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.

Blue Ant Media announces latest original slate for Cottage Life, T+E, Love Nature and Smithsonian Channel Canada

From a media release:

Blue Ant Media, an international producer, distributor and channel operator, announced from Prime Time Online today a series of greenlights for its suite of lifestyle and factual TV channels: Cottage Life, T+E, Love Nature and Smithsonian Channel Canada. The 2021-2022 programming slate underpins Blue Ant Media’s commitment to create compelling original content that appeals to viewers at home and on a global scale. Overseen by Sam Linton, Head of Original Content (Canada), the lineup includes four world broadcast premieres with several series available for licensing globally by Blue Ant International.

On Cottage Life, Blue Ant Media has greenlit three new series to premiere in spring 2022 during the channel’s nationwide free preview event, two of which are co-productions with APTN, Canada’s national Indigenous television network. The first co-production, Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet (working title) (Season 1; Broadcast Premiere), profiles rural Alberta-based veterinarian and everyday hero Dr. Savannah Howse-Smith as she takes care of animals while also exploring her newly-discovered Métis heritage. Blue Ant and APTN will also co-produce the third installment of Merchants of the Wild (Season 3; Broadcast Premiere), which follows six Indigenous adventurers pitted against the perils of an ancient waterway trade route used by the Syilx People. Blue Ant Media has also acquired from APTN seasons 1 and 2 of the Merchants of the Wild franchise to air on Cottage Life. Finally, Blue Ant Media has greenlit Mysteries from Above (working title) (Season 1; World Broadcast Premiere) for Cottage Life, which is a 10-part original documentary series investigating mysterious phenomena from the vantage point of drones. The series provides an in-depth analysis of never-before-seen drone footage, from lost civilizations to curious animal behaviour.

As the home of paranormal programming in Canada, T+E has lined up two spine-tingling paranormal documentaries to scare viewers across the country. Scheduled to premiere this fall on T+E, the paranormal documentary special Bathsheba (Season 1; World Broadcast Premiere), follows the chilling true story of Bathsheba Sherman, a witch made famous by the hit horror film, The Conjuring. The special delves into the true tales that served as inspiration for the film and unearths the archives of well-known paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who attempted to help the Perron family from being terrorized by Bathsheba’s presence. Also new to T+E, Blue Ant Media has greenlit Eyewitness: UFO (working title) (Season 1; World Broadcast Premiere), an eight-part docuseries that breathes new life into the decades-long conversation as to whether or not extraterrestrials have visited Earth. The series weaves together powerful and credible first-hand accounts of UFO encounters with interviews, authentic visual footage and dramatic paranormal reenactments, while expert contributors explore the world-shattering realities of the witnessed events. The greenlight comes at a pivotal time when skepticism has shifted and people are open to new findings and evidence of interstellar visitors.

New on Love Nature, the 12-part documentary series Battle of the Alphas (Season 1; World Broadcast Premiere) offers viewers insight into the competitive world of animal life, giving an inside look into an important part of animal behaviour. Battle of the Alphas is a Love Nature global commission, slated to premiere in Canada and roll out worldwide on Love Nature’s branded linear and streaming platforms in early 2022.

Finally, on Smithsonian Channel Canada, the documentary special Treasures from the Maya (Canadian Broadcast Premiere), treks deep into the jungle to investigate the mysterious collapse of the ancient Maya civilization. Using the latest science and technology, Treasures from the Maya uncovers how an ancient civilization ruled by god-kings ended in warfare. The special is slated to air next spring 2022.

For a full list of original programming highlights, please see below.

Cottage Life

Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet (working title) (9×30’; HD)
Scheduled for Spring 2022 • Broadcast Premiere
A Blue Ant Media and APTN Co-production • Producer: Wapanatahk Media in partnership with Great Pacific Media
The series follows the adventures of veterinarian Dr. Savannah Howse-Smith as she keeps rural Alberta’s pet and animal population healthy, all while learning more about her recently confirmed Métis bloodline and adjusting to her new cultural identity.

Merchants of the Wild, Season 3 (13×30’; HD)
Scheduled for Spring 2022 • Broadcast Premiere
A Blue Ant Media and APTN Co-production • Producer: Little Bear Big Wolf Pictures/Buck Productions
Merchants of the Wild is a vivid 13-part documentary series mixing culture, survival and adventure, as the cameras follow six Indigenous adventurers pitted against the perils of an ancient waterway trade route used by Interior Salishan People of the Colombia Plateau including the Secwepemc, Syilx, Kitunaxa and Sinixt Nations. In an attempt to reconnect to the land, the adventurers begin their journey with nothing and must survive 25 days in the wilderness using the teachings from Elders and Knowledge Keepers, who will be imperative to their success.

Mysteries from Above (working title) (10×60’; HD)
Scheduled for Spring 2022 • World Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company
Mysteries from Above is a compelling documentary series investigating mysteries from the unprecedented vantage point of drones. From remote, hard-to-reach locations, the drones explore strange geological occurrences, unique man-made structures, curious creatures, and even lost civilizations, revealing fascinating never-before-seen footage to the viewers. Each episode will answer the question “what is that?” with an in-depth analysis from the world’s leading experts. Distributed by Blue Ant International.

T+E

Bathsheba (2×60’; HD)
Scheduled for Fall 2021 • World Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Cream Productions
Inspired by the 2013 horror film, The Conjuring, which scared and scarred audiences worldwide, the paranormal documentary special, Bathsheba dives into the true tales that served as inspiration for the film. The storyline begins in the 1970s and follows the famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, founders of the New England Society for Psychic Research, as they attempt to help the Perron family who are terrorized by an evil paranormal presence, a witch named Bathsheba Sherman, at their remote Rhode Island farmhouse. Responding to the TV industry’s goal to achieve gender parity, Blue Ant Media and Cream Productions are committed to hiring an all-female production team with the aim to create training and mentorship opportunities for women in production. Distributed by Blue Ant International.

Eyewitness: UFO (working title) (8×60’; HD)
Scheduled for Summer 2021 • World Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company
The documentary series tells the stories of the most incredible UFO encounters of the modern era. Combining the most compelling audio and visual evidence of UFOs – mobile phone footage and photographs – with the first-hand accounts of those who were there, Eyewitness: UFO distills the biggest mystery of the modern era into riveting, experiential storytelling. Distributed by Blue Ant International.

Love Nature

Battle of the Alphas (12×30’; HD)
Scheduled for Early 2022 • World Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Yap Films
The battle of the alphas happens across the planet every day: babies compete for their mother’s milk, adolescents play-fight and adults become aggressive when their leadership is challenged or when they’re in search of a mate. From friendly competition to territorial battles, the all-new series delves into the science behind animal conflict. Distributed by Blue Ant International.

Smithsonian Channel Canada

Treasures from the Maya (1×60’; HD)
Scheduled for Spring 2022 • Canadian Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Zoot Pictures
Treasures from the Maya uses the latest science and technology (LiDAR laser imaging) to pull back the veil and help viewers see the ancient Maya civilization as they saw it centuries ago. The documentary special travels deep into the jungle, into ancient tombs and temples, to reveal stories of god-kings and their role in the collapse of the ancient Maya civilization.

Blue Ant Media is a privately held, international content producer, distributor and channel operator. We own and operate numerous production companies in North America and Asia-Pacific under the Blue Ant Studios banner, creating content for broadcasters and streaming platforms in multiple genres including factual entertainment, natural history, documentary, adult animation and drama. Our distribution business, Blue Ant International, offers a substantial catalogue of content, including one of the world’s largest 4K natural history offerings. Blue Ant Media operates channels under nine brands including Love Nature, Smithsonian Channel Canada, BBC Earth (Canada) and more. Blue Ant Media is headquartered in Toronto, with nine international offices in Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, Japan, London, Dunedin, Washington DC and Beijing. Blueantmedia.com.

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The Black Academy partners with Insight Productions to produce live awards show telecast

From a media release:

Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, Scarborough natives and co-founders of The Black Academy, alongside Shannon Farr and Lindsay Cox of Insight Productions, today announced a partnership to produce a live award show honouring established and emerging Black talent. Brothers and actors Anderson and James are executive producing the national telecast, alongside John Brunton, Farr, and Cox from Canada’s preeminent award show production company. The telecast will feature award presentations, performances, and tributes, and will showcase Black talent from across Canada. In addition, The Black Academy and Insight announced a search for a Black showrunner and production crew, and a skills development programme. Interested applicants can submit their résumés to BlackAwardShowResumes@insighttv.com beginning today. The relationship between Anderson, James, and Insight Productions pre-dates the creation of The Black Academy to when they began co-developing a project in 2019.

The live telecast is one of several initiatives created by The Black Academy to break down barriers of discrimination and combat systemic racism. The award show stems from Anderson and James’ long-standing commitment to their community and an awareness of the lack of opportunities to showcase Black talent in Canada. Anderson and James continue to call on corporate Canada, government entities, and individuals to meet this challenge. The awards will celebrate both Anglophone and Francophone Black talent across film, television, music, sports, and culture. Award categories, juries, and the submission process will be announced at a later date.

The Black Academy and Insight Productions are committed to hiring a Black crew and senior staff and to offering skills development for multiple positions in advance of pre-production. Résumés from those who have a particular passion for live events and award shows are now being accepted at BlackAwardShowResumes@insighttv.com. The skills development programme will have a separate submission process and will train select emerging behind-the-scenes creatives and crew in collaboration with a community partner and The Black Academy. Details on this programme to be announced in the coming weeks.

The Black Academy’s award show is executive produced by Shamier Anderson and Stephan James of The Black Academy. John Brunton, Lindsay Cox, and Shannon Farr are the executive producers for Insight Productions. Additional executive producers include Daniel Abrams and Norbert Abrams.

Shamier Anderson, Stephan James, Lindsay Cox, and Shannon Farr discuss The Black Academy and the award show with moderator Kathleen Newman-Bremang at the CMPA’s Prime Time 2021 Online conference. Registered delegates can stream the panel at cmpa.ca/prime-time beginning February 2nd at 9 a.m.

Shamier Anderson – Co-Founder & Co-Chair, The Black Academy/Executive Producer
Shamier Anderson (Stowaway; Bruised; Invasion) is a Scarborough-born actor, producer, and writer and the president of Borough Bredd Productions. Anderson was named a TIFF Rising Star (2019) and recently sold his story, Super High, to New Line Cinema. Anderson will executive produce the film which stars Andy Samberg, Common, and Craig Robinson. In 2016, Anderson co-founded B.L.A.C.K with his brother Stephan James. Alongside his brother, he is the co-chair and co-founder of The Black Academy, a division of B.L.A.C.K, which aims to combat systemic racism while honouring, celebrating, and inspiring Black talent in Canada. Anderson was recently appointed to the Canadian Academy’s board of directors and is an ambassador for the Academy’s Equity & Inclusion Fund.

Stephan James – Co-Founder & Co-Chair, The Black Academy/Executive Producer
Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk; Homecoming; Race) is an Emmy®-, Golden Globe®-, and NAACP Image Award-nominated and Canadian Screen Award-winning Canadian actor from Scarborough, ON. James is the inaugural recipient of the CSAs’ Radius Award, given to a Canadian film or television professional who is making waves internationally, and a TIFF Rising Star (2015). In 2016, James co-founded B.L.A.C.K with his brother Shamier Anderson. Alongside his brother, he is the co-chair and co-founder of The Black Academy, a division of B.L.A.C.K, which aims to combat systemic racism while honouring, celebrating, and inspiring Black talent in Canada. James was recently appointed to the Canadian Academy’s board of directors and sits on the Academy’s Equity Committee.

Lindsay Cox – Senior Vice-President, Insight Productions/Executive Producer
One of Canada’s preeminent showrunners, Cox has overseen and produced 18 editions of The JUNO Awards, as well as The Canadian Screen Awards, Canada’s Walk of Fame, The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration (viewed by one in 3 Canadians), Stronger Together Tous Ensemble, Young Artists for Haiti, Music Without Borders, Canada Day 150! From Coast to Coast to Coast, Canada’s New Year’s Eve Countdown, Battle of the Blades, and Every Child Matters: Education through Reconciliation, among others.

Shannon Farr – Vice President, Insight Productions/Executive Producer
Farr divides her time between Los Angeles and Toronto, and works in both scripted and unscripted. She oversees Insight’s U.S. office and drives the creation, development, financing, and production of original projects for multiple platforms in the U.S., Canadian, and international markets. Farr co-created and produced the prime-time drama Falcon Beach for ABC Family and Global Television, the comedy series The Jon Dore Television Show; and the award-winning comedy series But I’m Chris Jericho!, among others.

About The Black Academy
Canadian actors and brothers Shamier Anderson and Stephan James co-founded The Black Academy in response to the scarcity of forums celebrating Black talent. The organization is dedicated to breaking down barriers of discrimination and combating systemic racism in Canada. The Black Academy is dedicated to breaking down barriers of discrimination and combating systemic racism in Canada. By celebrating and showcasing established and emerging Black talent, The Black Academy will elevate and inspire Black talent across the country for generations to come. A permanent, year-round, and national operation, The Black Academy is a division of the not-for-profit B.L.A.C.K Canada. The division was launched in 2020 and is based in Toronto. In addition to co-chairs Anderson & James, the board of directors includes: Vanessa Craft (TikTok Canada); Alica Hall (Nia Centre for the Arts); Wes Hall (Kingsdale Advisors/the BlackNorth Initiative); Jennifer Holness (Black Screen Office); Divya Shahani (Miller Thomson LLP); Tonya Williams (Reelworld).

Website: www.BlackIsNow.com; Social Media: Instagram: @BLACKISNOWCANADA

Image courtesy of Nicole De Khors.

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YTV uncovers its new original family mystery series, The Hardy Boys, premiering on Friday, March 5

From a media release:

Mystery, family secrets, and the pursuit of the truth collide in the new YTV Original series, The Hardy Boys (13x60min) premiering Friday, March 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Based on the books by Franklin W. Dixon, the series is produced by Lambur Productions and Nelvana, in association with Corus Entertainment. The story follows Frank and Joe Hardy as they arrive in the small town of Bridgeport and set out to uncover the truth behind a recent tragedy. Filmed in Toronto and Southern Ontario, the much-anticipated Canadian premiere of The Hardy Boys on YTV follows the series’ highly praised U.S. debut in December 2020 on Hulu. Canadians can also stream The Hardy Boys live and on demand on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels.

The series unfolds after a family tragedy strikes, when Frank Hardy (Rohan Campbell), 16, and his brother Joe (Alexander Elliot), 12, are forced to move from the big city to their parent’s hometown of Bridgeport for the summer. Frank and Joe’s quiet summer quickly comes to a halt when they discover their dad, detective Fenton Hardy (James Tupper) has taken on a secret investigation, leading the boys to take it upon themselves to start an investigation of their own, and suddenly everyone in town is a suspect.

The all-Canadian cast also includes Keana Lyn (as Callie Shaw), Linda Thorson (as Gloria Estabrook), Bea Santos (as Aunt Trudy), Adam Swain (as Chet Morton), Atticus Mitchell (as J.B. Cox), Riley O’Donnell (as Biff Hooper), Cristian Perri (as Phil Cohen), Rachel Drance (as Stacy Baker), Jane Porter (as Laura Hardy), and Stephen R. Hart (as The Tall Man).

The Hardy Boys is executive produced by Joan Lambur, Peter Mohan, who also serves as Head Writer, and Jason Stone, who also serves as Lead Director. Madeleine Lambur serves as Creative Producer and Paula Smith is Supervising Producer.

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Burden of Truth: Kristin Kreuk breaks down Joanna’s Season 4 struggles

Burden of Truth could have ended after last season. The Season 3 finale wrapped up the legal show-turned-family drama’s storylines in a neat bow, with lead character Joanna Chang, played by Kristin Kreuk, completing her metamorphosis from emotionally damaged corporate lawyer to self-aware justice seeker and mom-to-be.

But just like after the show’s first season—which so efficiently resolved its legal-heavy environmental plot that it looked like it had nowhere left to go—it found a way forward by digging deeper into its characters.

“This year, we thought the only way to really do another season is to take it all away from Joanna and see what happens,” says Kreuk, who is also an executive producer on the series.

And in the Season 4 premiere, airing Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC, Joanna is clearly struggling. She and Billy (Peter Mooney) are trying to find their footing as new parents while waging a legal battle against a powerful mine company that wants to reopen an old gold mine outside of Millwood.

“[Joanna] and Billy are really trying to parent without any support,” says Kreuk. “They’re just doing it on their own in a vacuum while both of them are working.”

The situation is made worse by the mine’s ruthless legal team—who use the same aggressive tactics that Joanna did when she was a corporate lawyer.

“She sees this mining company come in with predatory behaviour that she was part of in her past,” Kreuk explains. “So she’s trying to defeat her shadow self.”

We recently caught up with Kreuk and asked her to break down Season 4’s biggest storylines and explain what it was like to film during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect production this year?
Kristin Kreuk: We got kind of a late pickup for the show this year due in part to, in March, nobody knew what was going on or what would happen or how quickly the pandemic would resolve itself. Then we started shooting later than we normally would for our show. We didn’t start shooting until basically the end of August.

In Winnipeg and Manitoba at that time, they had very few cases, they hardly had a first wave. And so for a while there, it looked like we may be able to skate by a little bit. But even from then, before we even got on a plane, we got tested. We tested the minute we arrived. On set, everybody was wearing masks and shields, everyone was kind of placed in pods. People had to step away from set to eat, and there were hand-washing and hand sanitising stations. We worked shorter work days so people could get more rest, so they didn’t get tired and their immune systems didn’t weaken.

So a lot changed, and it was a very different season of television. And Winnipeg’s cases started to go up quite a bit in the fall, and they were the worst in Canada for a while, so towards the end, we got worried. But it always felt safe because of all the precautions. In many ways, I felt safer on set than I did anywhere else.

Were there any story changes because of the pandemic?
KK: Yes, totally. One of the main things was ensuring that we didn’t have very many background performers, so we didn’t do courtroom scenes really. We used to have big courtroom set-pieces at the end of every season, and we didn’t do that this year. We had to change it up.

Season 3 ended on a very positive note for Joanna, but as this season begins, she’s having some problems adjusting to motherhood and also finding it hard to be on the less powerful side of a corporate case. What can you hint about her journey this season?
KK: Joanna and Billy, when we left them last season, were probably in the happiest place they’ve ever been. The pregnancy wasn’t too hard for Joanna, she was able to work, they were doing very well, and she had kind of healed a bunch of her stuff. At the top of this season, the reality is sinking in more for them, and Joanna’s really struggled. She’s feeling the pressures of what motherhood should be and feeling all of the narratives that have been put on motherhood, and they weigh on her.

And then there’s the fact that the job she does is so dangerous in many ways because she’s taking on the underdogs in cases. It’s something that the other mothers that she’s meeting aren’t able to comprehend. So she’s kind of in this place of doubt.

As you said, Joanna and Billy were in a very happy place at the end of last season, but being a new parent is hard. How are they going to handle that?
KK: What I love about Joanna and Billy is that they love each other, that’s not a question. But this year, you’ll see the differences in what makes them feel secure and safe. For Joanna, it has to do with her ability to do the things she’s best at, particularly because she feels like she’s failing at being a mom, which is debatable. If you just look at what she’s doing, she’s not, but she really feels like she is. She feels most secure through being able to be great at her job.

Billy’s sense of security also comes through Joanna being great at her job, but he also wants a more traditional life. And I think those two things butt up against each other because that’s not what Joanna wants or needs, but that is what he wants and needs. So we kind of see that unfold between the two of them, particularly because Joanna’s choosing, similar to last year, a case that isn’t helping them to make money for their firm.

Two recurring themes I’ve noticed are finding the meaning of home and finding your identity after trauma, and it looks like Season 4 will continue that trend. Was it always the show’s intention to explore those themes?
KK: We are aware of what you’re talking about, but I think that when we started the show, we only understood one small aspect of what that meant—at least, I don’t know if this was [series creator] Brad [Simpson]’s scheme all along. I think that we were really focused on Joanna’s own trauma, and we weren’t looking at it as completely, but each season we’ve delved deeper and deeper into that.

A manifestation of that through Taylor [Anwen O’Driscoll] this season is her trying—and her storyline is so beautiful this year—to find her place in a town that she thought she’d never come back to, that’s a representation of her horrible relationship with her father and her loss of a future she saw for herself, of having to like reacquaint herself with her dreams and her place on that land. This season is very much about kind of repositioning yourself on your land and in your home and how you can do that while incorporating the trauma of your past into that without forgetting it.

I thought Owen Beckbie’s fight against racism in the police department was a very interesting storyline last season, and Meegwun Fairbrother did a great job with it. What will happen with Beckbie this season?
KK: [Meegwun] wrote half a script this year, so he’s been a big part of the season. Beckbie’s in an interesting place where he’s finding himself in a position of power, and he thought maybe, as an Indigenous man in a position of power, could change things. But he’s realizing through being on the ground that that isn’t true, that the system is the system. And so this season is sort of about him evaluating his place in that system and how he can create the changes he wants. You see that through the cop aspect of [the story] and also through this kid, played by Skye Pelletier, who he sort of takes on. His relationship with Beckbie is a big part of the season.

Burden of Truth hasn’t been afraid to hold up a mirror to some of the darker aspects of Canada’s history, particularly its treatment of Indigenous communities. Have you gotten a lot of positive feedback about that?
KK: Honestly, I think people are mostly really excited that we’re delving into those stories. Some people have told me that they’re actually learning from the show, which is kind of sad because our education system should be doing that. But it’s also great that we can do that because I have always believed that one of the powers of scripted television or feature films is that you fall in love with people, with characters and then you can develop empathy for them in a way that you feel more connected to. So feedback wise, people have said that to me, people really appreciate it. But I’ve also seen some really negative stuff about how we’re super white-hating, which is clearly also not true.

Did you have a favourite episode or storyline this season?
KK: It’s hard to say because it’s such a serialized show, but there are images that have stuck in my head as I’ve watched them through all the edits. There’s a moment with Beckbie, he has a scene with Crystal [Michaela Washburn], who we briefly saw in Season 3. She’s a criminal and he is a cop, and they’re both Indigenous and they have an all-out, intense discussion. It’s a very good scene, and there’s a small moment that follows that I find really moving, where Beckbie is kind of facing his cop self.

There’s stuff with Luna [Star Slade] that’s really powerful this year as she tries to decide what path she wants to take for her career, whether she wants to focus on legal aid, or if she wants to sort of go in the direction that Joanna went, and she has to decide what will make more of an impact based on what she wants to do with her life.

And there’s stuff with Billy and Joanna as they manage being parents that I find really beautiful. They come to an understanding with each other and they have therapy scenes, which I think are also really interesting. There are a lot of things to look forward to from all these characters.

Burden of Truth airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Murdoch Mysteries: Maureen Jennings chats about “Shock Value”

[Spoiler alert: Do not continue reading until you have watched “Shock Value.]

I love getting Maureen Jennings’ take on episodes she has written for Murdoch Mysteries. After all, she created the character of William Murdoch in her novels. Without her, there wouldn’t be Murdoch Mysteries.

In Monday’s latest instalment, “Shock Value,” we were introduced to scientists who performed experiments on their fellow human beings in the interest of education. This isn’t a new trope on TV, film, or real life, but the Kingstons brought it into sharp, and creepy focus. Add to that the re-appearance of Dorothy Ernst and her plan for George, and “Shock Value” was a disturbing story.

We conducted an email interview with Maureen Jennings to get her take on Monday’s episode.

How did the main storyline for “Shock Value” come about? Was it inspired by anything in particular?
Maureen Jennings: Two main things. A few years ago, I came across a wonderful book called Fear, written in 1893 by an Italian doctor named Angelo Mosso, who was keen to understand the interactions between our bodies and emotions. He measured the respiration and heart rate of his subject and how a gun fired behind them affected these. He also developed an early version of the lie detector. We’ve used that in a couple of early episodes with Murdoch as the subject. It is a fascinating topic that we are still exploring. For me, a direct offshoot of the issue is what motivates us to pursue tasks, praise, or punishment? I’m all for praise, myself. Also, I was very interested in the notorious experiments of Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. He concluded that people were very susceptible to those they saw as authorities and surrendered their own judgments even when asked to do something that they believed was causing another person pain.

This is one of the darker episodes of Murdoch Mysteries and pretty darn scary. Do you relish the spookier, scarier storylines?
MJ: Not me. I’m a wimp. Blame the writer’s room.

Did the pandemic affect how you wrote this episode or is writing a Murdoch Mysteries episode more of a solitary affair for you anyway?
MJ: Pre-COVID-19, we had a fun second story about basketball and we were hoping to lure one of our fabulous Raptors to come and do a cameo. It had to be dropped. FOR NOW.

There are always little things in Murdoch episodes that made me smile. Brackenreid explaining why he was eating an apple is one of them. Do you enjoy writing tidbits, knowing the fans will enjoy them as well?
MJ: I especially like historically related bits. For instance, the origin of the term basketball. (Naismith using peach baskets to catch the balls.

And we got yet another peek at William liking things “just so” when he measured the apple and banana slices for uniformity. I loved that detail.
MJ: He’d drive me crazy.

The Kingstons may be some of the most dangerous people we’ve met on Murdoch Mysteries. They use manipulation to test the human condition. Who was the inspiration for them?
MJ: Sort of the Kinseys from the 50s. The Kinsey Reports. All serious scientists who conduct experiments must have obsessive natures and coldness at the centre. But hey, we owe them a lot.

The secondary story worries me. It seems like George is going to be framed as insane and perhaps be the victim of revenge. Can you comment on that?
MJ: Keep watching.

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

Image courtesy of CBC.

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