TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television | Page 2
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Boat Rocker Studios announces seventh season of global smash The Next Step

From a media release:

Boat Rocker Studios’ phenomenally successful tween drama, The Next Step, is set to dance back onto the screen for its seventh season in 2020. The 26 x 30’ season will include its first holiday special which runs over two episodes.  The series is due to have its global premiere on CBBC, the show’s leading broadcast partner, with the holiday special airing in 2019, followed by the new series in 2020. Further international broadcast partners will be announced soon.

A huge international hit The Next Step has been sold to more than 120 marketsworldwide. The new season brings the series total to 206 episodes, a milestone achievement and first of its kind for a Boat Rocker Studios’ homegrown production.

The Next Step follows the lives of a group of dancers at The Next Step Dance Studio as they compete to be the best in their field. It’s not just about winning, though. During the course of the series, each of our characters will discover that the true victory is learning to put their individual differences aside to find a way to work together as a team. This season finds A-Troupe preparing for Nationals with an uncertain future as the Studio is bought by someone new. Will this new owner continue the legacy of The Next Step? Or will their plans take A-Troupe on a new path? Could there be something more than Nationals?

Cast from The Next Step are touring this autumn with the brand-new 90-minute live show The Next Step Live – Absolute Dance, with 24 dates in major cities around the UK, Ireland and Australia.

The Next Step was created by Frank van Keeken (Lost and Found Music Studios, Wingin’ It) and is executive produced by Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier (Being Erica,Lost and Found Music Studios); Bob Higgins (My Babysitter’s A Vampire,); and Shaleen Sangha (The Next Step, Chuck’s Choice, Make it Pop). Rachael Schaefer (The Next Step, Wingin’ It) and Karen McClellan (The Other Kingdom, Being Erica) serve as showrunners and executive producers of the show. The Next Step is produced by Boat Rocker Studios, with the participation of the Shaw Rocket Fund and the Canada Media Fund (CMF), and distributed globally by Boat Rocker Studios and BBC Studios.

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Tallboyz II Men take on television with Bruce McCulloch in their corner

You couldn’t ask for a better person to mentor a group of sketch comedians than Bruce McCulloch. That’s what’s happened to Toronto’s Tallboyz II Men, who have gone from becoming a troupe to starring in their own television series in just three years.

Tallboyz—debuting Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBC—stars Tim Blair, Vance Banzo, Franco Nguyen and Guled Abdi, who formed a sketch alliance after meeting in the city’s comedy scene. Collectively, their credits include Outstanding Comedy Short at 2018 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, appearances at JFL42, Comedy Brawl, CBC Radio, NOW Magazine and The Colin Mochrie Improvisation Award. Banzo was enrolled in Humber College‘s Comedy Writing and Performance program when he caught McCullogh’s eye.

“I thought, Wow, this guy’s amazing,’ and I actually brought him in on a writing room I was doing for a couple of days,” series executive producer and director McCulloch recalls. “Then he told me he had a troupe. I saw them and I thought, ‘Wow.’ They were super unformed, but they had what they have on the show, a kind of elegance, warmth and just a natural sense of humour. And I was like, ‘Yeah, we should do a show.'”

That warmth shines through in Episode 1’s first minutes, while the quartet is chased down a Toronto street by transit guards. I wanted to learn more about them and see the characters they’d invented. I was immediately drawn in by their twisty take on boy bands and body shaming, sex-ed classes, and a quiz show hosted by Banzo (that one had me laughing and shaking my head in shame). But as effortless as the writing and performances seem on-screen, it’s been a massive learning curve for Tallboyz II Men to write for television.

“I remember just being a deer in headlights,” Abdi says. “The first couple of weeks I was just nodding and being like, ‘I hope no one notices that I am lost.’ It went from being the four of us writing together at our own pace and being very comfortable with each other to a room where all of a sudden the numbers doubled. We had eight people in the room and people who had 15 plus years of comedy experience.”

McCulloch says that, when the writing room started, the troupe had amassed perhaps a dozen sketches written mostly by improv. Six months later, they had 100. One, about a sleepwalker, is particularly memorable for Abdi because he was injured filming it.

“I was keeping my eyes as close to shut as possible, just enough to see where my feet were,” he says. “I could just see, like, maybe a foot in front of me. The take that made it in is one where it was the eighth time doing it. I really committed and put too much energy into the flip and then landed on my side and being like, ‘Aw, that hurt.’ Then I had to play it off and get up immediately and get out of the scene.

Tallboyz airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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It’s a family affair on CTV Life Channel’s Holmes 911

Mike Holmes has made a career out of helping others sort through their construction debacles. Now he’s bringing his son and daughter into the mix.

To be fair, Mike Jr. and Sherry have been part of their father’s renovation empire in many of his past series. But this is the first time they’ve joined their father for a program that feels like the one that put him on the map. And on a new network too. Debuting Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV Life Channel (the rebranded Gusto, if you’re wondering), Holmes 911 recalls Holmes on Homes, the show that started it all (and scored me one of my first cover stories when I worked at TV Guide Canada).

“We’re going back to our roots and I think everyone loved Holmes on Homes,” Sherry says over the phone while cradling her active and vocal baby daughter. “I loved watching Holmes on Homes, and it’s nice to go back and give help to people who really need it.”

Sherry, like her brother Mike (listen to my podcast with him), never intended to join in her father’s quest to “Make It Right,” but once she accompanied him on the job site during television production, she changed her mind.

Two men and a woman look at a hole in a wall.“I did not want to do construction at all,” Sherry admits. “But I think, looking back, I was intimidated. I would do it for fun. On weekends, we would do odd jobs and do work with him. For me, it was just a fun, bonding time with my dad.” It wasn’t until 2009 on Holmes in New Orleans—the two-part Gemini-winner where Holmes and Brad Pitt team to rebuild homes in the city’s Ninth Ward—that Sherry decided to join her father full-time.

But back to Holmes 911. In the first of 12 episodes that focus on five houses, we’re introduced to two families. A weathered roof and odd electrical is just the beginning for a firefighter and his family, which includes his 13-year-old son, Jake, who has had brain surgery. The second home, owned by Bob and Barb, is the watery tale of an insurance claim gone hilariously wrong. In both, Mike, his son (Sherry stayed off-site for the first few episodes because of her pregnancy) and his crew uncover work that is head-scratchingly bad, all-out infuriating and, as always, informative.

“The whole reason my dad wanted to do television was to educate homeowners,” Sherry says. “You can’t stop what other people are going to do and if you run across a shoddy contractor, you want to know what to look for.”

Holmes 911 airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV Life Channel.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Preview: Five seasons later Still Standing is still going strong

Back when Still Standing debuted, I remarked that Jonny Harris was becoming the next Wayne Rostad. Now, five seasons in, he really has. Like Rostad—who spoke to Canadians from regions of the country from 1987 to 2007—Harris has the wit and charm to win over strangers and get them talking, and a genuine warmth. You can’t help but like him.

Returning Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CBC, Season 5 follows Harris to a little part of the country I’d never heard of: Campobello Island. The New Brunswick community’s only year-round and direct access to the mainland is a bridge to the U.S. This, of course, makes for a unique Canadian/American cultural blend and many challenges.    Including, as Harris points out in the first minute, worrying about having your passport. If the ferries are running, you catch one from mainland New Brunswick to Deer Island and another to Campobello Island. If they aren’t you have to go through Maine.

It’s a unique trait not shared with the rest of the country. And, like the places showcased in Still Standing, makes Campobello Island’s 850 citizens unique. And, like those other communites, this one has fallen on hard times. A decline in fishing has seen the population drop; children are reluctant to stay if the area isn’t prosperous.

But while times are tough on Campobello Island, there’s lots to laugh about. And that, of course, is what Harris helps them do, whether it’s over outlandish border import rules or a wayward brining shed that made international new. Over the course of their visit in each episode, Harris and his writers craft fresh material based on the community and the people in it before entertaining them with a stand-up performance. The result? A funny, folksy look at smalltown Canada.

Future episodes include stops in Schreiber, Ont., and Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.

Still Standing airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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Links: Adam Barken Talks Killjoys “Terraformance Anxiety”

From Heather M. of TV Goodness:

Link: Adam Barken talks Killjoys “Terraformance Anxiety”
“[Alanna] is incredible and was from day one. The main thing we saw in her from the audition was a weirdness. We were looking for [someone] who didn’t look completely comfortable in their skin. She brought that in her performance…the way her eyes moved and the way she spoke, that felt a little off. She’s inhabiting a body she’s not entirely used to. We wanted a less extreme version of Vincent D’Onofrio’s character in Men In Black.Continue reading. 

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Killjoys: Adam Barken talks “Terraformance Anxiety”
“Michelle [Lovretta] and I, along with our incredible writers, had been talking about this for months now, imagining the big moments and those final images that would give us a guide. Still, we had to find satisfying ends not only to Team Awesomeforce, but also all the other amazing characters – Pree, Gared, Fancy Lee, Zeph, Turin, Jaq, not to mention our Green Queens themselves, Aneela and Delle Seyah.” Continue reading.

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