Tag Archives: CBC Gem

Preview: Save Me doles out excellent new episodes on CBC Gem

I was instantly enthralled with the first season of Save Me. Created, written and directed by Fab Filippo, the dark comedy follows Toronto EMT Goldie (Filippo) and his assorted partners (Amy Matysio and Suresh John are two), as they arrive on the scene of 911 calls.

The twist in the storytelling is Goldie et al. are the through line connecting those making an emergency call rather than being the mains. That’s not to say we don’t get some back story into Goldie and his fellow EMTs lives, but they’re not the focus.

The second chunk of new episodes have landed on CBC Gem—produced by Lisa Baylin—and they’re as strong as the first. The Canadian Screen Award-nominated program is in fine fettle, boasting not only great scenarios for EMTs Goldie, Dogf***er (John), Kevlar (Matysio) and Bizemmingway (John Bourgeois), but a plethora of guest performances by Schitt’s Creek‘s Emily Hampshire, Frankie Drake Mysteries‘ Rebecca Liddiard, Bad Blood‘s Lisa Berry, Kim’s Convenience‘s Andrew Phung, Hudson & Rex‘s Kevin Hanchard, Scott Thompson and Nicholas Campbell.

In the first instalment, it’s all hands on deck as the EMTs—including rookie Hubcap (Heartland‘s Kataem O’Connor)—are called to the scene of multiple ecstasy overdoses suffered by aging couples looking for some fun. Watching Thompson, Hanchard and Fiona Highet tripping out is something to behold. But where there is comedy, tragedy follows, and how each of the paramedics deals with it is also what makes Save Me so engaging. In just a few short minutes in each episode, the web series is able to jump from laughter to tears, while exploring the PTSD first responders experience.

In Episode 2, two men choose to trim some hedges using a lawnmower. It has the predictable, bloody, result, but also reveals a shift in the tale I didn’t see coming. You never know what’s going on in the lives of the folks calling 911; Save Me goes there with spectacular results.

Season 2 of Save Me is on CBC Gem.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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Supinder Wraich’s superb digital series The 410 debuts on CBC Gem

Supinder Wraich began writing The 410 because she wanted to educate herself on the world her family is a part of. She learned a lot.

The three-part digital series, available now on CBC Gem, focuses on Suri (Wraich), a young South Asian woman who goes from social media influencer to drug dealer after her truck driver father (Gugan Deep Singh) is arrested for trafficking drugs. Wraich, who wrote The 410, based the show’s premise on news stories about Indo-Canadian truck drivers being arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs. Her family runs a truck driving school, and Wraich was surprised at how readily people shared stories about the crimes.

“There was a nonchalance with how I got the information,” Wraich says. “There wasn’t shame about it, which I was surprised by. It was, ‘Yes, this happened and this is the information that you’re looking for.'” Wraich got a lot of detail from her father, who had been approached early in his career to hide drugs in his truck. The 410‘s content didn’t hold up production either; the community opened its doors to filming in a gurdwara because they wanted the story told.

“My goal is to get this out to the community, to watch it and to say, ‘Yeah, it’s OK if somebody you know is in jail or if someone you know is suffering from depression, or you don’t have a strong relationship with your father,” Wraich says. “It’s very important for us to see ourselves on screen, so our personal issues don’t feel so isolated.”

A woman kneads bread dough.When viewers first meet Suri, she’s cocky, self-absorbed, dressed up and posting a video with the city as her backdrop. By the end of the first instalment, she’s stripped bare emotionally and physically, stunned by her father’s secret life and the hundreds of thousands in bail money she must raise. Caught in the middle is Nani (Balinder Johal), Suri’s maternal grandmother, who shuffles around her home, making chai and questioning her granddaughter’s life choices. Throw in cop ex-boyfriend JJ (Jade Hassouné) and a mysterious dude named Billa (Cas Anvar), and there are plenty of folks to complicate Suri’s plans.

Aside from the compelling storyline and performances is The 410‘s look, feel and soundtrack; it has the vibe of a music video, something Wraich credits to director Renuka Jeyapalan. She stresses the project was a true collaboration from Day 1, with producer Anya McKenzie, writer Hannah Cheesman and executive producer Matt Power all helping out immensely. That help extended to Wraich’s family too; she filmed in her parents’ Rexdale, Ont., home and things didn’t always run smoothly.

“We took over their house for eight or nine of the 12 days of production and worked around them,” she recalls. “There were times  where my dad had fallen asleep on the couch and was snoring, so we had cut a take and I’d say, ‘Dad, wake up!’ And then we’d go back to filming.”

Season 1 of The 410 can be streamed on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Detention Adventure bursts on to CBC Gem

I had the honour of moderating the panel for a very cool new series that’s debuted on CBC Gem. On Friday, May 3, cast, crew, friends and family of Detention Adventure packed Toronto’s vintage theatre, The Royal, to watch the first five episodes of the digital series on the big screen.

Co-created by Joe Kicak and Carmen Albano, written by Kicak, Albano and Karen Moore, executive-produced by Moore, Lauren Corber and produced by Ryan West, Detention Adventure summons Goonies, Stand By Me and the Harry Potter franchise in its tone. Legend says inventor Alexander Graham Bell built a secret lab under a school attended by three nerds. Raign (Simone Miller), Joy (Alina Prijono) and Hulk (Jack Fulton) are determined to find the entrance, which is supposed to be located somewhere in the old library that now serves as a detention room. The trio’s plan? Get into trouble, go to detention and find that entrance. The problem? Raign, Joy and Hulk have to include the school bully, Brett (Tomaso Sanelli), in their plans.

I’ve been a fan of Detention Adventure since last spring when Kicak, Albano and Moore were seeking Independent Production Fund money to help get it made. Now, one hot summer later, and the 10-episode spectacle is available for all to see

And truly enjoy.

Detention Adventures is touted as CBC’s first original kids scripted series for CBC Gem and is aimed at the tween crowd. That makes sense; after all, a quartet of kids putting teachers and a principal in their place and solving cool puzzles rates with that crowd. But there is a lot for adults to like as well. The writing is razor-sharp, the performances spot-on and the production values are stellar. Detention Adventure is chock-full of Easter eggs adults will revel in, including a nod to The Shining.

The science used in the series is sound (Hulk’s science class antics are what land him in detention) and the sets are incredible (the show’s tunnel sets were built in a high school gymnasium), but it’s the message that most impressed me. Everyone is different, everyone comes from a different background, but we can all work together to solve problems.

Detention Adventure is available for streaming on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC and Joe Kicak.

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CBC greenlights Tallboyz a new comedy from sketch troupe Tallboyz II Men

From a media release:

 CBC today announced it has greenlit new half-hour sketch comedy series TALLBOYZ (8×30) from Accent Entertainment and executive producers Bruce McCulloch (The Kids in the Hall, Young Drunk Punk) and Susan Cavan (The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town, Young Drunk Punk). Starring the four members of acclaimed Toronto-based sketch comedy troupe TallBoyz II Men – Vance Banzo, Guled Abdi, Franco Nguyen, and Tim Blair – and creatively nurtured and developed by Bruce McCulloch, the series will start production in Toronto in April for broadcast on CBC and the CBC Gem streaming service in fall 2019.

TallBoyz II Men is a group of diverse comedians who explore themes of friendship, race, nostalgia, toxic masculinity and more in their sketches. In 2018, the Boyz won Outstanding Comedy Short at Toronto Sketchfest, Best of the Fest at Montreal SketchFest and Best Comedy at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

McCulloch and his fellow The Kids in the Hall troupe members will receive the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s Academy Icon Award at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards this Sunday, March 31, broadcast on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. AT/ 9:30 p.m. NT).

Produced by Accent Entertainment, TALLBOYZ is created by Guled Abdi, Vance Banzo, Tim Blair, and Franco Nguyen with Adam Bovoletis and Luc Mandl. Bruce McCulloch is Executive Producer and Director, and Susan Cavan is Executive Producer. Paula Smith is Supervising Producer, Caitlin Brown is Co-Producer and Jen Goodhue is Consulting Producer. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Programming; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content, Michelle Daly is Senior Director, Comedy, Scripted Content; and Karen Tsang is Executive in Charge of Production.

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Links: Northern Rescue, Season 1

From Michael Pickard of Drama Quarterly:

Link: Family focus
“It was an exhausting experience but super rewarding, with huge learning curves, which is great and ultimately very rewarding to go from the genesis of the idea to the execution and the premiere of it.” Continue reading.

From Eric Volmers of the Calgary Herald:

Link: Lethbridge’s David Cormican creates family-friendly Northern Rescue for CBC streaming service
“The message and the feel at the end of the day with this programming is very hopeful and heartfelt and tender and uplifting and optimistic for the future.” Continue reading.

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: REVIEW: Baldwin, Robertson shine in Northern Rescue
It’s difficult, and usually a little unfair, to judge a series by one episode. That’s especially true of Northern Rescue, a drama about a family facing a devastating, life-changing loss. Continue reading.

From Joel Rubinoff of The Waterloo Record:

Link: Kitchener’s Taylor Thorne has a starring role in Netflix, CBC series Northern Rescue
Taylor Thorne is only 14, but with her disarmingly direct gaze and penchant for speaking her mind, the burgeoning dancer-turned-actor comes off like a consummate showbiz pro, one who perfected her craft through years of dance competitions, Drayton theatre productions and small TV parts. Continue reading.

From Victoria Ahearn of the Canadian Press:

Link: ‘Northern Rescue’ star William Baldwin faced real-life danger with mudslide
William Baldwin has been through some harrowing emergency situations, both on and off-screen.

The American actor, who played a firefighter in “Backdraft” and stars as a search-and-rescue commander in the new CBC series “Northern Rescue,” says a massive California blaze known as the Thomas Fire came within two blocks of his house in January 2018. Continue reading. 

From Mike Crisolago of Everything Zoomer:

Link: Billy Baldwin Channels His Love For Canada With New CBC Series Northern Rescue
Baldwin’s love affair with Canada is good news for his most recent project, Northern Rescue – named in the great Canadian geographical tradition that gave us show titles like North of 60 and Due South. Continue reading.

From Doug Crosse of My Parry Sound Now:

Link: Northern Rescue debuts on Friday
Parry Sound, get ready for your close up.

Months after filming wrapped up Northern Rescue is about to make its Canadian and worldwide debut on Friday. Continue reading.

From Jordan Moreau of Variety:

Link: William Baldwin on His Two New TV Series, Following in Brother Alec’s Acting Footsteps
“I went to the CBC and Netflix and told these crazy stories about my childhood with the frickin’ lunatic Baldwin brothers.” Continue reading. 

From Maria Awad of TV Insider:

Link: William Baldwin on How Netflix’s ‘Northern Rescue’ Showcases the Struggles of Modern Parenting
“I just started talking about why this type of programming is important to me and the show really is about what it means to be a family today. I told them we need to have the latitude to get into some hard-hitting stuff because we’re attempting to define what it means to be a family today and you need to get into all the stuff that kids get into.” Continue reading.

From Dave Mabell of the Lethbridge Herald:

Link: Former city man creates TV series
After a solid month of Arctic-like winter, Albertans are quite aware of the dangers they’d face in an outdoor emergency. Farther north, they could be in still greater peril.

Now a new TV series, co-created by former Lethbridge resident David Cormican, shows vividly just how precarious life can be in Canada’s far north. Continue reading. 

From Charles Trapunski of Brief Take:

Link: Interview: Northern Rescue’s Kathleen Robertson
“It’s definitely a streamable show, like it feels like you could definitely binge-watch this show. I believe that it’s being platformed on CBC online as the same time as it’s being shown, so I think they kind of want the ability to say ‘it’s your choice’, which is kind of what I think that everything’s moving now.” Continue reading.

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