Everything about Featured, eh?

Comments and queries for the week of May 24

I started watching my first episode about five years ago, thinking it was a new series only to find out I was wrong. I loved it so much I went back to Season 1 to be caught up. I hope it doesn’t end soon. Thanks for Season 13 and all your hard work on all the seasons. God bless you all including all the crew, staff and cast. —Dee

A fantastic show. It’s great to see the history of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Keep up the great work; can’t wait for Season 13. —Michael

I live in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, and I get to see this wonderful show every Monday night at 8 o’clock. It is by far the best show on TV. The only one that I liked as much was NYPD Blue and that’s gone. Thank you for another season. —Juneann

I lived in downtown Galt when they were filming Season 10. I went to watch and got talking to some diehard fans. I told them I hadn’t seen it. [One] said YOU’VE GOT TO WATCH IT. So I went home and binge-watched nine seasons. I was hooked. One of the best and my most favourite shows. I hope it goes for a few more years. —Phyllis

I love Murdoch Mysteries. Best show on TV. Love seeing episodes filmed in Galt. I lived there. A few episodes filmed a few blocks from the house my daughter was born in. Kids have been excited to see places they have played as little ones on the show. —Trish

I am so happy to see that there will be a Season 13. I enjoy watching the show, glued to the television each week. Please continue. —Marie

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

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Winnifred Jong explores diversity and inclusion in Tokens

With diversity and inclusion hot-button topics, Tokens couldn’t be more timely. Or scathingly on point.

Created by Winnifred Jong, the digital series—available online now—skewers representation in the entertainment industry through Tokens on Call, a casting agency that sends over actors of any stripe to a production in dire need of someone to fill a role. Whoever happens to be on call is sent, fulfilling the gender quota for that project.

“This is a commentary on the fact that, because there are so many choices for every role, people tend to bring in people that they know,” Jong says during a recent phone call. “Until you try to create a change in the dynamic, there is no change.” For Sammi Pang (Connie Wang), that means being cast as a badass gang member who takes out her enemies using kung fu. Written, directed and produced by Jong and produced by Trinni Franke, the eight-part series stars a plethora of familiar faces in Sharron Matthews, Daniel Maslany, Shelley Thompson, Jonathan Cherry, Christina Song, Russell Yuen and Amy Matysio as members of Sammi’s family of part of the productions she works on.

Three people sit on a couch, side by side, wearing the same clothes.One of the most outrageous scenes in Tokens finds Sammi, Demar (Ryan Allen) and Vasant (Gabe Grey) playing triplets in a scene. It’s giggle-inducing and outrageous and part of Jong’s commentary.

Known for directing episodes of Coroner and Private Eyes, the Frankie Drake digital series A Cold Case and Global’s upcoming medical drama, Nurses, Jong has been juggling making Tokens between paying gigs, and called on favours from actors to help her make it. She cast Matthews—the two worked together when Jong was a script supervisor on Frankie Drake Mysteries—after sending the flame-haired actress all eight episode scripts and letting her choose her favourite role.

“I told her, ‘If you want any role, you can have it,'” Jong recalls. “She came back and said, ‘I’d like to be Director No. 2.”

Season 1 of Tokens is available online now.

Images courtesy of A Token Entertainment Company.

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John Catucci returns to Food Network Canada with Big Food Bucket List

In June 2017, Food Network Canada made it official: they had cancelled You Gotta Eat Here! after five seasons. I, like many, was upset. It seemed like the series, with host John Catucci, could go on much, much longer.

But all is forgiven. This is 2019, and Catucci is back on Food Network Canada with a new series. Big Food Bucket List, from the same production company as YGEH, finds Catucci gamely travelling around sampling food and interacting with the folks who make and taste them. What sets Big Food Bucket List—bowing Friday with back-to-back episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT—apart from his previous project? We asked Catucci.

Before we talk about Big Food Bucket List, let’s go back. I just want to get your reaction to You Gotta Eat Here’s cancellation.
John Catucci: You know what? It was mixed feelings. It was hard because I loved shooting the show, and I had an amazing crew, and the production company was fantastic. It was just nice to grow with everybody. So, that was definitely hard. There was part of me that was like, ‘OK, I could do with a little break. I could do with being home for a while.’ It had been five years of being on the road pretty steady. So, it was kind of like mixed emotions. I mean, definitely sad. I don’t think it hit me until a good maybe month after.

Big Food Bucket List is on Food Network. It’s starring you. It’s from Lone Eagle Entertainment. You’re eating food. What’s setting this apart from You Gotta Eat Here?
JC: The main thing is the style of restaurant that we’re hitting. On You Gotta Heat Here, we were doing a lot of diner stuff and Mom and Pop shops. We’re still doing the Mom and Pop stuff. That exists. But the restaurants are elevated a little bit. On You Gotta Eat Here, we never talked about the idea of having a farm-to-table kind of place. It’s just like, ‘No, no, no, we’re going to do burgers.’ We’re really celebrating that food, or celebrating a lot of farm-to-table restaurants, and celebrating restaurants that are doing really unique and interesting dishes. If the restaurant makes a sandwich that is completely out of this world, that’s the thing we’re going to go for. Is that dish something you want to knock off your bucket list.

We’re also travelling all across North America, so it opens up a different market for the show and for myself. It was pretty cool, man. It was pretty exciting. I forgot what it was like to start a new show because it happened such a long time ago. It was a lot of, ‘OK, what’s the show going to be? Do we like this? Do we not like this? We definitely don’t like this.’

The first two episodes are back-to-back, where you’re in Chicago and then Toronto. What are some of the cities that you go to?
JC: We’re going back to Vancouver and Calgary and Halifax. We’re bouncing all over the States, too. We’re going to Philadelphia, New Orleans, Austin, and we got to go to Lafayette. I went to Houston for the first time, St. Louis, San Diego. We got to go to San Diego and L.A., so that was pretty wild. San Diego was just like shooting right down the street from the ocean here. We’re like, ‘OK, we’re on a five-minute break, we’re just walking down to the ocean right now.’

Big Food Bucket List airs Fridays at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.

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Canada’s Worst Driver comes to an end

Canada’s Worst Driver has careened into the sunset. After 14 seasons and dozens of terrible drivers behind the wheel, Discovery’s longest-running reality series has come to an end.

Host Andrew Younghusband made the announcement on his Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon.

“It is with equal parts pride and humility, sadness and joy that I am writing to inform you all that Canada’s Worst Driver is officially finished. Done. The great runaway hit has finally crashed and burned,” he wrote. “I had really hoped we would get to do a ‘Goodbye’ season to end the series with a tip of the hat to the faithful audience, but alas, we are simply done without any fanfare.

“Many, many, many thanks to the hundreds (yes hundreds!) of people who have worked on the show over the years,” he continued. “Your creativity and grit, both on set and behind the scenes, are what made CWD the longest-running reality series in Canadian TV history.”

Younghusband, who gamely faced Canadians oblivious to how bad their driving habits were, thanked the Bell Media specialty station and those who got behind the wheel throughout the series’ run. He finished by acknowledging Guy O’Sullivan, the President of Proper Television, Worst Driver‘s production company, who passed away in 2017.

“But the biggest thanks of all, of course, goes to our late, great leader Guy O’Sullivan,” Younghusband wrote. “He started a production company based on the single sale of season one of CWD back in 2005, and that company, Proper Television, still thrives today.”

Will you miss Canada’s Worst Driver? Let me know in the comments below.

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Supinder Wraich’s superb digital series The 410 debuts on CBC Gem

Supinder Wraich began writing The 410 because she wanted to educate herself on the world her family is a part of. She learned a lot.

The three-part digital series, available now on CBC Gem, focuses on Suri (Wraich), a young South Asian woman who goes from social media influencer to drug dealer after her truck driver father (Gugan Deep Singh) is arrested for trafficking drugs. Wraich, who wrote The 410, based the show’s premise on news stories about Indo-Canadian truck drivers being arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs. Her family runs a truck driving school, and Wraich was surprised at how readily people shared stories about the crimes.

“There was a nonchalance with how I got the information,” Wraich says. “There wasn’t shame about it, which I was surprised by. It was, ‘Yes, this happened and this is the information that you’re looking for.'” Wraich got a lot of detail from her father, who had been approached early in his career to hide drugs in his truck. The 410‘s content didn’t hold up production either; the community opened its doors to filming in a gurdwara because they wanted the story told.

“My goal is to get this out to the community, to watch it and to say, ‘Yeah, it’s OK if somebody you know is in jail or if someone you know is suffering from depression, or you don’t have a strong relationship with your father,” Wraich says. “It’s very important for us to see ourselves on screen, so our personal issues don’t feel so isolated.”

A woman kneads bread dough.When viewers first meet Suri, she’s cocky, self-absorbed, dressed up and posting a video with the city as her backdrop. By the end of the first instalment, she’s stripped bare emotionally and physically, stunned by her father’s secret life and the hundreds of thousands in bail money she must raise. Caught in the middle is Nani (Balinder Johal), Suri’s maternal grandmother, who shuffles around her home, making chai and questioning her granddaughter’s life choices. Throw in cop ex-boyfriend JJ (Jade Hassouné) and a mysterious dude named Billa (Cas Anvar), and there are plenty of folks to complicate Suri’s plans.

Aside from the compelling storyline and performances is The 410‘s look, feel and soundtrack; it has the vibe of a music video, something Wraich credits to director Renuka Jeyapalan. She stresses the project was a true collaboration from Day 1, with producer Anya McKenzie, writer Hannah Cheesman and executive producer Matt Power all helping out immensely. That help extended to Wraich’s family too; she filmed in her parents’ Rexdale, Ont., home and things didn’t always run smoothly.

“We took over their house for eight or nine of the 12 days of production and worked around them,” she recalls. “There were times  where my dad had fallen asleep on the couch and was snoring, so we had cut a take and I’d say, ‘Dad, wake up!’ And then we’d go back to filming.”

Season 1 of The 410 can be streamed on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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