Tag Archives: CBC

Murdoch Mysteries explores the dark side in Season 8

The closing moments of Monday’s Season 8 return of Murdoch Mysteries–“On the Waterfront, Part One”–isn’t like anything the series has done before. A showdown at Toronto’s waterfront between union workers–led by the dastardly O’Shea brothers–faces off against Det. William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and the rest of the Constabulary. Meanwhile, Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy) and Dr. Julia Grace (Georgina Reilly) are caught up in their own conflagration between members of the Suffragette movement and men who don’t take kindly to women wanting to vote.

The carefully choreographed scenes that cut back and forth from wharf to city square ramp up in tension to a boiling point viewers aren’t used to seeing from the CBC drama.

“It was fun to shoot,” Jonny Harris says of the scene between the dock workers and the police force, of which his Constable George Crabtree is a part. “All the dock workers were big sort of stunt guys and all the cops are station cops that have been on the show for years … not huge guys. Everybody went for broke on every take that day.” The conflagration at the dock is a result of union guys refusing to back down against the police, but it’s also about a police force seeking justice for the vicious attack on Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) at the hands of the O’Sheas. The Season 7 finale “The Death of Dr. Ogden,” saw the engagement of Murdoch and Ogden announced, but that happy moment was tempered by the discovery of Brackenreid’s beaten body on a dusty Toronto street.

Monday’s return does address the fate of the beloved Brackenreid while introducing a new boss in Det. Hamish Slorach (Patrick McKenna, Remedy), a man very unlike his predecessor.

As for Crabtree, Season 8 represents growth for the character. His up-and-down relationship with Dr. Grace is put on the back burner when a new lady enters his life in the form of a lady from the series’ past. Harris says Tamara Hope, who appeared in the very first episode of Murdoch Mysteries in 2008, reprises her role as Edna Garrison, a single mom struggling to make ends meet. Crabtree becomes a surrogate father to Edna’s son, a departure for a character usually relied upon for laughs.

“Over so many years, you want to keep your characters that people fell in love with, but you do need to make significant changes otherwise it just becomes redundant,” Harris explains. Does he ever wish Crabtree would show a dark side to him? The Newfoundland native smiles.

“He’s a pretty good guy,” Harris says. “I was liking Crabtree and Grace last year because they each had their moments of being petulant and jealous. I thought that was kind of nice. You have the romance between Ogden and Murdoch, which has always had its obstacles and troubles, but they’re mostly pure of heart. With Crabtree and Grace, it had to do with envy.”

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

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Review: Not-so hero worship on Heartland

The kiss. Oh, that kiss. It was brought to my attention last week that Georgie may not have witnessed a kiss between Prince Ahmed and Amy–we didn’t actually see it but I was reacting to the look on Georgie’s face–but it was confirmed Sunday as she replayed the online clip again for herself and then for Lou. Now the cat is out of the bag. Or the horse has jumped the fence. Pick your cliché; the point is Georgie and Lou know. And now Amy does too. How long until Ty finds out?

“The Big Red Wall” may have dealt with Amy being at first too scared to try getting Ahmed’s gift horse to jump over a high wall, but it was as much about Georgie putting a wall between she and her former hero. By episode’s end Georgie had torn down her picture shrine to Amy and was disgusted by the whole situation. Yes, Amy told Lou that nothing had happened between she and Ahmed–he made advances but she told him to back off–but nothing will be the same between the three girls until the family sits down and talks about it. And despite Ty being busy with Caleb wanting to fast-track train the horses and Tim giving him the rough side of his tongue, he’s going to surf the ‘net soon. Better nip this bad news in the bud before it explodes.

The only bright spot in Heather Cronkie’s script came via Jack and Lisa, and even that came with its share of challenges. Georgie and Lou’s idea to hold a simple wedding party for the happy couple threatened to turn sour when Jack’s old gal pal Val Stanton arrived from Florida to sort out some business at Briar Ridge. Jack was reluctant to tell Val he and Lisa were a couple even before she revealed her cancer was back; after she did he swallowed hard and invited her to the party instead. The silver lining? Val had been stringing Jack along for fun–various townsfolk had spilled the beans to her about Jack already–and she had nothing but well-wishes for he and Lisa.

I can’t help but think the arrival of Val and her son, Jesse, spell conflict in the coming weeks. Jesse, in the space of just a day or two, asked Amy to be Briar Ridge’s trainer twice and despite her protestations I bet he’s not going to give up without a fight. And just because Val said she was happy with Jack’s situation doesn’t mean she was being truthful with him.

Other notes 

  • “Peter called. Your husband? Said he was at work and he’d call you again when he got home. You know, his home, in Vancouver?”–Gotta love Jack’s little dig at Lou
  • I’ve always loved Shaun Johnston’s craggy face; he can portray so much emotion with a twitch of his moustache. Jack caught between Lou and Lisa at the table over discussions surrounding the wedding party was great.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET on CBC.

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Ruby Skye jumps from online to TV

Ruby Skye P.I. is a detective series, but the show’s success is a Cinderella story. An independent project two seasons old, filmed on a shoestring budget and posted on the Internet garners wide acclaim. A third season is partially funded by the CBC, debuts online and then jumps to the network’s morning television schedule. That’s Ruby Skye‘s story, and it’s one borne out of frustration.

“I wasn’t able to tell the stories that I wanted to in the restricted, narrow focus that children’s television has at this moment,” creator Jill Golick says. “There wasn’t a mystery show on television. Nobody was looking at making show’s with girl leads. It was a way for me to tell the story that I wanted to tell.”

Ruby Skye P.I.‘s tale began in 2010 when the Independent Production Fund started offering funding for web series. Golick–after writing on such series as Sesame Street, Noddy, Shining Time Station and Instant Star–was dabbling in the digital realm and had pitched several ideas to the IPF; they backed seasons 1 and 2 of Ruby Skye. A chance conversation with CBC executives at a conference led to the public broadcaster acquiring the first two seasons–The Spam Scam and The Haunted Library–for their website and commissioning a third season, The Maltese Puppy, along with the IPF, Bell Fund, Shaw Rocket Fund and Canada Media Fund. Now Ruby’s Season 3 adventures are available on CBC television as of Oct. 4.

“CBC’s intention was always to make a web show and we didn’t start Ruby thinking, ‘Oh, this should be a TV series,'” Golick explains. “We started thinking when you’re talking to today’s youth you put it on the screen where they are.”

Golick and Julie Strassman (Full House, Sophie, Metropia) co-write Ruby Skye P.I., and this third instalment, The Maltese Puppy, is a fun one. Ruby (Madison Cheratow, Wingin’ It), the sassy, smart star of the series, takes over the dog-walking route run by her sister Hailey (Marlee Maslove, Hailey Hacks) when she comes upon a crime scene. A local charity has been robbed of precious toys and there are a number of suspects, including the charity’s founder, Colin Cumberbund (Seán Cullen). Plus, Ruby has somehow ended up with one extra dog at the end of her leashes–a Maltese–and she’s doesn’t know where the owner is. Each episode–clocking in around the five-minute mark–is packed with whip-smart dialogue, top-notch performances and a cliffhanger style that keeps you wanting more.

“When people find it on the Internet they blow through all the episodes all at once,” Golick says. “We have that pace that makes you want to keep consuming it like potato chips.”

Episodes of Ruby Skye P.I.: The Maltese Puppy can be seen during the Kids CBC! programming block starting Saturday, Oct. 4, or on the network’s web page.

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Review: Heartache on Heartland

Raise your hand if you knew that kiss between Prince Ahmed and Amy was going to have an impact on her relationship with Ty? Yeah, I did too, but I have to admit I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. That’s going to put a damper on the hero worship Georgie has got going for Amy right now.

Season 8 of Heartland–CBC’s Sunday night stalwart–opened magically with Amy resplendent in a tight-fitting dress and a sexy updo as she attended a goodbye party held by Ahmed for his European Equestrian squad. His gift of a sparky, diamond-encrusted necklace served as a precursor to the smooch that would have Georgie freaking by episode’s end.

Heartland has always been a show that’s flown under my radar, garnering the ratings to be renewed via loyal fans yet a program I’ve only seen in passing. I’m looking forward to watching on a weekly basis for TV, Eh? simply because it’s a change of pace front my usual series choices and boasts a stellar cast. At the top of the list is Amber Marshall; she and co-star Graham Wardle have literally grown up playing Amy and Ty, and by now they’ve embraced the characters they portray. Amy’s arrival back at Heartland after months away was met with a chest-crushing hug by Ty that quickly turned sour when they learned the land they’d planned to buy had been sold out from under them.

Compounding the stress of losing the land was Georgie being under Amy’s feet. She had taken on all of Amy’s chores while she was away and the ranch hummed along, leaving Amy to wonder exactly what her place was at Heartland. That, coupled with jet lag, Ty buying a new truck and the knowledge that Jack had secretly married Lisa (that sure got Lou hot under the collar) reduced Amy to tears of frustration. The one place she relied on to be a firm foundation in her life had been upended.

By the end of Heather Conkie’s script for “There and Back Again,” Ty and Amy had made up, but the kiss Georgie witnessed online is going to get back to Ty at some point. That, along with the fact Ahmed gave Amy that necklace, is going to test their strength as a couple and challenge their trust.

Other thoughts

  • Why was Jack so reluctant to tell the family that he and Lisa were married? Was he ashamed?
  • Does anyone else think it was kind of jerky for Tim to make that horse deal knowing it would screw up Ty and Caleb’s plans?

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

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Preview: Canada’s Smartest Person an addictive test of intelligence

Are you the type of person who is naturally successful at word puzzles? Do you wow your friends with your sports prowess? Think you’re just all-around more intelligent than everyone else in the room? Canada’s Smartest Person may very well be for you.

Debuting Sunday at 8 p.m., CBC’s rollicking game show goes beyond the standard I.Q. test–dismissed as too narrow to gauge real intelligence–to find the Canadian who is successful in a total of six categories. After an exhaustive cross-Canada search, 32 finalists compete in the categories of Math & Logic Intelligence, Visual & Spatial Intelligence, Body & Kinesthetic Intelligence, Linguistics Intelligence, and Musical Intelligence and Interpersonal Intelligence.

Sunday’s two-hour debut introduces viewers to the first four finalists–who by the time the episode ends is trimmed to one who moves on to the finals–and co-hosts Jessi Cruickshank and Jeff Douglas. Cruickshank, known for her personality co-hosting The Hills After Show on MTV Canada, is a natural to corral the show finalists. Her reactions to blunders and successes are classic, as are the numerous ways she contorts her body in a physical reaction to how well the finalists fare. Or don’t. As It Happens Happens co-host Jeff Douglas is the dude who explains the six ways of measuring intelligence and serves as the at-home viewers’ guide through app and online game play. Slow and steady, he’s the one with the task of explaining the results as they arrive in real-time from across the country.

But the real star of Canada’s Smartest Person is the online and smartphone app available for viewers to play along at home. With an easy-to-use interface and plenty of instruction by Douglas, viewers are encouraged to play along in games that are related to–but not always exactly like–the games the show’s finalists are playing. Enter a few extra bits of login information and at-home players can see how they rank against friends and family and other participants across the country. It’s adds a level of fun, addictive game play that honestly at times overshadows the television series.

Canada’s Smartest Person airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

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