August 19, 2012

TV Retro Review | Star Wars: Ewoks 1.6 – “The Tree of Light”

With this entry, I throw my hat back into regular URBMN content.  I will now review shows from the past, as well as the present.  Star Wars: Ewoks (ABC/Global, 1985-86; 1986 as The All New Ewoks) is as good a place to find false nostalgia as any.

“The Tree of Light” (ABC/Global: October 12, 1985) is typical Nelvana tripe from the mid-1980s.  Wicket (Jim Henshaw), Latara (Taborah Johnson), and Princess Kneesaa (Cree Summer) are excluded from an important mission on Endor’s forest moon – the Tree of Light is dying.  The chosen Ewok team needs to sprinkle fairy dust – sorry, Light Dust – on the Tree of Light, before it dies.  The Duloks – tall, ghetto, swamp versions of Ewoks – want the Tree of Light to die, so they can become more of a presence on the forest moon.

The Dulok shaman, Umwak (Don Francks), is the standard bumbling henchman to King Gorneesh (Dan Hennessey).  Umwak is assisted by his nephew (Hadley Kay), though the Duloks – being Nelvana villains – aren’t too bright as a whole.

For instance, Umwak designs a pair of “special glasses,” which are supposed to navigate a cave maze for him.  In practice, they don’t do anything.  The Ewoks, “led” by Weechee (Greg Swanson) and Paploo (Paul Chato), are hardly smarter than the Duloks.  The whole episode’s an excuse to prove Wicket, Latara, and Kneesaa’s worth, as the three abide an Idiot Plot.

Honestly, this episode can be reworked as a Care Bears Family (ABC/Global, 1986-88) episode.  Henshaw, Hennessey and Francks voiced characters in Care Bears Family.  Some of the music cues – the bumbling-henchman synth cues, in particular – have a Care Bears Family sound to them.  Both shows feature living teddy bears, fighting against enemies who want to eradicate said teddy bears.  I know Care Bears Family came a year after Ewoks, but the two shows are eerily similar.

Hell, Henshaw’s Wicket is similar to Tenderheart Bear, while Hennessey uses almost the exact same voice for Gorneesh and Brave Heart Lion.  Hennessey’s a decent voiceover actor, but Nelvana never let the man stretch in the mid-1980s.

As an aside, it’s funny how Henshaw voiced eager do-gooders in the 1980s.  He soon ditched voiceover work, and became a writer/director.  These days, Henshaw’s the resident grump of Canadian television.

Nelvana’s animation on Ewoks is serviceable – not great, but better than 1980s Saturday morning cartoon standards.  Nelvana basically did Ewoks to keep the lights on.  The best part of an Ewoks episode should not be Taj Mahal’s theme song, but that’s what happens with “The Tree of Light.”

Having not seen Ewoks in two decades, I don’t remember the show being this bad.  I’m hardly nostalgic for Star Wars, as I’ve never cared for Star Wars in any of its incarnations.  “The Tree of Light” just reminds me too much of Care Bears Family.

“The Tree of Light” is from the first season of Ewoks, the season considered superior by Ewoks fans.  If every episode is like “The Tree of Light” – stories where Wicket and friends fix what the other Ewoks fuck up – I have to ask: what is Ewoks superior to?  Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network, 2008- ) has its faults – Clone Wars has never met a film it didn’t steal from – yet it’s a better Star Wars series than Ewoks.  Star Wars fans accepted whatever they were offered, in the bad old days.

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May 19, 2011

News: Global’s summer CanCon schedule; CityTV’s Murdoch Mysteries 4th-season premiere

You saw CTV’s summer schedule.  Now here’s Global’s.  Second verse, same as the first.

  • Global will debut Combat Hospital The Hot Zone Combat Hospital Tuesday, June 21 at 10:00 PM ET/PT, in simulcast with ABC.
  • Rookie Blue‘s second season will begin Thursday, June 23, at 10:00 PM ET/PT.  Rookie Blue is also in simulcast with ABC.
  • The Kennedys will make its Global debut Monday, July 4, at 8:00 PM ET/PT, in the form of eight one-hour episodes.
  • Canada Sings begins Wednesday, August 10, at 9:00 PM ET/PT.
  • NBC Universal, Entertainment One and Global will develop a television adaptation of John Grisham’s The Firm for midseason 2012.  The show is executive produced by Grisham and Lukas Reiter.

Other thoughts after the jump

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May 14, 2011

News: The Adventures of Tintin DVD sets to be released through Shout! Factory

This is three-day-old news by now, but I haven’t seen much commentary on this story.  The Adventures of Tintin, a co-production between Canada’s Nelvana and France’s Ellipsanime, will see its 39 episodes released on DVD through Shout! Factory.  This “multi-year agreement” will exploit the upcoming 2011 release of The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, the Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson/Weta Digital motion-capture film.

This news is notable for the American company attached to the Adventures of Tintin DVD releases.  Shout! Factory has released Canadian content before, most notably SCTV, ReBoot and Transformers: Beast Wars.

More Tintin after the jump

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December 17, 2010

News: Midseason 2010-11 schedules, the CanCon edition

I realize the first two pieces are from last week, but news has been slow lately.  CTV announced two pilots and a series order on Thursday, December 9.  The two hour-long CTV pilots are Saving Hope, a medical drama set in Toronto, and Stay with Me, about a lawyer/stay-at-home mother.  Ilana Frank’s Thump Inc. is behind Saving Hope, while Sarrazin Couture Entertainment is behind Stay with Me.

In addition, CTV and MuchMusic have ordered six one-hour episodes of Epitome Pictures’ Highland Gardens, a show about young Canadians trying to make it in Hollywood.  Epitome Pictures is best known for Degrassi: the Next Generation/Degrassi and Instant Star.  The showrunner is Martin Gero, a man best known for Stargate Atlantis, Young People Fucking and HBO’s Bored to Death.

I can safely say I am not interested in the two CTV pilots.  As someone commented at TV, Eh?, they read like St. Elsewhere and The Good Wife.

Highland Gardens sounds similarly generic, but Gero could make something out of the premise.  Likewise, Malcolm MacRury’s attached to Saving Hope, which probably means Cra$h & Burn is dead in the water.

I’m not going to complain about the three new projects, given that they won’t make air until at least the 2011-12 season, but CTV isn’t much for originality.  At least CTV’s not ripping off $#*! My Dad Says yet.


CityTV’s midseason slate includes the second season of My RONA Home (Sunday, April 3, 2011: 9:00 PM ET) and the fourth season of Murdoch Mysteries (Wednesday, March 16, 2011: 10:00 PM ET.)  Airdates and times are, of course, subject to change.

CityTV’s midseason is stuffed full of American shows and Law & Order: UK.  I don’t want to dog CityTV, but when did it become the most conservative networklet in Canadian television?  Most of the prime-time schedule consists of NBC and ABC shows not nailed down by Shaw Media or CTV.  Murdoch Mysteries is being rerun in two different timeslots.

I’m not going to blame Rogers entirely for the channel rot, as CityTV has been on a slow, steady decline since the tail end of the CHUM Television era.  At the same time…My RONA Home and Out There with Melissa DiMarco reruns?!  I honestly can’t believe we’ve come to this point.


CTV will debut one show in the beginning of January.  The Marilyn Denis Show‘s first episode will air Monday, January 10, 2011, at 10:00 AM ET/PT.  In addition, The Listener‘s second season will premiere Friday, January 28, 2011, at 8:00 PM ET/PT.

Flashpoint has a “mid-season premiere,” which is a fancy way of saying holiday specials are over for another year.  The show returns Tuesday, January 4, 2011, at 10:00 PM ET/PT.

Not to be outdone in the CanCon department, Global has…given a second window to Haven.  The first-season premiere airs Friday, January 21, 2011, at 9:00 PM ET/PT.  Yes.  One show, and it’s imported from Showcase.

Seriously, news like this makes me wonder why the hell I do URBMN.  I understand the limitations of Canadian television, but Canadian content laws need to be tightened up when networks like Global and CityTV whittle the CanCon stick down to a shiv.  This country is just now inching to the point where our shows are becoming Americanized.

Meanwhile, Shaw Media is continuing the Canwest practice of slapping a show across five or six channels.  It boggles the mind.  Oh, well.  Enjoy Bob’s Burgers and Winter Wipeout.

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November 13, 2010

Liveblog | The 25th Annual Gemini Awards

As an experiment this year, I thought I’d liveblog the 25th Annual Gemini Awards.  I livetweeted the 24th Gemini Awards Broadcast Gala last year.  I’m one of the few Canadians to give a flying poop about this sort of thing.  It’s an illness.  I need a woman.  Barring that, I need an excuse to give a flying fig about the Toronto Maple Laughs.

What I’m really looking forward to tonight is Ed the Sock’s This Movie Sucks!, since it promises to be new, but the Geminis make for fun viewing.  The Geminis really are the Bizarro Emmys.  Also, the Broadcast Gala’s 90 minutes long.  Unlike the Emmys, the Geminis don’t fuck around.

I have a personal interest in the Gemini Awards this year, since I’m following two shows in two categories: Pure Pwnage for Best Comedy Program or Series, and Durham County for Best Dramatic Series.

Also, the Broadcast Gala realized it can’t subsist on a diet of Mike Reno and Theo Tams, so this year features Elvis Costello, Feist and some off-key hobo.  Cory Monteith is the host.  Monteith promises to be funnier than Ron James, and Cory Monteith isn’t a comedian.

Granted, the Gemini Awards won’t be cool this year.  The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television would have to stop giving out 100 awards a year for that to happen.  At least I’m not liveblogging the Genie Awards.  That’s the real dead zone when it comes to Canadian awards shows.

Click Here for the Liveblogging – begins 8:00 PM EST

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August 23, 2010

News: The Legend of White Fang complete series set out September 14, 2010

On September 14, 2010, Mill Creek Entertainment and Cookie Jar Group will release a complete series set of The Legend of White Fang.  This story has previously been mentioned by TVShowsonDVD.com.

The Legend of White Fang originally aired in Canada on Family Channel, while HBO aired the series in the US.  The Legend of White Fang was produced when Cookie Jar was known as CINAR.

I remember The Legend of White Fang from its Global run, sometime in the mid-1990s.  For a show mainly aired as CanCon-mandated filler, the series was surprisingly decent.  Pierre Berton was even The Legend of White Fang‘s historical consultant.

Truth be known, The Legend of White Fang was a bit boring at times, a problem CINAR shows often had in the 1990s.  I’d still take The Legend of White Fang over Sharky & George, The Smoggies and…ugh…C.L.Y.D.E.

What gets me is how Mill Creek Entertainment and Cookie Jar Group sell this set.  The box set front cover image is of a generic posterized husky.  The cartoon did not look that good.

Also, Mill Creek and Cookie Jar have this habit of passing off unrelated items from the Cookie Jar archives as “extras.”  Seriously, what do Busytown Mysteries, Flight Squad and The Country Mouse and the City Mouse Adventures have to do with a loose Jack London book adaptation?

This isn’t even a new phenomenon.  Mill Creek and Cookie Jar pulled this stunt with the Dark Oracle series set.  It’s annoying.

Here are the opening credits to The Legend of White Fang.  You can see YTV logos and a horrible Canadian flag animation circa 2000 plastered over the credits.  The show got around.

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August 22, 2010

News: The Red Green Show‘s Global seasons on DVD November 2010

On November 2, 2010, The Red Green Show‘s fourth through sixth seasons will be released on DVD through Acorn Media, under the title The Red Green Show: The Toddlin’ Years.  The title shows up on quite a few retail sites, including amazon.ca, amazon.com and DeepDiscount.com.

The Red Green Show: The Toddlin’ Years is also mentioned in an Acorn Media wholesalers’ listing.  I don’t think the title has been formally announced at this point.  The November 2 street date, of course, is subject to change.

The Red Green Show “rebooted” itself as The New Red Green Show for its three seasons on Global.  Despite the fact that The Red Green Show had to pay its way on Global, to the point of selling its own advertising, the Global era is when the show started to take off.  Despite the modifier “new,” The New Red Green Show‘s formulae and running jokes were by and large set by 1994.

The Red Green Show: The Toddlin’ Years is formatted like The Red Green Show: The Infantile Years, with three 24-episode seasons on a total of nine discs.  The price is the same as The Infantile Years – $99.99 US/$124.99 CDN.  As I said in my piece on The Red Green Show: The Infantile Years, this release is just for the hardcores.

I honestly don’t get the “Infantile/Toddlin’” way of selling the early years of The Red Green Show.  The show’s format never underwent any major changes over 15 seasons.  Who’s the target market for The Red Green Show: The Toddlin’ Years?  Are the hardcore fans that snobby that $100 US for three seasons of television is acceptable?  I don’t get it.  I blame PBS for this.

 
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July 12, 2010

News: Rookie Blue renewed for second season

Filed under: Newsosky,The Glory Day of URBMN — Tags: , , , , , , — Cameron Archer @ 10:25 pm
After three episodes, Rookie Blue has been given an early second-season order by both Global and ABC.  The Tassie Cameron series has been given the order after strong overall ratings over three weeks.

In Canada, Rookie Blue debuted to what Global terms “2.1 million viewers,” though the preliminary viewership was closer to 1.8 million.  The show followed this up with 1.4 million viewers on Canada Day, and 1.7 million viewers on July 8.

Meanwhile, American figures are strong enough that Rookie Blue is ABC’s highest-rated new summer drama series in six years.  It’s Canada’s most popular crossover hit since Flashpoint, which is produced by…Tassie Cameron.  Imagine that.

Canwest is being disingenuous about the “critics’ accolades” it mentions in the Rookie Blue press release.  Metacritic gives the show a 52/100, with a user score of 5.1/10.  The critics are more kind to ABC’s Boston Med and BBC America’s The Choir.

I’m actually surprised Rookie Blue has staying power.  Meanwhile, The Bridge has died over at CBS.  Gee, I wonder why a well-promoted Thursday night show has better traction than a show CBS can’t wait to burn off on Saturday nights?  Americans must not get The Bridge.  Yeah, that’s it.  That sounds like a plausible enough excuse for failure.

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