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Discovery’s Disasters at Sea explores tales of tragedy on the water

Through series like Deadliest Catch and Wicked Tuna, I’ve learned the world’s oceans are definitely not the safest places to work. Heck, the Great Lakes aren’t either, as the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald details. And yet, they serve as an integral lifeline when it comes to getting products around the world.

Discovery’s latest in-house production—Disasters at Sea, on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT—documents nautical accidents and tragedies and tells the stories, including the safety measures implemented to ensure those things don’t happen again.

“We love looking into real jobs and the expertise and mastery behind them,” executive producer Kelly McKeown says. “With our knowledge of Mighty Ships and Mighty Cruise Ships, understanding the world at sea and the skillset you need for the world at sea—and the vessels are like characters themselves—we found that fascinating and we wanted to dig into that world.”

Each of the six hour-hour episodes tells the tale of a maritime disaster through re-enactments and expert testimony from investigators, witnesses, survivors and family members of those lost. McKeown says the stories selected were recent ones, giving the producers the opportunity to speak to those closest to each case and have their voices heard.

The statistics are sobering: three ships go down around the world every month. McKeown wanted to shine a light on the lesser-known incidents for Disasters at Sea and used documents from such organizations as the National Transportation and Safety Board, Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Coast Guard to ensure everything was factually correct. That includes appearances from experts like Christopher Hearn. The Director of the Centre for Marine Simulation at the Marine Institute at Memorial University in Newfoundland is just one of many who describe what happened to these ships and their crews and, perhaps more importantly, why.

“I help them understand what the content the investigations mean and how ships are operated and what goes on onboard,” Hearn says. “From an experiential point of view, I can help craft the story they’re trying to represent. It’s very important that the stories are done right and from a factual perspective.”

Episode 2, broadcast this Tuesday, delves into the loss of the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger, which sank on the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008.

“Sometimes it’s the littlest thing,” McKeown says of the Alaska Ranger situation. “It’s not one big thing that happens, it’s a chain of errors that occurs. It’s a domino of events that affects the final toll.”

Disasters at Sea airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Discovery.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.


History starts production on Canadian original docu-series Breaking Wild

From a media release:

Corus Entertainment’s HISTORY® in association with Breakthrough Entertainment and Bonterra Productions announce the start of production on the new Canadian-original series Breaking Wild (10×60). The doc-series follows the efforts of fearless indigenous cowboys in B.C.’s pristine Nemiah Valley as they fight together for the survival of wild Qayus horses who roam in their midst. Breaking Wild is currently slated to premiere in Winter 2020 on HISTORY.

Set in the sprawling and secluded paradise of the B.C. interior, the Nemiah Valley is part of the Xeni Gwet’in’s 1700 square kilometers of title lands and home to a growing herd of as many as 1,000 Qayus. These wild horses are among the smartest, strongest, and rarest on the planet. Under the direction of current Chief Jimmy Lulua, the Xeni Gwet’in cowboys continue to draw upon centuries of experience managing the Qayus. Elite competitive rodeo riders including Howard Lulua, Amanda Lulua and Emery Phillips work alongside trusted outsiders and legendary horse trainers Roy Mulvahill and Mike Hawkridge, as well as transplanted American Naval Officer Michael Lares. Together they work to protect the herd from over population, scarcity of resources, and natural predators. Through a multi-camera approach, production of the series provides access to the rarely seen, high-octane lives of modern cowboys. Capturing stories about the unbreakable bond between human and horse as they streak across sweeping plains and over snowcapped mountain peaks.

Breaking Wild is produced in accordance with the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government Filming Protocol. The Xeni Gwet’in have appointed community advisers who ensure the cultures, practices, and beliefs of the Xeni Gwet’in are accurately portrayed.


Brightlight Pictures’ hit series Quest Out West: Wild Food renewed at APTN

From a media release:

APTN has renewed the hit series Quest Out West: Wild Food from Brightlight Pictures for a third season. The new season of the B.C.-based series will air on APTN in early 2020. Viewers will be taken on a new adventure every week in this 13-episode season. It will be executive produced by Brightlight Pictures’ president, Shawn Williamson (The Good Doctor) and hosted, written and produced by Tracey Kim Bonneau (Quest Out West: Wild Food).

“To be renewed for a new season is always exciting, but this one feels extra special for our team because the show puts the spotlight on British Columbia and its beauty,” said Shawn Williamson, executive producer of Quest Out West: Wild Food. “Over the past two seasons, the series has helped redefine what a healthy and traditional meal looks like. We hope that this new chapter will continue inspiring viewers to challenge the status quo in their own kitchens.”

Quest Out West: Wild Food is the antidote to boring and unhealthy food. Viewers experience what it’s like to hunt for big game, fish for wild salmon, dig for little-known edible roots and berries, and then learn how to turn them into a spectacular meal. Host Tracey Kim Bonneau takes viewers out of their home and on an adventure for a truly healthy meal every week.

Production on the third season will begin in late spring in the interior of British Columbia. Producing alongside Williamson and Bonneau are Darlene Choo (Quest Out West: Wild Food) and Jordan Smysnuik. Brightlight Pictures produced the first two seasons in 2014 and 2017.


Preview: Paramedics: Life on the Line champions B.C.’s paramedics and dispatchers

In the spring of 2017, I recommended folks check out CBC’s web series Save Me. Season 2 of that project is on the way and looks at the types of people paramedics run into on the job. But while Save Me is scripted, Paramedics: Life on the Line is not.

From Lark Productions—the same folks behind Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGHParamedics: Life on the Line, debuting Tuesday at 9 p.m. PT on Knowledge Network (and online for those not living in B.C.), follows real-life paramedics and dispatchers at British Columbia’s Emergency Health Services.

“Building on our rewarding relationship with Knowledge Network, we are privileged to now work with BC Emergency Health Services and share their stories,” executive producer Erin Haskett said back when the project was announced. “This is a unique opportunity to provide viewers with an inside look at the work of the paramedics and dispatchers, share their daily experiences and directly see the impact they have on our community.”

And what a look it is. The opening credits—featuring sirens and a babble of dispatcher voices asking clarifying questions and dispensing advice—Paramedics instantly drops viewers into the whirlwind that is this career. It’s not easy. The aging population in the Vancouver area means more visits to seniors. And, with a stagnant number of ambulances on the road, that means stressful, jam-packed shifts.

Over at Ambulance Station 246, we meet Marco and Chris as they visit an elderly woman suffering from pain in her left arm following a fall. Donning their detective hats, the pair ask about the situation surrounding the incident—how did it happen, where did it happen—before assessing a suspected broken arm and shuttling her to the hospital. But aside from tending to his patient, Marco shows incredible patience and asks personal questions. That builds an almost instant relationship and trust. As Marco explains, he likes to help people regardless of the reason he is there.

Meanwhile, it’s chaos at the Dispatch Operations Centre. Where Marco and Chris can only answer one incident at a time, dispatchers juggle a flood of emergency calls, assess what type of service should be sent, and order them. In my mind, this has got to be the toughest job. I can’t imagine anything worse than attempting to get information from the concerned patient, family or friend in distress on the line. Footage of call taker Yehia on the line with the mother of an infant (“Is he awake? Is he breathing?”) is harrowing and horrible.

But Paramedics: Life on the Line isn’t just about the job; the 10-episode series also shines a light on the lives and relationships of those who do it. From Adam and Carol-lyn discussing Game of Thrones to questionable food choices and drivers who simply do not know what to do when a vehicle with flashing lights and a siren is trying to get somewhere quickly, the series is an incredible peek at the people who are truly putting others before themselves every day.

Paramedics: Life on the Line airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. PT on Knowledge Network. It can also be streamed on the Knowledge website.

Images courtesy of Talk Shop Media.


Backyard Builds returns to HGTV with more impressive and attainable renovations

When I last spoke to Sarah Keenleyside and Brian McCourt, their fledgling series, Backyard Builds, was set to debut. They had joined their fellow HGTV Canada designers and builders on Home to Win but that hadn’t been broadcast yet either. They were nervous, and excited, for both projects. Now the duo is back for the sophomore go-around on their renovation series.

“To call this a family is an understatement,” Keenleyside says over the phone alongside McCourt. “The whole HGTV crew takes you under their wing. Brian and I still pinch ourselves sometimes. We’re like, ‘Dude, we’re working with Scott McGillivray and Sarah Richardson!’ These are the people we used to watch and now we’re their peers.”

Backyard Builds returns Thursday with back-to-back episodes at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT with Keenleyside and McCourt once again blowing up bad-looking backyards and turning them into something amazing. And while the transformations are truly impressive—a family full of energetic boys sees their yard turned into a basketball court—the projects add value to the home and aren’t outrageously expensive for the homeowners. Last year, I wrote that the pair are almost criminally good-looking but know their stuff, are articulate, don’t talk down to viewers and have fun. That continues in Season 2, but McCourt says the projects have changed this time around.

“The projects were fun and whimsical [in Season 1] but didn’t relate to the viewer on a practical sense,” McCourt says. “This season we’ve done a lot more practical backyards and really dove into low-maintenance ideas for homeowners.” That’s a tall order when your episode clients vary from big and small families to single guys, but they relished the challenge. In Thursday’s second episode, the pair and their renovation team descend on a small bungalow owned by a dude looking to have space in the yard to entertain. The desert-like landscape and stubborn tree stump provided a challenge for McCourt but he triumphed and, with Keenleyside’s keen design flair, the homeowner ended up with a sweet outdoor pub-themed oasis.

“We have some really strong backyards this season,” McCourt says. “We did an outdoor kitchen with an outdoor pizza oven with two structures—one is a lounge and one is a secondary prep space—and in between we actually suspended a pergola. It’s really something special.”

Backyard Builds airs Thursdays at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV Canada.

Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.