Everything about The Nature of Things, eh?

Dan Riskin explores the dangers of devices on The Nature of Things’ “Kids vs. Screens”

The last time I spoke to Dan Riskin, it was for Daily Planet‘s “Shark Week” coverage in 2017. I’ve always been impressed with his (and then co-host Ziya Tong’s) broadcasting abilities. They are immensely smart folks who make science approachable and entertaining.

Riskin brings that vibe to his latest project, airing on CBC.

“Kids vs. Screens,” airing as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC, was timely even before the pandemic, and reveals some sobering statistics. Babies can scroll before they can crawl. Children can’t read a map, but they can use an iPad. And teenagers pretty much live on their cell phones. But as stark as those facts are—and there are many more revealed in “Kids vs. Screens”—this episode of The Nature of Things isn’t supposed to scare you.

“There are a lot of really good things about screens,” Riskin says. “They make us work better and they are effective. But it’s good to question our relationship with them and keep it in check. Kids’ brains are developing, and you want to make sure you’re not handicapping them later in life by using these devices.” Riskin, a father of three, admits sometimes it’s easy to hand over a tablet or phone so he can prepare dinner in peace. And that’s OK, in moderation.

Produced and directed by Leora Eisen, Riskin hits the road to speak with experts like Dr. Michael Cheng, a child psychiatrist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario; University of Calgary Professor Sheri Madigan; and Jess Haines, co-director of the Guelph Family Health Study. He also sits down with families and kids, like 18-year-old Myah, who teaches him the ins and outs of social media; Abby, whose phone addiction damaged the relationship between she and her mother; and Kaeden, a sixth grader who was obsessed with video games.

“The number of kids who are online now, especially during the pandemic, are huge,” Riskin says. “We put this together with the hope that it will make you feel better. The more you learn about screens and kids, the better you are going to feel about navigating that whole situation and the more empowered you are going to feel.”

“Kids vs. Screens” airs as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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2020-21 Canadian TV season renewal scorecard

Well, things are just a little bit different this time around. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on television production around the world, the Canadian networks—like others—have been a little late in announcing their primetime schedules.

But they’re gradually doing that, so we’ve put together a handy list of what will air between the summer of 2020 and the end of spring in 2021.

Check back often to see if your favourites have been renewed; we’ll be updating this list as we get more information.

Renewed

APTN
Tribal
Tribal Police Files
The Other Side

Tribal

CBC
Still Standing
Murdoch Mysteries
Frankie Drake Mysteries
Workin’ Moms
Baroness Von Sketch Show (final season)
Heartland
The Nature of Things
Marketplace
The Fifth Estate
Battle of the Blades
Family Feud Canada
Just for Laughs: Galas
Ha!ifax Comedy Fest
You Can’t Ask That
Coroner
Kim’s Convenience
Tallboyz
Dragons’ Den
22 Minutes
The Great Canadian Baking Show
Diggstown
Burden of Truth

Tallboyz

Citytv
Hudson & Rex

CTV
Corner Gas Animated
JANN (renewed for Season 3)
The Amazing Race Canada
Transplant
MasterChef Canada: Back to Win

Crave
Letterkenny
Canada’s Drag Race

Discovery
Heavy Rescue: 401
Disasters at Sea
Highway Thru Hell

Nurses

Food Network Canada
Big Food Bucket List
Carnival Eats
Wall of Chefs
Great Chocolate Showdown 
Junior Chef Showdown 
Fire Masters
The Big Bake 

Global
Nurses 
Private Eyes
Big Brother Canada
Departure

Backyard Builds

HGTV Canada
Backyard Builds 
Island of Bryan 
Property Brothers: Forever Home 
Scott’s Vacation House Rules  
Save My Reno 

History
Vikings (final season)
Rust Valley Restorers  
History Erased 
Salvage Kings 

Netflix
Another Life

Omni
Second Jen
Blood and Water

T+E
Hotel Paranormal
Haunted Hospitals

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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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Preview: Sable Island’s other inhabitants celebrated in Seals of Sable

Sable Island is a truly unique place. Situated off the coast of Nova Scotia, the small spit of land is home to feral horses that have grabbed headlines around the world. Not gathering as much attention? The grey seals that frequent the island too. That all changes on Friday night.

Airing at 9 p.m. under The Nature of Things banner, “Seals of Sable,” follows filmmakers Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason of Sea to Sea Productions Inc., as they track the largest breeding colony of grey seals in the world. Every winter, tens of thousands of female seals arrive to give birth, and the duo is there with scientists and experts for it. Led by biologist Nell den Heyer, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the group seeks answers to the many questions they have about grey seals. The only time the cigar-shaped animals come to shore is to rest, moult and give birth, so the three weeks they spend on Sable will be invaluable.

Cameras capture the moment of birth—labour can be a days-long affair—through the bonding and feeding of pups (each pup’s hungry call is unique). Along the way, scientists continue to mark and track individual seals, tracing populations and survival rates. Does a female seal’s personality give her pup and better-than-average chance at survival? It would seem so. The grey seal has seen a boom in its numbers in the last few decades despite commercial fishing; what are they eating? A little of that will hopefully be answered by attaching video cameras to seals named Emma, Kate and Fiona.

Through amazing camera work and the down-to-earth, accessible language The Nature of Things is known for, “Seals of Sable” is a fascinating peek into the lives of that island’s other residents.

“Seals of Sable” airs as part of The Nature of Things, Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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Preview: Climate change takes centre stage in Under Thin Ice

There has been a lot of information, misinformation and confusion about climate change. Are the extremes in temperature, ferocious weather and melting ice the final warning before something truly horrible happens to the planet? I turned to “Under Thin Ice” for answers.

Airing this Friday as part of The Nature of Things, the doc—from Montreal’s Galafilm Productions—looks at the impact global warming has on polar life. Narrated by cinematographer and diver Jill Heinerth, who captured the underwater footage alongside Mario Cyr, “Under Thin Ice” begins by stressing the importance of the polar ice to the animals that live above and below its surface. With it disappearing at an alarming rate, Heinerth and Cyr head to Lancaster Sound for a dip. On the way, they reflect on eight-degree temperatures increasingly wider leads in the ice. And, once they arrive at camp, they discover their tents have flooded.

Stunning overhead shots of the sled journey, and surface and underwater footage of narwal, beluga and bowhead whales, polar bears, seals and microscopic animals show the unique and even alien world the Arctic is. And how quickly the ice in it is disappearing. If the current warming trend continues, Heinerth says, by 2040 there could be no sea ice on the entire Arctic Ocean during the summer, something unheard of until now.

“Under Thin Ice” airs as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC and on CBC Gem.

Image courtesy of Jean-Benoit Cyr.

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