CITYTV & OMNI TELEVISION ORIGINAL SERIES (PREMIERING ON SUNDAY, JUNE 11):
Premiering on OMNI Television this Sunday, June 11 are two new original series, including the comedy Our Big Punjabi Family and five-part documentary series Katiba Banat: Sisters in Arms, plus an all-new season of Filipino sketch comedy ABROAD.
Starting at 7:30 p.m. ET is Our Big Punjabi Family, a mixed Punjabi and English-language comedy series about a family therapist Sitara (played by Arshdeep Purba) and her family who are forced to move in with her husband’s traditional Punjabi in-laws after they lose their money in a bad investment. Following Our Big Punjabi Family is a new season of ABROAD. Produced in collaboration with Longhope Media Inc., Season 2 of ABROAD – the hit Filipino sketch comedy series – will premiere with eight, all-new 30-minute episodes in English and Tagalog at 8:30 p.m. ET. Co-created by and starring Filipina comedian Isabel Kanaan (Second Jen, Air Farce NYE, This Hour Has 22 Minutes), ABROAD is a Canadian Screen Award-nominated series based on the immigrant experience in Canada. Then, at 9:30 p.m. ET, the premiere of Adhel Arop’s Katiba Banat: Sisters in Arms – a five-part docuseries that uncovers the previously hidden stories of Canadian women who helped to liberate South Sudan.
As announced on Monday, Citytv has greenlit the all-new, one-hour crime drama Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent, an adaptation of the legendary Law & Order brand, slated to air on Citytv in Spring 2024.
And, as announced earlier this year, Citytv has greenlit an all-new season of Canada’s Got Talent – Citytv’s most-viewed original series in over a decade – in partnership with McGillivray Entertainment Media Inc., Fremantle, and SYCO Entertainment. New for next season, the winner of Canada’s Got Talent Season 3 will receive $1,000,000 – the biggest cash prize in Canadian television history – courtesy of Rogers. That’s not all! CIBC is awarding each of the six Golden Buzzer recipients next season with $25,000 each, totalling $150,000, to help realize their ambitions. Plus, CIBC will provide the Season 3 winner with financial advice. Applications are open now on Citytv.com.
Citytv is the gift that keeps on giving long after Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest on Saturday, Dec. 31, with a roster of new and returning hit series on its winter schedule, plus star-studded live events on Citytv, Citytv.com, and Citytv+.
Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 17 is Citytv’s newest addition to its strong original programming slate Wong & Winchester, produced in partnership with Pixcom. Wong & Winchester is a female-driven buddy detective procedural which follows Marissa Wong (played by Grace Lynn Kung), a bitter ex-cop turned private investigator, and Sarah Winchester (played by Sofia Banzhaf), a former career student with ambitious naivety, who form an unlikely partnership. Earlier in the evening, Hudson & Rex’s paw-fect cop-and-canine duo return with new episodes in its new timeslot, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Plus, Canada’s Got Talent, Citytv’s most-viewed original series in over a decade, returns with an all-new season this March.
2022 WINTER PREMIERE DATES
All dates are subject to change. All times ET. (s) = simulcast
Tuesday, Jan. 17 8 p.m. Hudson & Rex New Episodes – Citytv Original 9 p.m. Wong & Winchester NEW – Citytv Original
Last month, we got the scoop on Season 5 of Hudson & Rex from Mary Pedersen. The writer and co-executive producer (top left in the image above)—who has done stints on Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries—added director to her resumé when she went behind the camera on Sunday’s newest episode.
“The Good Shepherd,” airing Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern on Citytv, finds Charlie enlisting the help of an unorthodox ally when Rex is accused of attacking a decorated former police officer. With a guest turn by Shaun Majumder, we spoke to Mary Pedersen about her transition to directing. And, she gives us a major behind-the-scenes peek at the decision to put Charlie and Sarah together.
Was directing an episode of Hudson & Rex something you’ve been interested in doing? And did you end up shadowing some directors over the past few seasons to get ready? Mary Pedersen: I had shadowed [showrunner] Pete [Mitchell]. I don’t remember if it was my last season on Murdoch or the second to last, but I did shadow him on one of the last blocks when he was directing. Pete’s always been such a mentor and a role model to me as a showrunner and I could see how being a director informs his show running. I think it helps him really marry the creative and the practical. We always have to think about both things in film and he’s got a great eye for, ‘What are we going to see of this? What’s going to be on screen and what’s going to be entertaining?’ And I love his directing.
I knew that, as I’m aiming towards trying to show run one day, that I wanted to direct and learn more about making TV from that perspective, so I’d asked. They were generous enough to take a shot at me. I’d never directed anything before, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity for sure.
What was the hardest part of directing? MP: The hardest thing was the waiting. We started making plans in January or February for who was going to direct the season. I found out then and started prepping, I think, in July. I was very nervous, but also really what a great creative challenge, to have to do something that I haven’t done before and to look at the show in a whole new way.
When you get into the process of prepping for a season, that’s also very familiar because the writer’s going to prep meetings and we’re familiar with that whole process from start to finish. It was just sitting in a different chair during prep.
One of the great things is that having been on the show for a season and a half, I have so much trust in our cast and crew and people would say to me, ‘You’re not going to be able to mess it up.’ I have so much confidence in our director of photography, Ian Vatcher, who has been on the show from the start, and the first AD that I was working with, George Jeffery, so I felt like I had a good safety net and the nerves basically, for the most part, dissipated after Day 1.
Writing for the page, you have got the picture in your head. When you’re directing, the pictures are evolving in front of you. Did you find that to be a huge, huge difference? MP: No. I say no because the first script I wrote 20 years ago, I was faced with that shock of the difference between what you imagine when you’re writing it and what it is when they shoot it and that’s been happening to me over and over since then. It’s never what you think it was, but very often it’s better.
Shaun Majumder guests in this episode. What it was working with him? MP: I mean he is so lovely and he’s so funny and he’s so thorough. He’s got a speech in the episode and he adjusted it to make it more Newfoundland which I really appreciated. I feel like I lucked out so much with him and, really, with all the cast because they are all so professional, so prepared and so delightful.
Unlike Murdoch Mysteries, where William and Julia’s relationship was dragged out, you didn’t really wait with Charlie and Sarah. They are together. Were you happy with that decision? You can either answer that as a writer and executive producer or as a television fan. MP: We actually shot two endings for last season. And then it was decided a bit later [which ending to use]. That was because of that exact question, ‘Are you going to want to draw the will they, won’t they out for longer?’
I love a will they, won’t they. I will stick with the show forever for that. I love it, but I also love Sarah and Charlie together. We thought, ‘We can do it.’ They have such great chemistry and I felt like that’s really a challenge for the writers to keep it interesting. What’s it going to be like while they’re together? I’m hoping that we’ve done that.
Hudson & Rex airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.
Mary Pedersen and I go way back. We first connected when she was a story editor on Murdoch Mysteries. After five seasons as a writer on Murdoch, Pedersen moved to Frankie Drake Mysteries where she was a writer and co-executive producer. These days, the Canadian Screen Award nominee can be found writing, co-executive producing (and directing her first-ever episode of TV) on Hudson & Rex.
Returning for Season 5 on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv, Hudson & Rex has become not only a Canadian hit but an international one too. The tale of St. John’s Detective Charlie Hudson (John Reardon) and his capable canine partner Rex (Diesel vom Burgimwald) have resonated since it was adapted from the original German series.
In the season debut, “Lost in the Barrens,” Charlie, Rex, Dr. Sarah Truong (Mayko Nguyen), tech expert Jesse Mills (Justin Kelly), Superintendent Joe Donovan (Kevin Hanchard) and new forensic pathologist Karma Poole (Bridget Wareham) are on the case of a missing woman, and suspicion quickly falls on her boyfriend (played by Murdoch‘s Daniel Maslany).
We spoke to Mary Pedersen ahead of Sunday’s return.
We have a lot to talk about! One of the great things about Hudson & Rex is that you know you’re going to get a solid hour of entertainment. Mary Pedersen: Yes, and for all those dog lovers out there, there’s dog action. Anytime I see the dog on screen, I’m happy. So I’m one of those people.
Is there a major difference in writing for a TV series set in the modern day as opposed to a period drama like Murdoch Mysteries or Frankie Drake Mysteries or is story just story? MP: Story is story. [Co-executive producer and writer] Keri Ferencz and I both came from Frankie onto Hudson & Rex and the main thing we noticed that we were delighted about was, ‘Ooh, cell phone calls, ooh, Internet!’ You can get your clues from a different place and sometimes it speeds up the action a little bit so that people can make calls and things like that.
And [showrunner] Peter Mitchell wanted to try to show more police procedural than mystery, so that also was an adjustment for us. But I’m constantly harassing the writing room with my love of NYPD Blue, so it appeals to me, and that’s been really fun.
It’s still a mystery. We’re still often meeting all our suspects pretty early on in the story. It’s a bit of a tweak mentally in terms of more of the action and discovery feels like it’s happening in the present, as opposed to we’re unravelling something in the past. There’s also the focus on how our cops figure out what they figure out, which is also true in Murdoch Mysteries. William Murdoch has a very specific way of solving crimes and of course, Charlie has a specific way of solving crimes with his trusty dog.
When you’re writing a script and you’re referring to something that Rex is going to do, do you write, ‘Rex looks this way,’ or ‘Rex whimpers’? MP: We always feel his presence and all the directors on the show, most of our directors have been on the show before and they’ll know that you want to find Rex action as much as you can in every scene that he’s in, even if it is a matter of listening and reacting to the conversations that are happening.
So yes, we write it in to make sure we always feel his presence and that we, as writers, are thinking about him, [executive producer and dog master] Sherri Davis, and all of our cast. Our cast elevates what’s on the page and Sherri does the same thing. So she’s also so in tune with the dogs and knows what they can do and she will often look at the action we’ve written and suggest, ‘Oh, if we do it this way, that’ll be more exciting,’ or ‘This is something that we haven’t done on the show before and why don’t we?’ I think she also loves the stunt work as well as working with the dogs, so she’ll really elevate a lot of the Rex action as well.
What a place to be filming. The Murdoch Mysteries backlot is cool and everything, but man, St. John’s, Newfoundland, you can’t beat that. MP: I first went out there, a year ago in May for Season 4 and I had never been before. I am from Nova Scotia, but I’d never been to Newfoundland before and it is just spectacular. Even now when I go, you can’t look anywhere that’s not gorgeous.
I love it a lot and I’m really glad that we’re getting more and more of St. John’s and the landscape around it onto the show. I think that’s just such a wonderful world and I love that we can put it on the show.
In addition to the key cast of characters we’ve gotten to know over four seasons, we’ve got the new addition of Bridget Wareham playing forensic pathologist Karma Poole. MP: One of the main motivations for me, when we were talking at the beginning of the season about possibly bringing on another regular, semi-regular, was that Sarah—we saw this last season in one of the episodes, she goes on a retreat with some other professionals—and it really sort of drove home to both Mayko and I that Sarah doesn’t really get to talk to other women a whole lot. That was a big thing, to have somebody that Sarah could talk to besides the boys. She obviously fits in very well with the boys, but female relationships are really important in life, so that was a big part of the motivation for me in terms of getting another character onto our regular roster.
Hudson & Rex continues to welcome a whos who of Canadian talent to its episodes. Daniel Maslany kicks it off in Episode 1, but people stopping by include Paul Bronstein, Jake Epstein, Stuart Hughes, Matthew MacFadzean, Mary Walsh, K. Trevor Wilson, Steven Lund and Carlo Rota… how fun is it to write for guests of this calibre MP: We’re so lucky. I think people love to come to Newfoundland. People have just been really game to come out and play with us.
This is the third show that you’ve worked on that is not only a critical hit, but also done very well internationally. Obviously, as a professional writer, you’re happy to have a gig, but do you ever sit back and pinch yourself? MP: Every day. So much credit to Shaftesbury for making that happen and for making shows that appeal to so many people and Pete. Pete’s always, always, always had an eye on what is going to be entertaining. You don’t get a story past Pete if he thinks something is boring about it or too earnest. It’s all about having fun and entertaining people and yeah, I feel incredibly lucky to have stepped onto that boat.
Hudson & Rex airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.