change for a better world, but something inside tells me it’s usually more than that.

The Beaverton Mocks the Vote airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

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Hudson & Rex’s Sherri Davis fetches some info on the show’s canine co-star

Diesel vom Burgimwald is No. 1 on the Hudson & Rex call sheet. That’s because he’s in almost every scene being filmed. And, unlike his human co-stars, Diesel—who is one of three German Shepherds who portray Rex on Citytv’s canine-and-cops drama—has someone helping train him.

Meet Sherri Davis, who has trained and supplied a menagerie of animals to the film and television industry for 25 years. We spoke to Davis about Diesel vom Burgimwald, and the work that goes into prepping him—and his nephews—for primetime TV.

Give me a little bit of background Sherri. How did you get involved in Hudson and Rex in the first place?
Sherri Davis: I’ve been in film for over 25 years and about seven years ago they came to me with the script for Hudson & Rex. They thought it might take off and it didn’t come to head. So, seven years later I got a call and they’re like, ‘You still got your shepherds?’ I was like, ‘Yep.’

They came out and we looked at the shepherds. My shepherds at the time were very black. I had just gotten Diesel a week prior to them coming out. He knew absolutely nothing. One of my staff brought Diesel up because I was going to start training him. Originally on the show, it was a very different looking shepherd.

I’ve heard that there’s more than one shepherd being used during production.
SD: Yes, there’s Diesel and Izzy and Iko. Izzy and Iko are Diesel’s nephews. This bloodline is a bloodline from Germany. The dogs are extremely consistent in looks. In fact, these go back 15 generations to the original Rex, which was a pure fluke. I did not know that. The breeder figured that one out.

What kind of a journey has it been from taking Diesel from not being trained to being trained? Is that a month journey? Is it a year journey? Is it still going on?
SD: It’s still going on. We were training every day for 10 hours a day. Even to this day, I’m teaching him to sneeze. So he’s learning new things every day and it’s been over a year now.

When you’re teaching Diesel how to sneeze, is that so that you’ve got something that you can say to showrunner Derek Schreyer? Or are you doing it because it’s in an upcoming script? 
SD: It’s in a script and I’m like, ‘You want him to sneeze? Are you kidding me?’ I get the script and I break them down and then we work five days a week on set and they’re usually 12 to 14 hour days that we’re on set for. And then, on the weekends, we do about eight hours of prep for the upcoming script.

This is the first time the writers have written for a dog. Nobody really knew how far we could push Diesel. We’ve really worked on his training, so now it’s jumping out of the car windows and it’s traversing along a two by four and climbing a ladder.  In any of the shows in the past, the dog has not been your key cast.

When did you find out that you had a relationship with animals?
SD:  My grandparents, my great-grandparents, they always had animals and we’d go out to the farm and everybody would be in the house and I will be out with the dogs or the horses or the cows. I got my first dog when I was five and I’ve had dogs ever since. I work with dogs, cats, rats, mice, rabbits, skunks, raccoons horses, sheep. Maybe I’m part animal.

It just comes very natural and, and somewhat easy for me to relate to the animals and, and train them. And you know, I think it’s a respect thing. You respect me and I respect you.

Hudson & Rex airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.

Image courtesy of Rogers Media.

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Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries, “Things Better Left Dead”

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for many things. Among them the CBC for providing new episodes of their Monday night mysteries. Frankie Drake Mysteries features one of the most shocking first few minutes I’ve seen on the show, so be warned.

Here’s the official storyline for “Things Better Left Dead,” written by Cal Coons and directed by Ruba Nadda.

The apparent death of one of Frankie’s crew is part of an elaborate ruse to nab a phony medium preying on the grieving.

And, as always, some information from me after watching a screener.

It’s getting hot in here
When we meet up with Frankie, she’s canoodling with a man named Kardec. Where does Moses stand with our favourite private investigator? What happens next shakes Frankie to her core.

Noam Jenkins guest stars
The Rookie Blue alum portrays the mysteries Kardec, who bridges the gab between the living and the dead. Also? Mrs. Clarke pops in for a memorable appearance.

Things get spooky
I’m used to Murdoch Mysteries—Frankie’s fellow Monday night drama—treading into supernatural territory, but this is a first for Frankie Drake Mysteries as far as I know. And it’s wonderful, a nice mix of humour and hair-raising.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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