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

CBC’s preschool Kingdom Force embraces diversity and teamwork

Matt Fernandes has made a career out of connecting with the preschool crowd. Whether it’s the adventures of Dot, a spunky eight-year-old tech whiz, or Top Wing, about four young birds helping their community, his shows captivate and educate.

Now Fernandes has got a new project, Kingdom Force, and has the Avengers franchise to thank for it.

“I was in a toy store, and I saw this boy with his mom and he was begging her for Avengers toys and Transformers toys,” Fernandes says. “It dawned on me, ‘You know what? This boy wants these toys, but I bet you he’s never watched the movies because he’s too young. Those movies are not for him, but the toys were.'” The result? Kingdom Force.

Premiering Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC, the 26-episode first season follows five animal heroes as they protect the citizens of five unique animal kingdoms. Wolf Luka, ape Dalilah, cat Mittens, polar bear Norvyn and badger TJ are from different communities but must work together to take down baddies, sometimes as a combined robot named Alpha-Mech.

We spoke to Matt Fernandes about Kingdom Force, how it came about and what he wants kids and parents to learn when they tune in.

Where did the idea for Kingdom Force come from in the first place?

Matt Fernandes: I was in a toy store, and I saw this boy with his mom and he was begging her for Avengers toys and Transformers toys. And it dawned on me, ‘You know what? This boy wants these toys, but I bet you he’s never watched the movies and he’s too young. Those movies are not for him, but the toys were.’ I realized that there was a gap where these kids were going from, say, Paw Patrol or Bob the Builder and making this leap all the way to Avengers, which is a steep climb. I felt like there was a space in between and they were missing a hero that had all the sort of same, high stakes and thrills and spills and rough and tumble that was for them.

I’m a huge 80’s fan, so I put in some 80’s nostalgia in some of the shows. The other thing I really wanted to speak about was diversity. In the show, there are five different kingdoms that have their own history, their own culture their own way of doing things, and they’ve all sort of lived separately. Kingdom Force is a hero from each kingdom who have come together to create a hero for all kingdoms. It really is about unity, strength through unity and strength through diversity. This is sort of the main theme of the whole show and something that I wanted to attack. I combined those two needs into Kingdom Force.

Teamwork and diversity are very top of mind right now. It’s really poignant.
MF: Absolutely. Different cultures coming together to work for one goal for the good of everybody. We lean into that and that was something we really wanted to speak about and I think comes through in our show.

It certainly comes through in the first episode, even though they don’t always get along.
MF: That’s right. Not all of them are always going about a problem in the same way, and there is conflict within the team. But ultimately, there is a resolution and they learn how to work together. It’s not like everybody’s all happy-go-lucky all the time and always on the same page. We actually show a bit of that conflict. But in the end there’s this big learn that being together or taking, both of their strengths combined, they’re stronger.

Was it always the idea to have five animal heroes?
MF: It was always five, but the original designs were actually all five cats. We had a lion and a cheetah and a panther and it originally was called Big Cats. Then slowly, over time, as we developed it, we realized it would be stronger to make it, really vastly different animals and really lean into the culture of those animals and it made the diversity just a little more rich.

You’ve made a career out of working in this genre. What are some of the specific challenges that you face that may be a primetime drama doesn’t? Is education a big part of it?
MF: I would say yes, absolutely. Some shows are lean a little bit heavier on curriculum, some don’t, but, that’s something that really important that you’re giving them big sort of life lessons. Moral lessons are really important.

But the other biggest challenge is they’re a brutally honest audience. You need to grab their attention immediately or else you’ve lost them forever. But if you do get their attention, you have a fan forever. They don’t have the patience to sit through five episodes before you get into the plot, you really need to grab them right away. And that’s, it’s such a visceral response for kids.

You mentioned the 80s earlier. What were the shows that made an impact on you when you were growing up?
MF: I mean I was right in the heart of G.I. Joe, the golden era; there was sort of all lots of animé when I was a kid as well. For me that was the religion, right? Saturday morning cartoons, from six in the morning til noon, that was my day. That was my time. That’s probably had a huge influence on why I’m doing the things I’m doing now.

Kingdom Force airs Saturdays at 9 a.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Link: Vancouver ‘Vikings’ star Alexander Ludwig on the show’s ‘bittersweet’ end

From Victoria Ahearn of the Canadian Press:

Link: Vancouver ‘Vikings’ star Alexander Ludwig on the show’s ‘bittersweet’ end
“I’m so grateful for this show. It’s like the greatest thing that ever happened to me and my career. I’m so grateful to have played such a formidable character and show such an arc. That being said, it definitely took its toll.” Continue reading.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Hollywood Suite original A Year in Film salutes key years in cinema

I was seven years old in 1978. The year before, Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind had rocked my world, leaving an indelible mark and cementing my love of movie theatres.

But back to 1978, when films like Days of Heaven, Dawn of the Dead, The Deer Hunter and Saturday Night Fever came out. I was too young to watch any of them then—but since have, many ironically on Hollywood Suite—but they left equally important marks on those who saw them in a darkened cinema. Now, thanks to Hollywood Suite—and its first-ever original series—the movies of that year are celebrated.

A Year in Film: 1978, debuting Friday at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite 70s—all of the Hollywood Suite channels are in a free preview this month—explores those movies while also giving background into what was happening in the world at that time. In 1978, there was a lot, including three popes, serial killer culture and the height of disco.

There to help explain society, and cinema in 1978, are Hollywood Suite film and content specialist Cameron Maitland, Drunken Cinema’s Serena Whitney, author and film critic Geoff Pevere, Brendan Ross and film curator and historian Alicia Fletcher. They break down why a movie like Grease existed in the first place, the height of John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever and Thank God It’s Friday. They also analyze how The Deer Hunter and Coming Home explored the impact of the Vietnam War, how groundbreaking Halloween and Girlfriends really were and how Canadian tax shelters led to The Silent Partner, starring Christopher Plummer, being made.

Each half-hour episode is informative and educational, and really helped me understand why these films were made in the first place, and how they influenced those to come.

Future instalments include A Year in Film: 1978 with Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, The Big Chill, Videodrome and The Dead Zone; A Year in Film: 1992 with El Mariachi, Reservoir Dogs, Malcolm X and Wayne’s World; and A Year in Film: 2007 featuring There Will Be Blood, Zodiac, No Country For Old Men, Juno and Away From Her.

A Year in Film: 1978 airs Friday at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite 70s Movies. A Year in Film: 1983 debuts Friday, Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite 80s Movies. A Year in Film: 1992 debuts Friday, Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite 90s Movies. A Year in Film: 2007 debuts Friday, Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite 00s Movies.

Image courtesy of Hollywood Suite.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

marblemedia announces launch of Restaurants on the Edge

From a media release:

Leading global entertainment producer marblemedia, in association with OutEast Entertainment, is thrilled to announce the launch of its new premium unscripted series, Restaurants on the Edge, which will premiere on Blue Ant Media’s Cottage Life channel in Canada on January 2, 2020 with two back-to-back episodes at 8:00 pm ET/PT and 9:00 pm ET/PT.

Each hour-long episode invites viewers into a new restaurant located in a stunning location—on the edge of an ocean, a mountain, or desert. But despite their outstanding views, these eateries are struggling to create an experience that lives up to their incredible surroundings.

A team of experts lead the way in restaurant transformations that span 10 countries across the 13 episodes: chef Dennis Prescott, designer Karin Bohn and restaurateur Nick Liberato. By tapping into the soul of the restaurant’s surroundings and its community, and by incorporating local tastes, flavours and textures, each expert embarks on a journey to transform not just the restaurant, but the owners’ outlook as well.

Featuring breathtaking locations and diverse ways of life, Restaurants on the Edge focuses on creating outstanding restaurant experiences by making connections with local communities and cultures. Co-produced by marblemedia, with executive producers Matt Hornburg and Mark J.W. Bishop, and OutEast Entertainment, with executive producers Courtney Hazlett and Steven Marrs. Produced in association with Blue Ant Media, series producers and directors Rob Brunner and Justin Harding and supervising producer Donna Luke.

Image courtesy of marblemedia.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries, “A Sunshine State of Mind”

And, just like that, Frankie Drake Mysteries‘ season finale is here. I’m so used to its Monday night partner, Murdoch Mysteries, being at least 18 instalments that I’m surprised when Episode 10 of Frankie shows up in my Inbox.

Yet here we are, and much has changed during this third season. With showrunner Peter Mitchell at the helm, I feel like the series has finally found its stride, from Lauren Lee Smith keeping her blonde locks to Rebecca Liddiard and Sharron Matthews really getting to expand the characters of Mary and Flo, respectively. Chantel Riley’s Trudy has evolved as well, making the show feel more confident and well-rounded. And, with storylines addressing sexual assault and racism, Frankie Drake Mysteries isn’t afraid to tackle tough subjects.

Here’s what the CBC has revealed about the season finale, “A Sunshine State of Mind,” written by Jennifer Kassabian and Keri Ferencz, and directed by Ruba Nadda:

After Nora and Mildred are swindled by a fake land-selling conman, Frankie and Trudy vow to get their money back.

And here is more information from me after watching a screener of the episode.

Things are getting hot
When we catch up with Frankie and the team, they’re sweltering under a heatwave in Toronto.

Recurring guests reunite
Wendy Crewson and Karen Robinson both appear in Monday’s season finale, which makes sense because Nora and Mildred, as noted above, get swindled.

Mary learns about her father
A quick task introduces Mary to Officer McKinlay (Andrew Gillies), who was her father Matthew’s former partner.

Joe Perry returns
Luke Humphrey reprises his role as Joe Perry. We last saw Joe in the episode called “Whisper Sisters.” This time, Frankie isn’t so happy to see him, as Joe’s visit involves a man named CC Glendale, played by Patrick McKenna.

Catch past seasons of Frankie Drake Mysteries on CBC Gem.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail