December 1, 2010

Teletoon Pilot Project Time | Space Knights Go!

Space Knights Go! (Teletoon: daCapo Productions/Big Hug Productions/Fatkat Animation, 2009) is one of those rare Teletoon Pilot Project shows directly connected to the man behind the curtain, in this case Loogaroo owner Gene Fowler.  Fowler is a frequent commenter on Canadian Animation Resources.  I’ve even e-mailed Fowler regarding Space Knights Go!‘s development.

Fowler was the owner of Fatkat Animation, a studio that went bankrupt twice in its ten-year history before becoming Loogaroo.  I’m sure Fowler reads URBMN from time to time, or else he wouldn’t have left a comment on an article which has nothing to do with him.

At the same time, I’m reviewing Space Knights Go!, not Fowler’s business practices and online demeanour.  I don’t know what it’s like at Fatkat/Loogaroo.  I’m also sure Fowler can’t resist any sort of publicity, so here’s the review.



November 28, 2010

Teletoon Pilot Project Time | Nerdland

This review of Nerdland (Teletoon: Cuppa Coffee Studios, 2008) is rather late in coming.  I wasn’t sure how to review the show, since Nerdland‘s credited writer is Teletoon’s current director of original content, Alan Gregg.

If Gregg is a front for the animators, Nerdland could at least pay a writer to take credit for the script (see: Angora Napkin.)  To be fair, Gregg was at Brown Bag Films when Nerdland was in production, but it still gives Nerdland the inside track for a greenlight.

With Nerdland‘s online popularity and Cuppa Coffee’s track record, a series greenlight might very well happen.  That’s a shame, as the pilot sucks.

More Nerd(land)iness


Teletoon Pilot Project Time | Drop Dead Gorgeous

This might destroy URBMN’s flimsy ties to objectivity, but I was not looking forward to Drop Dead Gorgeous (Teletoon: CINEMARIA, 2009.)  Mike Valiquette’s review of the show is negative.  When the Teletoon Pilot Project was in its web phase, DDG was just hated by Detour viewers, even more than the puppet-based antics of Les Sansfil/The Wireless Family.

All I have to say is, wow.  Drop Dead Gorgeous is worse than I expected it would be.  I’m not offended by its cheap stereotypes and unfunny humour, per se.  I’m just confused by it.  I can’t pinpoint DDG‘s intentions, other than “is this edgy enough, Teletoon?  Is this edgy enough?  Lesbians, wheee!



November 10, 2010

Teletoon Pilot Project Time | Ninjamaica

Teletoon’s edging close to the lesser parts of its Pilot Project, now that Ninjamaica (Teletoon: Lenz Entertainment, 2008) has aired.  After this, there’s Celebutard Nation, Nerdland, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Chinatown Cops and Space Knights.  I’m looking forward to none of those pilots.

Granted, I wasn’t looking forward to Ninjamaica until I saw parts of it on YouTube a few months ago.  Ninjamaica isn’t perfect, but I don’t hate it.  If I’m to choose between Angora Napkin and Ninjamaica, I have to take AN, but Ninjamaica has some good qualities.  I honestly never thought I’d say that about a show reliant on a portmanteau.

What the Bumba? More After the Jump


November 2, 2010

Teletoon Pilot Project Time | Dunce Bucket, Angora Napkin

This is the first of what I hope will be a few reviews concerning the Teletoon Pilot Project.  The Pilot Project, which has currently aired three of its nine pilots, airs every Sunday at 11:30 PM on…well, you can just guess.

Since URBMN is pilot-friendly, I’m attracted to the Teletoon Pilot Project.  I’ve skipped Fugget About It for now, as the review for it was originally bundled with unpublished reviews for The Dating Guy and Archer.  Also, Fugget About It‘s title describes the show perfectly.  I might not get to Fugget About It for a while.

Dunce Bucket, Angora Napkin Reviews After the Jump


August 24, 2010

News: CBC passes on Fancy; Fancy pilot to air March 2011

According to Jayme Pfahl of Vancouver production company Gang of 2, CBC Television has passed on Fancy as a possible series.  Pfahl gives a March 2011 prospective airdate for the pilot itself.  The exact airdate is subject to change by CBC.

Fancy is about children’s show host Maureen Fancy (Kate Hewlett.)  Fancy is cheery on-set, and miserable away from the camera.  Playback and Hollywood Reporter scribe Etan Vlessing also mentions Patrick McKenna and Jana Peck as part of the cast.

Pfahl co-founded Gang of 2 with Angus Fraser.  Pfahl and Fraser recently produced The Cult, a pilot which aired on CBC earlier in 2010.

While Fancy‘s premise isn’t original, I think the idea could sustain a series.  CBC Television has shied away from dark comedies as of late, given CBC’s shift to lighter dramas and reality shows.

100 Things Every Man Should Know and Floorwalker are still in development with CBC.  A third CBC/Gang of 2 project, After, is no longer being developed.

I’d like to see at least one Gang of 2 product get past CBC Television’s pilot stage.  I’m not one to complain about CBC’s existence, but why does CBC keep rejecting shows I might be interested in?  There’s something scary about HBO Canada, APTN and Showcase being the vanguards of edgier comedy in this country.


July 28, 2010

CBC Pilot Burn-Off Time | Tangled

When I published an article about Tangled (CBC: CBC/Shaftesbury Films/Colossal Entertainment/Salient Point Productions Ltd., 2010) last week, I figured it would get a slightly above-average number of readers for a day, then flatline.  Pilot news and reviews generally don’t do well on URBMN, with the exception of B Team.

Tangled is by far the most-searched-for program this month on URBMN.  The article promoting Tangled has 13 comments (not including mine) so far.  Think about it – thirteen comments for a pilot aired in the dead of summer.  I’m usually lucky if one person gives a tinker’s piss about an unsold pilot on CBC, never mind thirteen.

Tangled is the sort of show that fits with CBC’s desired female demographic, yet can also attract a decent male audience.  Aside from the budgetary restrictions that can hobble a show like Tangled, I have no idea why CBC would reject this.  Foreign references are copious, but The Tudors gets away with worse.

Sarah Wayne Callies is Sally or Chloe – it depends on which part of her life one follows.  A sham marriage is planned around Sally/Chloe and Nick Hobbes (Bill Ward.)  Hobbes is seen as a rogue freelancer/former CIA golden boy stealing intel from Sally/Chloe’s employer, the North Atlantic Intelligence Agency (NAIA.)  NAIA is also trying to nail down main antagonist Oleg Gasparian.

Needless to say, there are the twists and turns common to an espionage show.  It’s all familiar stuff, but Tangled at least couches the espionage in proper human drama.  As a pilot, Tangled gives viewers a reason to care about Sally/Chloe’s life, convoluted as it is.

Callies is a bit stiff and monotonous as Sally/Chloe, but serviceable enough as a lead.  Ward plays Hobbes almost effortlessly.  Leslie Hope plays Sally/Chloe’s sister Marlene rather well, understandably miffed that Sally/Chloe has been playing dead for twelve years.  Hope doesn’t have a big part in the pilot, but she makes the most of her role.

I’m not exactly fond of the acting in Tangled.  The acting is a bit underplayed in general, aside from Ward’s character and a few minor characters I can’t name.  At the same time, the balance of action and drama sells Tangled.  Had Tangled made series, I’m sure it would have found its own level.

This isn’t the best pilot I’ve seen on CBC in 2010.  The Cult ranks highest on my list, for its excellent acting and choice of subject matter.  Tangled is still very good, better than the bet-hedging of the concept would suggest.  I sincerely hope Shaftesbury Films sells the series to another network or cable channel.


May 18, 2010

CBC Pilot Burn-Off Time | The Cult (2010)

Sometimes the best programs on CBC Television are the pilots aired once, then dropped in the middle of the harbour.  The Cult (CBC: New Kingdom Productions Ltd./Crescent Entertainment/Big Dog Productions/Chokolat Inc./ITV?, 2008) is one such program, a drama unlike anything else currently on CBC.

Nathan Fall (Henry Czerny) is determined to retrieve his daughter Rachel (Alexia Fast) from the Apostles of the Second Son, a cult perverting(?) Christian mythology.  Nathan has not seen Rachel for five weeks, as he and soon-to-be ex-wife Evelyn (Torri Higginson) have neglected her.  Nathan plans to infiltrate the cult, which sells itself on television as New Eden.

The Cult also focuses on the life of Lucas (Richard Harmon), a teen living in what looks like a halfway house.  He notices the commercial for New Eden, of which Rachel is its figurehead.  Lucas is not initially aware of how New Eden will soon control his life.

Soon, Rachel speaks to Lucas through the television.  Lucas eventually sees rain and fish fall from inside the halfway house.  Could Rachel really be the second coming of Mary, Mother of Jesus, or is Lucas suffering from mental disabilities?  The Cult doesn’t answer this question, not that first episodes of serial dramas ever do.

The best thing about The Cult is that the show is ambiguous about Apostles of the Second Son’s intentions.  Apostles of the Second Son has allegedly been around since Christianity itself.  Outsiders who reveal the Apostles’ existence, like Dr. Frank Hollingshurst (Vincent Gale), tend to die.  The Apostles like to cover the bases for when the Rapture comes.

There’s been mention at TV, Eh? of The Cult, albeit confined to comments on a Republic of Doyle piece.  One commenter wonders why The Cult was passed up for Republic of Doyle.

I grant Republic of Doyle its existence, although I haven’t revised my thoughts on the show since its first episode.  Keeping RoD in mind, why would CBC pass on The Cult?  I see no reason why The Cult couldn’t work as a series, especially when Henry Czerny’s the lead actor.

Maybe I’m overhyping a pilot that has fallen through the cracks of government-aided obsolescence.  It happens.  Show co-creator Angus Fraser is responsible for The Movie Network/Movie Central’s 2005 series Terminal City, and it would be nice to see more Fraser on Canadian television.

Jeff Spriet and James Wilkes’ 11 Cameras was dumped on CBC’s summer schedule in 2006, and that show is surprisingly good.  The Cult‘s three creators can obviously spin something watchable, so why not let them do it?  Does Debbie Travis need a feel-good reality show so badly?

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