Tag Archives: Discovery

Discovery’s Daily Planet kicks off Season 21 in style

It seems like just yesterday that Daily Planet debuted. With Jay Ingram at its helm, the show—then called @discovery.ca—launched with a goal to explore the scientific angle to current events. Twenty-one seasons later, Daily Planet continues on that path when the show returns to Discovery on Monday with “Extreme Machines Week.”

“We have people on the team who have been with the show since the very beginning,” says Dan Riskin, who has been co-hosting Daily Planet with Ziya Tong since Season 17. “We’re really proud to be representing them.”

Daily Planet shows no signs of slowing down, ratings-wise. Season 20 was the most-watched yet, the third year in a row a viewership benchmark was beaten. Tong, who has been at the helm since 2008 when she joined Ingram, thinks she knows why.

“We have all of these specialty theme weeks that we didn’t have in the past when I started,” she says. “We go off to the Consumer Electronics Show every year, we’ve got Shark Week now and we have a wonderful interactive audience that’s growing with us. It’s a very different show than it was 20 years ago.” She’s right. With themed weeks devoted to toothsome fish, high-tech toys, tornados, future tech and extreme machines, and reporting done at a fast-paced, almost fever pitch, Daily Planet has evolved alongside the science it reports on.

“It’s like learning with a wow factor,” Tong says. That fast pace extends behind the scenes too. Tong describes how seasons are planned well in advance, with on location filming of future segments happening during the summer. Those doc-style bits are intercut with the stuff the team learns about, writes up and reports on every day of broadcast. Deadlines are so tight, Riskin reveals, some floor segments are still being filmed when that night’s broadcast is underway.

“Extreme Machines Week” launches Season 21 with several interesting segments, including tech correspondent Lucas Cochran mounting a pogo stick on steroids, a gyrocopter pilot who aims for a world record and a unique job in Amsterdam: bicycle fisherman. Riskin jetted to the Netherlands’ capital to catch up with Richard and Tom, two dudes who pilot a crane and barge contraption that travels Amsterdam’s canals pulling discarded bikes out of the water. If the pair don’t keep up their task, the accumulated rusting metal—up to 15,000 bikes a year—will clog up the waterways. The segment also shows the duo pulling the hulk of the car out of the murk, leading one to wonder if other, more ominous, items have been discovered.

“The question everybody asks is, ‘Do you ever find dead bodies?'” Riskin says. “Yes, they do. It often happens in winter when somebody has to take a leak and they fall in. It’s hard to find a way out of those canals when it’s dark and you’re drunk.” Ah, science.

Daily Planet airs Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery.


Preview: Blood, Sweat & Tools celebrates DIY disasters

I was a little confused when the first few seconds of Discovery’s latest home building competition, Blood, Sweat & Tools—debuting Monday on Discovery—started to roll. As the narrator explained, the most inept handymen and women had been collected from across the country to compete in construction challenges. Um, hadn’t this already been done by Andrew Younghusband and Discovery on Canada’s Worst Handyman?

Like that show, competitors have weeks to improve their skills in hammering, nailing, sawing and building. Also like Handyman, the competitors are judged on their work by three experts in Rob Koci of Canadian Contractor magazine; fourth-generation tradesman and carpenter, Helder Brum; and power tool expert Hillary Manion, who deem who gets to stick around in the competition. The big twist that sets this apart from that? A $50,000 grand prize, viewers deciding who gets to take the windfall home and … the competitors are teams of two.

Filmed in Ontario’s cottage country, each duo is assigned a ramshackle cottage and a bunch of tools to help them fix the buildings up. In Monday’s bow, the teams are tasked with three challenges: build a worktable, construct a fire pit and swinging bench, and install a toilet, all while showing workmanship, planning and teamwork. But before the teams can even start on the projects they have to get into their locked cottages. That has the expected result: teams try to use brute force to get into their cabins as quickly as possible rather than show any kind of forethought in how they do it.

I find shows like this focus mainly on what teams can’t do rather than what they can and Blood, Sweat & Tools is no different. Fun is poked at husbands who can’t manage a straight cut, women who forge ahead on projects without thinking and the general ignorance of people when it comes to some of the most basic of renovation tasks. It’s easy to get out of your depth. I know because it’s happened to me.

Thankfully, Koci, Brum and Manion are there not just to shake their heads in disbelief at these dunderheads but to actually give them instructions, plans and an education in construction with an extra helping of safety thrown in so that no one loses a finger and slaps production with a lawsuit.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer looking for tips to success with your own projects, Blood, Sweat & Tools is for you. If you just like watching people scream and yell at each other while they mess up basic home renovations, this is definitely up your alley too.

Blood, Sweat & Tools airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.


Preview: Jade Fever strikes Discovery

Gold is a hot genre in TV right now, taking up primetime slots in the form of Bering Sea Gold, Gold Rush and Yukon Gold. Is jade mining the next big genre? Discovery sure hopes to strike gold … er, green … with Jade Fever.

Debuting Tuesday with two back-to-back episodes on the specialty channel, Omnifilm’s Jade Fever wastes no time getting to some pretty interesting facts. Just 30 people live in Jade City, B.C., an outpost 24 hours from Vancouver and an hour from the Alaska border. The town is near one of the largest deposits of jade in the world and China wants as much as the country can get. More prized than gold there, investors are itching to throw money at town boss Claudia Bunce and her husband Robin Bunce, who has a gift for finding the green stuff.

For a show like Jade Fever, the storytelling is all in the edit. Robin fails to hit pay dirt—and chafes—under the orders Raymond, a Chinese geologist brought in by Robin and Claudia’s Chinese-Canadian business partner Alan Qiao. Close to 100 holes are drilled in the earth under Raymond’s command, and Robin—used to giving orders rather than take them—gets hot under the collar. There are plenty of arguments, expletives and oversized egos exposed in the debut episode’s first 20 minutes … but no jade.

This being a show about the gemstone, I knew they were going to find it by the end of Tuesday’s instalment, otherwise there was no point in having a show. But even I was shocked by how beautiful the rock was coming straight out of the ground. Hard and gleaming in the sun, it’s easy to see why jade is so prized. It is literally the colour of money, something the Bunces—and Discovery and Omnifilm—hope to collect with Season 1 of Jade Fever.

Jade Fever airs Tuesdays at 8 and 8:30 p.m. ET on Discovery.


Preview: Cold Water Cowboys sets Season 2 anchor

I had the pleasure of visiting Newfoundland during a junket for Shaun Majumder’s W Network series Majumder Manor. It was a trip I’ll never forget thanks to the rugged terrain, the food and, most importantly, the people. The days on the trip were filled with the most friendly, caring and funny folks I’ve ever met, so it’s no wonder that Cold Water Cowboys is such a joy to watch.

Returning Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery, Season 2 of Cold Water Cowboys once again pulls up anchor and follows the captains and their crews as they take to the frigid, dangerous Atlantic in search of the big catch that will pay the bills.

It’s not easy. A harsh winter in Newfoundland has wreaked havoc on the fleet and thick pack ice threatens to chew through hulls. And yet that doesn’t stop Richard Gillett from pushing Midnight Shadow through … until he gets stuck fast. The horrible crunching of the ice against the hull set my nerves on edge and even know I figured the sinking of Midnight Shadow would have garnered some headlines here in the west, I was still nervous for the b’ys.

Styled after fellow Discovery series Deadliest Catch, Cold Water Cowboys uses a multi-purpose on-screen map to zip between boats, zooming from Midnight Shadow to Atlantic Bandit and skipper Paul Tiller, who is trying to make the money he used to renovate his boat over the winter back via crab fishing on the Grand Bank. Unlike Deadliest Catch, the crab pots used in the Atlantic are smaller than the welded steel beasts used in the Bering Sea. But nearly empty pots are the same regardless of what body of water you’re fishing and Paul comes up short out of the gate.

Other crews covered in Tuesday’s return are Conway and Rick Caines in the Seadoo; newcomers to the series are Andre and Michelle Jesso on Wave on Wave.

What sets Cold Water Cowboys apart from other shows in the genre is the setting itself. Aerial shots of green-tinged peaks, paddling polar bears and glistening icebergs are shown against a soundtrack of fiddle music. It highlights the uniqueness of Canada’s youngest province and the high entertainment value of these Cold Water Cowboys.

Cold Water Cowboys airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.


Preview: High-flying Airshow spotlights daredevils of the skies

I love airshows. I would not love to be a passenger in one of the planes that participate in them. Those loops, dives and stalls excite me when I’m safely on the ground but the thought of experiencing them first-hand causes my stomach to churn.

Those feelings were further driven home by Discovery’s latest series, Airshow, debuting tonight. To put it bluntly, I just don’t have the stuff to get behind the stick—or climb along the wing—that these folks do. But I’m more than happy to sit back and watch. Produced by Great Pacific TV, the same folks behind Highway Thru Hell, Airshow is stunning to watch on an HD TV. Bright paint, blue sky, black asphalt and multicoloured flight outfits pop as these folks explain not only their reasoning behind making a career out of performing in airshows but the inherent danger—and touch of crazy—involved.

Things don’t start all that promisingly. The awful footage of wing walker Jane Wicker and her pilot Charlie Schwenker, crashing and dying in an Ohio airshow in 2013 is shown before introducing viewers to former bush pilot and airline owner “Super Dave” Mathieson who admits to being bitten by the airplane bug when he was a youngster. Wing walker Carol Pilon is up next, describing the feeling of having the wind whip by her as she stands outside of her own airplane. Additional featured storylines in Episode 1 include rookie Stefan Trischuck and his Pitts Special and airbus Donna Flynn, who runs airshows.

Offsetting the interviews and airshow footage from the ground is stunning in-air stuff showcasing Dave performing in his MX-2 and Carol on her Stearman Bi-plane with veteran Marcus Paine at the controls; future episodes boast reel of The Patriots, Pete McLeod, Jon Melby and Sean Tucker taking to the skies.

If you’ve wanted to know what it’s like to fly in one of these planes alongside industry veterans, strap in and catch Airshow.

Airshow airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Discovery.