Everything about Played, eh?

Played premieres October 3 on CTV

vincesmall(1)From a media release:

CTV’s new series Played will premiere Thursday, October 3 at 10 pm.

CTV has ordered thirteen, one-hour episodes of Played, an ensemble, procedural police drama that follows the activities of the CIU (Covert Investigations Unit), a Toronto-based police unit that goes undercover to infiltrate criminal organizations. In each episode, the detectives perform a high-wire, nerve-wracking act that requires a serious confidence game as they go undercover and convince the bad guys that, they too, are criminals – all the while trying to prevent their jobs from corroding their own lives.


Examining the fall season of CanCon


Broadcasters have had their upfront presentations and announced their fall primetime seasons, so now we can get the microscope out to look at their Canadian offerings. (In the case of Global, an electron microscope may be needed.) I am, as usual, only including scripted and reality shows, so excluding news, sports, newsmagazines, specials, movies, documentary series or infotainment series.


I wanted to write a post about CBC’s 2013/14 season when they launched it, but it would have been nearly identical to what I wrote for 2012/13: this isn’t the public broadcaster I want. The upcoming year shows minimal risk, aiming for middle-of-the-road appeal, a renewal of everything that moves despite ratings, no new scripted series, and a foreign import for prime time — more egregiously, they felt the need to import a cop show when those comprise a large percentage of Canada’s gross domestic product.

However, what I said last year is more true this year: CBC is in a difficult place financially and politically (Executive Director for commissioned and scripted programming Sally Catto gave us a candid interview about how the budget cuts have affected programming). And some of their mid-season TV movies and mini-series seem promising. And at least their slate of CanCon is visible to the naked eye.

CanCon scripted and reality series for fall primetime:

  • Battle of the Blades (1 hour)
  • Cracked (1 hour)
  • Dragons’ Den (1 hour)
  • Heartland (1 hour)
  • Murdoch Mysteries (1 hour)
  • Republic of Doyle (1 hour)
  • Rick Mercer Report (1/2 hour)
  • 22 Minutes (1/2 hour)

Total: 7 hours


With less market penetration than the others, City is often the poor cousin in terms of Canadian series as well. This year, their fall season has more than the other private networks if you count those that will air first on specialty network OLN. Which I don’t quite, except maybe half marks for effort. They gave Seed a surprise renewal for 2014 — the ratings didn’t entirely justify it, but perhaps they’ll experiment with a different timeslot or find other ways to grow the audience that shrank last year — and have Mother Up and Meet The Family on the horizon for mid-season.

I have mixed feelings about the scheduling of their one true original fall show, Package Deal. The premiere date has been pushed back more than once; they seem to have landed on airing it on June 24 as last announced but then delaying the rest of the season for a fall run. They used the “because, hockey” excuse for two delays, which make them seem like the only Canadians unaware of the playoffs. But I do admire them for breaking away from the model of summer season being the safe season for CanCon, and for putting their new multi-camera comedy between two US multi-camera comedies (single-cam Seed’s old spot between How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls, but without the draw of a Big Bang Theory rerun at the same time to pilfer viewers).

CanCon scripted and reality series for fall primetime:

  • Package Deal (1/2 hour)
  • The Liquidator (OLN first run – 1 hour)
  • The Project: Guatemala (OLN first run – 1 hour)
  • Storage Wars Canada (OLN first run – 1/2 hour)

Total: 1/2 hour or if I’m generous, 3 hours


As CTV bragged in their 2013/14 launch media release, “In total, CTV’s fall schedule features 17.5 hours of simulcast programming weekly, more than any other Canadian network.” So you know the CanCon news isn’t great. Apparently Bell Media president Kevin Crull has said he can see a time soon when in-season primetime will be 25% Canadian, but that time is not now. The network has announced one CanCon series launching in fall this year — Played (I will imagine your surprise that it’s another cop show) — while MasterChef Canada was announced for mid-season (I’ll imagine your surprise that it’s another Reality Show X Canada format) and Motive is renewed for a second season.

CanCon scripted and reality series for fall primetime:

  • Played (1 hour)

Total: 1 hour


Coming off their cancellation of Bomb Girls, Global announced two new scripted series slated for mid-season: hospital drama Remedy and comedy Working the Engels. But alone among the major networks, they have no Canadian scripted or reality shows added to their fall schedule.

CanCon scripted and reality series for fall primetime:

  • Nothing (0 hours)
  • Yup, apparently really nothing (0 hours)
  • They do have Walk the Walk on Saturday nights — a documentary series about Canada’s Walk of Fame — but I’m not including anyone else’s documentary series (or Saturday nights as primetime) so this shouldn’t count. But I’m throwing them a bone.

Total: 0 hours. No I’m not generous enough to include Walk the Walk‘s 1 hour here.

For an at-a-glance chart of Canadian networks’ fall season, check out The TV Addict’s Definitive Fall 2013 Primetime TV Schedule (Canadian edition).

Photo by Cameron Archer


Interview: Agam Darshi of CTV’s upcoming Played


TV, eh?’s Adam Langton interviewed Agam Darshi, Canadian-raised actor from shows such as The L Word, Dan for Mayor and Sanctuary. Now, Darshi is filming CTV’s new crime drama Played, where she plays Khali Bhatt, a member of  a unique team of law enforcement officers.


Played is billed as a crime drama but of course that doesn’t quite tell the whole story — there’s a twist to this concept that sets Played apart from other police series. Do you want to tell us a bit about that?

Basically it’s about undercover cops, which is something that we don’t get to see too much on TV. So it is a crime drama but it takes things to a more personal level because we have these cops who are using their own lives, pretending to be other people, and they try to catch the bad guys from that angle. So it’s pretty interesting and speaks to a deeper level.

Is that even more interesting to you as an actor, playing a character that also has to act and do these undercover things?

Definitely, yes. In some ways you get to be lots of different people. The really cool thing about this series is that they have kept a level of realism. So we’re not just like suddenly changing ourselves and immediately walking into a situation as someone completely different. There’s an element of ourselves that we have to bring to every situation, which is what undercover officers have to do in real life. But at the same time, we still get to change enough that, say, if you’re an introverted person in real life but you have to play the crazy party-girl, then that’s what you have to do. So it’s fun to be able to change it up every week and to play this part.

That sounds very fun for the viewing audience, as well! So: what can you tell us about your character Khali Bhatt?

Khali is sort of the tech genius; she’s tech support for the group. She’s young, she’s pretty hip and has this side of her where she’s very outgoing. But she was raised in a fairly traditional Indian family. That’s what’s most interesting about Khali: in some ways when she goes back home, she’s undercover–she’s not really herself and she has to play a more traditional role. But when she’s out in the real world with her coworkers she gets to kind of relax, let loose, and be the person that she truly is. A little bit more wild, a little bit more free-spirited.

Also, in the press release, they describe your character as “honest.” That immediately piqued my interest because she’s part of a group of con artists, in a way. How do you reconcile playing an honest character that has this inherently dishonest job?

That’s a very good question. Yes, she’s considered the truth-teller. She’s early twenties and she has this sort of bold way about her where she’s able to kind of be insensitive, whereas other people might find a more diplomatic way of going about saying it or doing it. She’s kind of an “ask before you think” kind of character in some ways. So I see that as where her honesty comes from. That sort of freedom that you have when you’re early twenties, that freedom to do and say what you think without really thinking about it first.

You’re best known to TV fans as the fan-favourite character Kate Freelander on Sanctuary. Although Played is a completely different series from Sanctuary by nature, is there anything that Kate and Khali have in common? Or has this been a complete departure for you?

There are definitely some similarities to them. I think it comes back to that honesty: Kate was a very honest character, despite being also somewhat of a con artist (laughs). She was bold in what she said and the things that she did, that’s true for both characters.

Are those traits something that you yourself have in common with these characters?

I definitely think I’m honest but I don’t know if I’m as bold as they are. I go, probably, the more polite route (laughs). If you know me, the people closest to me would tell you that I can be fairly blunt and bold with the things that I say and do but I’m definitely not as quick to share that part of myself. I’d rather be more polite about it. So I guess in a way, Khali and Kate tend more to a deeper part of myself that I don’t always like to show people, because on the surface I can seem opposite to them, if that makes sense.

And that probably makes it even more fun to play them while you’re on set.

Yeah, for sure!

With Played you’re a part of an ensemble cast of very talented actors. Can you tell us a bit about how the team is coming together, working with the team so far and how it’s going?

It’s definitely raised the bar, because they are so talented. The scripts are amazing and ambitious in the sense that we have a certain amount of time to get everything that we have to fit in an episode and as a result you always have to be on your A-game. You have to know exactly what you need to do as an actor. Sometimes you don’t necessarily have the ability to shoot take after take after take. I’m working with a bunch of total pros. Everybody has been really great, they’ve all been bringing their A-game every day, every episode. They’re all creating characters that I find very interesting. We’re in the fourth episode, that’s where we’re shooting, and we’re really beginning to see this great development of the characters. From the pilot, on the page, they’re wonderfully written but now by this episode we’re starting to see them really come to life and, you know, how they’re sort of shifting and growing. I couldn’t be happier with the group of actors that I’m with. Every single person is so well-cast and brings something so specific and neat to the character, it’s really exciting.

That sounds great. To leave us off: what can you tell us and our readers in order to whet our appetites for Played? What can we look forward to from these episodes that you’re filming?

What’s great about the episodes is that there’s something different in each one. Because we’re working with an ensemble cast, each cast member will appeal to different people and each cast member and each character has their own episode where they really get to shine. You really get to see an arc for each person, where they each come face to face with their deepest, darkest secrets and the thing that most challenges them. Which is really cool, to be able to have that. It lets you kind of dig deeper with each character. So I think audiences will really connect more and more as the season progresses–we’ll get to learn what the characters are going through and we’ll see them in a different light by the end of the season. Does that make sense? (laughs)

Absolutely, you’re saying the show rewards the viewers for tuning in every week, that’s fantastic.

Yes, exactly. You’ll have a favourite character and you’ll get to see the episode where they really get to shine and where they’re face to face with their biggest challenge. So it’s fun because each character really has that opportunity.

That sounds great — I really appreciate you taking the time to chat and I’m sure our readers do too. 

Great, thanks so much.


TV, eh? podcast episode 134 – “Silos Beget Silos”

There’s a whole lot of news and a little bit of ranting material in Canadian TV this week:

Beverage update: Tap water, Teaz Strawberry Fields rooibos, Sutter Home Pinot Grigio

Episode 134: Listen or download here or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.

Your hosts


Vincent Walsh cast as Played lead

From a media release:

CTV’s New Original Drama Series PLAYED Begins Production;Vincent Walsh Cast as Series Lead

  • Principal cast also includes Chandra West, Lisa Marcos, Dwain Murphy, Agam Darshi, and Adam Butcher
  • From Muse Entertainment Enterprises and Back Alley Film Productions, PLAYED to debut in the upcoming 2013/2014 broadcast season on CTV

vincesmall(1)In association with Muse Entertainment Enterprises and Back Alley Film Productions Ltd., CTV announced today that production has begun on PLAYED, the 13-episode, one-hour scripted drama series ordered by CTV for the upcoming 2013/2014 broadcast season. Created by Executive Producer Greg Nelson (SAVING HOPE, ROOKIE BLUE), and from Emmy® Award-nominated Executive Producer Michael Prupas (THE KENNEDYS, BEING HUMAN) and Gemini Award-winning Executive Producers Adrienne Mitchell and Janis Lundman (BOMB GIRLS, DURHAM COUNTY), PLAYED tracks an undercover police unit as it infiltrates criminal organizations through different case stories/”plays”. The original drama began shooting this week in and around Toronto through September 2013. With casting now complete, PLAYED stars Vincent Walsh (DECEPTION, LOST GIRL) in the lead role of John Moreland.

In PLAYED, the CIU (Covert Investigations Unit) risks going undercover to infiltrate and bring down criminal organizations. In this new style of short-term, high-intensity undercover work, each covert “play” is crafted quickly and executed at an even faster pace. Placed into various worlds of crime without a safety net, the cops are in constant danger, as they repeatedly go off the grid. Wearing wires, coaxing confessions, and setting up stings, the cops of the CIU must think quickly, talk smoothly, and rely on pure instinct. They slip in and out of characters so often that, sometimes, they lose track of who they really are.

The team of highly-skilled and brave detectives is led by Walsh as undercover cop John Moreland. At the top of his game, John has great instincts, and is usually in charge, but when the new Covert Investigations Unit is established, it is the consummate strategist Rebecca Ellis (Chandra West, NYPD BLUE, JOHN FROM CINCINNATI) who is given the reigns, resulting in tense conflict between the two. Rebecca keeps John on track by balancing his from-the-hip instincts with her keen intellect. However, ultimately Rebecca and John need each other to pull off their risky plays and they know it.

“This suspenseful edge-of-your-seat new series is a fresh look at a complex world full of action, drama, and high stakes,” said Corrie Coe, Senior Vice-President, Independent Production, Bell Media. “With an outstanding award-winning cast and team of producers, a group of accomplished directors, plus police consultants who have lived and breathed the world that PLAYED showcases, this drama delivers a thrill ride that is both authentic and intense.”

PLAYED also stars Lisa Marcos (THE LISTENER, FLASHPOINT) as Maria Cortez, a cop who can beguile her way into any back room and disarm any man who’s hiding criminal secrets; Dwain Murphy (COMBAT HOSPITAL, NIKITA) as Daniel Price, whose genuine warmth is the perfect complement to John Moreland’s aggressive style; Agam Darshi (SANCTUARY, RING OF FIRE) as Khali Bhatt, whose effortless skill with technology is a real asset for the team; and Adam Butcher (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, BOMB GIRLS) as Jesse Calvert, the explosive rookie of the undercover unit.

PLAYED was created by Greg Nelson (SAVING HOPE, ROOKIE BLUE), who also serves as executive producer and co-showrunner, with Adrienne Mitchell, who is also directing the pilot. Other episode directors are: Charles Binamé (CYBERBULLY), Jerry Ciccoritti (BOMB GIRLS), Kelly Makin (FLASHPOINT), Rachel Talalay (THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS), Lee Rose (LOST GIRL), and Paul Fox (HAVEN). The director of photography is Thom Best (THE BRIDGE) and the production designer is Aidan Leroux (BOMB GIRLS).

Tom Hastings is production executive for Bell Media. Trish Williams is Director, Independent Production, Bell Media. Corrie Coe is Senior Vice-President, Independent Production, Bell Media. Mike Cosentino is Senior Vice-President, Programming, CTV Networks. Phil King is President, CTV Programming and Sports.