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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

On location with APTN’s Wild Archaeology

Inside the longhouse at Kayanase, Six Nations

In July of 2017, I caught up with the cast and crew of APTN’s Wild Archaeology while they were shooting Season 2 episodes in Southern Ontario. The day I arrived on set, hosts Dr. Rudy Reimer, Jenifer Brousseau and Jacob Pratt were on location at the Longhouse in Ohsweken, Six Nations. Despite the humidity Southern Ontario summers are known for, inside this structure there was a cool breeze and if I could bottle the scent of sun warmed freshly hewn lumber, I would be the happiest of campers on earth!

I decided to speak with co-host Jacob Pratt first.

How has the show surprised you?
Jacob Pratt: I always thought the show was aimed at an older audience, late teens and older. But from what I have seen, a lot of kids aged 8-10 are really into the show. They have been really engaged by it. I think that is really surprising for me because it is expanding the intended viewership, not just older teens but a very young audience which is really cool to see.

(l-r) Getting furry with Jenifer, Brousseau, Dr. Rudy Reimer and Jacob Pratt

And, how have you surprised yourself?
I think they wanted me on the show because of my cultural understanding, and I have a good understanding of my own culture [Dakota], but I know about the Cree, and the Haudenosawnee because I have lived in the areas. So in general, I feel very competent about knowing other First Nations cultures. But, throughout last season, I was actually surprised with the number of similarities about other nations that I didn’t know about and the absolute ignorance I had in terms of the Inuit or the Inuvialuit and things like the whale blubber. It was really interesting. That was a surprise too: I never thought I would like whale blubber, but I do, especially with HP Sauce. There are things like that. I always thought I was very culturally aware but I keep finding things that are brand new, that surprise me.

For me, this is a journey of adding to my cultural understanding and  actually that is one of my passions, learning about other people’s cultures  because it makes me a more understanding person in my life in general. I really, really liked learning the things that I would never have imagined like here in Ontario. Stories that tell how long ago the Great Lakes were lower and then a beaver dam broke and they filled up very quickly. Now scientists are talking about how the lake levels were much lower and, 60 feet down, there are caribou runs. They talk about when that water did fill up, it filled up very quickly. For me, it was amazing hearing these traditional stories I have always heard, then hearing these stories that unknowingly scientists are backing up these stories. It is really giving weight to our oral history. Because scientists are now telling the stories that we have been telling for thousands of years. That to me is I think what hit me the most during Season 1.

Next, I sat down with show creator, producer, writer, Tracy German, to get a feel for what we can expect this season.

Dr. Rudy, Jenifer, and Jacob (not shown) being graded on their rope-making skills by Kerdo Deer of Kayanase

Your message in Season 1 was very clear: take the oral histories from various nations and verify that history through archaeological discovery. Moving forward into Season 2, how are your expanding upon that theme?
Tracy German: Moving on in Season 2, we are going to continue doing what we do well. So, yes, we still connect the stories to real people and culture. We start with the inspiration from an oral teaching from an elder and then try to find the link to the archaeological record. In Season 2, we plan to incorporate more experimental archaeology. Like we just saw in the Longhouse, Kerdo Deer of Kayanase was demonstrating the traditional rope making. It is another form of reclamation and it is about learning the use of traditional medicines and plants and techniques. I think we will be going further into that in Season 2, and I hope we will be getting a bit more political or edgier as we move forward; pushing into ideas of repatriation and sacredness. Topics like #noDAPL and water; there are so many avenues. Gas and fracking, whatever, there are multiple fronts where we can act as activists for Indigenous people. When opportunities like that arise naturally and organically, and we can contribute to the cause, we will definitely be incorporating that into our storytelling. This season, I am starting with my journey, as a woman and where I am from. This is my home turf – Six Nations and my ancestry on my mother’s side is Haudenosawnee. We are starting in the Longhouse in a matriarchal culture. Already that is starting out political. And our camera operator in there, Jon Elliott, is Tuscarora and his family is from here. There are always multiple reasons why we start where we do but I do like telling the strong matriarchal story and I think that will come out in the grandmothers and the teachings of the strong womenfolk across the country.

I also had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Rudy Reimer, Ph.D., of Simon Fraser University.

Wiring Dr. Rudy for sound before the shoot begins (I LOVED how the sunlight was streaming into the longhouse here)

How has this experience, as a teacher, as a professor, influenced your life in academia?
Dr. Rudy Reimer: That’s a good question. Filming and being on the set of WA is a really interesting experience in terms of personally looking at the archaeology across Canada. When I lecture, some things are a little abstract and having the opportunity to come to places like Six Nations here, and other locations, allows me to put what I have read into context and more appropriately getting to experience the local First Nations first-hand, talking to community members, getting their perspective, and their history as opposed to what you would get in a standard textbook. What that allows me to do is integrate that into how I teach and lecture, but also it has been beneficial at another level. Each episode is pretty much the equivalent to a publication, and it really helps me professionally. Personally interacting with my crew and interacting with my co-hosts, still being in the role of an educator, for each episode makes for a great experience all around.

What are you most looking forward to this season?
This season, we are here in Ontario for two episodes and then we are back on the west coast. I believe we are going to Sechelt, B.C., and then to northern British Columbia. It doesn’t matter where we go, because I look forward to each set and each episode. It is really fun to arrive because I know the archaeologists, I know their research, and what is really exciting for me is, again, to see that first hand, and to interact with my colleagues, fellow academics but also, people in the communities. For example, we are at the lacrosse games yesterday during North American Indigenous Games 2017, and just sitting in the stands talking to the local community. I wore a t-shirt with some Squamish words on it and I got some funny looks but then people come up and talk to you. Everyone is wearing local lacrosse jerseys or t-shirts, so it is a cultural experience and an academic experience at each location.

Finally, I caught up with co-host Jenifer Brousseau and followed up with a theme we touched on last season when I last spoke with her.

Selfie time!

When we last spoke, you discussed your experiences in both the Longhouse in the B.C. interior and the teepee at Head-Smashed-In with Reg Crowshoe. In Season 2 you have spent some time in the Longhouse at the Museum of Archaeology in London, Ont., and now this amazing structure here at Kayanase. How are these experiences in these structures weaving into the fabric of your own personal journey of reclamation?
Jenifer Brousseau: I find coming here really neat because when I come home to Ontario and connect to the land here, it is always so very different. I personally feel that a lot of my reclamation has happened on the West Coast. If you ever go to the West Coast and connect with the people there, you recognize how proud they are as a people to be Indigenous. I experienced a lot less of that growing up in Ontario. Now coming back and having the opportunity to go to the Aanishnawbeg Longhouse in London—which is closer to my own heritage—and learning things [I did not while] growing up is a journey. Going to the big house on the West Coast as opposed to the Longhouse here it is almost like getting to be a part of things here that were initially lost. Having spent time in the west, reclaiming parts of my identity to return home to start Season 2 and learning about all of these things that for me at home were covered as I grew up, I get to uncover them both on the show. That is what is so fabulous about my journey this upcoming season.

My thanks go to Tracy German for allowing me the opportunity to visit your set. And to Jacob, Dr. Rudy and Jenifer, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Miigwetch.

Wild Archaeology returns Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on APTN.

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Comments and queries for the week of October 4

I do not like the new The Great Canadian Baking Show co-hosts, who are great comedians but did nothing but ruin a great baking show. Your previous hosts were both excellent; the show was great as it was. Why make a change to a successful show? The new co-hosts were the last straw. It is no fun watching this show anymore. Please bring back the previous co-hosts who were great, natural, well-dressed, interesting, fresh, and not recycled from a previous show. —Darlene


I absolutely love Anne with an E! I’ve watched all the episodes several times. Anne is a remarkable actress! Watching this show will get me through the long cold winter. Thank you for producing this series. —Marcella

Fun fact: The actress who plays Marilla on this show is Queen Mary in the Downton Abbey movie. —Sara


Three women have nooses around their necks.Since I was young, the story of the Salem witch trials has captured my attention. I live close to Salem, so I have visited the area many times. I am currently reading Salem Witch Judge by Eve LaPlante. Excellent read! I cannot wait to watch this series! —Leslie

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

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IMDb TV acquires U.S. rights for CTV’s smash-hit Corner Gas franchise

From a media release:

CTV and Prairie Pants Distribution Inc. confirmed today that CORNER GAS ANIMATED Season 1 and 2 will become available for the first time in the U.S. as an IMDb Original. On October 15, all 24 episodes of CORNER GAS ANIMATED Season 1 and 2 will be joined exclusively in the U.S. on IMDb TV by Canada’s most-watched live-action comedy franchise of all time, CORNER GAS, including 107 episodes of the International Emmy Award-nominated, six-season live-action sitcom, and the 90-minute feature film CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE. IMDb TV is the free American streaming video service offering thousands of premium movies and TV shows for everyday TV viewing.

In Canada, the CORNER GAS franchise is exclusively available on Bell Media platforms including CTV Comedy Channel, Crave, and CTV Throwback.

The announcement comes as CTV confirms a third season of CORNER GAS ANIMATED, building on the momentum of CTV Comedy Channel’s record-breaking year. Season 3 of CORNER GAS ANIMATED features 11, all-new episodes featuring the beloved ensemble cast starring Brent Butt, Gabrielle Miller, Eric Peterson, Fred Ewanuick, Lorne Cardinal, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Nancy Robertson, and Corrine Koslo. Season 3 will debut on CTV Comedy Channel in 2020.

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CTV’s original hit series Carter returns October 25 on CTV Drama Channel

From a media release:

CTV’s original MADE® in Canada series CARTER returns for its second season on the newly rebranded CTV Drama Channel, full of comic twists and schemes with a two-episode premiere on Friday, Oct. 25 at 9 p.m. ET. In Season 2 of this unorthodox mystery crime drama, star Jerry O’Connell reprises his CSA-nominated role as Harley Carter, a former television detective who, having successfully charmed his way through solving real-life mystery cases, has returned to the scene of the crime as an official private detective this season.

Re-joining Carter on his new adventures are fan-favourite co-stars Kristian Bruun and Sydney Poitier Heartsong as Harley’s childhood friends Dave Leigh and police detective Sam Shaw. Together the trio taps into Harley’s years of playing a fictional detective to uncover a new crop of crimes and culprits in the lakeside town of Bishop, Ontario, further proving that truth can be stranger than fiction.

Joining CARTER this season is CSA-winning actor Lyriq Bent (THE AFFAIR) who stars as new police chief Joyce “Joy” Warwick Boyle, an NYPD transplant with a mysterious past and threat to Harley’s love life. In addition to Bent, CARTER boasts a fantastic lineup of multitalented acclaimed guest stars including David Arquette (Scream), Colin Mochrie (WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?), O’Connell’s MY SECRET IDENTITY co-star Derek Mcgrath (KIM’S CONVENIENCE),  and legendary THE KIDS IN THE HALL alumni Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley.

In the premiere episode, “Harley Wears A Wig” (Friday Oct. 25 at 9 p.m. ET) Harley (O’Connell) takes on his first official case as a P.I. when Bishop local Neil Jacott (Colin Mochrie) asks him to help track down his missing wife – but things are not quite as they seem. Joyce Boyle (Bent) arrives in town and takes over as the new chief of police for Bishop P.D., inspiring Sam’s (Poitier Heartsong) interest and Harley’s suspicions. Also, Dot (Brenda Kamino) deals with her new normal after the passing of her husband Koji (Denis Akiyama).

Next at 10 p.m. ET, the episode entitled “Harley Loses a Finger” begins with a severed human thumb in a jar. When a group of British grifters come to Bishop, Harley(O’Connell) and the gang find themselves thrust into a Guy Ritchie-style caper and locked into a game of cat and mouse with a charming British conman (Julian Richings, DOOM PATROL).

In Canada, CARTER made Bravo (now CTV Drama Channel) the #1 entertainment specialty channel in its timeslot throughout its run. Outside of Canada, the series was commissioned by Sony Pictures Television (SPT) for AXN, where it will return for Season 2 in select markets across Europe and Latin America and will also return to WGN America in the U.S. The series is distributed by SPT worldwide, excluding Canada.

CARTER is produced by Amaze Film + Television and executive produced by the company’s founders Teza Lawrence and Michael Souther (CALL ME FITZ, Saint Ralph), producer Victoria Hirst (Away From Her), as well as series creator Garry Campbell, O’Connell, and Season 2 showrunner and EP Andy Berman (PSYCH).

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Preview: Witches of Salem scares up the historical case on T+E

I can always rely on Blue Ant Media’s T+E to bring me scary stories through Canadian docudrama programs like Haunted Case Files, Scariest Night of My Life and Paranormal Survivor. Now they’re going back in time to bring a frightening story to modern-day.

Produced by Saloon Media in association with Talos Films, Witches of Salem debuts Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT as part of “Creep Month” on the specialty channel. The four-parter recalls the Salem witch trials that occurred in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than 200 were accused and 19 were found guilty. Witches of Salem relies on historical documents and court records to tell the story, with help from sociologists, psychologists and cultural historians.

A group of girls sit in church.What sets this apart from other Salem witch trial programming that I’ve seen before is the legwork done setting the scene. While most, if not all, past programs dive right into the screaming and writhing experienced by Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, Witches of Salem describes what life was like at the time both socially and religiously. That goes a long way to explaining why the trials happened in the first place. I’ve been to Salem and read the court documents surrounding the case, and T+E’s project gets it right factually. And, as well-versed in the case as I am, the show is scary as heck. I credit that to an excellent cast led by Nick Biskupek as the creepy Reverend Samuel Parris, eerie camera work, special effects and downright disturbing soundtrack.

Definitely check this out. Preferably with all of the lights on.

Witches of Salem airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on T+E.

Images courtesy of Blue Ant Media.

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