Tag Archives: Movie Central

Transporter back from the dead with Canadian comic relief

Like a good action hero surviving gunshots and headbutts, Transporter: The Series made it through some serious Season 2 uncertainty.

The action project, based on the film franchise created by Luc Besson, was in the midst of production in 2011 when lead Chris Vance was injured during filming in Toronto. Then U.S. network Cinemax dropped the show and there were showrunner changes. Now, with X-Files veteran Frank Spotnitz running things, the co-production between France’s Atlantique Productions, QVF Inc. and M6, along with The Movie Network and Movie Central in Canada, the show roars back to the pay channels on Sunday night with the first two back-to-back instalments of a 12-episode run.

Vance is Frank Martin, a ex-Special Forces operative who skips around the world transporting packages of various value–Sunday’s first storyline finds him protecting a 12-year-old boy who witnessed a high-profile murder–with bad guys always in pursuit. Along for the ride are Violante Placido (The American) as former French Intelligence Officer Caterina Boldieu; Charly Hübner (Unter Nachbarn) as Dieter Haussmann, Frank’s mastermind car mechanic; François Berléand as French Police Inspector Tarconi; and Canadian Mark Rendall (30 Days of Night) as computer whiz Jules Faroux.

“Jules is sort of the odd man out,” Rendall explains. “He’s not slick,  he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing most of the time, he’s not built for all the action and shit that Frank gets into. He’s the behind-the-scenes guy who does all of the computer hacking and stuff.” Jules is the opposite of Frank, a necessary break from the dark violence that is such a big part of the series.

Rendall divulges Jules is around for the back half of the season; the Toronto actor–who counts voicing Arthur the aardvark on the iconic animated kid’s series among his body of work–spent a week in Prague filming his Transporter scenes. By the end of his time shooting Rendall had come up with a pseudo-back story for Jules: he came from a military family, so he never really made any friends and rebelled against his father, who worked for government agencies, by learning to hack. As for how Jules came into Frank’s life, Rendall divulges his character was working for a rival Transporter before moving over to his current employer.

Unfortunately, other than acting like he was swaying back and forth inside the back of a tractor trailer, Rendall didn’t get a chance to partake in any of the fisticuffs that are part of Frank’s career and a stable of the Transporter franchise.

“The closest I came to any kind of stunts was standing close to something that exploded or riding a horse,” he admits. “I really wanted Jules to be in a fight scene and punch someone out accidentally or hit someone with a computer. Maybe next season. We’ll see.”

Transporter: The Series airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/MT on The Movie Network and Movie Central.


Preview: William Shatner explores Star Trek chaos

I’m what you’d call a fringe Star Trek fan. I was definitely late to the party with regard to the original television series and its subsequent spinoffs. I have, however, seen every Trek film (The Wrath of Khan is still my fave) and have become fascinated with the behind-the-scenes stuff. I was engrossed in William Shatner’s The Captains documentary, where he chatted with Chris Pine, Avery Brooks, Scott Bakula, Kate Mulgrew and Sir Patrick Stewart about how their roles defined their acting careers.

So it was with excitement that I checked out a screener for Monday’s HBO Canada debut of William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge, a Canadian original documentary from Ballinran Entertainment in which the former Capt. James T. Kirk explores the inner workings of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the first (and some may say most successful) spinoff that ran for seven seasons and made Stewart and his co-stars household names.

I think Shatner is at his best in a project like this, drolly voicing over the opening frames that explain how a cult hit sci-fi series spinoff was re-imagined by legendary creator Gene Roddenberry with a major studio behind it and seemed destined for success … until bickering, feuds, distrust and confusion almost derailed the whole darn thing.

It’s a kick to see Shatner strutting around Paramount Studios’ cavernous Stage 8 where the Enterprise bridge once sat, painting the picture of Roddenberry as a man in failing health who was clinging to hold onto his beloved creation. Roddenberry is depicted as an enigma, a man who was–depending on who you talked to–a visionary, stubborn, supportive, deceitful and decent. After years of failed television pilots and relegated to being a consultant on the various Trek feature films, he ended up in the captain’s chair of a new series. It wasn’t smooth sailing, as former Paramount executives recount Roddenberry’s lawyer and the Trek creator’s own health as major hurdles to jump on the way to getting cameras rolling on The Next Generation.

Those revelations, along with interviews with such cast members as Denise Crosby, Jonathan Frakes, Stewart and John de Lancie, paint an incredible picture. The cast weren’t sure they should even be doing an updated Trek series, much less whether or not it would be a hit with die-hard fans who were upset it didn’t focus on Kirk, McCoy and Spock. The briskly-paced one-hour doc covers every facet of the process that followed–from failed network pitches to a ludicrous suggestion that TNG be a miniseries–until the final product hit the air.

I don’t want to give everything away, but the stories that fascinated me the most in Chaos on the Bridge involve the casting of the follically-challenged Stewart (he was not anyone’s first choice as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard), the off-screen shenanigans amongst the American cast, the power struggle in the writers’ room and the positive impact Michael Piller had on the show when he arrived in Season 3.

Whether you’re a Star Trek fan or not, Chaos on the Bridge is a fascinating peek into the struggles that occurred on what’s become an iconic sci-fi television show.

William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge airs Monday, Aug. 25, at 9 p.m. ET/MT on HBO Canada.