January 5, 2010

TV Review | 18 to Life 1.1

18 to Life‘s (CBC: premiered January 4, 2010, 8:00 PM ET/PT) grand concept is simple.  Two 18-year-olds marry on a dare.  One family’s conservative, the other liberal.

It’s a standard, well-worn sitcom premise, but 18 to Life at least does something with it.  While the first episode has problems, 18 to Life has the promise most debuting CBC shows don’t.

Stacey Farber is merely okay as Jessie Hill, while Michael Seater nails awkwardness very well as Tom Bellow.  They’re veterans of Canadian kids’ television, Farber playing Ellie Nash on Degrassi: the Next Generation and Mary on Dark Oracle.

Michael Seater’s big role was as Derek Venturi on Life with Derek, although he’s been on Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, The Zack Files and ReGenesis.  Both Farber and Seater can handle adult roles, although 18 to Life feels like an aged-up teen drama at times.

As Tom’s father Ben Bellow, Peter Keleghan doesn’t stray from the aloof authority figure he’s made a trademark.  Ellen David isn’t horrible as mother Judith, but she and Peter don’t have good chemistry.  Maybe it’s due to them playing conservatives, although Keleghan only breaks out of Jim Walcott Mode when he’s doing voiceovers for Ruby Gloom and Producing Parker.

Angela Asher and Alain Goulem are better as Tara and Phil Hill.  They actually complement each other, making for a believable married couple.  They’re right for their roles the way Keleghan and David aren’t.  The Hills and the Bellows initially fight, but decide to work together in order to destroy the dare-based marriage.

18 to Life‘s chief strength is that it’s slicker than the average CBC sitcom.  There’s the usual awkwardness common to Canadian sitcoms, but 18 to Life doesn’t incessantly tell the viewer how Canadian and open-minded it is.

18 to Life isn’t that funny, but it’s not actively bad.  It’s miles beyond whatever Little Mosque on the Prairie‘s trying to be.

18 to Life is the only show that could do well for CBC Television this winter.  Michael Seater has had prior exposure on the Disney Channel, thanks to Life with Derek.  TeenNick won’t let Degrassi: the Next Generation die.  If nothing else, 18 to Life is aiming for a specific demographic.  That’s something I can’t say for Republic of Doyle.


July 13, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (July 13, 2009)

Flashpoint‘s first season out October 13, 2009 through CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment.  This comes on the heels of CBS’ not knowing what the hell to do with the “third season” of the show, but hey, Canadian television on a top-flight home video label.  I just know this will sell well.

Can’t I go through ONE Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup without a Stargate update?  Damn, so close this time.

Anyway, MGM Home Entertainment confirms that its Stargate Atlantis: Fans’ Choice disc will be Stargate Atlantis‘ only Blu-ray release.  Boy, that’ll please the fans!  Watch MGM catch shit for this within a day.

Box art for Life with Derek‘s second season and Inspector Gadget: The Go Go Gadget Collection.  Nothing to see here, let’s move on.

Brutal As Hell review of Forever Knight Volumes One through Three.  Oh wait, it’s Forever Knight: The Trilogy Parts 1 through 3, like naming the seasons that way matters.  Forever Knight gets a good review, though Sam Hawken is fairly harsh on the series.  I like that in a review.  I wonder how BAH feels about Blood Ties.

Vampire Wire has a Blood Ties “Season One” contest up.  It’s ongoing until July 15, 2009, so you still have a few days to enter.

The link also has news about Warehouse 13 and Dark Shadows, and I could give less than 1/50th of a shit about Dark Shadows.  If over-marketed supernatural soap operas are your thing, dive right in.

Jim Bawden talks The Starlost.  I didn’t like Jim Bawden’s Starweek articles back in the 1980s and 1990s, but damn do I miss him now.  That man wrote good, well-reasoned columns in his day.

His blog has a surprising number of typos considering his former profession, but he is still passionate about television and its potential.  I prefer him to reheated blog articles about video games and whatever gimmicks the Toronto Star uses to pretend it’s still relevant.  Malene Arpe the best thing in the whole paper?  I fear for the future of newspapers.


May 3, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (May 3, 2009)

The complete Swiss Family Robinson series will come out June 30, 2009 through Image Entertainment.  TVShowsonDVD.com lists Swiss Family Robinson as a 1976 series.

There’s confusion about when the show debuted – it varies from 1973 to 1976.  I’ll defer to Wikipedia’s date of 1974.  The Wikipedia entry actually has sources.

This is the American release of Swiss Family Robinson, as Morningstar Entertainment released a series set in March 2007.  I assume the show is popular enough for Image Entertainment to release a similar set Stateside, Dove Family Approved logo and all.

Life with Derek‘s second-season set might come out August 11, 2009 through E1 Entertainment.  This is very early information, but I’m sure this set will come out.  Life with Derek has its fans and is part of a lucrative market.

For those who haven’t seen Life with Derek, it’s not like Hannah Montana or its clones.  As such, the show isn’t on the Disney Channel home page like Hannah Montanas I through IX are.  I refuse to believe people watch Wizards of Waverly Place.

Dumb aside: I’ve watched the Wizards of Waverly Place episode with the talking zit twice.  I don’t know why as I otherwise never watch WoWP.  It’s not even the best show on Disney Channel where an anthropomorphic pimple has featured.  Please don’t ask further about this.

Survivorman third-season box set art.  I assume this is the American release, as Canada hadn’t adopted the current Discovery Channel logo at the time of the announcement.

You know a show is popular when a King of the Hill episode bases a subplot – a Dale subplot, yet – around it.  Mind you, I prefer Mantracker to Survivorman.  I’ll be honest, I’ll watch a documentary on TVO before watching Survivorman.  All survival-oriented reality shows give me that “might be fake” feeling.  Television, you know?

Finalized list of extras for Corner Gas‘ sixth-season set.  It’s the final season, so buy the set and help restart Canada’s moribund economy!  Come on!  CORNER GAS!

The 2007 version of Flash Gordon comes out on DVD July 14, 2009 through Peace Arch Phase 4 Films.  It’s a Canadian-only set, so American fans will have to import the series for now.

From what I understand, Flash Gordon started off horribly and improved midway through the season.  The show is still a failure considering it’s Flash Gordon, the venerable grandfather of comic book sci-fi.  It won’t be until I’m 45, but there will be a good Flash Gordon television series one day!

As for Peace Arch becoming Phase 4 Films, I don’t see the point.  It’s not like the company will magically be better run due to the name change.  The change is about as pointless as Koch Entertainment becoming E1 Entertainment.  I’m sure VSC will merge with itself next week and become H831 Video Space Pow!  It seems to be the trend of the moment.

May 2009’s Acorn Media releases include a DVD compilation of Red Green Show-related specials.  Apparently PBS flogs the series like A&E Home Video flogs Monty Python’s Flying Circus DVDs.

This release is mainly for Red Green Show completists.  I’ll just wait for more season sets.  Maybe I’ll wait until the Dave the Barbarian series set with the talking z

Sun Media article about the Nature of Things: Visions of the Future two-disc set.  Wow, that news just slid by me.  Mongrel Media and CBC Home Video put the set out.

I don’t want to sound like an idiot, but did CBC advertise this heavily?  The Nature of Things is an institution more battered than even Marketplace, but David Suzuki is still a well-known Canadian icon.  I know of Mongrel Media through its release of Manufacturing Dissent and other documentaries, but it’s not a familiar face in the world of TV-on-DVD.

Mongrel Media/CBC Home Video will also put out India Reborn on May 5, 2009, if you’re into CBC documentaries.

Finally, here’s an American “newspaper” reference to Slings and Arrows‘ DVD sets.  I quote “newspaper” due to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer being an online-only news outlet these days.  Changes, aren’t they sweeping?

I’m amazed Slings and Arrows is so loved in America.  It never received that love in its own country, though that’s not surprising for Canadian television.

As a bonus, TV Guy’s opinion on the future of Canadian television.  I thought it was a good article, if a bit simplistic.  Your mileage may vary since, you know, Canwest.


November 9, 2008

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (November 9, 2008)

Press release for The Border‘s first-season DVD.  True story – when I received the press release it had this in it:


Good job editing the template, VSC.  The company does good work, don’t get me wrong, but one usually doesn’t see placeholders in finished press releases.  I’m sure White Pine Pictures was thrilled to see that.

Life With Derek sampler DVD out February 10, 2009.  I hate sampler discs – they end up in $5 bargain bins and landfills.  I hope these DVDs are recycled if they don’t sell, otherwise it’s a waste of plastic and aluminum.  Shit knows I’m beyond sick of those Trading Spaces samplers and five hundred copies of Kid Paddle.


The Red Green Show‘s eleventh season out March 10, 2009.  The eleventh season, a/k/a “the 2001 season,” is where the show starts to show its age – Patrick McKenna comes back to the show after a long-enough absence, but somehow he’s not as funny as before.  Acorn Media still has three more seasons to go until The Red Green Show completely bottoms out.

No Smith & Smith/Smith & Smith’s Comedy Mill DVDs on the horizon, though.  Is that a good or bad thing?  I know Smith & Smith has its detractors, but the show ran forever on CHCH.  If Hilarious House of Frightenstein is worthy of multiple DVD sets, so is Smith & Smith.

The Georgia Straight mentions ReGenesis in its latest article on new DVD releases.  The Georgia Straight is a Vancouver, British Columbia newspaper, yet it needs to mention ReGenesis‘ Canadian status.  I love this country.

Blogcritics.org review of The Red Green Show‘s 2000 season.  What can I say, it’s been a dire week for Canadian TV-on-DVD news.  When the most exciting news is a Red Green Show release that won’t come out for another four months…well, I don’t know how to finish that sentence with a proper ending.  Here’s a clip from Smith & Smith.

Don’t forget to visit the URBMN aStore, as I love blatant shilling!


October 13, 2008

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (October 13, 2008)

Life With Derek first-season DVD set.  When I contacted Zoltan Varadi of KOCH Canada about updating my contact information and availability of the Terminal City box set, I was sent a press release concerning this show.  I haven’t seen Life With Derek so I have no comments good or bad about this release, but there are far worse shows being given box sets.

The Blu-Ray box sets of The Tudors‘ first two seasons have been delayed until November 25.  This doesn’t affect the DVD version of the second-season box set, which is still coming out on Remembrance Day.  The American DVD release of The Tudors will have other Showtime hits tacked onto the set, just in case you’ve been living in a garbage bag and don’t know what Dexter is.

ReGenesis first-season DVD set.  I never watched this show, but it has its fans and it’s good to see this come out.  Koch and VSC tend to grab the choice titles, and I have a feeling this will sell well.

TVShowsOnDVD.com links to the frightenstein.com boards concerning a new Hilarious House of Frightenstein box set.  This is being put out by CRiTiCAL MASS Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada.  Wait, is it Starz Home Entertainment Canada now?  Whatever, at least it’s a Canadian release.

As a special bonus, David Lambert of TVShowsOnDVD.com thanks someone whose name sounds very familiar to me:

Our thanks to reader Sean Palmerston for tipping us off about this

Sean Palmerston?  The writer for Exclaim! and Unrestrained!?  Alright, he’s a Hamilton boy and Hilarious House of Frightenstein was shown on CHCH back when it had a soul, so the connection isn’t that far off.  I never thought I’d see Sean Palmerston’s name referenced at TVShowsOnDVD.com.  He’s branching out.

Bruce Kirkland puts over a few Canadian TV-on-DVD sets, including Corner Gas, Durham County and Terminal City.  I don’t see how Corner Gas is “out-of-mainstream” since that show is the most successful Canadian sitcom since Trailer Park Boys, but whatever.  Duckman and Robot Chicken are recommended, so Kirkland has some semblance of taste.