Tag Archives: The Nature of Things

Preview: The Nature of Things goes “Searching for Cleopatra”

Shocking but true: Cleopatra was nothing like the person Liz Taylor played in the big-budget 1963 film. That’s one of the first facts I gleaned from The Nature of Things‘ newest episode.

“Searching for Cleopatra,” broadcast as part of The Nature of Things, debuts Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC, pulls back the curtain on the most famous of the Pharaohs. Did she really fall in love with two men—Julius Caesar and Marc Antony—and die with a little help from a poisonous snake?

Viewers follow archaeologist Kathleen Martinez (pictured above)—who has been sifting through the ruins of the huge temple complex of Taposiris Magna, or City of the Dead, outside of Alexandria—in search of Cleopatra’s final resting place. Martinez has found tantalizing clues that she is in the right area, but nothing concrete. As cameras capture the digging, we are given the history of Cleopatra. What is true is that, over 2,000 years ago, Cleopatra ruled over 7 million people, wasn’t Egyptian and led an army against her brother. Also true: the Romans are credited with the depiction of Cleopatra that led to Hollywood’s version of the ancient ruler.

In addition to Martinez, Canadian Classical Studies professors Kelly Olson, from the University of Western Ontario, and Sheila Ager of the University of Waterloo, share their knowledge of the Egyptian queen and her times and emphasize she was a ruler whose exceptional skill was her ability to grab and hold onto power.

“Searching for Cleopatra” airs as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.


Dan Riskin explores the dangers of devices on The Nature of Things’ “Kids vs. Screens”

The last time I spoke to Dan Riskin, it was for Daily Planet‘s “Shark Week” coverage in 2017. I’ve always been impressed with his (and then co-host Ziya Tong’s) broadcasting abilities. They are immensely smart folks who make science approachable and entertaining.

Riskin brings that vibe to his latest project, airing on CBC.

“Kids vs. Screens,” airing as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC, was timely even before the pandemic, and reveals some sobering statistics. Babies can scroll before they can crawl. Children can’t read a map, but they can use an iPad. And teenagers pretty much live on their cell phones. But as stark as those facts are—and there are many more revealed in “Kids vs. Screens”—this episode of The Nature of Things isn’t supposed to scare you.

“There are a lot of really good things about screens,” Riskin says. “They make us work better and they are effective. But it’s good to question our relationship with them and keep it in check. Kids’ brains are developing, and you want to make sure you’re not handicapping them later in life by using these devices.” Riskin, a father of three, admits sometimes it’s easy to hand over a tablet or phone so he can prepare dinner in peace. And that’s OK, in moderation.

Produced and directed by Leora Eisen, Riskin hits the road to speak with experts like Dr. Michael Cheng, a child psychiatrist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario; University of Calgary Professor Sheri Madigan; and Jess Haines, co-director of the Guelph Family Health Study. He also sits down with families and kids, like 18-year-old Myah, who teaches him the ins and outs of social media; Abby, whose phone addiction damaged the relationship between she and her mother; and Kaeden, a sixth grader who was obsessed with video games.

“The number of kids who are online now, especially during the pandemic, are huge,” Riskin says. “We put this together with the hope that it will make you feel better. The more you learn about screens and kids, the better you are going to feel about navigating that whole situation and the more empowered you are going to feel.”

“Kids vs. Screens” airs as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Preview: Sable Island’s other inhabitants celebrated in Seals of Sable

Sable Island is a truly unique place. Situated off the coast of Nova Scotia, the small spit of land is home to feral horses that have grabbed headlines around the world. Not gathering as much attention? The grey seals that frequent the island too. That all changes on Friday night.

Airing at 9 p.m. under The Nature of Things banner, “Seals of Sable,” follows filmmakers Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason of Sea to Sea Productions Inc., as they track the largest breeding colony of grey seals in the world. Every winter, tens of thousands of female seals arrive to give birth, and the duo is there with scientists and experts for it. Led by biologist Nell den Heyer, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the group seeks answers to the many questions they have about grey seals. The only time the cigar-shaped animals come to shore is to rest, moult and give birth, so the three weeks they spend on Sable will be invaluable.

Cameras capture the moment of birth—labour can be a days-long affair—through the bonding and feeding of pups (each pup’s hungry call is unique). Along the way, scientists continue to mark and track individual seals, tracing populations and survival rates. Does a female seal’s personality give her pup and better-than-average chance at survival? It would seem so. The grey seal has seen a boom in its numbers in the last few decades despite commercial fishing; what are they eating? A little of that will hopefully be answered by attaching video cameras to seals named Emma, Kate and Fiona.

Through amazing camera work and the down-to-earth, accessible language The Nature of Things is known for, “Seals of Sable” is a fascinating peek into the lives of that island’s other residents.

“Seals of Sable” airs as part of The Nature of Things, Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Preview: Climate change takes centre stage in Under Thin Ice

There has been a lot of information, misinformation and confusion about climate change. Are the extremes in temperature, ferocious weather and melting ice the final warning before something truly horrible happens to the planet? I turned to “Under Thin Ice” for answers.

Airing this Friday as part of The Nature of Things, the doc—from Montreal’s Galafilm Productions—looks at the impact global warming has on polar life. Narrated by cinematographer and diver Jill Heinerth, who captured the underwater footage alongside Mario Cyr, “Under Thin Ice” begins by stressing the importance of the polar ice to the animals that live above and below its surface. With it disappearing at an alarming rate, Heinerth and Cyr head to Lancaster Sound for a dip. On the way, they reflect on eight-degree temperatures increasingly wider leads in the ice. And, once they arrive at camp, they discover their tents have flooded.

Stunning overhead shots of the sled journey, and surface and underwater footage of narwal, beluga and bowhead whales, polar bears, seals and microscopic animals show the unique and even alien world the Arctic is. And how quickly the ice in it is disappearing. If the current warming trend continues, Heinerth says, by 2040 there could be no sea ice on the entire Arctic Ocean during the summer, something unheard of until now.

“Under Thin Ice” airs as part of The Nature of Things on Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC and on CBC Gem.

Image courtesy of Jean-Benoit Cyr.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

CBC announces first round of renewals for the 2019-20 season

From a media release:

As Canadian Screen Week kicks off and CBC celebrates 236 nominations at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, the national public broadcaster is confirming an initial round of original scripted and unscripted renewals for the upcoming 2019-20 season on CBC and the CBC Gem streaming service. To date, 17 titles across drama, comedy, factual, arts and documentary programming have been confirmed to return, with additional renewals across all genres and content areas to be announced later this spring.

Returning series for 2019-20 confirmed to date are as follows:

  • ANNE WITH AN E (Season 3, 10×60, Northwood Entertainment)*
  • BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (Season 4, 10×30, Frantic Films)*
  • BURDEN OF TRUTH (Season 3, 8×60, ICF Films, Entertainment One and Eagle Vision)
  • CBC ARTS: EXHIBITIONISTS (Season 5, 26×30, CBC Arts)
  • CBC DOCS POV (Season 5, 18×60)
  • CORONER (Season 2, 8×60, Muse Entertainment, Back Alley Films and Cineflix Studios)
  • THE DETECTIVES (Season 3, 8×60, WAM Media GRP Inc.)
  • DRAGONS’ DEN (Season 14, 10×60, CBC)*
  • FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (Season 3, 10×60, Shaftesbury)
  • THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (Season 3, 9×60, Proper Television)*
  • HEARTLAND (Season 13, 10×60, Seven24 Films and Dynamo Films)
  • IN THE MAKING (Season 2, 8×30, White Pine Pictures)
  • KIM’S CONVENIENCE (Season 4, 13×30, Thunderbird Entertainment)*
  • MURDOCH MYSTERIES (Season 13, 18×60, Shaftesbury)
  • THE NATURE OF THINGS (Season 59, 18×60)
  • SCHITT’S CREEK (Season 6, final season – 14×30, Not A Real Company Productions Inc.)*
  • STILL STANDING (Season 5, 13×30, Frantic Films)*

*Previously announced as returning

CBC is celebrating 236 nominations at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, a new record for the national public broadcaster. ANNE WITH AN E and SCHITT’S CREEK each received 15 nominations – the most for any scripted series this year. THE NATURE OF THINGS was honoured with 21 nominations and CBC DOCS POV received seven. Other returning titles that were nominated include: BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (5), FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (5), THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (5), MURDOCH MYSTERIES (5), STILL STANDING (4), IN THE MAKING (3), THE DETECTIVES (2), BURDEN OF TRUTH (1) and DRAGONS’ DEN (1).Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail