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

Comments and queries for the week of April 19

Not sure how Murdoch Mysteries can get any better, but it does, season after season. I see a maturity in it, not as many dark episodes, yet they all have extreme depth. I thought the goony Halloween episode was great … I love how they throw the comedy in. I really hope this show lives on forever … I NEVER tire of the characters. We know the characters so well, at least we think we do, and then you throw us some curveballs as a reminder to never take anything for granted. I say BRAVO!!!!!! —Janet

Great season, not the best but engaging. Love the medical history as a health professional it’s fascinating. Definitely, time for the Murdochs to welcome a child by hook or crook. And hope John B. hasn’t been written out of the show; he could use his new career as a setting for more theatrical murders!! Keep producing this program!!! —David

Addicted to Murdoch Mysteries. We have enjoyed each season, but some more than others. Hated to see Dr. Grace depart in such a way never to return. Season 11 was the least enjoyable, but a very good rebound with Season 12. I would like to see the final season being one of closure so as to bid these wonderful characters farewell. I too would like to see John remain a presence in the series. There can be no show without George, he is a delight and is as important as Murdoch for the success of the show. We live in the U.S.A. and subscribe to Acorn TV and do so just to watch Murdoch Mysteries. I would like to see Julia return to the morgue, to join Murdoch in crime solving. She and Miss James were a good combination. —Diane

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

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Hudson & Rex’s Justin Kelly: “I get to really play with these quirks”

I first became aware of Justin Kelly’s work back in 2015 when he was part of the ensemble cast of YTV’s cancelled-way-too-soon family drama Open Heart, playing a sarcastic scamp named Wes. Followed by roles on Citytv’s Between and Space’s Wynonna Earp, Kelly has returned to his old Citytv stomping grounds on Hudson & Rex.

Kelly plays Jesse, described in the show’s press materials as “the quintessential millennial: young, driven, more than a little awkward, and right at home in front of a computer.” What should be added to that logline is one more word: unlucky. With just four episodes broadcast so far, Jesse has been shot, drugged and almost drowned. We spoke to Kelly about his dangerous new gig.

So far Jesse has been shot, and in the latest episode, he was roofied and almost drowned. What’s going on with this poor guy?
Justin Kelly: I mean, that’s what happens when he decides to leave the desk. He gets into trouble. A lot goes down in the first few episodes with him. And we later learn that he might just be better behind his desk than being out in the field. But the field stuff is fun, so hopefully, we can expect more of that.

St. John’s is particularly special to me. What about you?
JK: Absolutely. It was a bucket list thing for sure, wanting to get out there. And I’m just lucky enough that I was able to get out there for work and for such a long period of time. It’s a beautiful, beautiful city. We’ve been shooting there throughout its winter, which can be pretty harsh, especially this winter has been a little crazy, there are still so many reasons to love it in spite of that. And I had the opportunity to really explore the city and walk around and do what the locals do. Yeah, I love the city, it’s great.

Tell me how you ended up being on the show in the first place. Did you go through the usual audition process?
JK: I did, yeah. It came out of nowhere. It was presented to me as this opportunity, that is like, ‘Come in and audition for this role of Jesse.’ I read one of the scripts, and it was something I hadn’t done before. I loved the idea of working for a major crimes unit in a police station. That was last summer, and it was around the time I was working with Shaftesbury on an episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries. I had gotten to know a few of the producers from Shaftesbury through that first, and then I auditioned. And about probably a week later, I found out I got the part, and the next thing I knew, I was out in St. John’s. It’s been a bit of a wild six months.

What goes into your thinking when you’re choosing a role? On a show like Open Heart, Wes was funny. On Wynonna Earp, Robin was a little bit strange and funny as well. Jesse’s a little bit offbeat, definitely the youngest guy in the team. What do you look for in a role?
JK: I think that’s exactly it. I’m a huge fan of comedy myself. One thing that these roles have in common was there was a place to go in terms of finding these quirks in these characters. I feel like every character needs to have something quirky and something off centre about them. That’s something I saw in Wes when Open Heart happened, was that he was the sarcastic Chandler Bing character that I grew up watching.

Robin was very similar. Robin was hilarious and this amazing damsel in distress, and was weirdly unaffected by all this crazy stuff that was happening around him in Purgatory. And with Jesse, I get to really play with these quirks and explore the nerdy comedic side of him, because he’s the youngest one on the team. He’s the millennial. He makes the jokes that the older folks don’t quite understand. That’s something that I just always latched onto and always really enjoyed.

The interesting thing about Hudson & Rex is that this group of humans are really tight. These characters don’t feel as though they’re the straight men to the dog. It’s great to have a dog on the show, but you also want to have characters that interact well with each other.
JK: Completely. You’re absolutely right, and that’s really important to me as well. When you deal with a certain formula of TV, where every episode is a different case, and you’re not necessarily following a linear pattern, you’re watching these characters grow within each episode. We’re so lucky that we have a great cast and that we get along really well. That happened right away, and that’s something that we’ve been playing with. A lot of these scenes that we have in the bullpen is really our opportunity to see how these four, and the dog, all react with one another. That’s the thing that keeps us going as well, is wanting to learn more about these characters as well as the dog.

What’s it been like working with Diesel?
JK: Having Diesel on-set is almost like … it’s almost like having Al Pacino on set. He’s so good, and he’s so well trained. He’s this presence, that as soon as he’s on set doing his work, everybody’s in awe of him a little bit. He’s this regal dog and is just there to do his job and is in it for the roast beef. And he’s all business, and it’s great to see. The episode that we just watched, ‘School Days,’ he’s pulling me out of a pool. To see how that all panned out and how it all worked was pretty amazing because they obviously did tests before, but he’s pulling me out. I’m wearing wet clothes and adding up to probably about 175 pounds. He’s just panting, trying to get me out. It’s really neat to see him work, and it really brings a bit of the camaraderie to the set, and everybody’s really just happy to have him there.

You just spoke about being in the pool. Was that a long day of production for you? 
JK: I think I was in and out of the pool for about five hours. I didn’t have to do a whole lot in terms of swimming, or anything. You come to find after about an hour, that treading water with wet clothes on is a lot harder than it seems, and it can really knock it out of you. I remember going home that day … I was finished by one o’clock, and I just konked out, and was like, ‘Wow, that was tough.’ I mean, I just watched the episode on video with my fiancée probably about an hour ago, and I was like, ‘I’m really happy with how that cut together and how it looks.’

Jesse is described as being this quintessential millennial. He’s young, driven, more than a little bit awkward, and right at home in front of a computer. What else are we going find out about this guy?
JK: Not to give too much away, but we really learn about how much his work means to him. I like to think that he’s going home and he’s still working, and he has that personality. So we really see how invested he becomes in this job and in working with these people. And that just continues to grow and grow.

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

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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CBC announces the return of Battle of the Blades

From a media release:

CBC today announced the return of hit competition series BATTLE OF THE BLADES (Season 5, 8×60), from Insight Productions. Returning this fall, the revitalized series combines athletes from two of Canada’s favourite sports — figure skating and hockey — as they pair up in a live, high-stakes figure skating competition. In this new iteration of the hugely popular format, teams will once again compete for the charity of their choice. Further details will be announced later this spring.

First launched in 2009, BATTLE OF THE BLADES was broadcast on CBC from 2009 – 2013 (4 seasons, 57 episodes) and remains the highest-rated original English-language Canadian format of all time.*

A CBC original series, BATTLE OF THE BLADES is produced by Insight Productions. The series is executive produced by Insight’s John Brunton, Lindsay Cox, Erin Brock, and Mark Lysakowski and is co-created and executive produced by Olympian and World & Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Famer Sandra Bezic. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Programming; Jennifer Dettman is Executive Director, Unscripted Content; and Susan Taylor is Executive in Charge of Production.

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MasterChef Canada: Tony’s not so great at leadership in first Team Challenge

Weddings can be one of the biggest events in a couple’s relationship. The clothes, flowers, venue, music and weather is, hopefully, perfect and leaves the couple and their guests with longlasting positive memories. Another huge component of a wedding is the food, which led to an incredible amount of pressure on the MasterChef Canada home cooks, who prepared a two-course meal for a Caribbean-inspired wedding. (I wonder if the pair had to audition and if the show’s production company helped pay for any part of the wedding?)

Tony, who has impressed judges Claudio, Michael and Alvin with his Italian dishes, served as the Red Team leader. Opposite him was Chanelle, leading the Blue Team. The location of the wedding? Madsen’s Greenhouse in Newmarket, Ont., where Chloe and Jeremy were set to say their “I do’s” in front of 121 family and friends. The Team Challenge? To make an appetizer and main for everyone. At first blush, the team with Andre—and his Caribbean expertise—on it appeared to have an advantage. That meant Tony’s team, which also included Jenny, Alyssa and Cryssi. Chanelle may have had the second pick on people, choosing Jennifer, Roz, Colin and Josh, but she was given the first choice at protein, getting shellfish and chicken and leaving fish and beef for Tony et al.

Tony’s team got off quickly, leaning on Andre’s plan of fried fish with ackee followed by stewed beef and dumplings. Tony’s soccer coach knowledge came into play early as he jumped from person to person, checking that everyone was on task. But then the stress of frying fish threatened to derail the appetizer, with a lot of yelling between Tony and Cryssi happening until Andre stepped in to help Alyssa. But Tony kept at it with Cryssi, and then Andre, and it definitely hurt team morale.

Chanelle’s group was more of a team effort with everyone weighing in until seafood soup with coconut and jerk chicken with beans and salsa. Chenelle’s squad was in a bit of disarray, and without Andre to help them, a little out to sea. Josh’s jerk chicken marinade seemed to be too heavy on the Scotch bonnet peppers but his teammates seemed to like it.

The happy couple and their guests were served appetizers and it appeared as though blue’s soup was a little too bland compared to red’s fish. And, to make things worse, Roz ran out of the soup, a major planning gaffe. They quickly thinned out the remaining soup they had with shrimp stock but received thumbs down from guests.

With just an hour left to prep, cook and serve the main dish, things went awry when Josh dropped a pan of jerk chicken on the floor. (Was it just me or did Chef Claudio seem to take great delight in that?) The five-second rule does not apply in the MasterChef Canada kitchen, but luckily Josh has prepared extra meat so they weren’t going to run short.

Chloe wasn’t impressed with the red team’s beef stew, saying it lacked a lot of flavour, while she loved the blue team’s chicken. In the end, Team Red won by just three votes. So while Andre was a help in his team’s success, Tony’s leadership style and losing track of time caused what might have been a landslide victory much closer. Chanelle and her team lost but I hope held their heads high. The red team was saved from the Pressure Test and elimination.

Back in the kitchen, Chenelle, Jennifer, Roz, Colin and Josh were fighting to stay in the competition, but not before they were allowed to pick one home cook to be saved from elimination. They chose, rightly, Josh. He owned the jerk chicken from start to finish and the guests liked it. In the Pressure Test, Chenelle, Jennifer, Roz and Colin were tasked with creating one sweet and one savoury cheesecake in 80 minutes. (If anyone is interested, I would have gone with a brownie swirl cheesecake for my sweet and made a buffalo chicken blue cheese for my savoury.)

With time running out, Colin’s watery strawberry cheesecake filling seemed destined to send him home before it got into the oven. As for Chanelle, hers came out of the oven intact but collapsed during plating. Incredibly, each cheesecake was completed and, overall, looked amazing. Jennifer’s everything bagel was enjoyed by Chef Michael and Chef Claudio deemed her chocolate attempt to be great; Chef Alvin didn’t enjoy Colin’s scallop lemon offering but Micheal loved his sweet strawberry concoction; Alvin liked the light taste of Chanelle’s goat cheese creation and, while Michael did like the flavour of her sweet matcha cheesecake, he pointed out its horrible collapse; Michael enjoyed Rozin’s Stilton cheesecake but opined it was a little heavy-handed, and Alvin refused to comment (on camera at least) about his tahini-themed plate.

In the episode’s closing moments, Alvin, Claudio and Michael awarded Jennifer top marks for her cheesecakes. Rozin overreached in his ambition but was saved from elimination. That left Colin and Chanelle, with Colin being shown the door. It wasn’t entirely unexpected—Colin was middle of the road in last week’s two-hour debut—but I was sad to see him go and thought his East Coast-inspired recipes would have been neat to see evolve.

MasterChef Canada airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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First wave of Global’s summer premiere dates announced; includes Mary Kills People and Private Eyes

From a media release:

Global announced today the first wave of premiere dates for its 2019 summer schedule. Featuring a fresh lineup combining standout original series, a newly acquired Royal special, two new dramas, and returning fan favourites, Global’s schedule is packed with thrilling mystery, provocative storytelling, and comedic relief.

 Headlining the new summer lineup are two of Global’s highly anticipated returning original series. Following two successful seasons which received great critic acclaim across North America, the third and final chapter of 2019 Canadian Screen Award-winning drama Mary Kills People kicks off the summer schedule beginning Sunday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. From Entertainment One (eOne) and Cameron Pictures, Season 3 picks up five months after last season’s shocking finale that left the fate of Detective Ben Wesley (Jay Ryan) up in the air. Dr. Mary Harris (Caroline Dhavernas), along with her partner Desmond “Des” Bennett (Richard Short), return to face the complications of running their newly established “death retreat”. In anticipation of the final chapter, viewers can watch the first and second season of Mary Kills People on GlobalTV.com or Global GO (available for Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV).

Then, Shade and Angie are back on the case as last summer’s #1 Canadian scripted series Private Eyes, which grew its audience year-over-year (19% for A25-54 and 25% for 2+) returns with 12 new episodes beginning Wednesday, May 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Following the shocking arrest of wisecracking PI Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson), Season 3 begins with her behind bars where she meets an intimidating inmate played by guest star, Canadian icon Jann Arden. The new season also welcomes notable guest stars including Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox, award-winning actor Gordon Pinsent, and William Shatner, who reprises his role as rival PI Norm Glinski. Returning for Season 3 are familiar faces including Samantha Wanas Zoe, Ennis Esmer as Detective Mazhari, Jordyn Negri as Jules, Barry Flatman as Don, and joining the cast Ruth Goodwin as Officer Danica Powers.

This summer Global also brings its Royal fans Meghan and Harry Plus One, a one-hour special airing Friday, May 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Hosted by CBS This Morning Co-Host Gayle King, Meghan and Harry Plus One looks at the changes in the life of American-born Meghan Markle since marrying Prince Harry, and the arrival of the couple’s royal heir who will be the first British-American child to be in line for the throne. Plus, the special will go behind the headlines and the rumors, and includes interviews with royal insiders and Meghan’s friends to learn how the couple has adapted to their new lives together and how they have navigated the positive and negative aspects that come with being royal.    

Also new to Global’s schedule is action-adventure series Blood & Treasure, premiering with a special two-hour episode Tuesday, May 21 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Moving to its regular time slot at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning Tuesday, May 28, the serialized, globe-trotting drama stars Matt Barr (Sleepy Hollow) and Sofia Pernas (The Brave) as a brilliant antiquities expert and a cunning art thief, respectively, who team up to catch a ruthless terrorist who funds his attacks through stolen treasure. Mystery and suspense continue this summer on Global with new series The Inbetween airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning May 29. The character-driven drama follows Cassie Bedford (Harriet Dyer, Love Child), who was born with a rare ability to see and communicate with the dead and now helps detectives solve murder cases.

Rounding out the schedule are Global’s returning hits including the seventh and final season of the modern day Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson drama, Elementary, which begins its farewell season Thursday, May 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Meanwhile Season 2 of Instinct starring Alan Cumming and Bojana Novakovic returns Sunday, June 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and then summer’s favourite gameshow The Wall hits new heights with Season 3 in a special two hour premiere Thursday, June 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT 

Series Production Credits:

Mary Kills People is produced by eOne and Cameron Pictures Inc., in association with Corus Entertainment, and with the financial participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. The series is executive produced by Tassie Cameron (Ten Days in The ValleyRookie Blue), Amy Cameron (The Book of Negroes), Marsha Greene (Ten Days in the ValleyPrivate Eyes), Jocelyn Hamilton (Private Eyes), Tecca Crosby (Private Eyes), and Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal).

 Private Eyes is produced by eOne in association with Corus Entertainment, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and IPF’s Cogeco TV Production Program. Season 3 is executive produced by Jocelyn Hamilton and Tecca Crosby for eOne, Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan for Piller/Segan, Jason Priestley, James Thorpe, Alan Mccullough, James Thorpe, Alexandra Zarowny, Derek Schreyer and Tassie Cameron. 

 Meghan and Harry Plus One is produced by the team at 48 HOURS and is executive produced by Judy Tygard and Patti Aronofsky. Blood & Treasure is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Propagate Content. Matthew Federman, Stephen Scaia, Taylor Elmore, Ben Silverman, Marc Webb, Mark Vlasic, Howard T. Owens and Michael Dinner serve as executive producers. Elementary is executive produced by Rob Doherty, Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman, Jason Tracey, Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Robert Goodman for CBS Television Studios. Instinct is produced by CBS Television Studios, Michael Rauch, Marc Webb, Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin (Secret Hideout), James Patterson, Bill Robinson, Leopoldo Gout and Alan Cumming serve as executive producers. Meghan and Harry Plus OneBlood & TreasureElementary, and Instinct are all distributed internationally by CBS Studios International.

The Inbetween is produced by Universal Television, NBCU International Television Studio and Heyday Television. Moira Kirland, David Heyman, Nancy Cotton, Matthew Gross executive produce. Charlotte Sieling executive produced and directed the pilot. While “The Wall” is a collaboration between Glassman Media and SpringHill.

The Wall was developed by Glassman Media in conjunction with CORE Media and produced in association with Universal Television Alternative Studio. LeBron James, Chris Hardwick, Maverick Carter and Andrew Glassman executive produce.

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