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.

Comments and queries for the week of February 15

Great episode! An interesting story about the role of journalism in society. The show is pleased with the variety of storylines and versatile presentation of the characters of the characters. George Crabtree here is not quite good—he is envious and vindictive. George should not have told Miss Cherry about the book and his hurt feelings, but he did it. Julia and William are represented by excellent professionals, but not enterprising people. And this is good. Talented people are rarely successful in business. It is the realism of the characters I really like, no one is perfect, everyone can be wrong! Very interesting interview with Maureen Jennings. Thank you for your talent, for the opportunity to enjoy Murdoch Mysteries for many. —Lilia

Great episode!! Loved the ambivalence created around Louise Cherry, who I have a very hard time warming up to even when she wasn’t quite so obnoxious. In this era of jaded over entertained consumers it was amazing and humorous to realize how intrigued the public was over every little twist and turn of technology. And poor George once again suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune kudos to Johnny Harris he is an amazingly funny guy. —David

I finished the episode with the feeling that Miss Cherry is going to do a hatchet job on William and Julia’s book—the revenge she was suggesting George seek for the “slight” when he thought he was not being given any credit for his help. —Byron


“…What was it like working with Billy and Karine? … Their scenes together have all this tension, but it’s not tension borne out of traditional conflict. It’s a deeper thing, I think. They’re both a little afraid of each other, or of what they mean to each other.” I really like that Cardinal and Delorme are just work colleagues and do not seem to have any romantic feelings for each other. In so, so many shows, if there are two single people, writers always seem compelled to hook them up which always leads to VERY boring storylines. Delorme and Cardinal have developed a strong friendship which seems so complicated at times. Because they are just friends, as a viewer, one doesn’t know if the friendship may break down because of their behaviour. We certainly know a lot about Cardinal’s personal life and in Season 4 I would love to find out more about Delorme’s life outside of being under threat from the high crime rate in Algonquin Bay! —John

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

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Cardinal: Writer Shannon Masters breaks down “Lemur”

Alas, poor Lemur. Perhaps the strongest all-around survivalist aside from Mama (Rya Kihlstedt) herself, Lemur (Nick Serino) met and untimely, and messy, end at the hands of Jack (Alex Ozerov). Jack took advantage of Lemur being on the run from the police during a botched ATM robbery and killed his “brother.”

Thursday’s newest instalment of Cardinal, “Lemur,” also opened the door on what horrors Jack endured when he was younger and shaped who he is today. Finally, after very much looking to Cardinal (Billy Campbell) for guidance during the past two cycles of Cardinal, Lise (Karine Vanasse) has officially read her partner the riot act. We spoke to the episode’s writer, Shannon Masters—who has written for Burden of Truth, Mohawk Girls and penned her feature film Empire of Dirt—about Jack, Lise and killing off Lemur.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations on being part of Cardinal. I love the franchise and am enjoying Season 3 immensely.
Shannon Masters: I’m glad you’re loving watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.

Before we get into specifics about the series and your episode, how did you get into the Cardinal writer’s room in the first place?
SM: Two words: Patrick Tarr. We’ve been friends for well over a decade and I think he got tired of watching me bang my head against the wall trying to break into television so took a chance and gave me a shot in the room. Plus, I’m cheap so didn’t break the budget. Ha ha.

This past week has been all about your work. I watched Empire of Dirt the other day on Super Channel and your latest episode of Burden of Truth was on CBC. You’ve taken over Canadian TV over the last 10 days!
SM: Finally. Seriously though, someone has to pinch me because I still can’t believe I get to do this job.

I imagine working on Cardinal has been very different from Burden of Truth and Mohawk Girls. How have you grown as a writer through the Cardinal experience?
SM: Every writing experience is unique, just as each show and showrunner are unique and all provide the opportunity to evolve in different ways. But my growth as a writer on this show specifically was exponential because Patrick trusted (and expected) me to do the job well. That gave me a new confidence in both my ability and my voice. Plus, there is something to be said for having a showrunner who comes in with a rock-solid vision. Lesson: being prepared and having a plan gives you freedom.

It’s been hard to feel anything but anger at Jack and the way he’s been acting. But in the opening moments of ‘Lemur,’ we discover he’s endured something horrifying in his past, including his relationship with this father, and how that connects him to Mama. How do you tackle writing a character like him?
SM: I believe the key to writing bad guys, whether they have a difficult past or not, is to write them as though they believe in what they’re doing, that they don’t think their actions are wrong or bad. In general, people have no idea what they are truly capable of until they find themselves in extraordinary circumstances and are faced with hard choices. That holds true for fictional characters as well. So trying to get into their heads and seeing things through their eyes often lends those characters an intriguing level of depth.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the rough cut for ‘Lemur’ yet, but there is a moment before Cardinal goes into the apartment to talk to Roger, the ex-con-turned-accountant. John pauses at the top of the stairs, loosens his neck and takes a deep breath. He wants to keep it together and not wring Roger’s neck. Do you remember if that pause was written in the script, or something Billy ad-libbed?
SM: It’s been such a long time since I wrote the episode so it could have been on the page, an acting choice or something that came from our director. What I do remember is going into Cardinal’s story this episode with the feeling that he knows he’s skidding down the rabbit hole but just cannot stop himself. His cop instincts are too strong and his GUT is telling him that his wife did not kill herself. So while he knows that every moment he pursues these men he’s put away, Roger Felt included, his grip on the situation slips a bit more, but he’s gonna do it all the same. So he’s kind of stealing his nerves here before he dives in yet again.

You killed Lemur! Now there is nothing stopping Jack from taking advantage of Nikki. How could you?!
SM: Lol. Nikki is tougher than she looks.

Lise has taken a fierce stand against Cardinal. It’s been fascinating to watch her gaining confidence and taking command. Has it been fun, as a writer, to explore their relationship in Season 3?
SM: Their relationship is fantastic and it’s been incredibly rewarding to get to flesh it out even further this season. In this episode specifically, Delorme’s ferocity is born from her desire to help Cardinal. She and Cardinal have morphed from colleagues into friends with a mutual deep respect, so she doesn’t want to see him torture himself or torch his career. And she’s also got a job to do. She’s been given a lot more responsibility this season and she takes it very seriously.

Cardinal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Workin’ Moms: Tennille Read reflects on being the new kid (and mom) on the block

In Season 1 of Workin’ Moms, viewers were immediately plunged into the lives of four women juggling motherhood with jobs and responsibilities. What is was like getting and being pregnant was discussed, but not a focal point of the show. It was about life after baby (or babies) had arrived.

That’s changed in Season 3 with the arrival of Bianca. Played by Tennille Read, we’re getting a crash-course in the emotions and doubts that go along with deciding to get pregnant. And, of course, we’re shown the support system Frankie (Juno Rinaldi) can supply.

“It’s a great take on motherhood and starting from the very beginning,” Read says during a recent phone chat. “The fears, the anxiety, the uncertainties, especially showing it through the eyes of a single woman. Bianca is flying solo; she isn’t partnered with anyone and she’s deciding to start a family. I think that is unique to the show and hasn’t really been explored before.” Read teases viewers will see a new side to Frankie as well, because she’s in a place of more stability and can help. (Though, it must be said, Juniper did throw a curve ball at Frankie last week.)

Read, a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School, never expected a lone Season 2 appearance would be expanded. When it was hinted Bianca might become a recurring character, she assumed that meant two more episodes. Instead, it became eight, and the opportunity not just to show growth for Frankie, but all of the main characters.

“The ‘typical sitcom’ highlights those characteristics in the character that makes them unique but doesn’t necessarily develop them and allow them to grow and become something bigger and better,” Read says. “Workin’ Moms does allow for the characters to grow.” She’s right. We’ve seen that for everyone, from Anne (Dani Kind) being over-protective of Alice (Sadie Munroe) to Kate’s (Catherine Reitman) getting into bed figuratively with a men’s group and literally with Nathan (Philip Sternberg).

And though she was a new face to the cast—Read worked with many of the crew on prior projects—she felt welcome right from the start.

“I met Dani Kind in the makeup trailer and we had a 10- to 15-minute conversation because she’s so open and lovely,” Read says. “She wanted to know more about me because we haven’t had that interaction before. It made for an easier transition for me to go from being the new kid on the block to having more investment in the show.”

Workin’ Moms airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Head shot image courtesy of Dane Clark. Workin’ Moms image courtesy of CBC.

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CBC/Radio Canada doubles down on kids programming

From a media release:

At the annual international Kidscreen Summit, CBC/Radio-Canada President and CEO Catherine Tait today announced the public broadcaster’s expanded commitment to serve a wider range of young audiences in Canada, including acquired content and new original French and English-language programming from Canadian creators for CBC Kids and Radio-Canada Jeunesse. The public broadcaster’s goal is to double the amount of content for young audiences on the CBC Gem streaming service over the next year to match the amount of content already available on ICI TOU.TV.

As a leader in serving young children, with one of Canada’s most-watched English-language preschool services on weekday and weekend mornings, CBC Kids is now looking to reach school-aged and tween audiences with new programming. With a focus on live-action scripted series for the 6-12 and tween demographics, new original programming includes tween action-adventure series DETENTION ADVENTURE (10×11, LoCo Motion Pictures and Broken Compass Films). This is CBC’s first original kids scripted series for CBC Gem and will premiere this spring. Following the recent launch of CBC Kids News, CBC is also building on its commitment to serve young Canadians with trustworthy content with the greenlight of LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX (35×5, Echo Media), the English-language version of On parle de sexe, which will provide tweens with age-appropriate information on healthy sexuality. It will premiere as the first original factual series for kids on CBC Gem in 2020. CBC Kids is nominated for 10 Kidscreen Awards this year.

These new series are part of CBC’s goal to double the amount of kids’ digital content available on CBC Gem over the next year. This commitment includes acquired content from Canadian and international distributors, with the streaming service currently offering more than 200 hours of advertising-free programming for young Canadians.

Already a leader in children’s programming in the French market, having doubled its offer on ICI TOU.TV et ICI TOU.TV EXTRA this past year, Radio-Canada Jeunesse will increase its short-form content offer for the tween and teenage groups and strengthen its 360-degree platform approach for successful brands. New original programming launching this year includes two fiction series for the 13-17 age group: NOMADES (10×10, Trio Orange) and AVEC MOI (10×10, Attraction Images). Also set to launch this year is a new magazine style production called 14 MILLE MILLIONS DE CHOSES À SAVOIR (35×15’, KOTV), introducing young audiences to some incredible star power, such as Pierre-Luc Funk, Pierre-Yves Roy-Desmarais, Gabrielle Fontaine and Anna Beaupré Malounda.

CBC/Radio-Canada will also continue to explore national and international partnerships to tell Canadian stories on a more significant scale and share them with audiences around the world. Examples of some new partnerships include tween sci-fi action adventure ENDLINGS (12×30; Sinking Ship Entertainment for CBC/Radio-Canada, Hulu, NDR, CBBC, ABC Australia, Universal Kids US, NRK, SVT) and MOLLY OF DENALI (38×30; Atomic Cartoons for CBC Kids, WGBH, PBS), an animated series for young children that tells the story of a 10-year-old Indigenous girl and shines a spotlight on Indigenous storytelling and perspectives.

Continuing to build on its amazing success across all of our platforms, L’AGENT JEAN (40×90’’, Happy Camper Media) is back with new episodes in French and English, in partnership with TFO and CBC Kids. Also launching in the fall, is a new live action fiction series for the 4 to 7 age group, in addition to another upcoming live action fiction series for the same age group.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s expanded programming for kids is part of our commitment to provide Canadian parents with a trustworthy digital platform where they can find safe, high-quality, educational and entertaining content for their children.

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