This week, Greg and Amy go through debuts and returns on the Canadian TV calendar.
Then, we cover the latest Canadian TV news, including CBC, BIPOC TV & Film and CFC’s new showrunner catalyst, Global’s original scripted series Robyn Hood begins production, Super Channel’s documentary on Bif Naked and a first look at the OUTtv horror-comedy series, Ezra.
We close out the podcast by looking at Rogers’ upfront announcement, which includes more Hudson & Rex, Canada’s Got Talent, Bachelor in Paradise Canada and one new show: Wong & Winchester.
Building on a hugely successful season where its top Canadian series captured the hearts of the nation, Citytv’s 2022/23 original programming slate promises to bring even more jaw-dropping and inspiring moments, loads of suspense, and of course… double the drama!
A new addition to Citytv’s strong original programming slate is Wong & Winchester, a female-driven buddy detective procedural, in partnership with Pixcom. Production starts this Summer in Montreal with the series premiering mid-season. Lionsgate will distribute the program throughout the world, outside of Canada.
Citytv doubles down on its investment in global hit franchises Got Talent and Bachelor, with the return of Canada’s Got Talent in partnership with Fremantle, SYCO Entertainment, and McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc., along with Bachelor in Paradise Canada in partnership with Good Human Productions.
Having returned to Citytv after 10 years, Canada’s Got Talent reminded the world that this country is bursting with incredible performers from coast to coast to coast. As Citytv’s most-viewed original series in over a decade, Canada’s Got Talent reached 1.4M Canadians each episode throughout the season. Plus, #CGT proved to be a viral hit on social with its engaging content garnering 356M impressions across @CanGotTalent platforms and more than 1M hours of watch-time on YouTube.Canada’s Got Talent Season 2 begins production this Fall in Niagara Falls, ON, and premieres in Spring 2023. Auditions for Season 2 are now open on Citytv.com.
Joining as new host of Bachelor in Paradise Canada in Season 2 is Sharleen Joynt alongside returning resident bartender Kevin Wendt. Decorated Soprano by day, Bachelor alum and long-time franchise recapper by night, Joynt is the utmost authority on all things Bachelor. Joynt is famously known from The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, Season 18), where this charismatic, fan-favourite Canadian, made her initial mark on Bachelor Nation and then continued to cover the franchise thereafter, most recently on the podcast “Dear Shandy.”
Returning mid-season to Citytv, Bachelor in Paradise Canada promises to bring another steamy season filled with OMG plot twists, juicy drama, and passionate romances.
Winning over the hearts of Canadians week after week, Citytv’s #1 original scripted hit series Hudson & Rex returns this Fall with a 20-episode order for its fifth season. Airing on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the beloved series is currently in production in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and will also feature a two-episode story arc set in Northern Ontario.
Returning this year is Level UP, a four-week mentoring initiative between Reelworld and Rogers Sports & Media, that provides on-the-ground experience to emerging Canadian directors and writers who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour. Program sponsors for 2022 are Citytv and Hudson & Rex producers, Shaftesbury and Pope Productions. Applications are open now until June 21 at www.reelworld.ca.
Citytv’s homegrown success continues in daytime with its in-house productions – Breakfast Television and Cityline – which have both experienced tremendous audience growth in 2022**. Breakfast Television has risen to the top among its competitors, making it the #1 morning television show in Ontario. Hosted by Tracy Moore, Cityline grew national audiences by +32% in Q1’22***, while also expanding its roster of original digital content through YouTube series like Face it with Tracy P and Deepa Does It.
*Source: Numeris PPM, Total Canada A2+ (Mar 22nd – May 25th, 2022)
** Source: Numeris PPM, AMA (000), Ontario A25-54, M-F 6a-9a (Jan 1st – Apr 29th, 2022)
*** Source: Numeris PPM, AMA (000), Total Canada A25-54, M-F 10a-11a (Jan 1st – Mar 31st, 2022)
Citytv’s New Series Description – Mid-Season
WONG & WINCHESTER
Wong & Winchester is a one-hour light and fun female-driven buddy detective procedural. It’s the story of the unlikely partnership between Marissa Wong (Grace Lynn Kung) – a bitter ex-cop turned private investigator – and Sarah Winchester (Sofia Banzhaf) – a former career student with the naivety to prove it. Working side-by-side, the mismatched duo, despite their generation gap and their vastly different approaches to work, life, food, fun, society and even their own gender, somehow manage to always get the job done of solving perplexing cases and odd mysteries.
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Pixcom
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Nicola Merola & Charles Lafortune; Showrunner is Chris Pozzebon; Creator and Co-Showrunner is Hollis Ludlow-Carroll; Producer is Nathalie Cecyre
CAST: Grace Lynn Kung (Transplant, Fahrenheit 451), Sofia Banzhaf (Closet Monster, Splinters), Joe Cobden (The Sinner, This Life), and Anthony Lemke (The Hardy Boys)
Shaftesbury extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Paul Pope, the beloved Executive Producer of Hudson & Rex and President of Pope Productions. Pope passed away suddenly on the morning of April 14, 2022. He was 63 years old.
“The news is truly shocking,” says Christina Jennings, Chairman and President, Shaftesbury. “Canada has lost an amazing producer, a force in Newfoundland. Paul has been Shaftesbury’s partner on seven shows for over 15 years. Most recently, we teamed up on Hudson & Rex. Paul was a wonderful man. A spirited human. He loved life and knew how to live it. Paul will be sorely missed by his wife, Lisa, his two sons and all of us here at Shaftesbury.
Based in St. John’s, NFLD, Pope was a dynamic force in the Canadian film industry, having produced or worked on hundreds of films. A founding member of the Newfoundland Filmmakers Cooperative (NIFCO), where he served as president for over 20 years, he has been instrumental in the development of a vibrant production industry. A generous mentor, he was a passionate voice for independent production at a national level with a long-standing tradition of supporting Canadian artists and ensuring that Canadian stories were brought to the screen.
In addition to his numerous awards and nominations for his projects with Pope Productions, he also received the Arts Achievement Award from ArtsNL, the Douglas James Dales Industry Builder Award, and an honorary Doctorate from Memorial University. Pope served on the board of Resource Centre for the Arts and NIFCO and has previously served on the board of the Canadian Media Producers Association and was Vice-Chair of the Canadian Media Fund.
About Pope Productions Pope Productions is a St. John’s based media production company, helmed by producer Paul Pope. The company’s most recent television projects are the fourth season of Hudson & Rex for Citytv, which is now seen in over 100 territories worldwide and Departure Season 3 for Global. The company’s features and MOWs include the CBC comedy A Christmas Fury and festival favourites Hunting Pignut, Beat Down and Grown Up Movie Star, which scored a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for Tatiana Maslany. Documentaries include It’s Mental, Heavy Weather Presents, the multi-award-winning My Left Breast, Legends and Lore of the North Atlantic, and Going the Distance. From the historical dramatic miniseries Above and Beyond to the classic comedy Rare Birds, and the outrageous series Drunk and on Drugs: The Happy Funtime Hour, Pope’s rich repertoire reflects its deep commitment to a vibrant production industry both in Newfoundland and nationally.
When it comes to Canadian television, showrunner Peter Mitchell has one foot in the past and one in the present.
On Mondays, the period whodunit Murdoch Mysteries—starring Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy, Jonny Harris, Shanice Banton and Thomas Craig—continues to chug along in Season 15 on CBC, with no end in sight.
On Thursdays, it’s the modern-day cop drama Hudson & Rex, which follows the adventures of cop Charlie Hudson (John Reardon) his crime-solving dog, Rex (Diesel vom Burgimwald), Supt. Joe Donovan (Kevin Hanchard), Sarah Truong (Mayko Nguyen) and Jesse Mills (Justin Kelly) as they solve crimes in St. John’s.
With both series at roughly the halfway point in their seasons, we had a chat with Peter Mitchell about the challenges he faces helming two primetime series.
How do you logistically juggle both shows? Do you spend time in St. John’s, or are you doing Zoom meetings, and things like that? Peter Mitchell: It’s a combination. I think I was out in St. John’s for slightly extended periods, about four times over the course of the season. And the times that I wasn’t there, writer Mary Pedersen, Joe Milando or Keri Ferencz was out there. I always had a writer around in St. John’s over the run. And the rest of it was just like it has been for the last few years. Just Zoomland. It was similar around Murdoch, although I was in the Murdoch offices more, obviously, because it’s just across the Gardiner, as supposed to across the continent.
How are you not burned out? PM: I’ve got Mary Pedersen and the writing team on one side, and I’ve got Simon McNabb, and Paul Aitken, and the rest of the writing team on the other side. I will admit to getting confused every once in a while. What episode are we doing? What show is it? Is there a dog in this one?
I’ve had the chance to speak to Mary several times over the years, and it sounds as though she’s really become your right-hand person in St. John’s, with Hudson & Rex. Is that accurate? PM: Yeah, that’s completely accurate. I mean, the other writers have contributed greatly too. But, Mary started with me as a script coordinator about six or seven years ago, and she’s essentially co-writing Rex with me. And the same with McNabb on the other show.
One of the things specifically about Hudson & Rex I wanted to ask you about, is going out and having the team be mobile. Was that something that was organic? PM: I think the reason behind it was just doing a bit of a subtle shift of the show, and not leaning into the mystery so much. And then leaning a bit more into a classic police procedural. That meant tracking down a lot more clues, interviewing a lot more people, and trying to take advantage of the environment that we were blessed to shoot in. I really wanted to get a little bit more value out of Newfoundland than just aerial stock shots, and stuff like that.
And it doesn’t take long in Newfoundland, if you’re in St. John’s, to be any number of unique locations. As much as we could, in the first part of the season, we tried to maximize the exterior locations. Then as winter came, we pushed more inside, and it was a very deliberate attempt to make our team more active, and get some of the characters who often spent a lot of time behind the desk, out into the field a bit more and to try and have them work as a tighter unit. Each of them still maintaining the same sort of skillsets, but just getting them all out a bit more.
I think the actors all enjoyed that, and it just made it more of an investigative unit. It was a pretty deliberate decision. It might have been like the first or second line I wrote in my action plan for Season 4, so yeah, it was a deliberate thing.
One of the things that I noticed right away is Kevin Hanchard’s character, Joe, interacting more with his team. It just showed a tighter relationship with the team as a result of him being out of headquarters, and out on the road with them. PM: He’s a pretty dynamic actor, so it’s hard to be dynamic when you’re stuck behind your desk, just issuing orders and talking to the press, so we just wanted to get him out, and be a cop a bit more often.
You recently filmed in Hamilton. Was it for a major part of a storyline? PM: Yeah, it was an opportunity to do something a little bit different. Rex is getting one of those national police awards, so it made sense to take the show out on the road for a little bit. Even doing a one-day shoot in Hamilton brought with it its own difficulties. We only brought Charlie and Rex out, but they were the ones getting the award, so it made sense. And as you can imagine, two years into this, travel and all that stuff is still difficult, but I think at the end of the day, it was worth it.
Speaking of Rex, you’ve added a camera shot through his eyes, showing evidence he has picked up on. What was the decision behind that? PM: Again, it’s going to the procedural versus the mystery. It just made sense to try and visually depict Rex as an active investigator, being able to find things that other people can’t find. And it was always a little bit of trying to construct a mystery, or a puzzle, or a riddle, or a crime, that was interesting, but it would still be possible for a dog to solve it.
All of the dogs involved in playing that role are doing a lot more than they were before. PM: We made a commitment, me and the directors, to shoot Rex more, and not just shoot him as random cutaways. In the past, sometimes they would shoot the Rex stuff last, and sort of run out of time. For us, it was always shoot the Rex stuff first, and try as often as you can to have in the scene standing by, or with one of our characters, so that even if he’s just hanging around being Rex, he’s still active in the frame. That was kind of led by Gary Harvey off the top, that we prioritize what Rex is doing in a scene.
Let’s switch things up and talk about Murdoch Mysteries. What was your reaction when Hélène Joy first came to you and said that she was pregnant? Was it always like, ‘OK, well, we’re going to have Julia be pregnant as well’? PM: I think I almost made a snap decision. Hélène phoned me up and told me the news, and it was at that point still pretty secret. I don’t think very many people knew, if any. And I think I thought about it for about 10 minutes, and went, ‘OK, I guess Julia’s having a baby. How do you feel about that?’ I don’t know why. I don’t know why I decided it. And I kind of unilaterally decided it. I talked to Hélène, and she said, ‘Yeah, that’d be cool.’ And I said, ‘OK, we’re going to do it.’ And then I went to the network after that, and said, ‘Well guess what guys?’ And there’s always the slightest amount of apprehension, you know?
The way that the season unfolds, I wanted to build it so that when the baby comes, and the baby does come, of course, there are still three or four episodes post-baby. I think if I had ended the season with the birth, it feels like, ‘OK, they’ve done everything they needed to do, goodbye.’ It was like, ‘No, let’s have the kid, and let’s have that sweet Murdoch solving a case.’ Just to show that this is just going to be another part of their lives. Everything that could possibly happen on Murdoch has almost happened, so I’m like, well, why not just add this, and just work it into the fabric of the show?
Julia is not going to stop being a proactive female lead just because she’s had a kid. It’ll allow for some additional moments of warmth and humour, and who knows jeopardy. I don’t see it being a [detriment] at all.
Is there going to be a cliffhanger at the end of this current season? PM: Yeah, but it won’t involve babies. Yeah, there’ll be a few little cliffhangers. In fact, I’ve just got it up on my computer screen right now. I’m just going over the last 10 pages of it as we speak.
Hudson & Rex airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.
Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.
Hudson & Rex images courtesy of Rogers Sports & Media/Shaftesbury. Murdoch Mysteries image courtesy of CBC.
Link: Mayko Nguyen Talks Hudson & Rex “Leader of the Pack” “Being able to work all together, out in the field and on location has been a lot of fun. Studio days [are] great [especially] when we’re tired, but it can also get kind of ‘same old, same old.’ And so it’s really nice for the four of us to get to be out on location, shooting these beautiful vistas all together.” Continue reading.