Tag Archives: Featured

Welcome to the new TV, eh?

What’s new? Well, we’re back after a six-ish month hiatus that was meant to be a permanent cancellation, for one thing.

And we’re a “we” for another.

I’ll still do what I used to do – post the evening’s listings for new episodes, link to articles about Canadian TV from elsewhere on the web, and write the occasional interview or rant … I mean, op-ed.

But you’ll notice a big difference in the amount of original, professional content on the site. I’ve taken on a partner, Greg David, formerly of TV Guide Canada, and we recruited a team of contributors who will help us do reviews, interviews, features, and podcasts. Check out their bios.

We’ve been able to make this happen because of the incredible, unbelievable, generous support from you, our readers.

We launched a little Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $1,500 so Greg and I could get the site up and running until we could find stable funding, and it exploded. In less than a week we exceeded our goal by over 1000%. We’re now stretching to $20,000 while seeking ongoing advertising and sponsorship.

The dream is to have a financially sustainable site that supports professional journalism about Canadian television. With your help we’re already on our way.

If you can contribute, or spread the word, the Indiegogo campaign is live until August 24.

If you want to talk to us about advertising or sponsorship, please get in touch.

And if you want to come to a place where Canadian television is worthy of serious discussion, welcome to the new TV, eh? We’re thrilled to be back.



Dr. Pascal Lee or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the asteroid

Pascal & Pong on ATV
Dr. Pascal Lee and Ping Pong

Mission Asteroid airs Thursday, December 5 on CBC’s Doc Zone

Q: Why did dinosaurs become extinct?
A: Because they didn’t have a space program.

Dr. Pascal Lee shared that joke while promoting Mission Asteroid, the CBC documentary about how we’re all going to die a fiery death in a mass extinction event.

I may be misrepresenting slightly. In the words of director Jeff Thrasher: “Mission Asteroid follows asteroid hunters and scientists who know just how vulnerable we are to a strike and are working to prevent it from happening. This documentary introduces viewers to astronauts and researchers as they travel from the lab to the field, testing technologies and techniques that will help make manned missions to asteroids a reality.”

In any case, Lee tells me my plan to build a bunker won’t help in the event of a major asteroid strike so I will hope, as he does, that the documentary opens some eyes to why space exploration isn’t frivolous. Not only does it connect us to our place in the cosmos, it could literally save humanity. It’s a particularly timely message given NASA’s shrinking budget and questions about the future of government-funded space exploration.

The fireball over Chelyabinsk, Russia this year definitely opened some eyes and some YouTube channels, and that was a relatively small asteroid that burned up in the atmosphere. If one were to land in the middle of a city, it could be both small enough to avoid detection and large enough to cause massive destruction, “forget about the gigantic one that would cause the end of civilization,” Lee added. “The likelihood is small but the devastation is monumental.”

“Historically we have not witnessed an impact of devastating proportions while humans were around. But if you take the geological perspective, all of a sudden it’s common.”

Jeff with Pascal onsite
Pascal Lee with director Jeff Thrasher

In case I’m making Lee sound like a less-comforting Nostradamus, he was as humorous and charming as someone can be while predicting our possible demise, and is seen throughout the documentary with his canine sidekick Ping Pong.

If a dog’s loyalty doesn’t convince you of his trustworthiness, his credentials are more than sound: he’s a senior planetary scientist at the SETI Institute and the chairman of the Mars Institute. For almost two decades he has been serving as director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project, an international field research project at the Haughton impact crater site on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic, where the documentary team captured some amazing footage.

Lee says Mission Asteroid is the first documentary he knows of that looks at what is being done to stop or mitigate the threat of asteroids, as well as plans to explore and even land on them, and it includes world-renowned experts, including the University of Calgary’s Alan Hildebrand.

One of Lee’s areas of expertise is the human exploration of Mars, which he proposes should begin with the exploration of Mars’ asteroid-like moons Phobos and Deimos, so his interest in asteroids is multifaceted. (He’s also multitalented – besides drawing and painting, he recently released the children’s book Mission: Mars, causing colleagues to joke he’s a “man on a mission,” though the similarity in titles is pure coincidence.)

His interest in exploring Mars comes from its connection to Earth — how it evolved in a way that’s similar to our home planet, the possibility of life, and the possibility of sending life there. He says we’re on the first credible path now, predicting humans will reach orbit by the 2030s before landing on the surface. Exploring asteroids is one milestone toward that goal … so maybe I should plan to buy a ticket to Mars Colony as my asteroid collision avoidance plan instead of that bunker. As Lee puts it, “You don’t want all your eggs in the same basket,” planetarily speaking.

“We’re too caught up in our day-to-day lives sometimes to realize we are all of us on this ball hurtling through space,” he says. “Imagine something coming at us from the other direction. The sun is travelling at mind-boggling speeds through the galaxy. Everything is in motion.”

“We can bury ourselves in our economic worries, in our social worries, but we are also passengers on this train wreck that’s about to happen. I hope this documentary makes people look out the window, and makes people who are directing the space program — who are steering the ship — to look ahead and see what’s coming.”

Dr. Pascal Lee: spreader of sunshine. Catch him in Mission Asteroid Thursday on CBC’s Doc Zone.


Meet The Sloths (and other deadly sins)


Have you met the sloths?

If your immediate response was anything other than “OMG, I love the sloths, they are so cute, squeeeeeeeee!” you clearly haven’t met these unbelievably mellow creatures, with their Mona Lisa smiles and zen-like demeanour. They are the animal equivalent of Buddha, or possibly Cheech and Chong.

Where can you hang with the sloths? At the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, of course. This one-of-a-kind facility rescues, rehabilitates and houses countless sloths. But if Costa Rica is a bit too far, you can always tune into tonight’s season premiere of Meet The Sloths on Animal Planet.

There is a great deal to learn about these enigmatic creatures, but this quick primer should get you caught up on your sloth studies.

What you need to know:

  1. The most interesting thing about sloths is their poop
  2. You can gauge a sloth’s health by its poop
  3. Sloths only poop once a week
  4. Pooping is virtually the only time they descend to the ground
  5. Sloths don’t just descend and poop, they do a “poop dance”
  6. Seriously, the sanctuary’s staff is so obsessed with sloth poop that you’d think it was laced with 24k gold

Don’t believe me? Watch this clip:

Defecation aside, the new season also delves into the romances and clandestine affairs of the sanctuary’s furry inhabitants. In episode 2 we meet “Brad Pitt,” an unusually handsome wild sloth who is helpless to resist the siren call of the females. By siren call I mean a high pitched shriek that could possibly shatter glass. Poor Brad scales concrete walls in dogged pursuit of the ladies, and unfortunately adds lust to his other obvious deadly sin.

You know … sloth … deadly sin … just watch the movie Seven and you’ll get it.

Animal Planet’s Meet The Sloths premieres today, Saturday, November 23 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT


Interview: Dr. Carin Bondar of Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World

Dr. Carin Bondar in a Faraday cage at the Boston Museum of Science

She didn’t get to meet Stephen Hawking, but in the Discovery World series Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World, Dr. Carin Bondar did get to explore how Nikola Tesla’s dream of wireless power is being realized, how biomechatronic prosthetic limbs can create enhanced human beings, was embedded with a virtual SWAT team, and drove one of the fastest accelerating electric cars.

“This was a dream job for me, probably one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had,” she said in a recent interview.

With the second season premiere “Inspired by Nature” airing tonight in Canada, viewers can oooh and ahhh along with the team of scientists who investigate breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, engineering and robotics, and their implications for the future.

Tonight’s segments include an adhesive modeled after gecko skin and all-terrain robots. The investigative scientists are assigned story topics based on logistics more than their particular areas of expertise, lending them the same sense of wonder as their audience in discovering these cool new technologies.

Plus, “we’re doing jobs like this because we genuinely are blown away by stuff like this, and we want to learn more about it,” said Bondar, whose wireless power segment had her driving a wireless electric BMW (“I’m glad they didn’t tell me how much it was worth of I’d have been way too nervous to drive it”) and charging a phone and various electronics without those pesky cords.

An evolutionary biologist from Chilliwack, BC, Bondar is an online and TV host for Scientific American, PBS Digital Studios and Earth Touch Productions, as well as her own independent web series and various shows.

She gravitated toward video and short-form writing as working with her greatest strengths. Since promoting scientific literacy and wonder among the public is a goal, she balances the need to be accurate and the need to be understandable.

“Shows like The Big Bang Theory have made it ok to include a lot of that geekspeak, as long as you’re clear about it and your audience understands,” she explained.

Part of her work at Scientific American includes reviewing popular media for scientific accuracy, and she pointed to Rise of the Planet of the Apes as a particularly egregious example of the opposite. Yes, she realizes much of it was meant to be ridiculous, “but even the science was ridiculous and I felt they were mocking what scientists do.”

With Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World, she’s thrilled to be part of a show that celebrates rather than fears new technology.

“I’m a mom of four who lives in Chilliwack, so for me to be involved with an international show of this calibre, I’m just so happy.”

Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World is a six-part documentary series airing Fridays on Discovery World.