Tag Archives: The Nature of Things

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.


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).


Comments and queries for the week of January 25

Very important message! How can I see “The Power of Play” again? I am a grandmother of three small children. —Joan

Hi there, you can steam The Nature of Things episode, “The Power of Play,” for free on CBC’s website.

I would like to know where the [Murdoch Mysteries] writer found evidence that Dan Seavey was ever in Toronto. I do historic research on the maritime history of the Great Lakes. Dan Seavey was a pirate here at that timing, BUT on all accounts that I have found, he was located on Lake Michigan and the Lake Michigan side of the Straits of Mackinac. He did go to Chicago to sell contraband to the black market in Chicago. He was in Alaska briefly with Captain Frederick Pabst during the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush. In 1900, Seavey was was in Escanaba, Michigan. In 1904, he was in Frankfort, Michigan. In 1908, he was arrested by U.S. Deputy Marshall Thomas M. Currier for the theft of a ship named the Nellie Johnson but was not indicted. However, I have found no evidence that he was ever in Toronto. The Wanderer was his ship, but I also do not believe that he would leave his ship behind—pirates do not usually do that. No official documents actually cited Seavey under the charge of piracy and throughout his life denied all accusations of such. I think that the writer took a lot of liberty in this story but should try to stick to historic facts since people may just believe what they see. —Lori

Murdoch Mysteries may feature real people and events from Canadian and world history, it is and remains a drama series. It is not a documentary.

Very profound episode for most of the night, but it’s a shame the writers feel compelled to turn the B-story in this episode into a farce. Does not work when you are telling an emotional story and then bring us right out of it to some silly story that deals with their version of Shades of Grey. In the earlier seasons of the show, the B-story often had some relationship with the A-story. Now you have shorter viewing time, and still you add a goofy back story. Frustrating for long-time fans of the show who wonder at what the heck is going on while watching, and then the whole thing does not actually sync up. Profundity does not sync with the absurd most of the time. And also you’ve got a great historical story in this episode and then we get Shades of Grey 1906 from the Ruth character. Blah….. BTW the pirates episode was terrific. —Pierce


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


The Power of Play world premiere on January 20 as part of The Nature of Things

From a media release:

Did you ever see an octopus play? How about a kangaroo frolic with a deer? A hamster riddled with social anxiety? Researchers are finding some astounding evidence that all living things – from fish to humans – not only like to play, but they need it for survival. The new episode of The Nature of Things - The Power of Play, explores why this is especially crucial in children, as more young Canadians spend less time outdoors and more time indoors focused on screens.

The Power of Play is a one-hour documentary that explores the science behind play and reveals how researchers are linking play deprivation to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The documentary will have its world broadcast premiere on CBC’s THE NATURE OF THINGS on Sunday, January 20 at 8 P.M. (8:30 NT) and will also be available to stream on CBC Gem from 5 p.m. ET on Friday, January 18.

The documentary takes viewers to research labs, zoos, and aquariums around the world to see how animals play, who they play with, and what happens when they are prevented from playing. McMaster University’s Jonathan Pruitt found out that a species of female social spiders that “play” sexual intercourse live longer. Sergio Pellis, a behavioural neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge explains how he came to the conclusion that play deprivation causes depression in lab rats. It’s something American psychiatrist Stuart Brown suspected when he studied violent offenders in the United States. Pellis and Brown are among a growing number of experts who are convinced that unstructured play is vital to our mental health and well being.

Other experts, including Vancouver’s Mariana Brussoni and Norway’s Ellen Sandseter are leading a movement to return to risky play which involves some level of danger. A visit to an outdoor childcare centre in Norway shows the resilient, rosy-cheeked children benefiting from playing outside all day in a space with no fences and almost no limits.

The Power of Play was written and directed by Halifax’s Christine MacLean, created and produced by Erin Oakes, and executive produced by Edward Peill from Halifax-based Tell Tale Productions Inc. It was produced in association with the CBC / Radio-Canada with support from the Canada Media Fund, The Nova Scotia Film & TV Production Incentive Fund, and Federal Tax Credits.


Preview: The Nature of Things opens its new season with “Equus — Story of the Horse”

In 2015, director and anthropologist Niobe Thompson debuted “The Great Human Odyssey” as part of The Nature of Things. It won several awards, all deserved. Now Thompson is back with a new, and expansive, look at the life of an animal that has a close relationship with humans: the horse.

The three-part “Equus — Story of the Horse,” kicking off The Nature of Things’ new season on Sunday at 8 p.m.,  is an ambitious, masterful exploration into the animals through visits to 11 countries, three continents and trips back in time to delve deep into the human-horse relationship.

“No other animal has done more for us,” Thompson says in press materials for the program. “We built the world around us with horsepower. But what is it that makes humans and horses so perfect for each other? And how have we transformed the wild horse we tamed 6,000 years ago into over 400 specialized breeds today?”

Much of Episode 1, “Origins,” does exactly that, with Thompson tracing back to the beginning of this proud, muscular beasts’ entrance to the world. He begins his journey in Saudi Arabia and the Bedouin people, who live on horseback and regard them as members of the family. His two-day experience into the desert is astride the Arab horse, a breed hardy, spirited, quick and able to handle the harsh climate thanks to some unique physical details. The Arab is one of the world’s oldest breeds, but it’s not the oldest.

That recognition is bestowed upon the 45 million-year-old Dawn Horse, a creature that led to modern horses. Tiny, forest roaming, vulnerable to predators, and a fruit eater, fossils of Dawn Horse are brought to stunning (and a humorous) life by evolutionary biologist Martin Fischer and Thompson’s team of 3-D animators. The changing of the planet from a greenhouse world to more temperate place meant the introduction of grasses and shrinking of the places a petite, chubby mammal could hide. So Dawn Horse ran and evolved into the tall, fit animal we recognize today.

With stunning visuals (the slow motion is simply amazing) and Darren Fung’s soundtrack, “Equus — Story of the Horse,” is a gem to behold and will likely garner more awards for Thompson. Future episodes of “Equus — Story of the Horse,” continue with “First Riders,” on Sept. 30 and “Chasing the Wind,” on Oct. 7.

The Nature of Things, “Equus — Story of the Horse,” airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of Handful of Films.