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Showrunner Peter Mitchell talks Hudson & Rex and Murdoch Mysteries

When it comes to Canadian television, showrunner Peter Mitchell has one foot in the past and one in the present.

On Mondays, the period whodunit Murdoch Mysteries—starring Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy, Jonny Harris, Shanice Banton and Thomas Craig—continues to chug along in Season 15 on CBC, with no end in sight.

On Thursdays, it’s the modern-day cop drama Hudson & Rex, which follows the adventures of cop Charlie Hudson (John Reardon) his crime-solving dog, Rex (Diesel vom Burgimwald), Supt. Joe Donovan (Kevin Hanchard), Sarah Truong (Mayko Nguyen) and Jesse Mills (Justin Kelly) as they solve crimes in St. John’s.

With both series at roughly the halfway point in their seasons, we had a chat with Peter Mitchell about the challenges he faces helming two primetime series.

How do you logistically juggle both shows? Do you spend time in St. John’s, or are you doing Zoom meetings, and things like that?
Peter Mitchell: It’s a combination. I think I was out in St. John’s for slightly extended periods, about four times over the course of the season. And the times that I wasn’t there, writer Mary Pedersen, Joe Milando or Keri Ferencz was out there. I always had a writer around in St. John’s over the run. And the rest of it was just like it has been for the last few years. Just Zoomland. It was similar around Murdoch, although I was in the Murdoch offices more, obviously, because it’s just across the Gardiner, as supposed to across the continent.

How are you not burned out?
PM: I’ve got Mary Pedersen and the writing team on one side, and I’ve got Simon McNabb, and Paul Aitken, and the rest of the writing team on the other side. I will admit to getting confused every once in a while. What episode are we doing? What show is it? Is there a dog in this one?

I’ve had the chance to speak to Mary several times over the years, and it sounds as though she’s really become your right-hand person in St. John’s, with Hudson & Rex. Is that accurate?
PM: Yeah, that’s completely accurate. I mean, the other writers have contributed greatly too. But, Mary started with me as a script coordinator about six or seven years ago, and she’s essentially co-writing Rex with me. And the same with McNabb on the other show.

One of the things specifically about Hudson & Rex I wanted to ask you about, is going out and having the team be mobile. Was that something that was organic?
PM: I think the reason behind it was just doing a bit of a subtle shift of the show, and not leaning into the mystery so much. And then leaning a bit more into a classic police procedural. That meant tracking down a lot more clues, interviewing a lot more people, and trying to take advantage of the environment that we were blessed to shoot in. I really wanted to get a little bit more value out of Newfoundland than just aerial stock shots, and stuff like that.

And it doesn’t take long in Newfoundland, if you’re in St. John’s, to be any number of unique locations. As much as we could, in the first part of the season, we tried to maximize the exterior locations. Then as winter came, we pushed more inside, and it was a very deliberate attempt to make our team more active, and get some of the characters who often spent a lot of time behind the desk, out into the field a bit more and to try and have them work as a tighter unit. Each of them still maintaining the same sort of skillsets, but just getting them all out a bit more.

I think the actors all enjoyed that, and it just made it more of an investigative unit. It was a pretty deliberate decision. It might have been like the first or second line I wrote in my action plan for Season 4, so yeah, it was a deliberate thing.

One of the things that I noticed right away is Kevin Hanchard’s character, Joe, interacting more with his team. It just showed a tighter relationship with the team as a result of him being out of headquarters, and out on the road with them.
PM: He’s a pretty dynamic actor, so it’s hard to be dynamic when you’re stuck behind your desk, just issuing orders and talking to the press, so we just wanted to get him out, and be a cop a bit more often.

You recently filmed in Hamilton. Was it for a major part of a storyline?
PM: Yeah, it was an opportunity to do something a little bit different. Rex is getting one of those national police awards, so it made sense to take the show out on the road for a little bit. Even doing a one-day shoot in Hamilton brought with it its own difficulties. We only brought Charlie and Rex out, but they were the ones getting the award, so it made sense. And as you can imagine, two years into this, travel and all that stuff is still difficult, but I think at the end of the day, it was worth it.

Speaking of Rex, you’ve added a camera shot through his eyes, showing evidence he has picked up on. What was the decision behind that?
PM: Again, it’s going to the procedural versus the mystery. It just made sense to try and visually depict Rex as an active investigator, being able to find things that other people can’t find. And it was always a little bit of trying to construct a mystery, or a puzzle, or a riddle, or a crime, that was interesting, but it would still be possible for a dog to solve it.

All of the dogs involved in playing that role are doing a lot more than they were before.
PM: We made a commitment, me and the directors, to shoot Rex more, and not just shoot him as random cutaways. In the past, sometimes they would shoot the Rex stuff last, and sort of run out of time. For us, it was always shoot the Rex stuff first, and try as often as you can to have in the scene standing by, or with one of our characters, so that even if he’s just hanging around being Rex, he’s still active in the frame. That was kind of led by Gary Harvey off the top, that we prioritize what Rex is doing in a scene.

Let’s switch things up and talk about Murdoch Mysteries. What was your reaction when Hélène Joy first came to you and said that she was pregnant? Was it always like, ‘OK, well, we’re going to have Julia be pregnant as well’?
PM: I think I almost made a snap decision. Hélène phoned me up and told me the news, and it was at that point still pretty secret. I don’t think very many people knew, if any. And I think I thought about it for about 10 minutes, and went, ‘OK, I guess Julia’s having a baby. How do you feel about that?’ I don’t know why. I don’t know why I decided it. And I kind of unilaterally decided it. I talked to Hélène, and she said, ‘Yeah, that’d be cool.’ And I said, ‘OK, we’re going to do it.’ And then I went to the network after that, and said, ‘Well guess what guys?’ And there’s always the slightest amount of apprehension, you know?

The way that the season unfolds, I wanted to build it so that when the baby comes, and the baby does come, of course, there are still three or four episodes post-baby. I think if I had ended the season with the birth, it feels like, ‘OK, they’ve done everything they needed to do, goodbye.’ It was like, ‘No, let’s have the kid, and let’s have that sweet Murdoch solving a case.’ Just to show that this is just going to be another part of their lives. Everything that could possibly happen on Murdoch has almost happened, so I’m like, well, why not just add this, and just work it into the fabric of the show?

Julia is not going to stop being a proactive female lead just because she’s had a kid. It’ll allow for some additional moments of warmth and humour, and who knows jeopardy. I don’t see it being a [detriment] at all.

Is there going to be a cliffhanger at the end of this current season?
PM: Yeah, but it won’t involve babies. Yeah, there’ll be a few little cliffhangers. In fact, I’ve just got it up on my computer screen right now. I’m just going over the last 10 pages of it as we speak.

Hudson & Rex airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.

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

Hudson & Rex images courtesy of Rogers Sports & Media/Shaftesbury. Murdoch Mysteries image courtesy of CBC.

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Link: Mayko Nguyen Talks Hudson & Rex “Leader of the Pack”

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Mayko Nguyen Talks Hudson & Rex “Leader of the Pack”
“Being able to work all together, out in the field and on location has been a lot of fun. Studio days [are] great [especially] when we’re tired, but it can also get kind of ‘same old, same old.’ And so it’s really nice for the four of us to get to be out on location, shooting these beautiful vistas all together.” Continue reading.

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Citytv hits the golden buzzer on dream team of judges and host for Canada’s Got Talent

From a media release:

Lights, Camera, Talent! As production on original series Canada’s Got Talent gets underway in Niagara Falls, ON next month, Citytv today unveils Howie Mandel, Lilly Singh, Kardinal Offishall, and Trish Stratus as judges alongside host Lindsay Ell for its highly-anticipated talent competition, airing exclusively on Citytv and Citytv.com this spring, with catch-up available on Citytv Now.

Bringing his infectious energy, warmth, humour, and a keen eye for astonishing talent, Howie Mandel is one of America’s Got Talent’s star judges with 11 seasons under his belt. He also hosts the weekly podcast Howie Mandel Does Stuff with his daughter Jackelyn Schultz.

Hailing from Scarborough, ON, entertainer, actress, writer and creator Lilly Singh brings passion, creativity, humour, and heart to the judge’s table where she will offer perspective from her own successful self-made journey in the entertainment industry to Canada’s bright new talents.

Award-winning artist, music label executive and producer Kardinal Offishall (affectionately known as Kardi) is a creative force and highly-respected leader in Canada’s music scene, who brings his larger-than-life personality and exceptional ability to seek out Canada’s new wave of superstars.

Rounding out the jury is wrestling Legend and Hall of Famer Trish Stratus, who was named WWE’s #1 Greatest Female Superstar. This Sports Entertainer is also a world-renowned fitness icon, who has inspired generations of people around the world.

Born and raised in Calgary, Lindsay Ell is described as ‘one of the most exciting and talented young artists in country music’ (Forbes). An accomplished musician, vocalist, and awe-inspiring songwriter, Lindsay’s first full-length album The Project was named Billboard’s Best Country Album of the Year (2017) and since then, she has celebrated a #1 U.S. single, two #1 Canadian singles and watched her track ‘wAnt me back’ earn GOLD-certification. Earning the most 2021 CCMA Award nominations of any female, Lindsay has become Canada’s fastest rising country star.

Got Talent is the world’s greatest talent competition, for acts of all ages and sets out to discover the most unique, skilled, heartwarming, and showstopping performers. Dancers, singers, illusionists, comedians, and every imaginable talent in between will compete before celebrity judges, a live studio audience, and the entire nation. At stake is the title of Canada’s Got Talent Champion and a prize beyond their wildest dreams. With compelling stories and mesmerizing performances, this competition is unlike any other.

Canada’s Got Talent is produced by Fremantle, SYCO Entertainment, McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc., in association with Citytv, a division of Rogers Sports & Media. For McGillivray Entertainment Media, Executive Producers are Scott McGillivray, Angela Jennings, and Mike Bickerton, with Showrunner Jonathan Payne.

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Bachelor in Paradise Canada’s Claire Freeland: “You leave having been impacted by the experience”

For the most part, reality TV gets a bad rap. At best, it’s described as a guilty pleasure. At worst, it’s simply dismissed. But look a little deeper into a series like Bachelor in Paradise Canada, and you realize something. These people are putting themselves out there to find love, on-camera and sharing things most would only tell their closest friend.

“This is a show that dives deep into feelings,” executive producer Claire Freeland says. “What you want for your life, what you want for your life partner. A lot of these people leave transformed and having learned things about themselves. Whether or not you leave Paradise, The Bachelor or The Bachelorette with a life partner, you leave having been impacted by the experience.”

Freeland’s Good Human Productions brought The Bachelor Canada and The Bachelorette Canada to viewers years ago. Now they’re back with Bachelor in Paradise Canada.

Debuting Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv, Bachelor in Paradise Canada (followed by The Bachelor After Show: After Paradise Canada at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT with Deepa Prashad and Daryn Jones) is distinctive for a couple of reasons. First, it’s in northern Ontario in a camp setting very different from the U.S. version fans are used to. And, secondly, the cast of 26 participants is made up of Canadian Bachelor alumni, U.S. Bachelor alumni and members of the Bachelor Nation—Canadian fans of the franchise—a series first. Freeland, a fan of the franchise overall, has grown to love Paradise because it gives her the opportunity to check on a bunch of relationships rather than just one.

“We always knew we wanted to do a Canadian version of Paradise, but there was always the conundrum about how to attack it,” Freeland says. “And I feel like we’ve cracked the nut.”

Familiar names from the Canadian series include Bianka Kamber, David Pinard and Stacy Johnson, while the U.S. franchise offers up Caitlin Clemmens, Alex Bordyukov and Brendan Scanzano. Guiding the ship is host Jesse Jones (featured image) and serving up drinks and advice to these love-lorn folks? Kevin Wendt.

“We’ve remained friends with Kevin over the years,” Freeland says. “When we thought about who could be the bartender, but also be a symbol of this process working, it was pretty easy that we arrived at Kevin.

“When that guy is on the beach, on the other side of the bar, and you’re looking for someone to give you some advice or share your feelings with, Kevin is the ultimate person.”

Bachelor in Paradise Canada airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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Citytv announces 2021 fall premiere dates

From a media release:

What do you get when a hopeful romantic, crime-fighting canine, vampire, and an investigative detective walk into Molly’s Bar? Night after night of must-watch dramas and juicy reality series on Citytv, Citytv.com, and FX this Fall.

Full episodes and past seasons are available on Citytv Now and FX Now online, Rogers on Demand, Amazon Fire TV, and on the authenticated Citytv and FX apps for iOS, Android, Samsung, and fourth-generation Apple TV.

NEW to Citytv & Citytv Now
Citytv continues to be the exclusive home for Bachelor Nation with the all-new series Bachelor in Paradise Canada, featuring Bachelor-alumni Kevin Wendt as the Bartender and Jesse Jones as Host. Then, KiSS 92.5’s Deepa Prashad and Daryn Jones dish the dirt in The Bachelor After Show: After Paradise. And, a new batch of eligible bachelors vie for the heart of The Bachelorette, Michelle Young. New-to-Citytv this Fall is Season 23 of Law & Order: SVU, starring Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson, which chronicles the lives of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department, an elite squad of detectives who investigate crimes of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. Then, new heartfelt life-affirming drama Ordinary Joe follows Joe Kimbreau, played by James Wolk (Mad Men, You Again), who faces a life-changing decision at his college graduation. Dick Wolf’s powerhouse Chicago franchise (Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D.) and Law & Order: Organized Crime, toe tapping dance competition series Dancing with the Stars, and paw-some duo Hudson & Rex also join the Citytv slate this Fall with all-new episodes of jaw-dropping twists and head-scratching mysteries.

Plus, Citytv gets ready for the holiday season with special holiday episodes of fan-favourite comedies Kenan, Mr. Mayor, and Young Rock. Dates to be announced in the coming months.

CITYTV

Friday, Sept. 10

8 p.m. Fall in Love Fridays

Monday, Sept. 20

8 p.m. Dancing with the Stars

10 p.m. Ordinary Joe

Wednesday, Sept. 22

8 p.m. Chicago Med

9 p.m. Chicago Fire

10 p.m. Chicago PD

Thursday, Sept. 23

8 p.m. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

10 p.m. Law & Order: Organized Crime

Sunday, Oct. 10

8 p.m. Bachelor in Paradise Canada NEW – Citytv Original

9:30 p.m. The Bachelor After Show: After Paradise NEW – Citytv Original

Tuesday, Oct. 19

8 p.m. The Bachelorette

Thursday, Oct. 21

8 p.m. Hudson & Rex Season 4 – Citytv Original

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