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Air Farce, Ron James plan an “ex-PSY-ting” New Year’s Eve, Stephen Harper style

- December 30th, 2012

Air Farce - Paul Henderson, Craig Lauzon as Don Cherry

Canada doesn’t seem to treasure as many traditions as it has in the past. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your point of view.

But one Canadian tradition that has hung on is comedy on CBC on New Year’s Eve.

First up at 8 p.m. (local time) is the annual Air Farce New Year’s Eve special. That’s followed at 9 p.m. by The Ron James Show’s New Year’s Eve Special.

Then at 10 p.m., it’s the news, which rarely is funny. So let’s focus on those first two.

The Air Farce extravaganza this year features a hilarious video parody starring Craig Lauzon, doing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, doing Korean rapper PSY. The words to PSY’s massive hit “Gangnam Style” have been changed to reflect Harper’s world.

Besides Lauzon, the usual Air Farce crew of Don Ferguson, Luba Goy, Alan Park, Penelope Corrin and Arnold Pinnock will be on hand. Guests include hockey legend Paul Henderson (pictured above left, with Lauzon as Don Cherry at right), Olympic gold medallist Rosie MacLennan, Yannick Bisson of Murdoch Mysteries, recording artist Victoria Duffield and David Chilton of Dragons’ Den.

Then it’s time for Ron James (pictured below), who – as we successfully head into 2013 – vows “never to listen to a Mayan again.” Damn straight.

Regular James characters Aunt Vivien, Buell Crawford and fan favourite Li’l Ronnie also stop by to help ring in the new year.

The real beauty of the back-to-back Air Farce and Ron James New Year’s Eve specials is that you can watch both and still have two hours to get drunk.

Now THAT’s a Canadian tradition.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Ron James New Years Eve

History haunts Charlotte Hegele of Bomb Girls; but seriously, it’s a good thing

- December 28th, 2012

Ali Liebert, Jodi Balfour, Meg Tilly, Charlotte Hegele - Dec 30 inside

The past keeps calling to Charlotte Hegele.

Not in a ghostly kind of way.

But the Canadian actress keeps getting cast in period pieces. She’s one of the series leads in Bomb Girls, which returns for its second season, Wednesday, Jan. 2 on Global.

Bomb Girls, of course, focuses on a group of Canadian women working at a munitions factory during World War II.

“The thing with women in period pieces is that they tend to be a bit demure and a bit reserved, which is something that I guess I am,” said Hegele, who is pictured at far right in the above photo, and also below.

“So I guess it comes naturally to me, as opposed to someone who is a bit more assertive and aggressive. Although I still can do that, and I’m eager to play parts like that, I just haven’t had an opportunity to do it yet.

“But yes, I love period pieces and I keep getting cast in them. I think it must be the demeanor that I sometimes give off.”

Starring alongside Ali Liebert, Jodi Balfour and Meg Tilly (pictured above left to right) in Bomb Girls, Hegele plays Kate Andrews, a young woman who comes from a maniacally religious and abusive upbringing.

In season one, Kate winds up working at the munitions factory after escaping from her controlling father, only to have him track her down at season’s end.

Without revealing anything specific, there is a substantial development to Kate’s story line in the debut episode of season two.

“I got (the scripts for episodes) one and two at the same time, before we started shooting, and it was shocking,” Hegele said.

“Well, maybe I wasn’t totally shocked, because you knew something had to happen with Kate. But it was interesting that it happened in the first episode, that it happened so quickly.”

Kate’s link with her best friend Betty McRae (Liebert) also gets more intense due to the new circumstances. And that already was a complex relationship, with Betty having romantic feelings for Kate at a time when such things were not even remotely socially acceptable.

“Within each subsequent episode, my character goes through different phases of dealing with what happens,” Hegele said. “So in that sense, it wasn’t so much my choices in how to play it, the actions were written already for me.

“But the thing with Kate is that she’s very good at compartmentalizing parts of her life. She’s wired in a way that I’m not, and most people aren’t.”

Then again, as Hegele pointed out, the era in which Bomb Girls is set plays a part in that, too.

“Horrible things sometimes happen to everyone, and yet somehow most people still function,” Hegele said.

“Having this story take place during World War II, the characters kind of understand that your purpose is not just to find your own identity. It’s to be part of the larger picture, to be part of the war effort.”

Charlotte Hegele certainly has great perspective on her role in Bomb Girls. But as accomplished as she is with period pieces, shouldn’t her next role be in a project that’s set, like, 60 years in the future, to balance things out?

“Yes, definitely,” Hegele said with a laugh. “I need a character that’s fighting aliens or something.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Charlotte Hegele of Bomb Girls - Dec 30 cover 1

Stop-motion animated Doctor Who puppet saves Christmas

- December 24th, 2012

If you’re beside yourself waiting for tomorrow’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, this fan-made Christmas minisode should satisfy your blue-box cravings for now.

“How The Doctor Puppet Saved Christmas” is written, directed,and animated by New York City artist Alisa Stern, who runs a painfully adorable Tumblr documenting the adventures of her beloved creation, Doctor Puppet.

Via Tor.com

 

 

Boobs really ARE the answer; a look back at TV trends in 2012

- December 23rd, 2012

lena dunham emmys

In his opening monologue at the Emmy Awards in September, host Jimmy Kimmel noted that cable networks accounted for all the shows in the outstanding drama category in 2012.

“The Academy is sending a clear message,” Kimmel said. “And that message is, ‘Show us your boobs.’ ”

That’s Lena Dunham of Girls in the above picture, by the way, taking Kimmel’s advice to heart – or is it having her cake and eating it, too? – in the opening bit that kicked off the Emmys.

True enough, boobs are the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems, to paraphrase Homer Simpson (he was talking about alcohol). But it actually is more complicated when it comes to TV.

The calendar year 2012 continued the trend of viewers peeling off to specialty programming and specialty channels, as the big broadcast networks try to figure out where they fit in the future of television.

The past year also saw a significant increase in the amount of internet-first “TV” programming, through services such as Netflix and the like.

Genre-wise, there has been a notable push in the past year toward fantasy, at least when it comes to drama. Shows such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time and American Horror Story remind us that when real life gets boring, we always can make something up.

Isn’t it strange that in some ways we now expect our comedies to be more grounded than our dramas? When an alien-based sitcom like The Neighbors comes along, many people turn up their noses because it’s too “ridiculous.” But some of those same people happily will watch Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead and think, “Wow, great art.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just amusing when you think of it that way.

So looking back at TV in 2012, we’ll remember zombies and dwarves, good wives and mad men, drug dealers and high-class schemers, butlers and bootleggers.

And boobs. Lots and lots of boobs.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Compete, don’t retreat: That’s Gerry Dee’s philosophy with Canadian sitcom Mr. D

- December 20th, 2012

Gerry Dee of Mr

Gerry Dee is competitive. So even if his TV show, Mr. D, primarily is an artistic and comedic endeavor, he is aware of the wider landscape.

With Mr. D set for its second season, beginning Jan. 7 on CBC, Dee has been concentrating on how to propel his sitcom to the next level, artistically, comically and, well, numerically.

“I think trying to understand (ratings) numbers was a new experience for me (in season one),” Dee said. “I think the numbers have changed over the years, in terms of understanding how they work.

“So at the end of it all, we did well, I think. But you’re still thinking, ‘How do we get higher? How do we do better?’

“We averaged 800,000 viewers (in season one, which is a strong total for a Canadian sitcom). But how do we average a million? How does The Big Bang Theory get 3 million? What is it? So it’s one of those things where your competitive nature drives you.”

That is a really healthy attitude for the star and creator of a Canadian TV show, don’t you think? Rather than living in a Canadian cocoon, it’s probably a good thing to feel competitive with all the shows in your genre, including the American ones, right?

“Oh sure, no question,” Dee said. “We have a great second season coming, we’re very excited about it, we’re very fortunate.

“This still is a dream to me. It’s one of those, ‘Pinch me, is this still going on?’ kinds of things. You don’t want it to end. So now, the competitive nature in me will try to find a way to get even more people to watch it.”

Mr. D stars Dee as a teacher at a private school. Dee used to be a teacher in real life, but he stresses his show is autobiographical only in basic structure.

“A lot of teachers watch it – some are against it, some are for it,” Dee said. “But it’s a comedy. I think people need to understand that. There’s hyperbole.

“When I was a teacher, I wasn’t the best teacher, but I was a good teacher, I was nothing like what you see. I wouldn’t have lasted 10 years.

“My character in the show is a little obtuse, but you can tell he cares about the kids, and the principal does see that there is some good in this guy.”

A positive thing about Mr. D is that it’s fairly fearless by sitcom standards. The youngsters aren’t always fawned over, which is refreshing for television. And the show finds a way to be a bit edgy with its subject matter, without resorting to the usual TV go-to guys of sex and violence.

“What I learned through the course of the first season is, story is important, heart is important, and likeability, I always knew was important,” Dee said. “Because when you cross the lines my character crosses, it’s a balancing act.”

No one ever really “wins” the TV game. But Gerry Dee promises to stay competitive.

“I don’t see us ever mastering this, but you just try to do your best,” he said. “You’re always learning.”

Unlike Mr. D’s students.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca