Tag Archives: Suresh John

Preview: Mr. D clocks in for his final year

I remember the first few seasons of Mr. D well. Debuting in 2012 just as the U.S version of The Office was winding down, the CBC sitcom revelled in the uncomfortable and cringe-worthy. Every scene centring on mediocre teacher-coach Gerry Duncan (Gerry Dee) was an exercise in wincing. What would he say to embarrass himself? What would he do to make my stomach turn into nervous knots?

But over the last seven seasons, the award-winning show has evolved. Yes, Gerry is still putting his foot in his mouth, but the characters around him have grown to take on the comedy lifting and inject a ton of heart into the show as well. I credit that maturation to co-creators Dee and Mike Volpe, the show’s writers and cast for allowing the show to grow and breathe and become what it is today: a funny, heartfelt family comedy.

Now it’s coming to an end. Season 8 kicks off Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC with two back-to-back episodes. The first, “Big in Japan,” picks up right where the Season 7 finale left off: Gerry boarding a flight to Japan after an investigative report labelled him the “Nation’s Worst Teacher.” Hoping for a fresh start, Gerry decides (with Bill’s help) that being an ESL teacher in Japan would be best.

But hold on. Turns out firing Gerry would admit the exposé was all true. Instead, Robert (Jonathan Torrens) is instructed to hire Gerry back and claim the report was, you guessed it, fake news. While Robert is trying to do that, things at Xavier Academy are in a bit of a disarray. Lisa (Lauren Hammersley) is doing some investigating of her own and it appears new phys ed. teacher/librarian Emma Terdie (Kathleen Phillips) is making outrageous claims of her own. Mr. D has boasted a brilliant use of music as part of its storytelling; it’s used to great effect in Wednesday’s first episode as Gerry teaches two children English while Alphaville’s “Big in Japan” plays. And, by the end of the episode, a curveball is thrown that appears to affect the tone and direction this final season will take.

Tune in and enjoy Mr. D‘s final ride. I certainly will.

Mr. D airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.

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Mr. D: Suresh John previews Malik’s Episode 2 backstory reveal

After seven seasons on the air, Mr. D fans will finally get a glimpse into Mr. Malik’s backstory during Tuesday night’s episode. Actor Suresh John says viewers were informed Mr. Malik had a sister earlier in the show’s run but will find out more about her during “Gerry Rigs PTA,” when they tune in tomorrow at 9:30 p.m.

“It’s definitely a Malik-heavy episode,” John says. We won’t spoil anything, but Malik is showcased in one long scene—while “Sad Eyes” by Robert John plays—making what will be a life-changing event. Does he go through with it? Tune in.

John landed the role of Mr. Malik after auditioning via Skype. At the time, there were three actors up the role—one actor with a Russian angle, one with a Latin take and John (“With whatever I am,” he jokes.)—and the CBC liked his performance the best. A week later, he was in Halifax filming Episode 2 of Season 1.

As for Season 7, the upcoming year marks a bit of a storyline shakeup for the veteran Canadian comedy. Episode 1 revealed Lisa (Lauren Hammersley) has gotten married and is Alex’s stepmom, and she’s gunning for the staff at Xavier, particularly Gerry (Gerry Dee). Meanwhile, Bobbi (Naomi Sniekus) is about to give birth to her and Robert’s (Jonathan Torrens) baby; that means Gerry is taking over the Phys Ed. department. And Paul Dwyer (Wes Williams) is struggling in his new role as vice principal at Xavier Academy, preferring to befriend the students sent to his office rather than discipline them.

“We also have one new teacher,” John teases. “He’s the new economics teacher, Dave, played by Dave Merheje and he’s sort of the staff room foil to the office romantics. The good thing about being set in a school is that you can have teacher and student turnover and it makes sense.” He adds Malik spends a lot of time in the staff room and interacts with Bobbi and Robert once their baby is born. The changes, John says, take Mr. D in directions the award-winning series has never gone before and explores sides of the characters we love. As for creating his own characters via writing his own series? John’s not interested.

“I like to do the Samuel L. Jackson, sitting in the trailer eating sandwiches and no aspirations of directing or writing,” he says with a laugh. “It’s a lot of work.”

Mr. D airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC

Image courtesy of CBC.

 

 

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CBC’s anthology web series Save Me is instantly bingeworthy

It’s easy to tell when a television network is truly behind one of their projects. Clearly, CBC is fully supporting Save Me. How could I tell? A half-day of interviews for show creator, writer and director Fab Filippo and producer Lisa Baylin, and a Facebook Live session for the duo plus actors Amy Matysio, Emma Hunter and Suresh John, who co-star in some of the show’s 10 episodes.

Save Me is a web series, but it’s getting the same attention from the network Still Standing or Baroness Von Sketch Show would. There’s a reason: Save Me is damned good.

Now available on CBC’s website, Save Me follows Toronto EMT Goldie (Filippo) and his assorted partners (Matysio and John are two), as they arrive on the scene of 911 calls. The twist? The paramedics are the through line connecting the people making an emergency call rather than being the focus. That’s not to say we don’t get some back story into Goldie and his fellow EMTs lives—we do—but they’re not the focus.

“Lisa called me and said, ‘Do you have anything?'” Filippo recalls during a chat at CBC’s Toronto headquarters. “It wasn’t on HBO yet, but I had been watching High Maintenance and it had the structure of it wasn’t about the pot dealer, it was about the people who bought the pot. I loved that structure because it was an anthology but had the groundedness of wanting to tune in and see the same person every week.” The former Being Erica and Billable Hours actor has a friend—nicknamed Meeps—who is an EMT and Filippo thought that career could fit into a structure like High Maintenance. Baylin agreed. Filippo went on a ridealong with Meeps, made some notes, and bounced ideas around with Baylin. A year and half later and Save Me is online.

A shot from Episode 3 of Save Me, “Possible Anaphylaxis.”

“We produce a variety of shows and are known as trailblazers because we’re always testing different models in the digital space,” Baylin, vice-president of content and production for iThentic, says. “I really wanted to do an anthology series and was looking for the right story. When Fab mentioned the paramedics, we thought it had a very natural feel for an anthology show. We could have these great emergencies and opportunities to stunt cast.” Baylin describes fleshing out the stories of people from all walks of life across Toronto, crafting the characters and approaching actors to participate in one or two shoot days for a four to 10-minute episode.

Save Me‘s guest cast is a 46-person who’s who from the television and theatre world. Brent Carver, Michael Healey, Paul Braunstein, Jean Yoon, Sonja Smits, John Bourgeois, Tony Nappo, Mayko Nguyen and Sugith Varughese are just a sampling of the talent who drop by to play instantly memorable characters. A sample: Emma Hunter portrays Cora, a woman in Episode 1, “H.B.D.,” who grows increasing drunk at a birthday brunch and then suffers a grievously hilarious injury. But for every funny moment—and there are many like “Possible Anaphylaxis”—Save Me offers thoughtfulness and hope too; scenes between Goldie and Kevlar (Matysio) are downright romantic.

“The biggest challenge was the time constraint,” Filippo says. “Mixing the genres wasn’t tough for me because that’s what I love the stuff that’s dark and makes me laugh. I was studying short form content because I didn’t want this to be a slice of life where it ends and you don’t get resolution. I wanted to build each moment so, at the end, you went, ‘OK, I just watched a story.'”

Season 1 of Save Me is available on CBC’s website.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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