Tag Archives: CTV

Review: Saving Hope checks back in

It’s a credit to Saving Hope’s writers that fans of the series get so invested in the show’s relationships, with things even occasionally getting a bit nasty between Teams Joel and Charlie. Which is why it’s such a shame that Season 3 has rarely allowed viewers to enjoy those couples once they finally happen.

In between watching Dawn do an about-face on a boyfriend twice in seven episodes, having Gavin go on a bender and take off after he and Maggie derailed, and Alex waking up without any sense of her feelings for Charlie, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that things with Joel hit a rocky patch almost as soon as they started. We’ve barely had any screen time with the couple—which has been teased for over two seasons now—before another flashback triggered what I expect is the return of Alex’s feelings for Charlie.

Though to be fair, Charlie’s gracious acceptance of defeat went a long way toward making up for how I felt about him racing off to pick a fight over the issue at the beginning of the season. Seeing that side of Charlie, instead of the angry, jealous one might also have helped remind Alex of the time they were everything to each other before a series of comas, ghosts and other dramatics threw their relationship through the processer. And it’s hard to deny the heat between Selena and Joel, which was back for another round.

But again, after wondering for so long when the other half of the love triangle would get its day (as they always do), it’s a bit disappointing to have all that build up thrown out almost immediately. The payoff, even for fans of the obvious end game of Charlie and Alex, is always so small compared to the build up that it’s going to make it hard to let myself get too invested in the characters’ personal lives should the trend keep up.

Thankfully, for a series that’s making a thing of the three-day work relationship, Wednesday’s “The Heartbreak Kid” did a much better job of picking up the continuity with some returning guests and cases. As a fan of Lexa Doig from her work on Arctic Air, seeing her back as the brash and charismatic Selena was a pleasure and her clinic is proving to be a rich resource for a completely different kind of patient and practice. I’d settle for seeing Joel commit more time to it since it fits well with his character history, but I won’t deny it would be interesting to see the rest of Hope Zion’s doctors start helping out and getting a break from their usual clientele—and I’m wondering if that opening scene was enough to possibly lure Zach to its doors and give Benjamin Ayres something more meaty to chew on.

And even without Lara’s ghost to milk the birth of Ezra Zarb for all its devastating emotional potential, having Joris Jarsky back to show us how David has been holding up since deciding to keep his wife on life support for their son was another welcome return. It’s not often we get to see how Charlie’s patients and their families fare after their otherworldly intervention and this particular case was deserving of a follow up if only to see how far David’s come since from angry, wall-punching person he was when we first met him.

Which also tied neatly into the evolving relationship between Maggie and Katz as they revisited their first case together and Maggie tried to prove she could be the kind of doctor Katz wanted her to be. I feel like just about everyone knows Maggie is ready to move onto the next step and having Katz hold her back suddenly was as frustrating to watch as I’m sure it was for the character. I’m hoping that ending—as unexpected and random as it was—means Katz realized it too and might change her brusque black-and-white emotionless approach (which saw her encouraging David to punch a wall in the first place). As for what else that kiss could mean, I’d read into it but I’m sure they’ll break up soon enough.

Hope-ful moments:

  • Joel: “I guess a guy could pull a knife on me again.”
    Zach: “Again?”
  • “LaRouched” is now a thing.
  • “Hang up, and it’s lady not gentleman.” I was really impressed with how Saving Hope handled the issue of pronouns with Teddy and would love to see more shows be this direct and comfortable with it.
  • “I look like an exploded burrito.” Tatum’s sass, especially with Charlie, was surprisingly fun.
  • That being said, the opening scene of her screaming as they examined her legs was almost too real. I can’t say enough about the effects and make up team on this series.

Saving Hope airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.


Charlie’s befuddled season on Saving Hope

Saving Hope’s Michael Shanks is quick to laugh when asked about the rough go his character Charlie has been having on the show this season—having just been dumped by his ex-wife, recent rebound and potential baby momma after only just losing the love of his life when yet another marriage proposal went awry.

“I don’t think any season’s been particularly kind to Charlie, come to think of it,” he says. “Erica [Durance] and I make jokes all the time that it’s kind of a sport for our writers to put them through the blender and see what comes out the other side. I think if the characters were happy we wouldn’t have any drama left in the show, but this season has been another run through the grist mill for old Chuck, and he’s a little confused at the moment.”

In fact, the word Shanks keeps bringing up to describe his character’s current state is “befuddled,” especially after having things go suddenly and spectacularly south with Alex (Durance), and he expects that emotion will carry into finding out Alex has picked things up with her old flame, Joel (Daniel Gillies), again. As he says, “Given the fact he’s aware what happened between them before and aware of how Alex felt about it, to see her go down that road again is going to be a little perplexing to him.”

Added to that is his ex-wife’s series of baby bombshells, yet again teasing the possibility of Charlie becoming a dad. Shanks admits to having some misgivings when Season 1 brought up the possibility of Alex being pregnant while it wasn’t clear if Charlie would ever wake up (he jokingly suggests the thee kids he has to Charlie’s zero might be an influence), but says the writers are certain the character wants to be a dad. Just maybe not with Dawn.

Behind the scenes, Shanks is also stepping up. Season 3’s fourth episode, “Stand By Me,” marked his first time directing for the series—he previously directed an episode of Stargate SG-1 and some of Saving Hope’s webisodes last season.

“You have new people to prove yourself to, and prove your interest and prove your expertise, so I worked my way up to the point where they were going to trust me to direct one and I think it worked out well. I enjoy the artistic stance in terms of [having] a larger part of the control of the storytelling process. It’s something I want to continue to do, but we’ll take it step by step.”

Though he’s less certain whether he’d want to take up writing for the show the way he did on Stargate.

“There’s very much a structured hierarchy when it comes to writing—more than the other departments in the television world,” he explains. “There’s a protocol that goes up the food chain when you’re starting off writing, and a lot of things that come out the other end are not always yours even though they have your name attached to it. So it can be a little bit frustrating to be writing for television. I can empathize with a lot of the writers, especially the ones that are further down the trough.”

Still, he goes on, “That being said, if I do get the time over the hiatus, I wouldn’t mind taking a crack at writing a story.”

Saving Hope airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.


Corner Gas jumps to the big (and small) screen

For six seasons on CTV, the tagline for Corner Gas was always that there “wasn’t a lot going on,” but the making of Corner Gas: The Movie couldn’t have been further from the truth.

It consumed the lives of creator/executive producer Brent Butt, executive producer Virginia Thompson, writers Andrew Carr and Andrew Wreggitt and executive producer/director David Storey for a couple of years as they tried to fashion a script that, unlike a television episode, had to have big stakes for the citizens of Dog River, Sask. Something had to be going on.

“If we couldn’t come up with a script that turned a 30-minute show into a 90-minute movie without wrecking it, then let’s not do it,” Butt says during a press day in Toronto. “We wrote this script for probably two years.”

“We wrote the script once, and it was really funny and the core was there, but what was really missing was the stakes,” Thompson explains. “We brought in Andrew Wreggitt, who is a wonderful long-form writer, and he sat down with us all. We all said, ‘We have a really funny beginning to the film, but it’s not deep enough.’ We all recognized that.”

The result? Dog River is bankrupt and everyone is desperate to make ends meet. In typical off-beat fashion, the townsfolk come up with several outlandish ideas, including entering a contest that to win the town the money it needs to keep going. And while the main storyline may be a little more dramatic and bigger in scope, Dog River’s characters have remained the same, though there have been a few minor tweaks. Oscar (Eric Peterson) goes into survival mode,  Emma (Janet Wright) pines for grandchildren, Davis (Lorne Cardinal) dips his toe into private investigating, Wanda (Nancy Robertson) looks for a way to make a quick buck, Lacey (Gabrielle Miller) heads up the plan to bring Dog River back from bankruptcy, Karen (Tara Spencer-Nairn) is pregnant and Hank (Fred Ewanuick) is, well … Hank.

There have been hurdles along the way, including the aforementioned rewrite, a fast turnaround time with regard to post-production and acquiring funding from Telefilm Canada. Add to that the unprecedented move of having the movie in Cineplex theatres for one week before jumping to TVs for the rest of the month and Corner Gas: The Movie is a rare beast in this country.

Those going to the theatre to see Corner Gas: The Movie are in for a special treat. Not only will members of the cast pop up unannounced in several cities this week, but Butt shot a special 20-minute pre-movie show especially for Cineplex that involves Corner Gas trivia, quizzes and a sing-along. And stick around for the end credits: not only are fans featured singing the show’s iconic theme song, but everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign–that hit its goal in just 24 hours on the way to over $285,000 pledged–has their name listed.

“I was worried whether people would care about the movie,” Robertson admits. “I didn’t want it to have that sad tone, so when the Kickstarter campaign came in I said, ‘All right, this is reassuring and a nice shot in the arm.’ People still love it, but you don’t know whether they’re done with it.”

“And I was relieved it just wasn’t one rich dude in the Kickstarter!”

Corner Gas: The Movie is in Cineplex movie theatres from Dec. 3 to 7 before debuting Sunday, Dec. 8, at 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network; Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and CTV Two; and Monday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The Comedy Network.


Review: Saving Hope shakes it out

There seems to come a time (or many times) in a person’s life when they experience complete self-doubt in the workplace. Or, if you’re me in my first year of journalism school, several varying instances of self-doubt, leaving you questioning your performance capabilities in a way that prevents you from living up to your potential.

In Alex’s case during Wednesday’s return of Saving Hope, her shaky nerves seemed to completely and consequently shake her foundation and confidence as a doctor, most inconveniently on the day she was to step in and help Dr. Shahir with a risky procedure. High-risk situations are tough enough to tackle, but once that seed of doubt is planted into your brain, performance levels have nowhere to go but down, which is the direction it looked like it was going to be headed with Alex.

As someone who’s also had family with Alzheimer’s disease, some of the scenes surrounding Shahir and Alex’s case of the week hit particularly close to home, such as Maria’s frustration at not knowing her husband’s name. But what I liked about the case was it also put a bit of a spotlight on Shahir–he was the one leading the surgery rather than Alex, Charlie or Joel–with Alex as more of a secondary component. It’s always a refreshing change whenever another character gets to take charge (and just amusing to see him get over his crush on his patient’s husband) and instead the storyline helped highlight the relationship between Shahir and Alex, which was really sweet.

Not that Alex–and specifically Alex’s nerves–didn’t play an extremely significant part of the storyline. Let’s just say that even if I had the slightest ounce of thought my doctor had focal dystonia, as patient Malcolm had with Alex, I would be out of that hospital room faster than you can even say hand cramp. It did make me chuckle at how defensive she got after hearing Malcolm’s story about the violin player that had to quit after a case of focal dystonia (denial’s been the name of Alex’s game for quite a few episodes now). I’m not quite sure if the Botox shots are going to be a long-term or temporary solution to come up again soon. In the end, Alex’s hand ended up taking a back seat to Shahir and his heart attack in the middle of surgery, still determined to finish the procedure so he wouldn’t let Malcolm down. It was nice to see both Shahir and Alex able to finish the surgery and that Shahir isn’t completely crippled.

In other storylines, I was still severely uncomfortable that Dawn wanted Charlie to have a baby with her AND that she was making sperm donation appointments for him. The only thing that really turned that storyline around for me was the hilarious arrival of the spirit right before Charlie was gearing up to, well, donate sperm (the line, “Am I in hell?” made me choke a little). My amusement only continued as Zach forced Charlie to trade him a fantasy baseball player in order to let Charlie fulfill the spirit’s wishes. Poor Charlie–always helping others. The storyline turned out to be really heartwarming, as he ultimately helped bring the spirit’s children some closure with their father, AND give them a wad of cash he’d left them. As for Dawn and Charlie? I may not want the two to have a baby, but to see Dawn crying in the elevator over her inability to reproduce was a tough pill for any viewer to swallow.


  • Alex: “Shahir, nothing’s hopeless.”
    Shahir: “He’s married. And he’s straight.”
  • I’ve never even thought about the idea of a doctor cutting another one during surgery. So weird!
  • I’m glad Tom ended up doing the right thing with his mentor and reported the Hepatitis C diagnosis. Being let down by someone you respect is one of the worst feelings ever. But I wonder how long his vacation is going to be?

Saving Hope airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.


CTV celebrates the season with MasterChef Canada holiday special


From a media release:

The holidays are set to take over the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen in MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL (@MasterChefCDA), premiering Monday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, and also available live and on demand on CTV.ca and CTV GO. Debuting as part of CTV’s holiday lineup, the two-hour special welcomes four Season 1 home cooks back to the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen where they cook up a series of festive dishes with their families – serving up holiday favourites inspired by their diverse traditions and cultures.Featuring acclaimed judges Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung, and Claudio Aprile, the special is a first for the format internationally and was created in collaboration with Proper Television and Shine International. MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL is acomplementary spinoff of MASTERCHEF CANADA, which returns to CTV with its highly-anticipated second season in Winter 2015.

MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL features four Season 1 home cooks: fun-loving Albertan Dora Cote; spicy Trinidadian twin and runner-up Marida Mohammed; loveable Italian dad Pino DiCerbo; and larger-than-life flavour queen Tammara Behl – who are all joined by their families for the chance to win $10,000 for the charity of their choice. MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL will also air on Thursday, Dec. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on M3, as part of a monster three-day MASTERCHEF marathon beginning Wednesday, Dec. 24 that will include complete airings of the most recent seasons of MASTERCHEF and MASTERCHEF JUNIOR.

MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL features the returning home cooks and their families as they participate in a Mystery Box Potluck Challenge, a Seasonal Skills Race, a Tag-Team Bake-Off, and a final Festive Feast, where the final two families go head-to-head with an elevated version of their favourite holiday meal.