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.

Preview: Max & Shred tear up YTV

A TV series about mismatched characters who end up getting along are a common trope in kids’ programming. Heck, almost entire networks are made up of the stuff. And yet when it’s done well, the result can be very entertaining.

Max & Shred is just such a series. The Breakthrough Entertainment project–debuting Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on YTV–focuses on two boys that couldn’t be more different. Max Asher (Jonny Gray) is a world-famous snowboarder, a cool dude with floppy hair, a crooked smile and undeniable charm. Adults and kids all love him. At odds is Alvin Ackerman (Jake Goodman)–a.k.a. Shred, a nickname he picks up in the first episode–a bookworm, genius inventor who is awkward around everyone and everything that doesn’t have to do with science. The two, of course, are thrown together and eventually become best buds.

What makes Max & Shred different from other stuff out there is the chemistry between the two lead characters. Rather than being over-the-top with their performances–something that plagues this genre–they play everything with enough subtlety that you’re captivated rather than annoyed.

Though it’s never explained in the pilot episode, Max explodes into  Alvin’s Shred’s life when he comes to live with the Ackerman family, a group that includes mom Diane (Siobhan Murphy), dad Lloyd (Jean-Michel Le Gal) and sister Abby (Emilia McCarthy). They’re all super-stoked Max is there, but the future Shred isn’t. He has a science fair to win with his new invention and doesn’t have time–or anything in common–with the high-flying snowboarding superstar. One case of mistaken identity later, and both boys find themselves having to walk in each other’s shoes (or in the case of Alvin, Max’s boots) and learn to respect each for the individuals they are.

Thanks to a smart pilot script by Josh Greenbaum and Ben McMillan (and a catchy as all heck theme song), Max & Shred is a gnarly addition to the genre, dude.

Max & Shred airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.

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EPI’s Discovery special aims for comet landing

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From a media release:

After 10 years travelling towards its destination, looping around the sun five times, and logging up 6.4 billion kilometers – Rosetta has arrived for the drop of a lifetime. Discovery’s LANDING ON A COMET: ROSETTA MISSION joins this pioneering space mission led by the European Space Agency – which has set out to eject Philae, a lander, onto the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Premiering same day as the scheduled landing, Wednesday, November 12 at 7 p.m. ET, and anchored by DAILY PLANET co-host Dr. Dan Riskin from Germany, the one-hour special from Canada’s Exploration Production Inc. (EPI) chronicles how the futuristic science lab will unleash powerful anchors to hold on to this comet. Why catch a comet? Once Philae lands, it will embark on the most incredible journey to gather and analyze what is considered a yet-unreachable primordial treasure chest. But a succesful landing is far from guaranteed. Scientists compare landing Philae on the comet to trying to drop a piece of paper from a Boeing 747 at cruising altitude over New York City and trying to hit… Central Park!

LANDING ON A COMET: ROSETTA MISSION is the pinnacle of a multi-decade space quest – and offers scientists clues to the beginnings of life itself. Designed to withstand the rigours of reckless speeds and turbulence in the solar system, the Rosetta orbiter will rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and remain in close proximity to the icy nucleus as it plunges towards the warmer inner reaches of the Sun’s domain. At the same time, a small washing machine-sized lander will be released onto the surface of this mysterious cosmic iceberg.

Active manoeveurs, stakes, and compelling make-it-or-break it drama make this a space mission for the digital age. Viewers are invited to join the Rosetta conversation NOW at Discovery.ca with behind-the-scenes videos from key players and a live feed pulling in real-time tweets from #67P and key experts! Viewers can also watch the latest update video from the European Space Agency on Rosetta’s mission status, and read articles breaking down everything they need to know about LANDING ON A COMET: ROSETTA MISSION. LANDING ON A COMET: ROSETTA MISSION is produced by Exploration Production Inc. Kelly McKeown is the Executive Producer.

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Interview: Backroad Bounty boys sound off

When Canadian Pickers went off the air, it left a void. There was no one tooling around the country in a van, digging through barns and basements looking for hidden treasures while serving up a slice of Canadiana on TV. Now another pair of dudes have picked up where the Pickers left off. Meet Peter “Bambam” Bamford (he’s the one who looks like a Duck Dynasty guest star) and Marty Gebel, the stars of Backroad Bounty.

Debuting Monday on Cottage Life, Backroad Bounty follows the two friends from London, Ont., as they drive around the province looking for things they can re-sell for a profit. Among the items they discover in Episode 1? An old phone booth and motorized bike Gebel went gaga for and a vintage fishing pole Bamford just had to have.

Bambam, what is a “Bam-tique”? You mention that right off the top in Monday’s first episode.
Peter “Bambam” Bamford: A Bam-tique is an antique, but I don’t buy porcelain dolls and Limoge china. Bam-tiques are things that you could hang in a man cave or a living room above a mantel.

Marty, what’s your specialty? What are you always on the lookout for?
Marty Gebel: I stay on top of what is trending. The stuff you see in magazines and on designing shows. I mix a lot of styles, but I also stay away from Victorian antiques, saucers and china as well. I love mid-century Modern, old science and medical stuff. Those are my favourites.

I loved Canadian Pickers, and I feel like Backroad Bounty kind of picks up where it left off. How did you get involved in this?
PB: Marty was on Canadian Pickers a few times, so he had his foot in the door. The idea for the show came up and he got short-listed for it. He has a great TV presence and has a great knowledge. They called him up and he threw my name in the hat as a co-host for the show.

MG: There’s a big contrast between us, and we’re friends.

PB: We’ve known each other for about four years and they called me up and asked if I wanted to be on the show. They came down and filmed a pilot and now we’re on TV.

You guys are literally climbing over stuff to get at things. Is that an everyday part of being a picker?
PB: Absolutely. That’s the whole thing. If you are willing to climb things … there are times when we’re going into century-old burn piles and junk yards … we go into that stuff. That’s what sets us apart from everyone else. We’re willing to do that to find a treasure.

MG: We’ve had all of our shots. I’m sure we made the insurance people nervous with the way we were climbing all over stuff. That’s the way it is. We go to locations like that in real life. You’re on call, you don’t know what to expect when you get there and you may not be wearing the right clothes but you climb around and get filthy and dirty.

Backroad Bounty airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Cottage Life.

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Murdoch Mysteries explores the dark side in Season 8

The closing moments of Monday’s Season 8 return of Murdoch Mysteries–“On the Waterfront, Part One”–isn’t like anything the series has done before. A showdown at Toronto’s waterfront between union workers–led by the dastardly O’Shea brothers–faces off against Det. William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and the rest of the Constabulary. Meanwhile, Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy) and Dr. Julia Grace (Georgina Reilly) are caught up in their own conflagration between members of the Suffragette movement and men who don’t take kindly to women wanting to vote.

The carefully choreographed scenes that cut back and forth from wharf to city square ramp up in tension to a boiling point viewers aren’t used to seeing from the CBC drama.

“It was fun to shoot,” Jonny Harris says of the scene between the dock workers and the police force, of which his Constable George Crabtree is a part. “All the dock workers were big sort of stunt guys and all the cops are station cops that have been on the show for years … not huge guys. Everybody went for broke on every take that day.” The conflagration at the dock is a result of union guys refusing to back down against the police, but it’s also about a police force seeking justice for the vicious attack on Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) at the hands of the O’Sheas. The Season 7 finale “The Death of Dr. Ogden,” saw the engagement of Murdoch and Ogden announced, but that happy moment was tempered by the discovery of Brackenreid’s beaten body on a dusty Toronto street.

Monday’s return does address the fate of the beloved Brackenreid while introducing a new boss in Det. Hamish Slorach (Patrick McKenna, Remedy), a man very unlike his predecessor.

As for Crabtree, Season 8 represents growth for the character. His up-and-down relationship with Dr. Grace is put on the back burner when a new lady enters his life in the form of a lady from the series’ past. Harris says Tamara Hope, who appeared in the very first episode of Murdoch Mysteries in 2008, reprises her role as Edna Garrison, a single mom struggling to make ends meet. Crabtree becomes a surrogate father to Edna’s son, a departure for a character usually relied upon for laughs.

“Over so many years, you want to keep your characters that people fell in love with, but you do need to make significant changes otherwise it just becomes redundant,” Harris explains. Does he ever wish Crabtree would show a dark side to him? The Newfoundland native smiles.

“He’s a pretty good guy,” Harris says. “I was liking Crabtree and Grace last year because they each had their moments of being petulant and jealous. I thought that was kind of nice. You have the romance between Ogden and Murdoch, which has always had its obstacles and troubles, but they’re mostly pure of heart. With Crabtree and Grace, it had to do with envy.”

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

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Review: Not-so hero worship on Heartland

The kiss. Oh, that kiss. It was brought to my attention last week that Georgie may not have witnessed a kiss between Prince Ahmed and Amy–we didn’t actually see it but I was reacting to the look on Georgie’s face–but it was confirmed Sunday as she replayed the online clip again for herself and then for Lou. Now the cat is out of the bag. Or the horse has jumped the fence. Pick your cliché; the point is Georgie and Lou know. And now Amy does too. How long until Ty finds out?

“The Big Red Wall” may have dealt with Amy being at first too scared to try getting Ahmed’s gift horse to jump over a high wall, but it was as much about Georgie putting a wall between she and her former hero. By episode’s end Georgie had torn down her picture shrine to Amy and was disgusted by the whole situation. Yes, Amy told Lou that nothing had happened between she and Ahmed–he made advances but she told him to back off–but nothing will be the same between the three girls until the family sits down and talks about it. And despite Ty being busy with Caleb wanting to fast-track train the horses and Tim giving him the rough side of his tongue, he’s going to surf the ‘net soon. Better nip this bad news in the bud before it explodes.

The only bright spot in Heather Cronkie’s script came via Jack and Lisa, and even that came with its share of challenges. Georgie and Lou’s idea to hold a simple wedding party for the happy couple threatened to turn sour when Jack’s old gal pal Val Stanton arrived from Florida to sort out some business at Briar Ridge. Jack was reluctant to tell Val he and Lisa were a couple even before she revealed her cancer was back; after she did he swallowed hard and invited her to the party instead. The silver lining? Val had been stringing Jack along for fun–various townsfolk had spilled the beans to her about Jack already–and she had nothing but well-wishes for he and Lisa.

I can’t help but think the arrival of Val and her son, Jesse, spell conflict in the coming weeks. Jesse, in the space of just a day or two, asked Amy to be Briar Ridge’s trainer twice and despite her protestations I bet he’s not going to give up without a fight. And just because Val said she was happy with Jack’s situation doesn’t mean she was being truthful with him.

Other notes 

  • “Peter called. Your husband? Said he was at work and he’d call you again when he got home. You know, his home, in Vancouver?”–Gotta love Jack’s little dig at Lou
  • I’ve always loved Shaun Johnston’s craggy face; he can portray so much emotion with a twitch of his moustache. Jack caught between Lou and Lisa at the table over discussions surrounding the wedding party was great.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET on CBC.

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