Tag Archives: TVO

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.


Preview: TVO’s kooky, crazy Odd Squad adds up to fun

Call them CSI: Kids. Or maybe Children in Black. Meet the Odd Squad, TVO’s latest kids series designed to educate as well as entertain. The team, consisting of agents with names all starting with the letter “o,” investigate math mysteries in their small town.

Wednesday’s first case? “Zero Effect,” which finds partners Otto (Filip Geljo) and Olive (Dalila Bela) reporting to their boss, Ms. O (Millie Davis), after an art installation of 1,000 pieces of chewed-up bubble gum is reduced to just one piece. After zipping through clear tubes from Odd Squad’s super-secret headquarters and into the town, they learn friend Polly has lost a zero off the 50 cent price of the hot chocolate she’s selling, cutting into her profits. Using math–and super-cool CGI–Olive explains how taking away zeroes affects numbers using tenths, hundredths and thousandths.

Turns out the lack of zeroes is due to a suspected Number Hog that is unwittingly consuming the digits from the world. The Odd Squad urgently tries to figure out who–or what–is doing it because Otto’s birthday is tomorrow and he’s supposed to turn 10. If they don’t stop the Hog in time he’ll lose that zero and turn back into a baby.

Created Tim McKeon (Adventure Time) and Adam Peltzman (The Backyardigans), each half-hour episode of the Toronto-shot Odd Squad is geared towards kids in Grades 1 and 2 and aims to strengthen math skills. It certainly does that but–unlike some math classes–has fun doing it. The agents are smart and sassy (Ms. O is an over-the-top hoot) and HQ is a riot of colours, sounds and interesting beasts. Floating monster fish, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, super-cool climbing wall and … wait for it … a unicorn all call the joint home.

Odd Squad debuts Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET on TVO. It then airs Mondays at 5:30 p.m. ET and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. ET on TVO.


TVO’s Opie takes the fear out of kindergarten

Kindergarten can be a scary place for children. For most, kindergarten is the first time that five-year-olds are away from their parents and home for an extended period of time. It can be an unfamiliar place filled with strangers and loud noises.

That’s where Opie comes in. Created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Opie is the five-year-old puppet star of Hi Opie! a 39-episode series targeted at kids aged three to five that introduces them to the world of kindergarten and all that comes with it. Brightly-coloured and with a shock of yarn-like hair, Opie is a friendly fellow who interacts with young co-stars who immediately accept the puppet as a real character.

“It’s the power of a puppet who is designed in a particular way to get the attention of a child and make them feel comfortable,” says Pat Ellingson, creative Head of Children’s & Parents’ Media for TVO. “And a puppeteer [in Jordan Lockhart] who is able to make them take that leap of faith that this is a real character.”

Developed in partnership with TVO and produced by marblemedia in association with The Jim Henson Company, Hi Opie! aims to entertain as well as educate families as their little ones prepare for full-time kindergarten, something Ellingson explains was an important part of developing the series. Math, science, social skills, patience, teamwork and interaction with peers and teachers are all addressed in upcoming instalments. Ellingson says Hi Opie! has a three-pronged message aimed at children about to start full-day kindergarten, parents new to the environment and for children already in the program.

TVO is offering a sneak peek of Hi Opie! on Monday, Aug. 25, at 7 a.m. and noon ET, and Friday, Aug. 29, at 7 a.m. ET.

Meanwhile, Opie took some time out from his school preparations to answer a few questions from us:

Opie, are you excited to go into kindergarten, or are you a little nervous?
I’m really excited to start kindergarten! I can’t wait to meet new friends and play games. Doing crafts and playing with dinosaurs are my favourite.

If you are nervous, what are you nervous about?
I’m a little nervous … I’ve never been to school before and the school is really big!

What do you think your favourite part about going to school every day will be? Is it learning? Seeing your friends? Snack time?
I can’t wait to meet new friends.

What would you say to any kids that are nervous about going to kindergarten for the first time? What would you tell their parents?
I’m practicing how to introduce myself so when I meet new friends I’m going to say, ‘Hi, my name is Opie. What’s yours?’ I’ve also been practicing packing my backpack with my lunch, favourite toy and an extra change of clothes. I’m going to pack these on the first day.

Hi Opie! debuts on Monday, Sept. 1 and will air Monday to Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. ET on TVO, Monday to Friday at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. CT on City Saskatchewan and Monday to Friday at 11:50 a.m. PT on Knowledge Network.