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Jacob Blair’s crash course on The Pinkertons

Jacob Blair is no stranger to Canadian winters. He grew up in Edmonton, but even he found the cold in Winnipeg while filming the syndicated cops and robbers Canadian co-production The Pinkertons to be daunting.

“They’ve been quoting me things like the weather has been colder than the surface of Mars and I’m like, ‘That’s not a selling feature, guys,'” he says from the set with a laugh. “You let people discover that once they’re already here.”

Still, Blair is having a blast. And who can blame him? The chance to play William Pinkerton, son of Allan, the man who founded the legendary law enforcement, detective and security agency in 1850 is just too much fun. Hired by President Abraham Lincoln to be his security detail during the Civil War, the company was based out of Chicago; the series is loosely based on the Pinkerton’s real case files. Blair is joined by Angus Macfadyen (Turn) as Allan, and Martha MacIsaac (1600 Penn) as Kate Warne, the first female detective in the United States.

Blair, who has appeared in episodes of Rookie Blue, Republic of Doyle and Beauty and the Beast, only had two weeks between being cast on The Pinkertons before cameras rolled—he was the last of the principals to sign on—so he crammed for the role. He’d already known from watching shows like Deadwood that the Pinkertons were feared and not a group you wanted to run afoul of, but learned there wasn’t much information regarding William’s personality, just snippets gleaned from Allan’s memoir and in case files.

“I had to create him on my own,” Blair says. “He’s his father’s son, so growing up he would pick up on those traits of being no-nonsense. Because we’re going the family angle, we do need to infuse it with humour. Viewers really love the friction and the dynamic between the characters, so we have William giving it back to Allan and William and Kate getting under each other’s skin, but there’s a mutual admiration there.”

Of course, whenever you place a young man and woman in close quarters and at odds on television, an obvious question must be asked. Will William and Kate end up falling in love like so many small-screen couples have before them? Blair hopes not.

“I just don’t know where it would go,” he says. “I have a hard time picturing that and if they did I’d hope they’d wait a few seasons.” Guess the winters will have to get even colder before the two would ever consider huddling for warmth.

The Pinkertons airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CHCH.


Preview: The Pinkertons blast onto CHCH

I’m a sucker for historical dramas. Need proof? My current list of favourites includes Hell on Wheels, Vikings, Murdoch Mysteries, Downton Abbey and the upcoming X Company. Now I’m adding The Pinkertons to my list. The syndicated shoot-em-up debuts Tuesday on CHCH, and it’s one heck of a good time.

Produced by the folks at Rosetta Media and Buffalo Gal Pictures (and with Murdoch Mysteries‘ Philip Bedard and Larry Lalonde, Remedy‘s Alison Lea Bingeman, Flashpoint‘s Christina Ray and Corner Gas‘ Rhonda Baker among producers), The Pinkertons is based on the real cases of the legendary law enforcement, detective and security agency founded in 1850. Hired by President Abraham Lincoln to be his security detail during the Civil War, the company was headed by Allan Pinkerton and based out of Chicago.

Tuesday’s two-hour debut quickly introduces viewers to founder Allan (Angus Macfadyen, Turn), his son William (Jacob Blair, Dark Rising: Warrior of Worlds) and Kate Warne (Martha MacIsaac, 1600 Penn) as they team to solve the case of ex-Confederate outlaws who rob a train. Kate Warne, it turns out, really was the first female detective in the U.S., a point made early on and the source of sarcasm and laughs because William can’t handle the fact she’s better at sleuthing, disguises and infiltrating gangs than he is.

Shot in and around Winnipeg (the primary location is Grosse Isle, Man.), the first two instalments in the 22-episode season are light-hearted with the touches of drama that has made Murdoch so successful. Yes, the ex-Confederates are plotting to make a bomb, but you never feel like they’ll really get away with it. The costuming is lush, the old-timey sets suitably dusty and the three keys leads are charming, especially MacIsaac, who has canny comic timing and is able to set herself apart from her craggy co-stars.

It’s too early to be sure, but I’m pretty confident that, as time goes on, sexual tension will simmer between Kate and William. And while I’m not averse to that TV trope, I hope it’s kept on the back burner for now; to me the story is the thing and with a group like the Pinkertons, there are lots of stories to tell.

The Pinkertons airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CHCH.


Link: Next stop for The Pinkertons: Your TV

From Kevin King of the Winnipeg Sun:

The Prairie Dog Central Railway has added a new stop it’s just about ready to share with the rest of the nation.

The tiny community of Grosse Isle, along with the vintage operating train, are subbing in for Kansas City, Mo., in action-adventure crime procedural drama The Pinkertons that’s been filming here since late August.

The one-hour series, which draws from real cases of the legendary Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, has been airing in first-run syndication on 211 channels in the United States since October. It makes its Canadian debut on Jan. 27 with a two-hour premiere event on CHCH. Continue reading.


Tiny Talent Time dances back onto television

For 35 years, Tiny Talent Time shone a spotlight on kids who could sing, dance, juggle and play instruments. There was no cash prize for being the best, no panel of judges looking down their noses and sniffing in disdain, no voting someone off the stage. It was a gentler time, and one CHCH is getting back into this weekend.

Yes, Tiny Talent Time returns to CHCH on Saturday with the first of 12 new half-hour episodes (a second season has just been announced). And while the brand has been updated from the original that ran from 1957 to 1992–a stunning 35 years–the message remains the same: have fun without any judgment. The idea for bringing back the series–the original was hosted by CHCH legend Bill Lawrence–came up during planning for the channel’s 60th anniversary happening this year.

“One of the things they said was to bring back Tiny Talent Time,” remembers producer Jennifer Howe (Descending). “I think this is a very good homage to the past with a new, modern take on it.” Producers went with two hosts for this incarnation (“I joke to Bill that it took two people to replace him,” Howe laughs.) in Jason Agnew (Splatalot) and Jaclyn Colville (Morning Live), which affords them the opportunity to bounce things off each other while interacting with the kids. The set has been updated, social media implemented and a website boasting a Wish Wall, an online update to a Lawrence mainstay.

“Bill always said, ‘If I could snap my fingers and make a wish come true for you, what would it be?’ and not everyone was able to reveal their wish because they weren’t on the show,” Howe explains. “Now kids can go and upload their wishes and can see each other’s wishes and interact.” Each half-hour instalment spotlights five on-air acts–beginning with Saturday’s “An Amazing Premiere”–and an interview with a child whose performance can only be seen by visiting the Tiny Talent Time website.  Howe reveals over 500 kids auditioned to appear on the program from across Southern Ontario.

“There were a lot of viewers of the old show, a lot of people who had been on the old show and wanted their grandkids to be on, or their nieces and nephews,” she says. “That seemed to be the big connection for people auditioning.”

Tiny Talent Time airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. ET on CHCH.