Tag Archives: Dark Matter

Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries visits a league of their own

Batter up! With the World Series ending in the real world, the ladies of Frankie Drake Mysteries head to the diamond as well.

Monday’s new episode, “Extra Innings,” is of particular interest to me because I was invited to be part of the 1920s audience at the baseball game. Sadly, I wasn’t able to be a part of filming because of my day job schedule. Still, I was looking forward to seeing what the episode looked like … and what might have been.

Here’s what the CBC has released as the official synopsis:

Frankie (Lauren Lee Smith) suspects sabotage when a baseball player dies mid-game. Her investigation puts her at odds with ruthless mobster Bessie Starkman (Natalie Brown, The Strain).

And here’s a little more I can tell you after watching a screener of the instalment written by John Callaghan and directed by Sudz Sutherland.

Natalie Brown plays in the Frankie Drake sandbox
I still miss her on Dark Matter—hell, I still miss Dark Matter—but Natalie Brown is fantastic as mobster Bessie Starkman. The role is particularly great because Bessie goes head-to-head with Frankie, meaning plenty of screen time for Brown and Lauren Lee Smith to share and their characters trade verbal barbs and idle threats. Oh, and it turns out Bessie Starkman really existed.

Amanda Richer guest stars
I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Richer when she portrayed Helen Keller on Murdoch Mysteries last year. She’s just an all-around great human being, so I was excited to see her name in the credits for “Extra Innings.” She plays Viola Kelly, a rival baseball team player who is accused of the crime. Additional guests include Amanda Barker as baseball catcher Eileen “Redwood” Richardson and Vincent Walsh as Coach Dutch Cunningham.

Mary knows her stats
It’s been a lot of fun getting to know Mary’s quirks. Turns out she loves baseball. Flo? Not so much.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries returns with a change in tone in Season 2

There are changes afoot in Season 2 of Frankie Drake Mysteries both behind and in front of the camera. As its production company, Shaftesbury, and CBC announced earlier this year, James Hurst took over showrunning duties from Cal Coons. Co-creator Michelle Ricci, meanwhile, has moved on pen Hallmark’s Hallie Dean Mystery movies starring Kellie Martin.

Fans will notice changes in front of the camera. As Hurst told me recently, a shift in tone has taken place for the series’ sophomore season. Serious themes will still be addressed, he says, but there will be less heavy storytelling.

Here’s what the CBC has released as an official synopsis for “The Old Switcheroo,” written by co-creator Carol Hay and directed by Ruba Nadda:

In the Season 2 premiere, Frankie (Lauren Lee Smith) learns that her mother Nora (Wendy Crewson) has joined the board of the Royal Ontario Museum, promising to bring an influx of treasures to the museum’s fledgling antiquities collection. Frankie and Trudy (Chantel Riley) investigate a break-in but find nothing’s been stolen. Meanwhile, Flo (Sharron Matthews) and Mary (Rebecca Liddiard) are embroiled in a mystery of their own after discovering a body in the morgue has been intentionally misidentified. 

And here are more observations from me after watching a screener.

Is Nora going legit?
After a lifetime on one side of the law, can Nora exist on the other? It would seem that’s her goal. Though, her promise to bring more treasures to the ROM had me wondering how she’d get them while staying above board. Speaking of the ROM, it’s a stunning backdrop in Monday’s return.

An X Company star drops by
Yes, I still miss Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern’s excellent Second World War drama terribly. The hurt was tempered a bit by getting to see Lara Jean Chorostecki back on my screen. She portrays Marian Hartley, a woman whose past is tied to Frankie’s. As with Murdoch Mysteries, Frankie Drake often drops historical references into its fictional tales. Tonight we hear about Howard Carter and Hiram Bingham III. Learn a little more about them here and here.

Flo and Mary take on their own case
These characters are great together. They’re both quirky and unintentionally funny, a winning combination in my book. Seeing Mary struggle to say a certain French dish and the pair teaming to identify the body in the morgue is a real treat. See if you agree.

An adversary for Frankie is unearthed
I’ve been waiting for someone to seriously challenge Frankie since Episode 1 of Season 1. It arrives Monday in the form of Dark Matter‘s Anthony Lemke. He plays Detective Greyson, a veteran cop who gets under everyone’s skin. Also? Slasher‘s Steve Byers drops in to play Hiram Bingham III.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Hits and misses: The 2018 Canadian Screen Awards nominees

First of all, a hearty congratulations to everyone who has been nominated for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award. I’ve spoken to many of you over the years and basked in both your kindness and awesome skills whether you work in front of or behind the camera.

I believe the Canadian Screen Awards are as important and justified in their existence as the Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmys and BAFTA awards; and with that comes the scrutiny that befalls the Academy and the nominations it puts forth every year. What does that mean? I poke, prod and peruse the television categories and scrutinize every decision the Academy has made with regard to the 2018 television nominations.

Here are my thoughts on several of the key categories. Let me know your own thoughts in the comments section below!

Best Drama Series

  • 19-2
  • Anne
  • Mary Kills People
  • Pure
  • Vikings

I’m thrilled to see 19-2, Anne, Mary Kills People and Pure all in this category. Each represents unique storytelling, characters that are interesting and push the boundaries of what we view as heroes and villains. I’m especially tickled that Pure is here because I think what creator Michael Amo, director Ken Girotti and stars Ryan Robbins, Alex Paxton-Beesley, A.J. Buckley and Peter Outerbridge did was really special. That said, I’d rather have seen Vikings replaced by X Company or Travelers. Both of those programs—X Company in its last and Travelers in its first—provided more engaging stories than Vikings did and in more creative ways. Honourable mention: Hard Rock Medical, which manages to jam twisting, dramatic storylines into a mere 22 minutes of airtime.


Best Comedy Series

  • Letterkenny
  • Workin’ Moms
  • Nirvanna the Band the Show
  • Michael: Every Day
  • Kim’s Convenience

Letterkenny continues its journey to being one of the greatest Canadian comedies of all time while breaking new ground being a Crave TV original. Workin’ Moms was simply fantastic in its debut season, Kim’s Convenience is stellar and Michael: Every Day was a comic gem that I’m glad CBC revisited. I simply don’t get Nirvanna the Band the Show. I’ve tried to watch it several times and couldn’t stick with it. Maybe it’s because I’m in my forties and it’s not for my demographic. To me, Mohawk Girls deserved to be in that final spot. Co-created by Tracey Deer (who received a well-deserved nomination for her directing) and Cynthia Knight, Mohawk Girls effectively delivered laughs and tears while telling the tale of four women negotiating life, love and what it means to be a member of the First Nations today.


Best Sketch Comedy Program or Series

  • The Beaverton
  • Baroness Von Sketch Show
  • Rick Mercer Report
  • This Hour Has 22 Minutes

I have no issues with this category. Let’s move on.


Best Reality Competition Series

  • The Amazing Race Canada
  • The Bachelorette Canada
  • Big Brother Canada
  • MasterChef Canada
  • Top Chef Canada

If this category has proved anything, it’s that we’re able to successfully create homegrown versions of proven international reality competition series and nab large audiences for them. Now it’s time to create our own concepts like CBC’s Crash Gallery and CTV’s The Launch; I expect to see the latter nominated in this category next year.


Best Limited Series or Program

  • Cardinal
  • Alias Grace
  • The Disappearance
  • The Kennedys: After Camelot
  • Bruno & Boots: This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall

Holy crap is this a stacked category. All are worthy of being here both for the writing, acting, directing and production values. My murder and mayhem-loving heart is filled with love for Cardinal, The Disappearance and Alias Grace. The pleasant surprise for me is Bruno & Boots which deserves to be here. The tone may different from the other four but that’s what makes it so exciting to see that project here. I’d love it if Bruno & Boots won.


Best Lead Actress, Comedy

  • Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Catherine Reitman, Workin’ Moms
  • Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
  • Andrea Bang, Kim’s Convenience
  • Jean Yoon, Kim’s Convenience

Another category jammed with bona fide, worthy winners. All are strong women in real life and on the small screen. Andrea Bang and Jean Yoon have created something truly special via Janet and Umma’s relationship, especially in the second season. I wish a sixth name could be added to this list and that it was Dani Kind’s. Her portrayal of Anne Carlson on Workin’ Moms has been a revelation. I’m still marvelling at how a character like Anne can struggle with connecting with her two children, worry the nanny is stealing her family away and decide to have an abortion … and make the situation alternately heartbreaking and hilarious.


Best Lead Actor, Comedy

  • Gerry Dee, Mr. D
  • Jared Keeso, Letterkenny
  • Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Kim’s Convenience
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek

I agree with all the names on this list and don’t envy the Academy for having to choose a winner.


Best Lead Actress, Drama Series

  • Amybeth McNulty, Anne
  • Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People
  • Jennie Raymond, Sex & Violence
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Meaghan Rath, Rogue

I have not, I must confess, watched Sex & Violence or Rogue, so I’m kind of out of my element here. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion. McNulty’s portrayal of Anne Shirley re-created the character for a whole new generation of Anne of Green Gables fans. She certainly won me over. Caroline Dhavernas was great in Season 1 of Mary Kills People (I think she’s even better in the two episodes I’ve seen of Season 2) and Tatiana Maslany is, well, frigging Tatiana Maslany. If I could suggest a couple of other names for this category they would be Melissa O’Neil for Dark Matter and Hannah John-Kamen for Killjoys. Both were kicking ass and taking names in their sci-fi series while showing sensitivity and humour throughout. And yes, I’m still pissed Dark Matter was cancelled. Thanks for asking.


Best Lead Actor, Drama Series

  • Brian Markinson, The Romeo Section
  • Richard Short, Mary Kills People
  • Christopher Heyerdahl, Van Helsing
  • Alexander Ludwig, Vikings
  • Shawn Doyle, Bellevue

Brian Markinson was so, so good in Season 2 of The Romeo Section; I’m thrilled he got a nod here. Rather than swap a name out, I’d like to add one: Shaun Johnston. His Grandpa Jack on Heartland has been through a lot over the past several years but he’s always been the rock everyone could lean on. In this past season of Heartland, Jack was called upon to help run the ranch while being there for Georgie and Amy, especially when Ty was away in Mongolia. Those storylines called on Johnston to do some major heavy lifting and he shouldered it with no problems at all. Honourable mention to X Company‘s Jack Laskey who was so fantastic as Alfred Graves in the historical drama’s final season.


Best Lead Actress, Drama Program or Limited Series

  • Sarah Gadon, Alias Grace
  • Maxim Roy, Bad Blood
  • Karine Vanasse, Cardinal
  • Camille Sullivan, The Disappearance
  • Hélène Joy, Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays

Honestly, how can you pick a winner out of this group of wide-ranging and fantastic characters?! That said, the Murdoch Mysteries fan in me is pissed Hélène Joy is nominated in this category rather than Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Shaftesbury, the show’s production company, put the Christmas special up for consideration in this category AND the show up for Best Drama Series, so I guess the Academy decided she was a better fit here?


Best Lead Actor, Drama Program or Limited Series

  • Kim Coates, Bad Blood
  • Edward Holcroft, Alias Grace
  • Billy Campbell, Cardinal
  • Alan Thicke, It’s Not My Fault and I Don’t Care Anyway
  • Yannick Bisson, Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays

Again, a stunning group of actors in this category and my same complaint for the previous category goes here: what the hell is Yannick Bisson doing here and not in the major Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series?!

The Canadian Screen Awards Broadcast gala airs live Sunday, March 11 at 8 p.m. on CBC.

 

 

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CBC’s How to Buy a Baby injects humour into infertility

I never knew infertility could be so funny. Yet there I was, giggling as Jane begged Charlie to “just stick it in my…” What she was asking him to put in there was not what I’d expected, nor was it where I’d initially thought. And that made How to Buy a Baby so hilarious.

Created by Wendy Litner and starring Meghan Heffern (Wynonna Earp) as Jane and Marc Bendavid (Dark Matter) as her husband Charlie, all 10 episodes dropped Monday on CBC’s website. Litner—who has written for The Globe and Mail, Today’s Parent (read her story about How to Buy a Baby), has a blog and most recently served as story editor on The Beaverton—is on the advisory board of Fertility Matters Canada, providing information, support, awareness and education about infertility. And, with How to Buy a Baby, she also provides laughter.

With Jane and Charlie struggling to get pregnant, it only made sense they’d run into an old friend, Debbie, at a coffee shop in Episode 1. A friend with a newborn snuggled up tightly to her chest, professing that motherhood is “f—ing amazing.” Because, of course, success in life can only be marked by motherhood. The moment is there for a chuckle but then leads into that awkward discussion regarding when Jane and Charlie are going to have a child and the whole infertility thing is mentioned. Debbie suggests a juice cleanse will solve that because it worked for someone she knew. The scene spotlights just how well-meaning, but dunderheaded, some folks can be. Jane and Charlie don’t have any problems going into detail outlining their issues—his testicles and her uterine wall—to Debbie, before leaving.

Produced by LoCo Motion Pictures (My 90-Year-Old Roommate), How to Buy a Baby is able to show the silliness in what traditionally could be seen as sad. Charlie is in the middle of providing a semen sample when his mother shoots him a text and Jane worries she’s got an ugly vagina.

There are truly touching scenes too: in Episode 2, Jane outlines to Charlie’s mother the intricacies of in vitro fertilization. It’s less than a minute long—Charlie’s sister, Alley (Mr. D‘s Emma Hunter) ruins the moment—but it’s there and drives home a key point: open discussion about subjects like infertility needs to happen. We’re getting better at discussing mental health out in the open; let’s hope the rest of the body comes next.

Watch all 10 episodes of How to Buy a Baby now via CBC’s website.

Image courtesy of LoCo Motion Pictures.

 

 

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Link: ‘Dark Matter’ EP Vanessa Piazza Sets Multi-Year Producing Partnership with eOne

From Joe Otterson of Variety:

Link: ‘Dark Matter’ EP Vanessa Piazza Sets Multi-Year Producing Partnership with eOne
Entertainment One (eOne) has entered into a multi-year producing partnership with executive producer Vanessa Piazza through her production company Piazza Entertainment.

The partnership encompasses Piazza’s television projects, where eOne will serve as the studio and will control worldwide rights. Piazza developed and executive produced the international hit supernatural series “Lost Girl” and served as executive producer of Seasons 1 and 2 of the sci-fi drama “Dark Matter.” Continue reading.

 

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