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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Links: Coroner, Season 2 finale

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Coroner Season 2 finale preview + chat with Adrienne Mitchell and Morwyn Brebner
“[There] was actually a real Dr. John Fernandes, who was a consultant on our show who died suddenly And so we wanted to do something to honour John and it came from there.” Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Coroner: Morwyn Brebner and Adrienne Mitchell talk “Fire, Pt.  2”
“The challenges are so great because there’s so much stuff that you could do. It’s all about paring it back to the essentials. How do we tie up these storylines and leave space to grow into future seasons? It was really hard this season.” Continue reading.

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.com:

Link: Roger Cross helps Coroner draw a sheet over the Season 2 finale
“He is this rigid police officer whose gotten there by doing things his own way and now here is this person who’s come into his life and made him second guess some things. McAvoy can’t help thinking, ‘Maybe you’re not in as much control as you thought you are.’” Continue reading.

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Adrienne Mitchell and Morwyn Brebner discuss the Coroner season finale
“[Donovan] is a romantic. He is a deep soul, and [we wanted to show] what it’s like to be that person in the middle of also doing this job where you can’t have those feelings. It was really great to be able to give him those moments.” Continue reading.

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Joseph Kay returns to TV with a new family in CTV’s Transplant

A part of me will always miss This Life. Created by Joseph Kay—from an adaptation of Radio Canada’s Nouvelle Adresse—the story of a single mother raising her two daughters while battling cancer was cancelled far too soon. I feel like Kay was just getting the story going before it came to an end.

Thankfully, Kay is back with a brand-new primetime family, albeit with a different style of story. Debuting Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, Transplant follows Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq, The Indian Detective), a Syrian doctor with battle-tested skills in emergency medicine, makes the difficult decision to flee his country with his younger sister Amira (Sirena Gulamgaus, Orphan Black).

With the hope of returning to his career in medicine, Bash and Amira build a new life in Canada while managing the struggles that come with a new country. Bash works in a new environment after earning a residency in the Emergency Department at Toronto’sfictional York Memorial.

Alongside Bash at the hospital are Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah), Dr. Mags Lablanc (Laurence Laboeuf, 19-2), Dr. Theo Hunter (Jim Watson, Mary Kills People), Dr. June Curtis (Ayisha Issa, Dark Matter) and head nurse Claire Malone (Torri Higginson, This Life).

We spoke to Joseph Kay about his road to Transplant, the learning curve of writing a medical drama and Hamza Haq’s superstar potential.

How did Transplant come about? What was the origin story?
Joseph Kay: I started developing it way back in 2016 right as This Life was ending actually. At the time I had been reading a lot about really skilled professionals from different parts of the world who come here and then can’t qualify and can’t do their jobs. It occurred to me that that could be a novel take on the genre. I was always a fan of the medical genre. And when I started thinking about it on those terms also in 2016, Syria and the conflict was in the news a lot. It still is, but it was in it quite a bit then. And there were a lot of refugees and newcomers and immigrants coming to Toronto specifically.

Two sort of jumped into my mind together, the idea of building a show around a refugee coming from Syria who was amazingly skilled at something and then wasn’t able to do the thing that he could do. I started researching pretty heavily both sides of that, particularly the Syrian side and immediately got connected and found a lot of different Syrians who were here and different kinds of immigrants and newcomers to get people’s lived perspectives and trying to figure out whether I could write that and sort of went from there.

Was the name of the show always Transplant, or was it something else?
JK: It was always Transplant. It’s just a very evocative, I love single word titles.

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the other research you had to do. Was that a bit of a slog for you or do you like doing that kind of research into medical terminology or do you pay somebody to do that for you?
JK: Both. I love it, Greg. I actually love it. I found, very early on, a doctor who is a trauma team leader at St Mike’s hospital in Toronto. So, by the time the show was up and running, we had a lot of consultants. But in the early days, I was very fortunate to come across a guy who was willing to give a lot of his time to just take me through everything and read the scripts and help me with the dialogue and all the medical-ese.

Hamza is great as Bash, a very expressive face. I’m cheering for him and fell in love with him. Was Hamza, when he walked in the room or when he supplied his casting tape, was he the guy right from the get-go?
JK: Definitely. Hamza and I knew each other because of the second season of This Life. He was sort of a foreign student in his little arc and he was nominated for a CSA for his role. And at the time Hamza and I talked a lot. Hamza’s an immigrant and part of his background formed the character he was playing on This Life. We get along well creatively. So as soon as I started thinking about this show, Hamza was the guy I started thinking about very, very, very early on in the process. Of course, we looked at every available actor all along because you always have to do that. But Hamza was very prominent in my mind and in the minds of the people at Sphere Media from the beginning. And then when he did finally start reading for it: he’s a star.

He’s charming, he’s got great energy, he is very expressive. And the character was always meant to be the kind of person who doesn’t say that much, so you want a specific actor who can pull that off. And I had written this thing about the character in one of the series documents, which is that Bash is the kind of guy who you tell all your secrets to and then you realize that you don’t know a single thing about him and you told him everything.

Can you tell me about some of the themes and storylines that you cover in the first season?
JK: When we started really digging into the creative we quickly realized that the storytelling lends itself to this idea of starting over. Starting over of second chances, so everything systematically would flow from that. I mean, it’s Bash’s opportunity to start over. And so in that way, the stories that we tell over the first season are, what are the challenges there both at work and the kinds of conflicts he’s going to find himself in at work? He’s the kind of person who is all instinct and a bit of a rule breaker. He acts before he thinks. So we’re trying to look at sort of the challenges he faced in an environment being an outsider combined with the sort of the nature of his personality.

And then also to see the other side of him. We’re fortunate in that we’re able to go home with him and see a little bit of his family life. And so we’re telling his story of starting over and we’re also at the same time wondering who this guy is and where he came from really and what happened to him and what he left behind. So as we encounter present-tense conflicts and challenges at work and in his personal life, we start to unpack what happened to him and what are the sort of major events of his life that have led him right now. We let those trickle out in ways that keep it interesting and mysterious.

Transplant airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Winners: The 18th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto

From a media release:

ACTRA Toronto is proud to announce the winners of the 18th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto.

Outstanding Performance – Female Voice
Bryn McAuley
as Mavis in Hotel Transylvania: The Series, “Portrait of Mavis as a Young Vampire”
(Corus Entertainment)

Outstanding Performance – Male Voice
Carter Hayden as Klaus in Hotel Transylvania: The Series, “Freakerheads” (Corus Entertainment)

Outstanding Performance – Female
Cara Ricketts as Mary Handford-Lacroix in Anne with an E, “What Can Stop the Determined Heart”
(Northwood Entertainment)

Outstanding Performance – Male
Dalmar Abuzeid as Sebastian ‘Bash’ Lacroix in Anne with an E, “What Can Stop the Determined Heart”
(Northwood Entertainment)

For the second consecutive year, the Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award went to Schitt’s Creek.

Michaela Washburn presented ACTRA Toronto’s 2020 Award of Excellence to Kim’s Convenience‘s Jean Yoon.

Matt Birman presented the ACTRA Toronto Stunt award to stunt performer Kevin Rushton who passed away last year.

The 18th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto were presented at a live show and gala tonight at The Carlu. DJ Salazar Solomon performed the show together with saxophonist Geoff Bournes and trumpeter Howard Leathers. The show was written by David Galeand Diane Flacks and directed by David Gale.

ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing more than 15,000 of Canada’s 25,000 professional performers working in recorded media in Canada. As an advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven union that continues to secure rights and respect for the work of professional performers.

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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “Things Left Behind”

This is it, Murdoch Mysteries fanatics. The penultimate episode of Season 13. And, with words like “team member” and “abducted” in the same sentence, we certainly have cause for worry. And hasn’t showrunner Peter Mitchell hinted on Facebook that things may not be well for all of our favourite characters?

Here’s what the CBC has revealed about “Things Left Behind,” written by Simon McNabb and Peter Mitchell and directed by Peter Mitchell:

Murdoch suspects Violet Hart has ties to a conman’s murder, Ogden flirts with danger, and a team member is abducted.

And here is more information from me after watching a screener.

Margaret is back!
So is Higgins, Sebastian Pigott as Dr. Dixon, James McGowan as Dr. Forbes, Jeremy Legat as Aldous Germaine and Jesse LaVercombe as Jack Walker. Look for Alex Hatz as Percival Emerson, Ben Sanders as Detective Edwards, Ryan Hollyman as John Lincoln (he played Harold Richmond in “All That Glitters”) and Sarah Swire as Amelia.

Violet’s past haunts her
Violet is interrupted during her work by someone she’s not happy to see. He has a warning for her that has repercussions throughout the episode. There is a revelation about Violet that was hinted at in her early days on Murdoch Mysteries.

Watts and Jack further their relationship
We haven’t seen Watts and Jack alone for several weeks. Suffice it to say they’ve been getting to know each other.

Julia performs surgery
Which puts her back, of course, in contact with Dr. Dixon. And we all know what happened the last time those two were alone.

Parker gets some bad news
Yup, you can see it on Murdoch, Brackenreid and Parker’s faces above: they are most certainly not talking gaily about the weather.

George has a super-fan
With copies of his book flying off the shelves, George is on top of the literary world. That’s a positive. And, as it turns out, a negative too.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Comments and queries for the week of February 21

The Academy did miss a sketch comedy series this year. CAUTION: May Contain Nuts, Season 5, currently airing on APTN. —Camille 

I love, love, love Cardinal so I’m glad it has been nominated. Your list shows me how strong Canadian TV can be. Actually, come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I watched anything non-Canadian (but then I don’t watch a lot of TV). —John

Interesting point on the lack of Limited Series category, as I was wondering why Unspeakable only got one nomination. At least it took home some major Leo awards. —Hallie

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.

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