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.

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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.

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August 25, 2009

Picking Apart the 2009 Geminis Part One: Program Awards Nominations

I know “no one cares” about the Gemini Awards.  Every year, there will be an article about the lack of credibility Canada’s television awards have, yet there is momentum for the 24th Annual Gemini Awards that previous years have lacked.  For one thing, Canadians are selling more to American networks.  It would help if the shows sold to said networks were of better quality than The Listener, but money is money.

The Geminis have embraced Flashpoint.  The show has picked up a ridiculous 19 nominations, the most ever for a Canadian television show.  That sounds impressive, except that four nominations are in Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series.  Three nominations lard Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series.  Flashpoint even has a Gemini nod for Best Achievement in Main Title Design.

Categories like Best Achievement in Main Title Design are why the Geminis have a credibility problem.  An award needs to be given out for opening credits?  Have a look at the Gemini nominations (caution: PDF), there are a few categories that need to be discontinued.

For those wondering, Keys to the VIP and Reality Obsessed are nominated for one Gemini each this year, for Best Direction in a Reality Program or Series.  Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie aren’t nominated for anything, but Keys to the VIP gets a nod.  Weird.

I also hate when a category is dominated by a single show – Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series is two-thirds Less Than Kind.  Murdoch Mysteries benefitted from this domination last year.  There should be a rule limiting how many times one show can dot a category.  I’m not saying the Gemini Awards should be more diverse, I just hate seeing stacked decks.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going through selected categories.  I’m sure Best Cross Platform Project and Best Science, Technology, Nature, Environment or Adventure Documentary Program (whew) are the bee’s tits, but I’ve selected the categories of most interest to me.  If I missed a half-decent category, I apologize.

Fun fact: this year Survivorman is up for Best Documentary Series.  Survivorman‘s a reality show in a category it barely belongs in.  Canadian television, gotta love it.


Best TV Movie
Celine (CBC)
Elijah (CTV)
In a World Created By a Drunken God (APTN)
Of Murder and Memory (CTV)
The Secret of the Nutcracker (CBC)
The Terrorist Next Door (CTV)

You know, I have not seen one TV movie on this list.  I don’t know the first thing about any of these made-for-TV films, so I can’t comment on them.  I will say that In a World Created By a Drunken God is an awesome film title.  It’s also APTN’s lone wolf against the CBC/CTV juggernauts.  Yeah, I want APTN to win this one.


Best Dramatic Mini-Series
Burn Up (Global)
Diamonds (CBC)
The Last Templar (Global)
XIII (Canwest)

I’m confused as to which network/cable channel I should list XIII under.  Showcase airs XIII a lot, but Canwest has also foisted the miniseries on Mystery TV.  Showcase can’t get enough of XIII and The Last Templar.

All four nominations for Best Dramatic Mini-Series are co-productions.  Two of the noms, The Last Templar and XIII, aired on NBC, while ABC picked up Diamonds.  Burn Up is the dark horse, as it aired on BBC Two and isn’t as high-profile.

The entire Best Dramatic Mini-Series category is junky.  Let’s move on.


Best Dramatic Series
Being Erica (CBC)
The Border (CBC)
Flashpoint (CTV)
The Tudors (CBC)
ZOS: Zone of Separation (The Movie Network/Movie Central)

No big surprise Flashpoint is there.  I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win a Gemini for Best Dramatic Series.  I would swap The Tudors with Rabbit Fall, which gets little Gemini love this year.

My personal choice to win, even though I haven’t seen the show, is ZOS: Zone of Separation.  I have seen the other four shows, and they don’t stand out to me as the best Canada has to offer.  It doesn’t matter what I say, since Flashpoint is the commercial favourite and has the American fanbase.  Having typed that, watch Being Erica win.


Best Comedy Program or Series
Less Than Kind (CityTV)
The Rick Mercer Report (CBC)
Testees (Showcase)
This Hour Has 22 Minutes Series XVI (CBC)
Three Chords from the Truth (CMT)

I am fucking stunned Testees is nominated for this category.  Less Than Kind, yes, but Testees?  I’m not complaining about the nomination, I’m just surprised the show’s in a high-profile category.  Testees won’t win, as the Gemini Awards hate Kenny Hotz.

I’d rather see The Jon Dore Television Show nominated in this category than The Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.  I know I gave a good review to one 2008-09 22 Minutes episode, but the show’s weak at this point in its life.  ‘da Kink in My Hair is more worthy of a Best Comedy nomination than 22 Minutes, and ‘da Kink is shit.

As for Three Chords from the Truth, where did that nomination come from?  Maybe I need to start watching CMT.  Every year I think I know a lot about Canadian television.  Nominations like this remind me that no, I don’t.


Best Reality Program or Series
disBAND: The Homecoming (MuchMusic)
Dragons’ Den (CBC)
GoldMind (TVtropolis)
Project Runway Canada (Global)
The Week the Women Went (CBC)

I want so bad for Dragons’ Den to win.  It’s the only show of the five I can get behind.  I admit to not watching GoldMind, since the show is on the sludge factory known as TVtropolis.  GoldMind must air eighteen times a week there, so it has to have entered the Gemini Awards’ subconscious in some way.

What a shitty set of nominees this year.  I’m not a reality show fan by any means, but I’m sure Canadian television aired a reality show of higher merit than disBAND: The Homecoming.  One of these years, the Gemini Awards are going to have to get to Mantracker.  You can’t hide from him forever.


Best Animated Program or Series
Jibber Jabber (YTV)
Life’s a Zoo.tv (Teletoon)
Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (Teletoon)
Rollbots (YTV)

Wow, two kids’ shows against two adult cartoons.  It’s a weak field this year.  I’m partial to Life’s a Zoo.tv for obvious reasons, since it’s a very well-written show.  Rollbots‘ nomination makes me wonder why Kid vs. Kat didn’t earn a Gemini nod.  Swap one generic Canadian cartoon for another, who’s going to notice?

Rick and Steve, though…the show’s not funny.  I know it’s a gay-oriented cartoon, I just can’t see how the show is good enough to earn a Gemini nomination.  I will say that Rick and Steve deserves a nomination more than friggin’ Rollbots.  If nothing else, Cuppa Coffee Studios has two chances to win a Gemini, so good on Cuppa Coffee for that.


Stay tuned for part two of this article series, as I cross over into the Craft and Performance categories.  Now with more Amy Jo Johnson!

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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.

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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.

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