Tag Archives: Jonny Harris

Jonny Harris takes flight in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on Still Standing

For a quartet of seasons on Still Standing, host Jonny Harris has been crisscrossing Canada visiting small communities of people eking out a living despite tough times. Some towns are reeling over the loss of a key industry that left town. Other burgs are finding their footing thanks to budding tourism. Many of the communities Harris has visited are First Nations territories.

The latest is featured in Tuesday’s episode when he drops by Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, down the road a piece from Toronto. It’s a part of the province I’ve driven by many times on the way to and from Ottawa and Montreal—there are signs marking the area on Highway 401—but I’ve never made the turnoff to do some exploring.

Now I plan to, especially after watching Harris’ latest episode, which celebrates not only the tradition of the people in the area but the future too. I had no clue there was an aviation school there as part of the First Nations Technical Institute.

“We’re always interested in visiting First Nations communities,” Harris says over the phone. “The flight school was definitely something that caught our interest. A flight school that is, first and foremost, for Aboriginal kids. That was pretty neat.” It sure is. To see Harris behind the controls of a Cessna for just a few minutes is a sight to behold, as is his chat with the instructors and students at the school. Harris has made a career out of the gift of gab and it’s the high point for me during episodes of Still Standing, especially when he’s chatting and listening to stories told in Tyendinaga by Turtle Clan Mother Janice Hill, tanner Randy Brant or learning the intricacies of floorball from goalie Madison Brinklow.

Aside from celebrating Canadians eking out a living outside of the large cities, Still Standing revels in inclusivity: what connects us and what makes us different. That can be reflected in geography, livelihood and culture. And, as always, a shared laugh through Harris’ wry observations and teasing during his standup performance.

“It’s got to be a little bit saucy and cheeky,” he says. “But it also has to be respectful. I’m not there to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”

Still Standing airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Jonny Harris showcases more Canadian communities in Still Standing

At long last, Jonny Harris and Still Standing are back on our television screens. In a bit of a shakeup, the programming folks moved Still Standing—and its Tuesday night partner Baroness Von Sketch Show—from summer until fall. That gives folks of Harris a double dose of the baby-faced comedian in this and his long-running gig on Murdoch Mysteries.

In the Season 4 return, Harris arrives in Tignish, PEI, a small community to—as is the series formula—showcase the place, the people, the struggles they’re enduring and then celebrate them through laughs and anecdotes. It’s a formula that works by playing to Harris’ strengths as a storyteller and wry observationalist. Still Standing isn’t a “woe is me” tale but one of making the best of things and/or striving to make them better.

That’s certainly the case in Tignish, located on the western tip of the province. Far away from the Confederation Bridge and Anne of Green Gables is this group of just over 700 citizens. The area, it turns out, was a favourite stomping ground for Stompin’ Tom Connors. The legendary singer-songwriter even wrote of the area in his tune “The Song of the Irish Moss.” The moss industry may have long gone, but the memory remains in that song and hoping to cash in on that Tignish built the Stompin’ Tom Centre. The facility, in addition to including Connors’ boyhood home and the one-room schoolhouse he attended, houses a concert hall where his gold and platinum records, guitar and hat and boots are on display.

Also keeping Tignish on the map is, of course, the lobster industry, which Harris gets an education on, and the life of dew worms. Both make it into his stand-up act and are very, very funny.

Upcoming locations on Harris’ journeys include Carcross, Yukon; Rogersville, Nova Scotia; Fraser Lake, British Columbia; Cobalt, Ontario; and New Denmark, New Brunswick.

Still Standing airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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Comments and queries for the week of March 30

What was Julia’s last sentence at the end of the last episode [of Murdoch Mysteries]? I’ve relistened to it over and over and still can’t make it out. Can someone tell me, please! —Carole

I only saw it in a “spoiler.” I believe she said, “I can tear up the ticket.” Or something to that effect. He replied that they could buy another one, indicating that he wanted to travel with her …  Mea culpa if I heard it wrong!! —Mary

Editor’s Note: That’s what I heard too, Mary. 

I can see Nina returning to Toronto at some future point, where George is engaged to another. —Jane

I liked Nina after getting to know her more. At first I thought she was a bit of a floozy. Sorry, Erin. But as time went on I felt she did love George. But like the women of MM they are strong-willed and I love that they are portrayed so strong at that time in history. We will welcome her back anytime. Good luck in your future endeavours. —Liz

I think Nina is an heiress from someplace. That’s why she is going to Paris because her family is looking for her and getting too close. Where else would she get the money to go the first time with George and now again to go to live? The family probably doesn’t like her lifestyle of being on the stage so she ran away. Just a few thoughts meandering through my mind. —Sharon

Yes, I really liked the relationship between George and Nina, but I have always had the thought that Dr. Grace would return and get back with George Crabtree. Even though she is gay I think she still loves George. —Jeannette

The way the character has been written and several things she has said have led viewers to believe there are secrets she is keeping things to do with family issues and who she may have been before she appeared on the stage in Toronto. Would be a shame if that was left hidden from us and we were never to learn more about her … bring her back from Paris, please! Find a way, writers. —Terry

I think Erin is a fantastic actress. I always felt she was really Nina. The connection with George and the conflict in their expectations for the future felt so real. Jonny is the star of the show as far as I am concerned. Wish Julia and William would realize they are not right for each other. Rather tired of Julia, rigid and always has to be right. William deserves better. —Diana


I wish they would do a season [of Home to Win] where they consider current homeowners who have encountered a disability where their current home is no longer suitable. It could be something where the winning contestant(s) would sell their current home afterwards to offset the costs of the new home purchase and renovations. Accessible housing would be an interesting challenge for all these designers and builders ’cause the seasons I’ve seen haven’t been accessible homes. —Gary

Editor’s Note: This is a great idea. Are you listening, Corus?

 

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.

 

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Murdoch Mysteries: Erin Agostino says goodbye to Nina Bloom

The good news to come out of Murdoch MysteriesSeason 11 finale was that William Murdoch and Julia Ogden are still together. The not-so-great news? Nina Bloom and George Crabtree are not.

Sadly, the burlesque dancer who shimmied her way into George’s heart accepted a gig at Moulin Rouge and departed for Paris, leaving our favourite constable heartbroken. Actress Erin Agostino has received praise from Murdoch Mysteries fans and those behind the scenes on the show. Writer-producer Mary Pedersen recently said of Agostino: “We love Erin Agostino. She has been wonderful and has really won over the fans which is really something because the character, on paper, doesn’t look like someone Crabtree should end up with. That’s really a credit to Erin’s work.”

The Montreal-born Agostino—who stars alongside Mia Kirshner, Erin Karpluk and Randal Edwards in the feature film A Swingers Weekend, debuting next month—spoke with us about Nina and saying goodbye to Murdoch Mysteries.

Before we talk about some specific storylines, tell me how you ended up on Murdoch Mysteries in the first place.
Erin Agostino: I auditioned for a guest-star role at the end of the ninth season. I went in and auditioned. Peter Mitchell was in the room and would be directing that episode. It took about a week or two weeks to find out that I’d got the part. Guest-starring on a show that has been on the air for that many seasons was horrific because it’s a well-oiled machine and you don’t really know what your part in it is. Everyone was so welcoming and warm and just amazing, from Peter to the cast and the crew. It was a family that welcomed you with open arms.

I went into this thinking this was it. I would guest-star in that episode [“From Buffalo with Love“]. There was a chance to recur in the following season but nothing was set in stone. I really connected with Nina. I loved that part and it felt very natural to be her and Jonny Harris and I had a wonderful connection. I guess that’s what sparked the writers to put her back in in Season 10.

What were your thoughts when you first saw this character on paper?
I hadn’t really watched the show mainly because I didn’t have a TV when I first moved to Toronto. As soon as I got the audition—I was in Montreal when I got the role—I put on Murdoch and watched as much as I could. I watched Season 8 and thought about the character. I loved how mysterious she was. There were secrets. She comes across as this woman who knows it all but she is hiding this vulnerable heart that she’s afraid to break. I loved the mix where she is this strong woman but this vulnerable child at the same time.

The relationship between George and Nina was very hot and heavy. What kind of trust did you and Jonny establish so you could play the intense scenes you both did?
It’s scary going in, knowing you have all of these passionate scenes and you have never met the other person or done a chemistry read or anything. Day 1, I remember, was a kissing scene. It was basically, ‘Hey, pleased to meet you. How are you? Let’s make out.’ [Laughs.] It could have been really awkward, right? But it was a relaxed environment. Peter Mitchell always creates that, so I was instantly relaxed, which was key. I’ve worked with a lot of people and Jonny is just not what you’d expect for someone who has the success that he has. I met him and the first thing he said was that he was going to craft services and did I want a tea or anything? I was like, ‘Really?’ There was an instant comfort that developed. Over the years we’ve become closer. I call him a friend, which made those scenes a lot easier.

The last scene we shot, the breakup scene, it was hard. We were crying, some of the crew was crying, it was a beautiful moment but it was tough. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we felt like if it was goodbye for a little bit it was still really rough.

When did you become aware of the Murdoch Mysteries fandom?
At some point in Season 10. It’s been overwhelming, especially recently. There have been so many messages of love and support. It just means the world to me. To play someone who is, in my opinion, a strong role model who is not afraid to be different … to have her affect so many people is beautiful. The support has been overwhelming.

Peter Mitchell and most recently Mary Pedersen have said they loved what you brought to the role and will miss you. What does that mean to you?
It means everything. It’s my job as an actor to find something real in a character, whether they are someone who is portrayed negatively or positively, there is good and bad in everyone and it’s our job to bring the good and human side forward and make that person whole.

It was sad that George and Nina broke up, but I respect the fact neither of them would give up their beliefs for the other.
They were both willing to bend for that other person. He was going to Paris and she was going to marry him. But I think that love for each other prevented that. They knew the other person couldn’t accept going against what they believed in. It was a realization that we want different things right now and it’s just not fair to watch the other person sacrifice what they want.

You used two key words: right now. Nina is not dead unless something horrible happens on the trip over to France. She could return and I’m assuming you would be happy to return to the show.
If the writers find a way to connect them again, I am all in.

What will you miss most? And did you take anything as a memento?
I didn’t take anything. I should have. I wanted those boots. [Laughs.] I’m going to miss everyone and everything about it. It was a family.

Will you miss Nina Bloom? Do you really think she’s gone from George’s life forever? Let me know in the comments section below! And be sure to support Erin and the Canadian film industry when A Swingers Weekend hits the big screen next month.

 

 

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Preview: “Shadows are Falling” on Murdoch Mysteries

The Murdoch Mysteries fans have spoken! Last week’s episode, “Game of Kings,” was a resounding favourite and I totally agree. Maureen Jennings’ script was jam-packed with history, humour and action; everything that makes for a great instalment.

That, of course, leads us to Monday’s new episode, “Shadows are Falling,” written by Mary Pedersen and directed by Sherren Lee. You may remember the last time Pedersen penned a Murdoch Mysteries storyline, “The Accident,” where she reduced us to tears. Will she do the same this time around? Here’s the official synopsis for “Shadows are Falling” from the CBC:

Murdoch and Ogden must put aside dealing with a personal matter when Nate Desmond is charged with murder.

And here are more morsels to chew on while you wait until Monday.

Congratulations Jonny Harris!
Jonny Harris and his writing crew captured their second Canadian Screen Award in a row for their work on Still Standing. The series took home the trophy for Best Writing, Factual.

Julia and William at their darkest
This is, after all, the penultimate episode of Season 11. You didn’t expect everything to be hunky dory, did you? Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy put in performances of the season on Monday night. Keep your tissues close by.

Nate and Rebecca return
With Nate accused of murder, it only makes sense to have Rebecca James return to Toronto as well. The man collaring Nate is none other than the newly-promoted Horace McWorthy, played by Sean Bell, of Station House No. 1. That means Watts does some digging in his old stomping grounds. Meanwhile, parts of the investigation are particularly painful for William and Julia. The last several minutes of “Shadows are Falling” is shocking, sad and changes everything.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of Stephen Scott for CBC.

 

 

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