Tag Archives: Netflix

Degrassi: Then and Now

When the long-loved teen television show Degrassi was cancelled in mid-2015, it was met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the public at large. Since the first Degrassi series’ premiere in 1979, the show has been a mainstay for Canadians in general and audiences worldwide as the show’s popularity grew. It is that same international love that may have been what saved the show as, only a short time later, it was announced that Netflix would be picking up a new Degrassi series, thus continuing the long-running franchise.

Since its initial run as The Kids of Degrassi Street in 1979, the Degrassi franchise has been tackling personal issues that teenagers of its time have faced in a dramatic but relatable way. Ida Makes a Movie, the first entry in Degrassi canon, addresses the issue of honesty. In its two-year, 26-episode run, The Kids of Degrassi Street also addressed incarcerated parents, neighbourhood gangs, and the sudden death of friends among other problems.

In 1986, Degrassi Junior High premiered to a new generation and addressed new problems, including teen pregnancy, divorce and abuse. Degrassi Junior High also featured the return of some familiar faces, albeit as different characters. Stacie Mistysyn, who played Lisa on The Kids of Degrassi Street, was now Caitlyn Ryan. Neil Hope, who played Griff, was now Derek “Wheels” Wheeler. Degrassi Junior High lasted for three seasons before continuing as Degrassi High in 1989, continuing to address the issues of the time, which now included the AIDS crisis, gay rights and eating disorders.

When Degrassi was brought back for a new generation in 2001, it was dubbed Degrassi: The Next Generation. Since then, it has run for 14 seasons, following the lives of Degrassi teenagers, some of whom are the children of the original class. Over the course of the past 15 years there have been many cast changes as classes have grown and graduated, but the core idea remains the same: to tackle issues of the day in a way that teenagers can relate to. As such, certain archetypes always remain: goths like Ellie Nash and Eli Goldsworthy, or the school idol like Jimmy Brooks and Zoe Rivas.

For example, class of 2014 graduate Alli Bhandari contains strong echoes of Class of 2007 graduate Manny Santos. Both are intelligent women from minority backgrounds who want to be popular and express this through their clothing choices, and both experience a series of boy problems. Their stories have differing details, though: Alli is briefly in an abusive marriage, while Manny undergoes an abortion. And new generations bring new issues and thus, new types of characters. The character of Adam Torres, introduced in 2010, was Degrassi’s first transgender character.

At the heart of the show are the relationships. The rivalries, friendships, love triangles and pairings may have come together and permutated in different ways throughout each series, but always in familiar ways to the viewers.

While waiting for Degrassi: Next Class on Netflix in 2016, it might be fun to see what the issues of Degrassi Junior High were on your local channels, or to catch reruns when they air. Degrassi remains an institution, and its willingness to approach Netflix is just another way that it is willing to change with the times. After all, the success of Degrassi is in its reflection of the times and issues of the day.

Degrassi: Next Class airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Family during their F2N programming block and streams on Netflix outside of Canada beginning on Jan. 15.

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Discovery heads into a new Frontier

Allan Hawco is up front that Frontier is not “an Allan Hawco vanity project.”

He says that a couple of times during the course of our chat about Discovery Canada’s first foray into scripted television. Yes, he’s set to co-star in the six-parter about the fight for wealth and power in the North American fur trade of the late 18th century, but he’s not the lead. That honour goes to Jason Momoa. Instead, Hawco will remain largely behind the scenes, serving as an executive producer alongside his fellow Take the Shot Production partners, two of whom—Rob (on the right in the above picture) and Peter Blackie—actually conceived of the project.

“There are so many stories to mine from history around the world, especially here in Canada, that has never fully been exploited,” Hawco says. “That’s just bizarre to me. I think there is a real appetite from Canadians to hear their stories told in an interesting and thought-provoking way.” Hawco, who starred, directed, wrote and produced Republic of Doyle for six seasons describes Frontier as being the story of the birth of capitalism in North America, and the greed, blood and power that went along with it. Frontier begins with The Hudson Bay Company, which has a monopoly on what’s happening during the fur trade in the region that will one day be Canada. Smaller factions seek out their own piece of the pie; Hawco portrays Douglas Brown, who plots alongside his brothers to steal some of the HBC’s thunder.

Rob Blackie explains the idea for Frontier came about thanks to a chance meeting at MIPCOM between business parter Alex Patrick and Discovery’s Edwina Follows. The network’s interest in having more dramatic, scripted programming lead to the brothers kicking around ideas for a time period history-based series; they presented Follows with two projects and Frontier was greenlit.

‘It’s an interesting, super-violent part of Canadian history that not a lot of people know about,” Blackie says. “As soon as we started researching it, we were shocked at how little we knew and how conflictual the time period was. The deeper we got, the more interesting it got.” Momoa plays the series’ anti-hero, a part-Irish, part-Cree man named Declan who works with a gang and becomes an unlikely host to a boy named Michael who has been living on the streets of London. Other cast includes Alun Armstrong, Landon Liboiron, Zoe Boyle and Jessica Matten.

Production just wrapped filming in England and has set up shop in St. John’s until a Christmas hiatus. Then it’s on to Louisbourg, N.S., to film at the famous fort and Morrisburg, Ont., to capture action at Fort Wellington in February.

“Winter has an inherent beauty and, if you can capture it, an amazing production value,” Blackie says. “And it’s true to the story. Winter was an important part of the fur trade.”

Frontier debuts on Discovery Canada and Netflix outside of Canada in 2016.

(Photo credit: Duncan de Young on set of Frontier.)

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Poll: What are your favourite Canadian series on Netflix?

The Canadian Screen Awards are set for the end of this month, celebrating the best among this country’s feature films and television shows.

Several past and present Gemini and Canadian Screen Award nominees and winners are currently available for streaming on Netflix Canada, and we wanted to celebrate that fact by teaming with Netflix for a poll leading up to the CSA festivities.

What’s at stake? The chance to win a one-year subscription to Netflix Canada. What do you have to do? Simply choose your Top 3 Favourite Canadian Series on Netflix and comment at the bottom of the page. We’ll select one random comment and award the poster a one-year subscription. So spread the word and vote for your faves! The poll closes on Monday, Feb. 23, at noon PT/3 p.m. ET.

What are your favourite Canadian TV shows currently airing on Netflix?

  • Murdoch Mysteries (30%, 181 Votes)
  • Trailer Park Boys (21%, 125 Votes)
  • Heartland (18%, 107 Votes)
  • Kenny vs. Spenny (9%, 54 Votes)
  • Republic of Doyle (9%, 53 Votes)
  • Dragons' Den (5%, 32 Votes)
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? (3%, 15 Votes)
  • Dogs with Jobs (2%, 13 Votes)
  • Caillou (2%, 10 Votes)
  • Darknet (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 457

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Netflix is the world’s leading Internet television network with over 53 million members in nearly 50 countries enjoying more than two billion hours of TV shows and movies per month, including original series, documentaries, and feature films. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on nearly any Internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause, and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

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Michelle Alexander breaks ground in creepy homegrown Darknet

Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean the scares need to end. Thanks to Netflix, there are numerous spooky series available all year long. And while there are the requisite flicks featuring chainsaw-wielding killers, frightening dolls and slithery things in closets, nothing is quite like Darknet.

Based on the Japanese horror series Tori Hada, Darknet is a Canadian anthology series airing its second window via the online broadcaster (it was available on Super Channel first). The project, made up of six intertwining half-hour stories, explores serial killers and axe murderers, but it also tips the horror genre on its head by offering unique views on society’s paranoia and some surprise character reveals. One gal, for instance, appears to be a mousy, quiet office worker but is anything but, and a medical student named Alison defends her privacy in a very unique way.

“I kept saying to the writers, ‘This is such a gift,'” Michelle Alexander says of her character, Alison. “One of the producers, Steven Hoban, and I were saying that we can’t think of a character in modern TV that has a big a swing from a the beginning of the series to the end. I’m usually cast as the first girl you meet, the girl who is sweet and lovely.”

The Vancouver Island native, who also works as Associate Artistic Director at Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre, assumed she was done playing Alison after filming the pilot episode. She was surprised to be called back after Alison was written into two more vignettes, including the season finale, a twisted trip that leaves a trio of characters in a cliffhanger ending.

Season 1 of Darknet was written by six different writers (each one wrote an instalment each) and six different directors–the result is unique take with regard to story and imagery–starring veteran and new faces from the Canadian television and film industry. Among those appearing in the scary tales are David Hewlett (Stargate: Atlantis), Ari Miller (Orphan Black), Martha Burns (Slings & Arrows), Peter Outerbridge (Orphan Black), Cara Gee (Strange Empire) and Arnold Pinnock (Combat Hospital). All embody characters counter to roles they’ve played in the past: Hewlett is a businessman who finds a mysterious locker key; Burns a mother seeking a babysitter for her unique son; and Pinnock portrays a seemingly loving husband who runs afoul of Alison.

“The problem with a lot of modern horror now is that you kind of get the formula. It’s so popular with young people right now that you just kind of pump out this formulaic horror shows,” Alexander explains. “This is more like a throwback to Alfred Hitchcock horror where there are twists and turns. Even if you’re looking for the twists, it’s better than just the shock and awe. Darknet is more character-driven and story-driven.”

Season 1 of Darknet is available on Netflix Canada.

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City, Netflix and Shomi collaborate on Canadian original drama

City

From a media release:

Today, City, Netflix, and shomi™ announced a landmark partnership to bring audiences around the world a new, premium drama series, Between – an original survivalist thriller series, created by award-winning writer/director Michael McGowan (Still Mine, One Week, Saint Ralph) and starring Jennette McCurdy (iCarly, Sam & Cat). The partnership is the first of its kind in Canada for the creation of a new, original series.

The first season of Between, featuring six, one-hour episodes, will premiere on City and shomi in Canada and on Netflix outside of Canada where the service is available. Between will come to Netflix Canada one year following the initial premiere. Additional broadcast details will be announced at a later date. The series begins principal photography today.

“We know that Canadians crave daring and distinctive original programs, and Between offers just that,” said Nataline Rodrigues, Director of Original Programming, Rogers. “Showcasing Michael McGowan’s cinematic vision on the small screen, this compelling new series, in partnership with Netflix and shomi, delivers on our promise to offer viewers world-class entertainment.”

“Teaming up with Rogers, on Between, is a tremendous opportunity to work with a creative partner in Canada to bring our global viewers top-notch content,” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of Global Independent Content at Netflix. “We’re thrilled to be working with outstanding talent behind the scenes including Canadians Don Carmody, Jon Cassar and Michael McGowan, and in front of the camera with a new generation of actors led by Jennette McCurdy, delivering a must watch event series that millions of Netflix viewers will enjoy.”

Between is the story of a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody except those 21 years old and under. The series explores the power vacuum that results when a government has quarantined a 10-mile diameter area and left the inhabitants to fend for themselves.

“With the commission of Between, we are reinforcing our commitment to bring the best programming to our subscribers,” said Marni Shulman, Head of Content & Programming, shomi. “Great opportunities to build original content like this, and working with the breadth of talent, including the amazing Michael McGowan, is a perfect fit for the shomi brand.”

Between stars Jennette McCurdy and was created by Michael McGowan, who executive produces along with Don Carmody (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Goon, Chicago), David Cormican (The Tall Man, Faces in the Crowd), and Naveen Prasad, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Elevation Pictures Corp. Emmy® award-winning director Jon Cassar (24, The Kennedys) will direct the first two episodes. The series is produced by Don Carmody Television, Mulmur Feed Co. and in association with Elevation Pictures Corp. Prasad, along with Jayme Alter (Denton’s Canada) for DCTV negotiated the deal. Elevation will oversee worldwide distribution. From Rogers Media, Nataline Rodrigues is Director of Original Programming, Hayden Mindell is Vice President of Television Programming & Content, and Navaid Mansuri is Interim Senior Vice President of Broadcast.

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