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.

Review: Amazing Race Canada returns home

Before I get into the review for Monday’s latest episode of The Amazing Race, I need to make a quick apology to Insight, the show’s producers. When the Racers left Canada for China two weeks ago, I scoffed that they never should have gone international, stupidly assuming they wouldn’t return to their home and native land. So, sorry for whining (mostly to myself) prematurely because return to Canada the show did.

Monday saw the teams jet to the Yukon, something that involved a flight across the International Date Line turning today into yesterday (“the past, man!” I imagined amiable stoners Mickey and Pete enthusing to each other) and an overall focus on one goal: unseating Olympic hockey champs Natalie and Meaghan as first-place finishers on the mat at the end of the Leg. This week was the first one that I saw teams shed some of that Canadian niceness that seems to plague us wherever we go. Everyone was gunning for Natalie and Meaghan, especially after they surrendered the Express Pass to brothers Pierre and Michel. Rex may have sniffed the air and commented that it was the wrong move, but I understood the girls’ decision. They may view the Quebecers as a threat in the game–and they most certainly are–but the gals also see them as competitors who should be rewarded for playing hard, a mantra these athletes live every day.

Speaking of Rex, can I say how giddy I am that he and Bob are on The Amazing Race? The longtime couple deliver great TV, whether they were getting catty over the fact siblings Sukhi and Jinder had been saved by last week’s non-elimination Leg or sniping (endlessly) at each other over, well, everything. Their countless attempts to re-create that Yukon camping setting had me giggling, especially when Rex threatened to scream if they hadn’t gotten it right after several tries. Sukhi and Jinder rank No. 2 behind Rex and Bob simply because they don’t know anything about anything. Don’t know how to put a leash on a sled dog? Ask another team. Don’t know which way is upriver? Make sure you paddle the wrong way until the current drives you in the right direction.

Meanwhile, mother and son duo Nicole and Cormac haven’t asked for help from anyone. The pair, who were eliminated on Monday, have showed fierce support for each other from the moment Jon Montgomery yelled “Go!” at the beginning of the season and haven’t wavered. If there was a time Cormac could have turned on his mom it was last night, when it took her over 20 tries to complete the biathlon challenge. Instead, he urged her on with compliments and enthusiasm especially when she broke down in tears. Kudos to Nicole for living up to the “never give up” attitude her own mother instilled in her.

Because she took so long nailing those rifle targets, Nicole and Cormac could only hope there was another non-elimination Leg in the cards. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be and the last-place finishers were eliminated from the competition.

The Amazing Race Canada airs Mondays at 9 p. m. ET on CTV.


Majumder Manor’s rocky road to success

Shaun Majumder is, literally, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Among the hardest rock in the world, actually. The actor, writer and standup comedian had a dream for his hometown, the village of Burlington on Newfoundland’s west coast: draw tourism to the area in an effort to improve the local economy.

The plight of Majumder, wife Shelby Fenner and best friend/architect/producer Peter Blackie was well-documented in the first season of Majumder Manor, as the hometown boy made good attempted to get the locals excited about their ambitious plan to construct a five-star eco-friendly lodge that would draw people from around the world.

Back for Season 2–airing Mondays on W Network–the trio have changed things up, but their challenge is no less daunting. Majumder purchased another chunk of land right on the waterfront (the first property was right next to a busy road), affording gorgeous views of the small bay and the good chance of seeing an iceberg or two float by. The official title to Season 2 is The Rocky Road to Majumder Manor, and it’s well-suited. Majumder and Fenner were married in Los Angeles in their kitchen, but decided to re-do their vows in Burlington surrounded by friends and family on their new tract of land. The big problem? Nowhere for anyone to stay. With the celebration looming, deadlines to break ground on the new plan–several square pod living areas–were bumped up, putting pressure on everyone to get rolling.

Fenner spent much of Season 1 wondering what the heck she had gotten herself into, but is more confident in this iteration of the project.

“It started off as Shaun saying, ‘I want to make an off-the-grid house and do a show about it,'” she explains. “And then it turned into this much bigger project. My anxiety level went as far as it could go, but I’ve come out the other side realizing that things do work out. I have more trust and know exactly what we’re involved in.”

As with any building project, challenges stack up. A Come Home reunion for former Burlington townsfolk meant Shaun had to quickly construct tents on wooden bases for visitors to stay in. Those proved to be tough to make on ground wobbly as a St. John’s bar patron hopped up on Screech. Majumder’s purchase of an old store led to the discovery of a boat partially crashed through the wooden floor and half a day was spent pulling it out. Fenner wanted to cut costs on booze by making her own beer. And weather was a constant concern; Newfoundland’s placement in the Atlantic means sun can turn to rain–or snow–within minutes, something the team ran into during construction.

“We wanted to be done the foundation on the first pod last summer,” the 22 Minutes star says. “We couldn’t because the winter hit early. Now the pressure is on to get the pod built for the wedding.”

But perhaps the biggest test on Majumder’s wallet, and patience, is the very ground he so passionately wants to share with the rest of the world. Burlington sits on a section of rock that is among the hardest in the world, meaning sinking reinforcing bar into it to hold the pods in place is a long, arduous task in a such a rugged setting.

“All of Newfoundland and Labrador are rock,” Blackie says. “Burlington is on rock known as Burlington granite and it just happens to be the hardest rock on the island. And the site we’re on isn’t just rocks, it IS rock.”  That meant drilling, sinking rebar, epoxying those in place and then pouring concrete around them. Oh, and did they mention there’s no road to truck the concrete in? Instead, the heavy material is slogged in on foot in buckets.

“We have a team of locals, plus me and Pete, sweating our balls off walking through a muddy, snowy hard trail to bring buckets of it to the site,” Majumder describes. “We were lugging pails of heavy concrete through these woods.”

Majumder Manor airs Mondays at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET on W Network.