Tag Archives: TVO

Link: TVO’s ‘The Agenda’ born again

From Martin Knelman of the Toronto Star:

TVO’s ‘The Agenda’ born again
Research confirmed that young audiences like what TVO does and know who Paikin is but rarely watch the broadcast. So starting now, instead of being a seamless one-hour program, The Agenda becomes a magazine, typically with three 15-to-20 minute items. That way, people who rely on their mobile devices to discover what’s new and interesting can have a brief encounter with one segment. Plus there will be clips on Facebook and Twitter, which link back to the full version on TVO’s website. Continue reading. 


Hi Opie! takes Toronto by storm

It’s one thing to be told Opie is a smash with kids, but it’s entirely another to see it up close and personal.

That was the case Sunday at Toronto’s Word on the Street Festival celebrating literacy and the printed word. TVOKids’ superstar Opie was on hand alongside Gisele to encourage imagination through storytelling—Opie starred in his own bedtime story as Opie-naut, where he encountered aliens called Purple Lurples—and the kids in attendance ate it up. While some preschool aged kids bopped, bounced and bellowed, others stood in rapt attention as Opie, sporting a helmet constructed of aluminum pie plates, told of his otherworldly adventures.

Those adventures extend to Season 2 of Hi Opie! Currently airing on TVO, City Saskatchewan and The Knowledge Network (see airtimes below), Hi Opie! continues to educate and entertain as he helps children transition from home to school. A creation of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the orange-skinned kindergartner is voiced and operated by Jordan Lockhart. It’s quite a kick to hear Opie’s voice come out of the mouth of the lanky, sunglass-wearing Lockhart; he says it took time for him to figure out how Opie would sound and act.

“There was a lot of sweat, blood and tears put into finding the voice and the character,” Lockhart admits. “I think we started shooting [Season 1] before we really landed on what it is now. I’m really happy with the way the character has developed over these last two years and I’m excited to see where he goes from here.” Lockhart landed the plum gig after meeting with legendary puppeteer Rob Mills at an event. Mills told Lockhart to introduce himself to longtime Henson show producer Lawrence Mirkin; the two connected and struck up a relationship. A year later, Mirkin contacted Lockhart to send in an audition tape, followed by reading a script and then a callback for his latest production: Hi Opie!

Lockhart is constantly amazed not only by the quality of scripts he encounters on the set—the series expands to multiple classrooms this year—but by the child actors he interacts with on-set. Unlike most actors, he’s quite happy crouched down and out of a camera’s line of site and takes pride in an odd circumstance unique to puppeteers.

“It’s incredible to see these little people but into the illusion and it’s enormously gratifying to me,” Lockhart explains. “They are completely unaware of my presence and are locked into Opie. You have to really be present and listen to these people, and what you end up seeing is a complete abandonment of reality.”

Hi Opie! airs weekdays at 6:15 a.m. ET, 10:30 a.m. ET and 1:50 p.m. ET on TVO, weekdays at 9 a.m. CST and 11 a.m. CST on City Saskatchewan and weekdays at 11:50 a.m. PT on The Knowledge Network.



Preview: Hard Rock Medical checks in for Season 2

Back when I was working for another website, I ignored Hard Rock Medical. I’d spent some time in and around its setting of Sudbury, Ont., and quickly dismissed what I imagined would be a low-budget Grey’s Anatomy. That was stupid and arrogant of me, because Hard Rock Medical is incredibly addictive television.

Season 2 returns to TVO on Sunday night with two back-to-back storylines (each episode will be available online following broadcast on TVO’s website) that begins with a sweeping view of the rugged Canadian Shield and its exposed rock and proud pine forests.

Told over the soundtrack of Derek Miller’s bluesy guitar playing—while he portrays Kyle—”Trouble” quickly gets back into the swing of things. Gary and Cameron are discussing Eva, who has jetted to Los Angeles to record with Kyle and Gary’s pretty sure she’s avoiding his calls. Cameron, meanwhile, is lamenting the fact he isn’t sure where he’s headed in life.

That same confused direction applies to Charlie, who is spending his days poking through goat poop in the vain hope the missing diamond earrings will be located and he can pay off mounting bills. I immediately felt badly for sad-sack Charlie, whose only happiness appears to be the Harley Davidson he going to have to sell if the earrings don’t show up soon.

And while I know Patrick McKenna has done a lot of dramatic acting since he left The Red Green Show, it’s still jarring to see him in an adult role. I like him just fine on Remedy, but he’s much better on Hard Rock Medical playing troubled Dr. Fraser Healy. Content to just sit in the woods and drink his life away, Fraser is dark and broody, frustrated by Raymond, refusing to return to the hospital and hoping Nancy will stay by his side.

With the next term back in session, everyone is going to have to get back into the swing of things pretty quickly. I expect Fraser will report to work, but he’s not going to be happy about it or make things easy for Raymond.

Notes and quotes

  • Hard Rock Medical has one of the most inventive opening credits I’ve ever seen.
  • I’m thrilled that Hard Rock Medical allows Andrea Menard to show off her fantastic singing.
  • “I pick you.” I want one of Kyle’s guitar picks.

Hard Rock Medical airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on TVO. Episodes are available for online viewing the day after broadcast.


TVO sets Hard Rock Medical Season 2 debut

From a media release:

This winter, TVO’s critically acclaimed medical series, Hard Rock Medical, returns for a second season. The first commissioned drama series for TVO, Hard Rock Medical, follows the lives of eight medical students as they adapt to practicing medicine and living in Northern Ontario; Season 2 dives deeper into the character development of the North, and demonstrates the challenging realities of providing medical care in remote rural communities. From providing aid to residents of a ‘tent city’, to a patient being struck by lightning, and a fishing trip ending with a fisherman caught on the line, the students at Hard Rock U become well-versed in the medical realities of the North.

Hard Rock Medical, loosely inspired by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), sees its ensemble cast return including Canadian talents, Patrick McKenna, Angela Asher, and Stéphane Paquette. This season, both students and teachers alike are pushed to their limits as they struggle to meet the medical and personal challenges life throws their way.

Dr. Healy’s (McKenna) struggles with mental health issues, specifically addiction, lead him down a dark path, resulting in neglect and isolation; Nancy (Asher) is forced to confront a challenging relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband when she finally comes face-to-face with his new fiancée; and Charlie (Paquette) struggles to find financial support for school and family, with a fourth child on the way.

Hard Rock Medical Season 2 premieres on Sunday, February 15 at 8 pm in a 1-hour special broadcast with two back-to-back episodes. The remaining six 30-minute episodes air from Sunday, February 22 to Sunday, March 29at 8 pm. Season 2 episodes will be available online at tvo.org/hardrockmed following the broadcast. Leading up to the premiere, viewers can catch up on Hard Rock Medical Season 1 Sundays at 8 pm and 8:30 pm on TVO beginning January 4 – with a special 3-episode broadcast, starting at 8 pm – and the remaining episodes airing until February 8, and available at tvo.org/hardrockmed.

Hard Rock Medical is a medical drama shot entirely in Northern Ontario and is a joint venture of Distinct Features Inc. and Carte Blanche Films Inc. Hard Rock Medical received funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to support the regional production of the series.

[Season 2 of Hard Rock Medical previously aired on APTN.]


Preview: Polar Sea a stunning sail through the Northwest Passage

I’ve always been fascinated with the search for the Northwest Passage. From Shackleton to Franklin, to those who didn’t make the history books, I’ve read countless depictions of the unforgiving terrain and weather. So I was thrilled–and had high expectations–when screeners for The Polar Sea came across my desk.

Those expectations were filled. This gorgeous, 10-part peek at human, animal and plant life in the north–as well as access to traveling the Northwest Passage–is incredible. Narrated by Gordon Pinsent and airing from Dec. 1 to 12 on TVO, The Polar Sea kicks off by explaining that global warming has advanced to the point the  ever-elusive Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic is now open to traffic both tourist and business. Viewers are first introduced to Richard Tegnér, a Swedish architect and father of two who sets sail in a 9.5-metre sailboat named DAX together with his friends Martin Sigge and Bengt Norvik. Full of excitement, the trio make good time in their first part of their journey to Greenland before technical difficulties cause some delays. Richard marvels not only at how those early English expeditions stocked their war ships to the brim with three years worth of supplies while his trio did one traverse in just four days but at how those teams dealt with close quarters between over 100 men.

The journey Richard and his friends make are juxtaposed between two other ships attempting the same journey–a catamaran filled with a family and a high-end cruise ship packed with wealthy tourists. Some of the best footage in The Polar Sea is the jumping back and forth among the three boats illustrating the challenges faced by all on board them.

The Polar Sea isn’t just a triptych, however. Whole chunks of chapters are devoted to the scientists, biologists, geologists and researchers from around the world who are conducting studies across the Northwest Passage and Arctic, measuring the effects of climate change on glaciers, water levels and land. Dr. Shfaqat Abbas Khan, senior researcher at the National Space Institute in Denmark, for instance, illustrates how Greenland’s melting glaciers are actually causing the whole of the country to grow in height because the weight of the ice is no longer compacting the land. Yes, you read that right. The Polar Sea is packed with “holy crap” information segments–not to mention gripping views of glaciers–that are worth tuning in for.

TVO’s plan of getting the show out to as many viewers as possible isn’t confined to Ontario. The whole series is available on the network’s website on Monday while an accompanying website offers a stunning 360-degree view of the Arctic through the eyes of the Inuit and an online magazine is full of journal entries from those featured in the broadcast.

The Polar Sea debuts Monday at 9 p.m. on TVO and is available to the rest of Canada via the network’s website.