December 17, 2010

News: Debut dates for Skins (US) and She’s the Mayor

The Movie Network and Movie Central will debut Skins, the North American version of the E4 teen series, on January 17, 2011.  Skins will air at 9:00 PM PT on Movie Central, while The Movie Network will screen the series at 10:00 PM ET.

Stars of the show are James Newman (Tony), Eleanor Zichy (Eura), Rachel Thevenard (Michelle), Britne Oldford (Cadie), Jesse Carere (Chris), Daniel Flaherty (Stanley), Sofia Black-D’Elia (Tea), Ron Mustafaa (Abbud) and Camille Cresencia-Mills (Daisy.)  Skins co-creator Brian Elsley showruns the format portover, while Call Me Fitz‘s Scott Smith and Testees‘ Samir Rehem direct.

More Teens and Old Politicos After the Jump


June 14, 2010

News: TMN and Movie Central announce upcoming 2010-11 production slate

The Movie Network and Movie Central have recently announced their 2010-11 production slate, with three renewals, three new series and two original films.  Renewed shows include Living in Your Car (second season), Call Me Fitz (second season), and Less Than Kind (third season.)  Call Me Fitz is an odd renewal, as the show hasn’t even debuted yet.

New shows and original films include:

Just For Laughs: Funny as Hell (working title), which is essentially the Just For Laughs gala with digital shorts bunged onto the side.  On the plus side, Jon Dore’s the host, so his wraparound segments might actually be entertaining.

Skins, a Canada/UK remake of the E4 series about teens surviving their two years in sixth form.  Yes, this is the show that will air on MTV.  Toronto will stand in for Baltimore.  Isn’t that great?

The Yard, a Whizbang Films series sold as The Sopranos on the playground.  I assume this is an adult-oriented series, considering Michael Mabbott’s pedigree and the fact that it comes from the production company behind Cra$h & Burn.  I’m cautiously optimistic about this one.

Sleepyhead and Scaredycat, two feature-length Canada/UK co-productions.  The films are adaptations of Mark Billingham’s first two Tom Thorne detective novels.

Call Me Fitz is set to debut September 2010.  All other new shows will debut sometime in 2011.  All returning shows will air their new seasons in 2011.  No word on whether the shows will air on TMN/MC or HBO Canada.

The only new all-Canadian show in TMN/MC’s 2010-11 production slate is The Yard.  Why isn’t Skins set in a Canadian city, anyway?  Are Canadian teens all that different from American teens?  Also, why Just For Laughs?  Does Canada need to see abbreviated versions of well-known standup acts that badly?

At the same time, I like TMN/MC.  The premium-cable duopoly helps, but The Movie Network and Movie Central have launched a number of successful shows over the years – ReGenesis, Durham County, Living in Your Car, The Outer Limits (1995), Slings and Arrows and Sanctuary.  That’s not a bad legacy.

I like the 2010-11 production schedule – there are four new shows for 2010-11, a few returning shows, and no obvious burnoffs.  Add in some returning shows, including Durham County, and that’s as stable as television gets in Canada.

That said, I hope The Yard is as good as its premise will allow it to be.  The idea sounds fun, and more in keeping with how kids actually act.  Hell, Disney’s Recess is just kids reacting to totalitarianism.  How far off the mark could The Yard be?


April 9, 2010

News: CanCon Potrzebie – Rookie Blue, Living in Your Car, More

Sorry for lumping stories in like this.  I usually don’t, but Canadian television news hasn’t been this active since URBMN began talking about these shows back in 2008.  I’ve fallen behind a bit.  Apologies if you’ve read this before.

Rookie Blue, the cop show formerly known as Copper, will debut Thursday, June 24, 2010.  The show will air on both Global and ABC at 9:00 PM ET/PT.

Rookie Blue focuses on five newbie cops learning the ropes in the generic world of “big-city policing.”  It is unknown whether the show will contain vomiting.

Rookie Blue is an odd name for a show.  Copper, while generic, makes more sense.  I guess ABC and Canwest are banking on people remembering NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues.  This show has never had a good name.

Yeah, yeah, Cra$h & Burn, but that’s different.  See, the character’s named Jimmy Burn, and he’s an insurance claims adjuster.  The title fits the show.  What Canwest and ABC have done is swap ambiguities.  It’s like taking Cybersix and calling it A Girl and Her Panther.

I don’t have high hopes for Rookie Blue.  One doesn’t schedule a surefire hit in the middle of June.  At least the show’s out.  I hope it gets promoted.

Living in Your Car will debut on HBO Canada Friday, May 7, 2010, at 9:30 PM ET/MT.  The show follows Steve Unger (John Ralston), a business executive charged with fraud, obstruction and racketeering.  After cutting a deal to escape prison time, Unger loses everything aside from his sedan.  This explains Living in Your Car‘s title and premise.  See how this works, Canwest?

Here’s a ninety-second preview of Living in Your Car.  Star John Ralston might be more familiar to viewers as Derek Venturi’s father on Life with Derek.  He also played Ming the Merciless on the 2007-08 Flash Gordon reboot.  Ralston gets around.

Continuing with the subject of HBO Canada, NSI Canada has announced that Less Than Kind will get a third season.

It’s not a detailed story, and HBO Canada hasn’t formally announced a third season for Less Than Kind.  At the same time, I can’t see why the National Screen Institute would falsify the renewal of a show it helped develop.

Congratulations to Less Than Kind.  I thought the show would die after its second season.  It’s not often that I can write about a Canadian show’s renewal, rather than its untimely death.

Two upcoming shows in the pipeline: CTV/Bravo!/Showtime’s The Borgias and Showcase’s Lost Girl.  Lost Girl is set to debut “Fall 2010″ (*snort* heard that one before), while The Borgias will air in 2011.

Lost Girl is in production.  It’s about a succubus on a path to self-discovery.  The Borgias, which is still in pre-production, is about the Italian/Spanish House of Borgia and its path to self-destruction.  I’m sure sex will feature heavily in both shows.

The Borgias‘ cast includes Colm Feore, Jeremy Irons and François Arnaud.  Director/screenwriter Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Ondine) will write and direct The Borgias‘ first two episodes.

The Borgias intrigues me.  I hate The Tudors with a passion, but this show might be different.  Neil Jordan might focus The Borgias more on politico-religious themes than trying to sex up history for a premium-cable audience.  As long as François Arnaud doesn’t eat up scenery like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the show will do fine.

I’m not as sold on Lost Girl.  It comes across as a gender-swapped Blood Ties.  If the show is a detective drama WITH DEMONS!, I’m bailing.

Horror, fantasy and sci-fi themes are invading mainstream television with increased regularity.  Supernatural, The Secret Saturdays, Ugly Americans, True Blood, Dead Set, Being Human…it gets to be a bit much after a while.

I’m not saying Lost Girl will suck, but the show might get lost in the shuffle.  Add to that Canwest’s wanting to turn its cable channels into virtual Global clones…on second thought, I don’t want to think about that.  I value my sanity.  I hate Canadian television so much.


March 3, 2010

News: Starz to air The Pillars of the Earth in the US July 2010

The Pillars of the Earth, a Canada/Germany co-production, has been bought by Starz for an American airing.  The miniseries, based on the 1989 Ken Follett novel, will debut with a 90-minute premiere in July 2010.  Six 45-minute episodes will follow.

The $40 million series is a co-production between Muse Entertainment, Tandem Communications and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Films.  Donald Sutherland, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell and Alison Pill star.

I’m not sure how Canadian The Pillars of the Earth is.  The Movie Network/Movie Central greenlit The Pillars of the Earth for its 2009-10 lineup, but it’s not straight CanCon like Call Me Fitz or Living in Your Car.  Donald Sutherland’s a main draw, as if that’s an unexpected casting choice in this country.

Much has been made of new Starz CEO/chairman Chris Albrecht’s first major programming decision.  Albrecht resigned as HBO CEO/chairman in 2007 after being arrested on assault charges in Las Vegas.

I don’t need to explain Albrecht’s tenure on HBO.  The Sopranos, The Wire, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Deadwood…the man’s had a hand in all those series.  The Pillars of the Earth is supposed to be his opening salvo, as Starz attempts a war of pork swords with premium cable competitors HBO and Showtime.

A few years ago, I would have made jokes about Starz being the extra testicle of American premium cable.  It still is, but at least Starz is stepping up its game.  I’m just amazed to see the words “Canada,” “$40 million” and “television” in the same sentence.  High-budget Canadian television?  That’s almost oxymoronic, there.


December 22, 2009

News: Less Than Kind‘s second season to air on HBO Canada

Breakthrough Films & Television has posted news about Less Than Kind‘s move to HBO Canada.  The second season will premiere on The Movie Network/Movie Central’s multiplex channel Friday, February 19, 2010 at 8:30 PM ET/MT.  The Movie Network and Movie Central’s on-demand channels will offer the entire first season starting February 23, 2010.

CityTV debuted the show in the fall of 2008, originally committing to two seasons.  CityTV had even announced Less Than Kind‘s second season as part of its 2009-10 fall schedule.

I’m aware of Less Than Kind‘s weak first-season ratings.  On the other hand, debuting a domestic sitcom in a 10:30 PM ET Monday timeslot is stupid programming.  I don’t think CityTV knew what to do with the show.

I’m surprised The Movie Network/Movie Central managed to pick up Less Than Kind.  HBO Canada’s Canadian content was previously limited to Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and the Nasty Show 3 comedy special.  This acquisition almost makes up for TMN/MC greenlighting Ken Finkleman’s latest onanism.  Almost.


November 18, 2009

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures to debut on HBO Canada Jan. 10, 2010

The Movie Network and Movie Central will debut Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures through its HBO Canada multiplex channel on January 10, 2010, at 8:00 PM ET/MT.  This is the first Canadian show to debut on HBO Canada, which came into being October 30, 2008.

The series is based on Vincent Lam’s Giller Prize-winning 2006 short story compilation.  It centers on three young medical professionals as they balance surgeries, medical emergencies and emotional baggage.  The phrase “sea of emotion” is used in the media release.

TMN and MC are promoting Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures heavily.  Beginning December 22, 2009, the first episode can be viewed online through, and

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures‘ first episode will debut December 22 on TMN OnDemand, and through Bell TV’s TMN OnLine service.  Western Canada will have to wait until December 29 for Movie Central On Demand to follow suit.  DVD samplers and Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment network also figure in promotion.

This is a Shaftesbury Films series, Shaftesbury fast becoming a household name in this country.  The company has its hand in Murdoch Mysteries, The Listener, ReGenesis, Life With Derek and The Summit, among other series/miniseries.  It’s even sold a Ken Finkleman series to TMN/MC, something I didn’t know was possible.

I hope Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is good.  The Movie Network/Movie Central has been on a roll with The Line, Durham County, Sanctuary and ZOS: Zone of Separation.  If the show fails, it won’t be due to lack of marketing.  Considering Shaftesbury’s track record, I’ll be surprised if an American cable channel doesn’t snap B&MC up in a heartbeat.


June 25, 2009

Picking Apart the Fall Schedules: Selected Canadian Cable Part 1

I don’t plan to do posts for each Canadian cable channel.  It isn’t worth it and there are a handful of channels I actually watch.  Some channels, like Teletoon, haven’t finalized their fall schedules.  Since I’m not of the target market for HGTV Canada or the Food Network, those channels will not be talked about.

If the show’s on a Canwest property, it will be rerun on seven different channels within three months regardless of the channel’s target market.  Expect to see Beastmaster on History Television within a year.

I will mainly focus on channels I have an interest in which contain adult-oriented programming.  It’s a bonus if the channels show more than one new Canadian series a year.  I refuse to believe anyone actually watches MovieTime.

The Movie Network/Movie Central | The Movie Network/Movie Central’s 2009-10 original show slate doesn’t read as good as 2008-09’s.  An announced third season of Durham County is a little weird given that the second season debuts July 13.  As for The Phantom, it doesn’t seem TMN/MC quality somehow.  It’s a four-hour miniseries featuring an underrated comics character, but I doubt The Phantom would be on TMN/MC if the company producing it (Muse Entertainment) hadn’t produced Durham County.

The show that appeals to me the most is Living in Your Car.  A former corporate executive/ex-con teaches ethics courses under a court order.  It’s the sort of show that, with good writing, should allow for great comedy.  Meet Phil Fitz reads like a belated Canadian version of Minder.  Bloodletting and The Pillars of the Earth do nothing for me.

Mind you, I’m talking about shows that don’t air until later this year or in 2010.  I can see TMN/MC continuing its quality streak, as it has a history of successful launches and shows with strong fanbases.  TMN/MC’s premium cable duopoly helps.  Super Channel’s flailing in the wind right now, so the duopoly isn’t much threatened.

Showcase | The Foundation was meant to debut in 2008-09 but was pushed back.  This show is the brainchild of FUBAR and It’s All Gone Pete Tong director Michael Dowse.  FUBAR/It’s All Gone Pete Tong‘s Mike Wilmot is Michael Valmont-Selkirk, the corrupt “Executive Director for Life” of a charitable organization.

The Foundation reads like an interesting show.  It has the talent, a solid premise and a…five-episode first season.  Ah well, at least it’s out, provided Canwest executives don’t see a bunny hop along a coffee table and decide to give it a development deal.

I’m not too worked up about Crash & Burn and Shattered.  Crash & Burn (formerly Lawyers, Guns and Money) has ZOS: Zone of Separation showrunner Malcolm MacRury behind it and Shattered stars Callum Keith Rennie, but I’m reserving judgment on the three shows until they debut.  I’m baffled by Showcase’s heavier dramatic focus this year.

I’m also not fond of Showcase’s new logo and mission statement.  The Canwest press bumf says “an unprecedented number of off-pay movie premieres, the best collection of popular network series and breakout cable dramas.”  I hope that doesn’t mean Showcase will become TVtropolis’ dramatic big sister, full of Bones, House M.D. and assorted CanCon filler.

Showcase has its share of CanCon filler nowBeastmaster reruns, oh boy! – but it has served Canadian comedy relatively well.  Showcase has always been one of Alliance Atlantis’/Canwest’s better cable channels.  I hope the channel doesn’t turn crap due to the rebranding, but I’m unconvinced based on Canwest’s track record.

TVtropolis | Jonathan Torrens’ show, TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens, could be good – he’s had success with Trailer Park Boys and Jonovision, so his ultra-generic “make fun of television for 22 minutes” show concept could amount to something.  E! managed to make a brand out of The Soup, so precedent is on Torrens’ side.

As for Switch (a pop culture panel show) and Killer Comebacks (Hollywood stars making comebacks), TVtropolis’ filler show traditions are maintained.  Mind you, shows like Once a Thief are creeping into TVtropolis’ schedules, so TVtropolis is becoming more watchable.

It’s a far cry from the days when TVtropolis was called Prime and appealed to seniors, but North of 60 reruns > Naked Fashion.  Remember the days when MovieTime was called Lonestar and aired westerns?  Those wacky Canwest properties, you never know what they’ll become next.  They’re like Pokémon.  Gotta rebrand’em all!