Tag Archives: CBC

Review: Heartland ends with double cliffhanger

The mark of a good cliffhanger episode leaves a viewer stunned, shocked–and in the best of cases–yelling “No!” at the television screen. Sunday’s episode of Heartland was certainly that in a couple of cases, especially when it came to Ty and Amy being arrested. I was a little surprised by the kiss they shared moments after liberating the wild horses from the corral Matt constructed, but I didn’t expect them to be collared by the local RCMP.

I think part of the reason for my surprise was that they were nabbed so quickly. It seemed like they’d only just minutes before stopped riding and suddenly the local police were there. I was glad to see the show’s fave couple reunited–there has been a great slow burn between Amy and Ty over the last several weeks–in the spot that meant so much to the couple: Pike River.

“The Pike River Cull,” written by Heather Conkie, brought back the show’s second-best curmudgeon–after Jack– in Will (Nicholas Campbell) and his daughter, Joanna (Hélène Joy). With business on the wane and wanting to move closer to her son, Joanna put the restaurant and hotel up for sale and was hoping Will would move closer to Calgary with her. No dice; he was staying put and close to the wild horses last seen in “A Heartland Christmas.” The fact that a local farmer named Matt was plotting to cull some of those wonderful beasts only cemented Will’s resolve.

Jack, Tim, Ty and Amy all headed to Pike River to try to talk some sense into Will, and it didn’t take long for the former lovebirds to recall their time in front of the hotel fireplace, snuggled under a blanket (and Ty’s shocking long mane of hair). Ty may have started out that first night sleeping in Tim’s truck to avoid Amy, but once he saw her in that tank top, his emotions had come rushing back. Good thing too, because they certainly made for a great team by calling out Matt on his evil plans to kill off some of the horses and then loosing the proud animals from his trap.

The cliffhanger, of course, is whether or not Amy and Ty are actually going to be arrested or whether they’re able to talk themselves out of it. I can see this going either way within the first few minutes of the first episode back in January. Will the RCMP officer stuff the two into the back seat of his truck? Will the two explain that Will is hurt and needs attention back at the corral? We’ll have to see.

The other cliffhanger on Sunday was the state of Lou and Peter’s marriage. He’d spent so much time away from the family on business that Lou finally blew her top when she found out he’d delayed his return to Heartland because he wanted one night to relax. (Raise your hand if you thought perhaps he’d had a dalliance.) Their bitter back and forth certainly put a damper on their staycation at the dude ranch, though there was a nice moment when Georgie caught that fish. But that wasn’t enough to solve the couple’s deep problems, and it appeared Peter was about to ask for a trial separation on the road to divorce when a lawyer showed up to present them with papers: Georgie’s aunt Crystal had made a complaint that her niece wasn’t growing up in a safe environment. I knew Crystal was up to no good when she left Heartland!

Heartland returns Sunday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. on CBC.


Review: Republic of Doyle’s great frame-up

Last week Murdoch Mysteries offered up a bottle episode–a mystery contained within the station house–that was stellar in its drama and storytelling. This week Republic of Doyle kept things locked up tight in the constabulary as the Doyles, Des and Leslie were all called to the carpet by Inspector Picard (guest star John Kapelos at his dickish best) who suspected them all in the death of Barbara Warrick, who’d hired the Doyles to test her mansion’s security system.

Picard’s rapid-fire questions rattled off the darkened walls of offices and interrogation rooms between midnight and 8 a.m., making for sparse surroundings and a focus on everyone’s answers. Stripped down like that–there was no GTO and even Des’ usual manic state was more muted than usual–you couldn’t help but focus on the characters, their faces and their words. Marcus Robinson’s script of “Body of Evidence” painted a picture of folks in disarray. A cop who may bend the rules for the man she loves. A guy desperate to get his hands on money and escape town before his bumped-up court date arrives. A couple eager to get their hands on cash to pay off mounting debts. Even Tinny and Des looked like they were good for at least part of the crime.

Of course, we knew it was all going to work out in the end–Barbara Warrick accidentally killed herself while hiding her late husband’s money in a wall and herself in the attic–but none of that came out until very late in the episode when Jake, Leslie, Rose and Malachy met up and put the pieces together. With Doyle’s series finale coming up next week, this week’s penultimate tale was the perfect lead-in to what promises to be one heck of a ride.

Notes and quotes

  • “Are you trying to say I’m ugly? I was born like this.”–Des
  • “I don’t know how to help him and it’s killing me. He’s my best friend. My son.”–Malachy
  • “I love you, that’s all. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”–Leslie
  • “Jake, I can’t do any hard time. Not even any easy time.”–Des
  • Tinny needing time away from Des hit me out of nowhere. Did anyone else see that coming? And can they turn things around by next week?
  • And just what evidence does Picard have that proves Leslie is a dirty cop?

The two-hour Republic of Doyle series finale airs next Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBC.


Video: Making Murdoch – “High Voltage”

From CBC:

In this edition of Making Murdoch, go behind the scenes with the cast and crew on location at the historic WalperHotel in Kitchener, Ontario. Also, learn more about Thomas Edison’s conflicted relationship with his son, and explore how props master Craig Grant masterminded the Medical Emporium inventions featured in this episode. The cast and producers of Murdoch Mysteries’ talk about how passionate and devoted the show’s fans are and how they inspired this episode. And fans from around the world share what they love most about the series at the annual Murdoch Mysteries studio open house. Watch Murdoch Mysteries Mondays at 8pm on CBC Television!



Interview: Monkeying around on Murdoch Mysteries

I couldn’t have picked a better episode to chat with property master Craig Grant. Grant, who has been working on Murdoch Mysteries since its first season, is the dude who creates and builds all of the funky things featured on the CBC drama. During Monday’s “High Voltage,” he manufactured everything from Thomas Edison Jr.’s Vital Motion Plus–the episode’s deadly weapon–to the robotic arm, that odd, nose-plug contraption and the electric wheelchair (who else caught Grant’s cameo as the driver of that wheelchair?).

Turns out Edison Jr. really did use his famous father’s name to sell weird items to folks back in the day, including the items featured during Monday’s instalment. We got Grant on the phone to chat about his gig and an intriguing storyline about Brackenreid’s painting.

Let’s use Monday’s episode, “High Voltage,” as an example of a week in your work life. How far in advance do you get a look at a script and know what you have to manufacture?
Craig Grant: It’s a hard question to answer. Technically, we get the script two weeks in advance. We shoot 13 days per block–two episodes per block–and we usually get the scripts for the next block at the end of the two weeks. So, the next day we meet the new director and have concept meetings. Because of some of the things that I need to procure, the writers usually sneak down to my office and give me a little, ‘Hey, we might need this!’ or ‘We might be doing that.’ Technically I get them two weeks in advance. Realistically it can be a couple weeks to a month in advance.

‘High Voltage’ was written by Carol Hay, so she had told me early on that she was writing this episode about Thomas Edison Jr. and one of the reference photos we had was this wacky medical device that Edison Jr. had flogged. At the Edison booth, there was this guy with a leather pad on his chest and in another scene he had this weird contraption on his head and in his nose. Those we built based on photos based on a real Edison device. I found photos of those and–because they were leather and I’m not a sewer–I took them to a shop to have them built. They weren’t functional but they were identical to the real Edison devices that we had in the day. With Edison Sr.–people used to see the name Thomas Edison and think it was him and would send the pieces back to him because they didn’t work–he would send letters to them saying, ‘It wasn’t me.’

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 9.50.35 PM

So all of that part of the storyline was true.
Right down to Edison forcing his son to change his name so that he didn’t do that in the future.

Was the Vital Motion Plus an actual item too, or did you create that for the storyline?
That was something that we came up with. And in one of the original scripts it was more of an upright, strap yourself in type of thing, and I thought it would be a lot of fun if we could do a chair because if you could have the springs, it would have that vibrating motion. Make it an electric chair, but make it more fun. The original script had that there were these electrodes attached and I said, ‘When you find the dead body, is it more fun to have him standing up, strapped to something, or slumped over in a chair?’ That was actually a wheelchair that I took apart and modified to end up with the look that we got.

When it comes to turning the wheelchair into a device, does the idea just pop into your head? Do you get any feedback, or are you left to your own creativity?
I’m lucky enough on this show that the powers that be just let me go. I pretty much get to design and build all of the props that you see on the show from the airplane a couple of years ago, to the electric car to this chair with almost no interference. Sometimes there will be a little back and forth, but most of the time I’ll show them what it looks like as it’s being built. It just flows out of me. I can’t draw, so I don’t do sketches or schematics. I will just start building, and I’ll drive around to places like Lee Valley and look at what they’ve got. There were some lovely little brass bits on the chair that I 3-D printed, and other pieces as got as surplus parts that I thought looked like they looked like electrodes. It just kind of comes.

And sometimes they come up with ideas that are better. I was going to mount the control box on the arm of the chair and it was decided that it would be better if it was separate so that you could walk around with it. It’s a collaboration.

You mentioned a 3-D printer. Are you using that technology a lot now?
I built a 3-D printer between seasons 7 and 8 and started to learn how to use it. The first thing I was building for myself was a life-sized human robot. Just because I could. In ‘High Voltage,’ as we move down the block, you end up at the prosthetics booth. The arm that is in front of them, moving up and down, was 3-D printed and it has six or seven servo-motors inside it. I was off-camera, operating that by remote control. That was just something I happened to build in the off-season and then when they were writing the episode they said, ‘It would be great to have a robotic arm.’ I said, ‘I’ve got one guys.’ I reprinted parts in black so that they looked like cast-iron, added brass and wrapped the arm in leather and put a glove on it. I hope you can’t tell that it was 3-D printed, but it was an incredibly high-tech piece.


I was the guy driving the electric wheelchair and that was something from back from Season 1. I told them it would be nice to update it a little bit and see it again in the medical convention and they said it would be nice if it could be driven so I did that. In the shot with the arm moving, I had to drive the length of the hall and as soon as I was out of camera I had to jump out and whip around a corner, grab the remote control and start controlling the arm. It was a little bit of fun sleight of hand. I have printed a number of other items that will be seen in future episodes.

You must have a lot of fun.
I love the show because of the freedom they give me, because of the builds I get to do. That aspect is a lot of fun and there are very few shows that would give a prop guy the freedom that I have here. On the other hand, our budgets are tight and manpower is tight. It makes the show harder every year.

Who painted Brackenreid’s painting?
Brackenreid’s painting will figure heavily in an upcoming episode. We have a whole episode around Brackenreid and Tom Thomson. It’s a really funny little bit between Brackenreid, Ogden and Tom Thomson.

Our scenic painters painted that piece and they did a whole bunch of versions of it. We ended up needing four copies of it. In the very first episode he was painting it at his house and if you watch the episodes carefully it has progressed. More has been added to it and we end up with a finished product.

We’ve talked about the big-ticket items that you build, but what about the small stuff? Are you responsible for everything from the medical stuff in Emily’s morgue to, say, the ledger at the Windsor House Hotel?
Yeah, a prop is anything they handle. Now, I get the ledger and then I talk to our graphics department and tell them I need 20 pages that we can flip through and need stuff written on the pages. We have a graphics guy who will do the graphics or depending on what is required and our timing sometimes we’ll do the graphics. I have a guy I work closely with named Steve that does all of Murdoch’s handwriting on the blackboard. He’s always there and Yannick doesn’t really have the time to write that stuff, so we do it. In the morgue, I do all of the bodies and the body parts and all of the instrumentation. All of those things fall under my domain as well.

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


Comments and queries for the week of Nov. 28

Despite being a “bottle episode” designed to save production budgets from going overboard, this week’s episode of Murdoch Mysteries garnered a lot of praise from fans, especially for lead actor Yannick Bisson and guest star Nigel Bennett (above).

Yannick is a very underrated actor. We have not yet seen how good he can be. I look forward to the writers giving him something he can “get his teeth into” and really shine but still not lose the essence of Murdoch. I have no doubt that years from now we will be talking of the amazing things that he has done. As they say, the best is yet to come.—S

This episode was a showcase for the vast talents of the cast. It is, so far, my favourite. Nigel Bennett will be missed on the show even if for his contribution to a great tension simmering between he and Yannick Bisson. Brian Kaulback played his role superbly. I would like to see his character re-emerge in some capacity. In all, I would like to see more of this type of drama as opposed to bringing the “archvillan” back who torments Julia and William. I have never missed an episode and this show is only getting better!—Diehl

I believe that the interrogation scene between Giles and Murdoch will go down as one of the top moments in this series. For me it was a battle of wits and minds, as Murdoch tried to nail Giles, only for him to sly out of the way and strike back.—TJ

Meanwhile, a few readers reached out with their opinion regarding Bachelor Canada‘s Tim Warmels choosing April to be his bride-to-be.

I can see why Tim chose April (she’s beautiful) but looks don’t last forever. Trish seemed much more genuine, grounded and mature and she is also gorgeous. Often with men, their hormones make the decisions, not their minds. From what I can tell, that’s what happened in regards to Tim choosing April.—Joy

Got a comment or question about Canadian TV? greg@tv-eh.com