All posts by Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.

Links: Transplant, Season 1

From The Suburban:

Link: Laurence Leboeuf from CTV’s Transplant talks about new medical drama premiering February 26th
“She knows everything, talks fast, she’s by-the-book, and she’s someone who cares a lot… maybe too much. She puts everything into her work, which is one of her faults: she puts too much emotion into it.” Continue reading.

From Melissa Hank of Postmedia:

Link: Transplant star Hamza Haq celebrates 20 years in Canada as new show debuts
I think the goal of the show was to go for the feeling of what it’s really like to be a refugee, not a sensationalization. Some of these stories are taken directly from our consultants, many of who are Syrian refugees. But it’s safe to say that Transplant tells the story of one specific refugee. This is Bash’s story.” Continue reading.

From Aparita Bhandari of The Globe and Mail:

Link: Canadian actor Hamza Haq, star of CTV’s Transplant, on his immigrant parents, studying neuroscience and playing a doctor on TV
From an extra who blends into the background to the lead character in the new CTV medical drama Transplant, Hamza Haq has slowly and steadily worked his way up in an industry known for its fickleness. Continue reading.

From John Doyle of The Globe and Mail:

Link: Transplant is a medical drama with its own energy and voice
Transplant is far more ambitious and on the evidence of early episodes sometimes reaches what it aims for. Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Transplant stars on why the new medical drama feels so real
“So much of this is just a personal show. Every director that came in gave us their all. Every actor gave it their all. It’s such a phenomenal cast.” Continue reading. 

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: Haq and Higgins breathe life into CTV’s terrific Transplant
The character lifts this show beyond the usual miracle-of-the-week medical rut and into a dialogue on the changing face of Canadian society. This is a series as much about refugees and immigration as it is about universal health care and waiting rooms. Continue reading.

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Cottage Life TV goes off the grid, braving the cold in all-new Series, Life Below Zero: Canada

From a media release:

Based on the popular BBC Studios format and multi-Emmy® Award-winning reality series, Life Below Zero, the long-awaited Canadian adaptation, Life Below Zero: Canada (8×60’) follows a diverse group of individuals from different cultural backgrounds, including Canadians, First Nations and Swiss trappers, giving viewers an unfiltered glimpse into how they survive in the coldest and most remote regions of Northern Canada. Filmed across the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Northern Ontario, with a crew of six people, 120 days travelling and over 500 hundred hours of footage shot, the eight-part docu-series captures the compelling stories of five ‘off the grid’ Canadians who must navigate through deadly weather, with limited resources, to seek out food, water and shelter. Life Below Zero: Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT, starting March 17, exclusively on Cottage Life during the channel’s eight-week free preview event running from March 2 to May 3 across 10 million Canadian households.

From long, dark, frozen winters to sweltering, bug-infested summers, Life Below Zero: Canada captures the day-to-day trials of people living in unforgiving environments. The stars of the series include Becky Broderick, who left Sudbury, Ontario to start a family in the wilderness; Bentley Kakekayash, who was born in a remote North Caribou Lake First Nations community only knowing life in the bush; “Pike” Mike Harrison, a self-professed “lone-wolf”, who has spent the last two decades living in isolation in a cabin he built himself; and best friends Kim Pasche and Pierre-Yves Duc who moved from Switzerland 10 years ago to live off the land in the Yukon.

Life Below Zero: Canada is based on the original format, Life Below Zero, licensed and distributed by BBC Studios. The series is produced by Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company. Paul Kilback and Tara Elwood are the Series Producers. Paul Kilback, Victor Kushmaniuk and Mark Stevenson serve as Directors. Michael Kot, Betty Orr and Paul Kilback serve as Executive Producers. Overseeing the series for Cottage Life TV is Sam Linton, Head of Original Content for Blue Ant Media.

Meet the Canadian Stars of Life Below Zero: Canada:

Becky Broderick 
Location: Mendenhall River, Yukon Territory Łutsël K’e, Northwest Territories
At 30 years-old, Becky left her suburban life in Sudbury, Ontario to move to the remote north and settle down roots. Becky lives with her husband, newborn daughter and her beloved team of sled dogs. They live off grid and Becky aims to ‘up’ their game to be completely self-reliant. Becky wants to raise her daughter to be “a self-sufficient badass.”

Bentley Kakekayash
Location: Weagamow Lake, Northern Ontario (a remote North Caribou Lake First Nations community)
At only 25 years-old, Bentley Kakekayash is an experienced outdoorsman who has been working and living in the bush since the day he was born. Living in a remote First Nations community, Bentley works the same trap line that his ancestors did before him.

“Pike” Mike Harrison
Location: Lindberg Landing, NWT (670km west of Yellowknife)
Mike has been living alone in the woods for over 20 years and it’s left him extremely industrious… and a little loopy.  Mike is a professional handyman, constantly upgrading his cabin and gear with items he sources from the wilderness. Mike is a regular “MacGyver” when it comes to builds and general wilderness survival.

Kim Pasche and Pierre-Yves Duc
Location: Silent Lake, Yukon
Best friends Kim and Pierre are Swiss born hunters, trappers and bushmen who have lived in the Yukon for 10 years. They have been working one of the remote trap-lines in the Yukon Territories for the last six years.

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Super Channel to premiere international spy thriller series, Mirage

From a media release:

Super Channel is pleased to announce that Mirage, a six-part dramatic spy thriller about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, will make its Canadian English broadcast premiere on Sunday, March 8 at 8 p.m. ET as a new Super Channel Fuse Original Series. Each one-hour episode will also be available on Super Channel On Demand the day following its weekly linear broadcast.

The series is directed by Louis Choquette (Versailles, 19-2) and stars an international cast featuring Quebec native Marie-Josée Croze (Jack Ryan, The Barbarian Invasions), UK actor Clive Standen (Vikings, Taken), Germany’s Hannes Jaenicke (Sardsch, Code Name: Eternity), Canadians Shawn Doyle (House of Cards, Frontier) and Maxime Roy (19-2, October Faction), as well as France’s Grégory Fitoussi (Spiral, Spin).

Mirage is set against the backdrop of a futuristic cityscape—on its glittering surface is a world of fabulous wealth and opportunity, but underneath hides a much more mysterious side. The series tells the enthralling story of Claire (Croze)—an expatriate starting over in Abu Dhabi with her son and husband Lukas (Jaenicke). Claire is thrust into the shadowy world of espionage after she discovers that her former husband Gabriel (Standen), who supposedly died years ago, is alive.

For the past 15 years, Claire’s been convinced Gabriel died in the 2004 tsunami. When she catches his reflection in a restaurant window one night, she sets out to find him, and inadvertently unleashes a sinister chain of events that ultimately push her to the brink. As past and present collide, Claire embarks on a life-or-death mission that includes blackmail, nuclear sabotage, and deceiving the people she loves the most.

Mirage is created and written by Franck Philippon (No Limit, Tunnel), Bénédicte Charles (La Légiste), and Olivier Pouponneau (Surveillance, Watch Your Lip!). The director of photography is Ronald Plante (Sharp Objects). The producers are Christine De Bourbon Busset, Marc Missonnier, Pablo Salzman and André Barro. The executive producers are Marc Gabizon, Joseph Rouschop, Jean-Yves Roubin, Franck Philippon, Louis Choquette, Julien Leroux and Peter Emerson.

An international treaty France/Canada coproduction by Lincoln TV and Connect3 Media, a division of Cineflix Media, with the participation of France Télévisions, Super Channel and Bell Media. A European coproduction with ZDF, Wild Bunch Germany and Gapbusters. Cineflix Rights has the exclusive global distribution rights for the series.

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Citytv’s new original drama series, The Wedding Planners, premieres March 27

From a media release:

Cozy up with your love and say “I do” to an all-new original drama The Wedding Planners, available on Citytv and Citytv NOW. Produced by Brain Power Studio in association with Citytv, the romantic scripted series follows the Clarkson siblings as they plan dream weddings for new couples-to-be, but not without their own behind-the-scenes family drama, as they work through their own complicated relationships. Citytv ties the knot on Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, followed by six one-hour weekly episodes.

In the two-hour premiere event, The Wedding Planners opens as the siblings face the loss of their mother and wedding-planner extraordinaire Marguerite (played by Michelle Nolden). They quickly pick up the pieces and discover that before passing away, Marguerite had planned for many years of weddings for her children to fulfill. For better or for worse, the siblings reconnect and commit themselves to the family business. With new hope and inspiration, they work to tackle one wedding at a time, no matter how challenging the couple or budget, with a goal to honour their mother’s legacy.

Featuring an all-Canadian ensemble cast, the romantic drama follows the ups-and-downs of the Clarkson siblings: Paige (Kimberly Sue-Murray), the young mom balancing work and family, pressured to be perfect under not-so-perfect circumstances; James (Michael Seater), the New York City fashion designer with a troubled past; and Hannah (Madeline Leon), the peacekeeper with a kind heart and adventurous spirit who is also looking for love.

The Wedding Planners is produced by Brain Power Studio in association with Citytv, a division of Rogers Sports & Media. From Brain Power Studio, Creator and Executive Producer is Beth Stevenson, followed by Executive Producer Nancy Yeaman, and Producer Myles Milne.

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Tribal’s Jessica Matten: “There’s always going to be prejudices and stereotypes”

It’s always a pleasure to speak to Jessica Matten. The actress doesn’t shy away from discussing issues that are close to her heart. And many of them are tied to Tribal.

Ron E. Scott’s newest creation—airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on APTN—puts Matten’s interim Tribal police chief Sam Woodburn alongside veteran, white city cop Chuck “Buke” Bukansky, played by Brian Markinson, to solve crimes on and off the reservation. Season 1 storylines include pipeline protects, healing lodge justice and murdered and missing Indigenous women. The last topic hits particularly close to Matten, who discusses that—and more—with me.

What’s it been like being the lead and working alongside Brian Markinson on this series? On Frontier, you had a large role, but I’d argue that this is probably the largest television role that you’ve had.
Jessica Matten: The beauty of Frontier is that I was considered a lead, but that was an ensemble, and ultimately it was Jason [Momoa’s] show. The pressure didn’t really fall on me in a lot of respects. With being a lead, I realized there’s a whole new amount of responsibility, the biggest one is setting the tone for the entire show. I just wanted everyone to feel super welcomed and for them to understand, no matter what the size of their role was, that they were super integral to the process and the storyline.

There definitely was a lot of pressure to just make sure everyone was always cool. But I think because we created such a strong foundation of being a kind, collaborative set, there were no problems in that regard. The hardest thing was the amount of dialogue because we really …  Ron, Brian and I really, everyone, the whole crew, we really pushed it. We shot eight one-hour episodes in 39 days. A full day is six to eight pages of dialogue and I was doing 13 to 17 pages a day.

What is it about Ron E. Scott that makes him such a great showrunner?
JM: I think Ron is sincerely one of the kindest humans ever. And I think when you’re working with a kind human in any industry, I mean, you’re just going to feed off of that, right? With kindness comes empathy, a person who knows how to empathize, and also instinct to understand what the other person needs. So imagine a kind person who happens to be your director, showrunner, producer, writer, guiding you throughout the whole thing. He’s coming from a place from the heart constantly.

Blackstone was my first big gig, and even though I knew some of the actors since I was literally a child. I’ve known Glen Gould since I was 10 years old. That helped me with any intimidation that I had or felt. But when I met Ron, he’s not only amazing at giving an actor good direction, but he’s just calm, and that’s what you need in a leader is when shit hits the fan. You need a calm leader that isn’t going to delegate things in a disrespectful or non-passionate way.

What kind of feedback did you have with regard to Sam and who she was and how you wanted to play her?
JM: I’ve turned down roles, which I’m extremely grateful for, big studio roles where they were perpetuating a negative stereotype of a native woman. And I was just like, ‘I haven’t come this far, I didn’t do the role as Sokanon in Frontier just to revert back to a stereotypical character.’ How can I empower people of what it means to be a native woman, and they’d go back to something that very much dehumanized a native woman in a lot of respects. And the cool thing is I had brought that up with Ron as well. As Ron’s like, ‘Jess, you and I have the same thought. I want to create the first female native superhero. She doesn’t come from a bad family. She doesn’t have a bunch of baggage. I want her to present yourself in a way that you know exists in our native communities.’

Ron has been at the forefront of putting Indigenous people in a contemporary setting, in the spotlight forever, and he always just pushes things forward and I just respect him so much. It was a very, very much a collaborative effort about making Sam believable, tough and likable at the same time.

Sam is called a sellout. She’s caught in this world. She’s a cop. She’s got an old white man as her partner. So she’s not fitting in the white world traditionally, but she’s not fitting in her own world. Is that part of her journey this year, walking between these two worlds?
JM: Thank you for catching that because that was a powerful moment for me too as an actor, so I’m so happy you caught that. Yeah, and I think what we’re going to explore later on in future seasons is where that comes from, more about her family background and her history. I think that’s kind of the theme throughout the entire season is Sam walking in between two different worlds constantly. And not only her careers walking between different worlds, but her being half-native, so it’s like she was born walking between two different worlds and I think that’s what’s really given her an inside and outside perspective of what happens within her native community, but also an understanding of what happens outside of native communities as well.

Some of the storylines this season include a pipeline explosion and murdered and missing Indigenous women. These are stories that are true, are being ripped from the headlines. How does it feel to have these stories that are so close and part of your life being shown in a drama on television? Is it kind of a way of educating?
JM: It’s a way of educating and continuously creating awareness, and also in a lot of ways, to be honest, coincidental. It just proves how relevant and how those issues have not gone away. And that is something that I’m very happy that Tribal touches on, two issues that have not gone away, have not been resolved. My biggest thing was, with the missing and murdered Indigenous women is that one of my relatives is one of the victims.

My family to this day still has not gotten justice. They still struggle every day. It’s hard. It’s extremely hard. And yet, remember five years ago there was this big awareness for it and it became kind of trending on the news for a hot second? And all the celebrities were joining on board. And trust me, even celebrities in Hollywood were like, ‘Oh, we’re going to make a documentary about this.’ And then once that died down, the new hashtag and the new trendy thing, topic to follow, everyone jumped on board that wagon and everyone disappeared off the MMIW train. That annoyed me and I knew it was going to happen. I was grateful for it. But at the same time, that’s why you’ll notice on my social media, I never support anything outside of MMIW or if it’s related to it, because my biggest thing is, nothing got resolved and this isn’t a hashtag, trendy, charitable thing. It’s not trendy. It’s my life, and it’s other people’s lives and it’s super important.

I’m glad that Tribal is still harping on that issue. I’m glad that Tribal is targeting the pipeline issue because what’s happening in communities right now in B.C. And I really want to emphasize this, for non-Indigenous people who don’t understand why people are protesting, it’s not just because it’s on our territory. It’s because these people on the frontlines are protecting our future girls and women from being raped and murdered.

What happens is these manned camps get built while the pipelines are made, and that is where the highest rate of girls go missing and murdered. And so I want the general public to remember that, no matter what, there’s always going to be prejudices and stereotypes in the world against any culture because we have this beautiful way of forgetting that we’re all one and the same, we’re just human.

Tribal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of Prairie Dog Film + Television.

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