June 3, 2011

Upfront Week: Lloyd Robertson’s final newscast; Corus, Channel Zero and CTV news

The most major news first: Lloyd Robertson’s last-ever newscast will be September 1, 2011.  Nothing’s going to top that, so here’s some news from the past two days that I haven’t covered yet.

News NOT about Lloyd Robertson


October 9, 2009

TV Review | Sanctuary 2.1 – “End of Nights (Part One)”

Sanctuary (SPACE: network debut October 9, 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT; Syfy: second-season premiere October 9, 10:00 PM ET/9:00 PM CT) has trod a long road to get to basic cable in Canada.  It comes to SPACE this season from The Movie Network.  Tracing the show back to its source, Sanctuary originated as a web series.  Sanctuary is on Syfy in America, currently one of Canada’s best-known exports.

Hell, Sanctuary was even nominated for a technical Emmy this year.  At this point, star/executive producer Amanda Tapping can write her own ticket.  Diversifying from Stargate Atlantis will do that to you.

At first glance, Sanctuary is Torchwood with intelligent cryptids, or “Abnormals,” in place of aliens.  The 150-something Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) is a non-glib, female Jack Harkness.  Werewolves and vampires feature, since they’re kinda neat.

I don’t call Sanctuary an own-brand Torchwood, even though this is the first episode of Sanctuary I’ve seen.  Frankly, the show’s more Primeval than Torchwood.  Sanctuary needs LGBT themes to be even close to Torchwood.

The acting, as is so often the case in Canada, ranges from good to bad.  Agam Darshi is surprisingly tolerable as new girl Kate Freelander.  Christopher Heyerdahl is uneven as Abnormal jack-of-all-trades Bigfoot, yet excellent as space-time hopper/ex-serial killer John Druitt.

On the flip side, Jonathon Young annoys me in his recurring role as half-vampire/inventor/smart-ass Nikola Tesla.  Young is given a few one-liners and a flippant attitude, a character archetype played straight.  Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) and Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) are generic and uninteresting characters, even granting Foss’ werewolfism.  Compared to Magnus, Foss and Zimmerman seem like warm bodies attached to subplots.

Amanda Tapping’s British accent fluctuates over the course of “End of Nights (Part One).”  At the same time, Tapping is better than Torchwood‘s John Barrowman in that she’s more forceful and believable as the head of a clandestine organization.  They’re all business, no lesbian kissing down at The Sanctuary.

Sanctuary hovers around the upper echelon of SPACE’s offerings.  It’s better than Primeval, which is like saying that mild nausea is better than having your face run over by a motorcycle.  Sanctuary isn’t better than Rabbit Fall (there, I said it) or Watchmen: The Motion Comic, but it’s not bad.  It’s too easy for a show on SPACE to eclipse the heights of Total Recall 2070, Defying Gravity and Star Trek: Voyager.

The main problem with Sanctuary is that it’s no better than competent.  It’s a campy show that isn’t overly ambitious.  Sanctuary isn’t insultingly bad, like Tripping the Rift, but “End of Nights (Part One)” doesn’t make me want to check out Sanctuary‘s first season.

Sanctuary looks fairly cheap, with much Vancouver location shooting.  I actually prefer the unreal look of the CGI to the very real shots of darkened corridors, bannisters and dilapidated-looking buildings.  I tend not to care about a sci-fi show’s special effects unless they’re Adventures of Sinbad levels of inept, but Sanctuary looks chintzier than it actually is.

Sanctuary makes for a good time filler, but there’s not much to the show beyond this.  “End of Nights (Part One)” is all bla bla Cabal, bla bla Abnormals, plus a poorly-realized car chase.  I might watch another episode of the show to see if I’m missing something, but Sanctuary isn’t sucking me in at this time.


September 5, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (September 5, 2009)

The Tudors‘ third season available in Canada November 2009.  Phase 4 Films will put this out on both DVD and Blu-ray, while Paramount Home Entertainment drags its ass on a DVD-only release.  Point goes to Phase 4 Films.  I think some parallel importing will occur here.

Sanctuary first-season DVD artwork and commercial spot.  There’s also a press release shilling the set, but big deal, it’s a press release.  The set’s being promoted on Syfy, so the show has cornered the American market.  People just seem to like Amanda Tapping.

It’s too bad Sanctuary didn’t receive more Gemini nominations this year.  Stupid sci-fi ghetto, I hate it almost as much as the animation age ghetto and the professional wrestling ghetto.  Sanctuary‘s first-season set will sell like a mofo, believe me.  It needs to, the way E1’s pimping it out.

Thomas Spurlin of DVD Talk reviews “Season One” of Blood Ties.  He likes it.

I should take the time to point out that Tanya Huff linked to URBMN in her LiveJournal a few weeks back.  She is the author of the Blood Books, which Blood Ties is based on.  It seems like every time I talk about Blood Ties I’m linked to by its fans, not that I’m complaining.

Jeffrey Kauffman of DVD Talk reviews “The Complete Season” of Total Drama Island.  He likes it.

Kenny vs. Spenny‘s fifth season out on DVD November 24, 2009 through Video Service Corp.  This season features the Who Can Smoke More Weed? and Who Can Piss Off More People? competitions.

I’d like to say the end is near for Kenny vs. Spenny, but it’s coming back for a sixth season.  I’m surprised Kenny vs. Spenny survived the Showcase reboot.  Mind you, so did Paradise Falls, but only on account of stockpiling.  Nowadays Showcase feels Howie Do It is worthy enough to grace its airwaves, as the pussification of Showcase begins.

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…‘s first season out on DVD and Blu-ray November 10, 2009 through VSC.  Quite frankly, I’m surprised this show is out on DVD.  The press bumf claims the show received “terrific ratings and reviews on CTV,” never mind that the ratings went potty halfway through the run.   Press releases don’t need to be 100% truthful.

I have seen an episode or two of Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…  Costello is a decent interviewer, even if the show is low-key chat.  Having said that, if you can’t break half a million viewers with The Police, the show isn’t a mass-audience hit.  I’m tempted to say Sundance Channel and Channel 4 are keeping this baby afloat for a second season, just like The N won’t allow Degrassi: The Next Generation to die a richly deserved death.  There are worse shows out on DVD, I guess.

Oh, and mumble mumble Chop Socky Chooks press release.


June 18, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (June 18, 2009)

Heartland‘s first season out on DVD September 15, 2009, sort of.  For some reason, the first season is being split into volume sets.  Does a release like this serve Heartland‘s fans?  Seven episodes and bonus material sounds a little on the thin side.  Ah well, at least it’s out.

Sanctuary‘s first season out on DVD September 15, 2009.  The Movie Network just keeps cranking out watchable CanCon.  SPACE will re-air the series this fall, so it’ll shill the box set like it’s manna from heaven.  I’m actually looking forward to Sanctuary.

Lots of Stargate-related news.  The box art and Fan’s Choice stories I tend to ignore.  Stargate is pimped out on a regular basis and shows no signs of slowing down.

The final season of Stargate Atlantis is out June 30, 2009, while the recut Stargate SG-1 pilot is out July 21, 2009.  Stargate Universe is around the corner, so these releases might never end.  At least Stargate exhibits better quality control than Star Trek.

Blood Ties‘ “first season” out June 2, 2009.  Wait, June 23.  Just kidding, it’s in stores now.

Blood Ties‘ “second season” is out October 6, 2009.  With trailer!

Amazon.com is taking pre-orders for The Tudors‘ third-season set.  If John Rhys-Meyers overacting is your thing, go right ahead.

Selected Inspector Gadget episodes out on DVD September 8, 2009 through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.  Inspector Gadget counts as CanCon due to the Nelvana connection.  Global only aired reruns for a zillion years.

Canadian Connection® of note: Cookie Jar currently owns the rights to Inspector Gadget.  Inspector Gadget was DiC’s most recognizable character.  The company formerly known as CINAR ate DiC in 2008.  So far, Cookie Jar hasn’t whored Gadget out like DiC did.  Give Cookie Jar go go Gadget time.

Two Goosebumps releases, “The Headless Ghost” and “Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns,” out September 8, 2009 through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.  With box art!

Road Hockey Rumble complete series set out July 1, 2009 through Paperny Films.

The show’s and Paperny Films’ websites are the only places that offer the Road Hockey Rumble set, which means it’ll be in Giant Tiger bargain bins two years from now.

You’d think that was a joke, but the complete series of Our Hero goes for $4.99 at GT.  Our Hero was sold in 2006 the same way Road Hockey Rumble is now.  Think about it.

TV, Eh? links to three DVD season set reviews.  Monsters and Critics’ Jeff Swindoll reviews Murdoch Mysteries‘ first-season set and Intelligence Season 2.

DVD Talk’s Paul Mavis reviews Murdoch Mysteries‘ first-season set as well, but Mavis is snarkier than Swindoll about it.  At least Acorn Media is getting its press.  Like Acorn Media employees are going to complain about making more money.