Everything about Pure, eh?

CBC announces new and returning series in 2020-21 programming slate

From a media release:

[Editor’s Note: Fridge Wars, Diggstown and Burden of Truth are on hold at the moment given COVID-19 production delays. The Detectives has not been renewed.]

At CBC’s 2020 virtual upfront presentation today, Canada’s public broadcaster revealed its 2020-21 slate of original programming, led by a strong fall schedule featuring 1,300 new hours for television spanning 22 new and returning series across all genres.

FALL 2020

ENSLAVED (6×60 Documentary, Associated Producers/A CBC Gem and documentary channel co-production with Epix in the United States) is a blue-chip documentary series led by Samuel Jackson and directed by Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici (The Naked Archaeologist) that charts the history of slavery through underwater archaeology. The series coincides with the 400-year anniversary of the first African brought to the New World as a slave, and will retrace the harrowing sea voyage that brought millions to a life of slavery. ENSLAVED is produced by Felix Golubev and Ric Bienstock and executive produced by Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Jackson, Eli Selden, Rob Lee, Simcha Jacobovici and Yaron Niski. International distribution by Fremantle.

ORANGEVILLE PREP (6×30 Factual, Orangeville Hoops Inc.) is a character-driven factual series that offers an inside look at the competitive, high-pressure world of basketball’s most successful preparatory program. Tucked away on farmland in Orangeville, Ontario lies the sport’s best kept secret – The Athlete Institute (AI). This high school basketball program has produced more Division 1 College and NBA players in the last five years than any other program in the world.

The Sounds

THE SOUNDS (8×60 Drama, Canada/New Zealand co-production, Shaftesbury and South Pacific Pictures) is a striking take on the relationship-driven thriller. Welcome to Pelorus Sounds, New Zealand – the sleepy settlement where nothing, including the visiting Cabbotts, is quite what it seems. Grieving wives, cheating husbands, epic embezzlement and historic crime all collide to weave a complicated web stretching through the Sounds’ hidden valleys and deep waters. Created by New Zealand-based author Sarah-Kate Lynch and directed by Peter Stebbings (Frankie Drake Mysteries, The Disappearance), the series stars Rachelle Lefevre (Mary Kills People, Under the Dome) as Maggie Cabbott and Matt Whelan (Narcos, The Luminaries) as Tom Cabbott.

TRICKSTER (6×60 Drama, Streel Films and Sienna Films) is based on the best-selling novel Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson, with CBC confirming today that it has been renewed for a second season. Starring newcomer Joel Oulette, this unique series is created by award-winning filmmaker Michelle Latimer (RISE, Nuuca) and Tony Elliott (Orphan Black), and directed by Latimer. Oulette plays Jared, an Indigenous teen struggling to keep his dysfunctional family above water, holding down an after-school job and selling ecstasy to support his partying mom, Maggie (Crystle Lightning), who self-medicates an undiagnosed mental illness, and his unemployable dad, Phil (Craig Lauzon) and his new girlfriend. But when Jared starts seeing strange things — talking ravens, doppelgängers, skin monsters— his already chaotic life is turned upside down. Additional cast includes Kalani Queypo (Jamestown), Anna Lambe (The Grizzlies), Joel Thomas Hynes (Little Dog), Gail Maurice (Cardinal) and Georgina Lightning (Blackstone).

SERIES RETURNING THIS FALL

  • BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (Season 5, Frantic Films) – Finale Season
  • BATTLE OF THE BLADES (Season 6, Insight Productions) Following its remergence on the ice last year that reached over 1.5 million Canadians each episode, the factual hit will return this fall.**
  • DRAGONS’ DEN (Season 15, CBC)
  • FAMILY FEUD CANADA (Season 2, Zone 3/Fremantle) Following its inaugural season that reached 2.6 million viewers each week with a nightly average audience of over half a million including 30 percent in the key 25-54 demo, the hit series hosted by Gerry Dee is confirmed to return four nights per week this fall with 104 new episodes as a nationwide virtual search for new Canadian families now begins.***
  • HA!IFAX COMEDY FEST (Season 24, Pilot Light Productions)
  • JUST FOR LAUGHS: GALAS (Just For Laughs TV)
  • MARKETPLACE (Season 48, CBC News)
  • THE NATIONAL (CBC News, ongoing)
  • THE NATURE OF THINGS (Season 60) The landmark 60th season of THE NATURE OF THINGS will kick off with STATE OF THE PLANET, a unique documentary featuring a one-on-one conversation between David Suzuki and Sir David Attenborough that takes the pulse of our planet and asks whether humans can change their ways in time.
  • PURE (Season 2, Two East Productions/Cineflix)
  • ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES (Season 6, CBC Sports)
  • STILL STANDING (Season 6, Frantic Films)
  • THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES (Season 28, Wildbrain)
  • YOU CAN’T ASK THAT (Season 2, Pixcom)
Trickster

WINTER NEW SERIES

LADY DICKS (10×60 Drama, Cameron Pictures) is a fun and honest portrayal of two radically different female detectives in their early 40s. The buddy cop drama series follows Guns and Gangs detective, Samantha (Meredith MacNeill, Baroness von Sketch Show) and Drug Squad detective, Kelly (Adrienne C. Moore, Orange is the New Black), who by day are true action heroes in their own particular way: skilled, tough, determined, and ruthless. But by night, they’re both grappling with loneliness, dysfunctional families, screwed-up love lives, and a sense that their professional ambitions may not be totally in line with their personal needs. Their friendship could help to balance each other out, if only they didn’t drive one another utterly insane. LADY DICKS is co-created by Tassie Cameron (Mary Kills People, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue, The Robber Bride) and Sherry White (Little Dog, Frontier, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue).

ARCTIC VETS (10×30 Factual, eOne) takes viewers up close with the remarkable wildlife that inhabits Canada’s frozen north and the team of veterinarians that works tirelessly to keep them safe. With around 40 patients per week, no two days are the same for the team at Assiniboine Park Arctic Animal Hospital in Manitoba. From muskox to seals, wolverines to reindeer, treating Arctic animals is often dangerous, but always rewarding. Whether they’re performing life-saving surgery on a polar bear, or tending to a snowy owl with a broken wing, the mission of the vet team is the same – save the lives of sick and injured Arctic species.

SERIES SET TO RETURN THIS WINTER

  • CORONER (Season 3, Muse Entertainment, Back Alley Films and Cineflix Studios)
  • FAMILY FEUD CANADA (Season 2 continues, Zone 3, Fremantle)
  • THE FIFTH ESTATE (Season 46)
  • FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (Season 4, Shaftesbury)
  • THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (Season 4, Proper Television)
  • HA!IFAX COMEDY FEST (Season 24 continues, Pilot Light Productions)
  • HEARTLAND (Season 14, Seven24 Films and Dynamo Films)
  • KIM’S CONVENIENCE (Season 5, Thunderbird Entertainment) – also renewed for Season 6
  • MARKETPLACE (Season 48 continues)
  • MURDOCH MYSTERIES (Season 14, Shaftesbury)
  • THE NATURE OF THINGS (Season 60 continues)
  • ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES (Season 6 continues)
  • TALLBOYZ (Season 2, Accent Entertainment)
  • THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES (Season 28 continues, Wildbrain)
  • WORKIN’ MOMS (Season 5, Wolf & Rabbit Entertainment)

KIDS PROGRAMMING

New original series for kids on CBC Kids and CBC Gem this upcoming year include:

  • REMY & BOO (Industrial Brothers/Boat Rocker, in association with Radio-Canada, 52×11 – Fall 2020), an animated preschool series about a unique friendship between an adventurous little girl and a squishy pink robot called Boo.
  • DINO RANCH (Industrial Brothers/Boat Rocker, 52×11 – 2021), an action-packed animated preschool series that follows the Cassidy family as they tackle life in a fantastical “pre-westoric” setting where dinosaurs still roam.
  • GARY’S MAGIC FORT (CBC Kids, 13×11 – Spring 2021), a welcoming enchanted pillow fort where CBC Kids’ host Gary the Unicorn plays with his friends.
Enslaved

CBC FALL SCHEDULE

CBC’s Fall 2020 broadcast and streaming schedule on CBC TV and CBC Gem is as follows:

(For Newfoundland and Labrador, please add one half-hour for all times)

MONDAYS
7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA *Season 2*
8 PM – THE SOUNDS *New Drama Series*
9 PM – PURE *Season 2*
10 PM – THE NATIONAL

TUESDAYS
7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA *Season 2*
8 PM – STILL STANDING *Season 6*/ JUST FOR LAUGHS
8:30 PM – THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES *Season 28*/ JUST FOR LAUGHS
9 PM – BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW *Season 5 – Finale Season*
9:30 PM – CATASTROPHE *Seasons 3 and 4*/ HA!IFAX COMEDY FEST
10 PM – THE NATIONAL

WEDNESDAYS
7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA *Season 2*
8 PM – WAR OF THE WORLDS *Exclusive Canadian Premiere*
9 PM – TRICKSTER *New Drama Series*
10 PM – THE NATIONAL

THURSDAYS
7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA *Season 2*
8 PM – BATTLE OF THE BLADES *Season 6*
9 PM – DRAGONS’ DEN *Season 15*
10 PM – THE NATIONAL

FRIDAYS
8 PM – MARKETPLACE *Season 48*
8:30 PM – YOU CAN’T ASK THAT *Season 2* / ORANGEVILLE PREP *New Factual Series*
9 PM – THE NATURE OF THINGS *Season 60*
10 PM – THE NATIONAL

SATURDAYS
Afternoon – ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES *Season 6*

SUNDAYS
Afternoon – ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES *Season 6*
8 PM – THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW *Season 10*
9 PM – ENSLAVED *New Documentary Series*
10 PM – THE NATIONAL

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Pure: Ryan Robbins previews Season 2 finale on Super Channel

Ryan Robbins has two words to describe Pure‘s Season 2 finale, broadcast this Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel: “Holy shit.”

A pretty strong reaction from an actor who has seen his character, Noah Funk—not to mention Noah’s family—go through some major stuff over the last two seasons. In the first go-round, newly-elected Mennonite paster Noah, his wife Anna (Alex Paxton-Beesley), and his brother Abel (Gord Rand) are pulled into the world of shipping drugs between Mexico and the United States. After dispatching that season’s big bad, Eli Voss (Peter Outerbridge), Noah left his family behind.

Season 2 caught up with everyone a year later, with Noah avoiding his family, them dealing with the aftermath of his actions and Anna picking up the pieces to care for son Isaak (Dylan Everett) and Tina (Jessica Clement). Anna was quickly drawn into the drug trade again thanks to Hector Estrada (Victor Gomez) and when she’s not organizing that she’s been chased by Augustus Nickel (Christopher Heyerdahl), who wants to marry her. Last week, viewers witnessed Anna’s world coming apart as she was arrested, Auggie’s business was being searched and Isaak was fully under Hector’s power.

We spoke to Robbins ahead of Tuesday’s finale to get a taste of what’s to come.

A man and a woman sit next to each other on some stairs. They are sad.I was shocked when Michael Amo told me Noah and Anna wouldn’t reunite until Episode 3 of Season 2. Were you?
Ryan Robbins: I was and I wasn’t. We got the Breaking Bad comparison and joked that Anna was always more Heisenberg than Noah was. We always intended to pick up a year later and that just seemed the most logical scenario to kick off with Anna this time. It was very challenging and weird because during Season 1 we all spent so much time filming together and then in Season 2, having those duelling storylines was strange because we didn’t work together. We had alternate shooting schedules and barely saw each other in passing for the first half of the season.

In fact, I actually got there a week after they started filming, for a few reasons. One, I was finishing up my commitment on another show and two, when I talked to [executive producer] Ken Girotti and [creator] Michael Amo, we also agreed that it might be a good dynamic for me not to be there from the very beginning, the cast and crew dinner, and for me to come in after everyone had reconnected. To return as the outsider. It did make a lot of sense and it was difficult because I had to reintegrate myself with everyone one at a time. It was a totally different dynamic this time around.

I was thrilled that Gord Rand returned to the show as Abel.
RR: What I love about the way Michael wrote it is the subtle flip, even to the point of me fussing with that baseball cap the way I did. That was a very specific and intentional homage to Abel and his ball cap in Season 1. To show that Abel is kind of leading the way and Noah is the lost sheep in that dynamic. I enjoyed that very much and I think many writers might have steered clear of that, Michael went with it and I think it was wonderful. When I read the scene where Noah and Abel reunited, I cried. When we shot the scene, those were real tears and when I watched the scene I cried again. There is something about that guy, Gord Rand, he’s a special guy. Every time Noah reunited with a family member, those were tough scenes.

The scene between Auggie and Noah was a powerful one this past week. Noah wanted to punch Auggie but was disarmed with a hug. Abel asks who Noah was talking to and is told, ‘It was a salesman.’ I may be reading too much into it, but Noah is right: Auggie is selling something.
RR: I can’t speak for how it was written but I’m glad you said that. It’s absolutely what I was feeling when I was delivering that line. That way my intention and I assumed it was written that way. All of the writers are very clever that way in they say so much with so little. The writing becomes quite intelligent and quite clever. We’re a show that tries to avoid exposition with our dialogue. I always wonder if people pick up on that.

What can you say about the Season 2 finale? How will the fans react?
RR: Two words: Holy shit. Holyyy shit. I don’t know how the fans will react. If you thought that the end of Season 1 caused some controversy, the end of Season 2 … I know this is such a typical thing to say but I don’t think people have any idea what’s going to happen in the season finale. When we all got that script, we literally all WTFed all over the place. I called Michael Amo and said, ‘Is this for real?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, this is happening.’ It’s definitely something we couldn’t have done in Season 1.

Pure‘s second season finale airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel.

Images courtesy of Super Channel.

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Pure’s Alex Paxton-Beesley: “It feels so special”

You can hear the enthusiasm in Alex Paxton-Beesley’s voice when she talks about Pure. She was crushed when CBC pulled the plug on the show after one season and thrilled when it was resurrected on Super Channel Fuse. Paxton-Beesley uses one word to describe Michael Amo’s creation: special.

With Episode 3 headed our way on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse, we spoke to her about hers and Anna Funk’s journey.

What were your initial thoughts after Pure was cancelled after Season 1?
Alex Paxton-Beesley: I was devastated because I felt like it was such a great world. I knew from talking to Michael Amo about it that there was a ton of story left to tell. I was excited for the story arc that he had planned for Season 2. And then the rumours started. There was rumbling around in the fall a year later. ‘What do you mean, stand by? What does that mean?’ It felt really surreal, even into shooting Season 2. We would look around and say, ‘Are we actually here? The dream came true?’ It’s one of those projects that feels so special.

What did Michael Amo tell you about Season 2 that got you excited?
APB: How different life was going to be at the beginning of Season 2. The Funks have been cast out of everything that they were fighting for, really, the first time around. I thought that was a very interesting place to start from because they’re sort of in purgatory. Anna has one foot in the Auslander world and she doesn’t to be there. She’s desperately trying to keep a foot in the Mennonite world but they don’t want her there. And she’s also trying to protect her kids and give them some semblance of a life. Dylan Everett, Jessica Clement and I had some conversations about what we thought had happened in that year or so since the end of Season 1 because Noah walks away and all of a sudden it’s the three of us.

That was a very satisfying and fun conversation because we went all over the place with our imagining.

How has the tone changed for Season 2?
APB: I think it’s gotten much, much darker. Part of that is afforded by the plot. We’re not so much within the Mennonite colony. There is so much more going on in the outsider world. It’s been a very satisfying element, to push the envelope story-wise.

Christopher Heyerdahl is a new addition to the cast and plays Augustus Nickel. What can you say about Augustus?
APB: I think people are going to be pretty darn surprised at the kind of man Augustus Nickel is going to turn out to be. [Laughs.] He is the most incredible human being and actor and at times made my life very difficult because he is so delightful as Augustus and in character, Anna is not always delighted. He made it really, really hard to stay in character.

The shock for me was Gord Rand returning as the not-so-dead Abel.
APB: Gord Rand is one of the most amazing actors we have in Canada. He is the most inspirational person I’ve ever seen and I want to eat his brain and absorb his knowledge. When he was killed, we all knew he wasn’t really dead because he’s too good of a character and his journey is really rich, especially now. The conversation he has with Noah in the first episode about seeing God and maybe God just wants us to be happy. I think that’s going to be a very powerful perspective for Noah to have to contend with.

Alyson Hannigan was announced as a cast member but nothing else has been revealed. Can you say anything?
APB: I’m not allowed to say much. She is going to be appearing later on in the season. She’s playing a very fun character. The day I was on set watching her, I was just losing my mind laughing. She is so funny. The character she plays is super-feisty, mouthy and integral to the plot.

Pure airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse.

Images courtesy of Super Channel.

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Pure: Creator Michael Amo on the return of Season 2 and a favourite character

Spoiler alert: Do not continue reading unless you have watched the first episode of Pure, Season 2.

Pure‘s second season premiere was notable for a few reasons. It introduced Hector Estrada (Victor Gomez), the drug dealer who demanded Anna Funk re-start the Mennonite cocaine pipeline. And, just to give her the little push Anna needed to do that, took Isaak (Dylan Everett) as collateral. When we last saw Isaak, he was naked, caged and (rightfully) screaming for his mother. Last Tuesday’s return also brought a favourite character back from the grave. It turns out Noah’s (Ryan Robbins) brother, Abel (Gord Rand), suffered merely a flesh wound when Eli Voss shot him; the siblings shared an emotional reunion.

With so much going on not just with the characters but the show itself, we got Michael Amo on the phone to discuss it.

What were your thoughts when you were told by CBC that the second season of Pure wasn’t going to be happening with them?
Michael Amo: [Laughs.] I remember being surprised because I think we averaged over 700,000 viewers per episode which, for a freshman drama on CBC, is pretty good. But, I guess it wasn’t on brand for them. I did move on to other things and developed some other shows. It was really Cineflix. It was Brett Burlock and Peter Emerson, who are our Ontario production partners, were the ones who said, ‘You know what? It’s not going to die so easily.’ They’re the ones who engineered the deal between WGN America and Super Channel and put their own kind of equity into it as well.

Three people, dressed in black, stand next to each other.Was there a phone call to you to say it had been greenlit?
MA: For me, it was me talking to Brett about some things I was working on and him saying, ‘Not so fast, Pure isn’t dead yet.’ But I’ve got a family to feed and said, ‘I welcome the opportunity to do more of Pure.’ I hung up the phone and went about my business. Months went by and, behind the scenes, Brett and Peter were working feverishly to make it happen. So, when you get the call and are told your baby has been brought back to life, it’s a happy day indeed.

You’ve spent at least one full episode keeping Noah away from his family. What was the thinking behind that?
MA: Actually, we keep Noah away from Anna until Episode 3 because I don’t want to make it easy. [Laughs.] The audience should be rooting for this family to get back together and they can’t do that if they’re together from the get-go. It was challenging to keep them apart for so long, but I did put them on a collision course to tie in with the law enforcement angle of the show. It was a challenge to do that. Season 1 was all about their fall from grace and expulsion from paradise and Season 2 is about them, all in their own way, trying to get back to paradise and the innocence they lose along the way.

How has being on Super Channel Fuse changed the tone of the show? What have you been able to do that you couldn’t on CBC?
MA: There were fans of the show, to begin with, so when they took it on, they said, ‘We’re a premium cable network, so feel free to play in that space.’ I didn’t go too crazy because I, personally, am not a huge fan of vulgarity and the show really never had the creative bandwidth for sex. But we could push the elements that were already in the show a little harder.

Hector Estrada is, literally, taking no prisoners. What’s it been like to create this guy?
MA: In Season 1 we had Eli Voss, who had very specific spiritual views that were in opposition to Noah’s. In Season 2, I really wanted to do something different, from a character point of view for the villain, so Hector is all about the here and now. He does not believe in an afterlife, he does not believe there are any consequences for his actions in this world whatsoever. He is all about the material pleasures, but he’s sort of lonely too. So, he bonds with Isaak and that’s his Achilles heel in a way. [Actor] Victor Gomez is both extremely charming and when he wants to be, ice cold.

I was surprised to see Gord Rand returned to Pure. In Season 1, Abel was shot by Eli and left for dead. Were you always intending to bring the character of Abel back?
MA: [Laughs.] I’m going to be honest and say perhaps not. What happens is, you fall in love with these characters, and the actors who play them, and you say, ‘Oh my goodness, I have to find a way to keep Gord in the picture.’ I’m glad I did.

Pure airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse.

Images courtesy of Super Channel.

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Links: Pure, Season 2

From John Doyle of The Globe and Mail:

Link: Pure: A grim, good cerebral drama we don’t see often in Canada
Pure is a dense drama, grimly beautiful, and it threads a fine line between cops-and-criminal storyline and an examination of stifled religious moralism. (The first season is available on Super Channel for a good binge-watch.) The manner of its melodrama isn’t an easy sell. But it’s fiercely good, a rare Canadian TV foray into new territory. Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Pure’s Alex Paxton-Beesley on Anna’s isolation in Season 2
“My character was so isolated, but it was also so strange to be without Ryan, my partner in the show. It was especially hard preparing for all the Low German that I had to speak for this season. Laura Kohoot, our advisor on the show, is just the most invaluable member on our team and we spent a lot of time together working on that.” Continue reading. 

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: Alex Paxton-Beesley goes Medieval on your hynie in S2 of Pure
“She is so different this season and she’s going to places I wasn’t sure of. Then again, all these things are happening to her for the first time, too, so as much as it was unknown to me, it was absolutely unknown to her.” Continue reading.

From Debra Yeo of the Toronto Star:

Link: Drugs, desperation and Mennonites all back on TV’s Pure
It’s not usually a good thing when an actor cancels an interview, but when Ryan Robbins had to bail on a chat with the Star, leaving Alex Paxton-Beesley on her own, it seemed a bit like life imitating art. Continue reading.

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