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Men love Mistresses; And one of them, Jes Macallan, says dudes can learn a few things

- August 29th, 2014

Jes Macallan one

Sometimes watching Mistresses is like being in high school and sneaking into the girls’ bathroom. If you’re a male, that is.

“Oh my God, I love that metaphor!” said Jes Macallan, who plays Joss Carver in Mistresses.

“It’s like those men who got sucked into watching Sex and the City because of their wives, but then never could admit that they really couldn’t turn away. Because this is the secret other side, these are the reasons why we go on dates with you, or sleep with you, and it’s why we’re all crazy, or not, you know what I mean?”

Um, yup.

Mistresses, which airs its second-season finale Monday, Sept. 1 on ABC and CTV, focuses on the lives and loves and ups and downs of four female friends. Besides Macallan’s Joss, there’s her sister Savi, played by Alyssa Milano, Karen, played by Yunjin Kim, and April, played by Rochelle Aytes.

It seems that at least once per episode, Joss, Savi, Karen and April get together for a “girl chat” session that is terrifying to men, because they’re left to think, “Oh my God, is this really the kind of stuff that women talk about?”

As a counterpoint to that, I remember an episode of the old animated sitcom King of the Hill, when Hank made a new friend. Hank happily explained to his wife Peggy that he and his new pal were having such a great time “not talkin’ about stuff.”

“It’s that whole ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ concept,” Macallan said. “We’re wired differently. And I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, whatever, it’s just the genetic makeup of how we communicate.

“In Mistresses we are those women in the demographic who have a glass of wine and tell each other everything and are super emotional and want to express. We over-think everything. And men, you guys are so frickin’ rational, you jerks.”

Well, I don’t know if “rational” necessarily is the right term. Maybe more like, “emotionally constipated.”

“I think this all goes back to hunter-gatherer, in that there’s necessity and practicality and that comes first (for men), because it has to,” Macallan said. “If we were all running around flying by the ass of our emotions, and whatever feelings come up and whatever thoughts happen, it would be chaos.

“But also, I think men need women to kind of soften that, and make sure that everybody feels loved and nurtured. If we combine it, we both have what it takes to meet all our needs.”

In a perfect world, sure. But Mistresses mines the cracks in that system for both drama and comedy.

For example, with Macallan’s character Joss now engaged, there were some funny scenes a couple of weeks ago when Joss met her fiance’s massive family for the first time. Of course, they instantly all were playing charades. What is it about big families and charades?

“Oh my God, seriously!” Macallan said. “And to people who aren’t from big families, what is it about charades that are so horrifying? My family (in real life) is so the charade people. I am the oldest of seven, so that’s why I frickin’ played charades over and over, because my family is gi-normous. But yeah, the size of family is equally proportionate to the inevitability of playing charades.

“Joss is kind of freaked out by the whole scene. She starts to realize, ‘Wow, Savi and I never had this growing up.’ For better and for worse. And I can totally relate to that. I come from very strong parents, but a very broken background as far as marriages and kids. We’re like The Brady Bunch on crack. But my Canadian husband, his parents were married for 30 years, they had this perfect little family.

“So I get it, I’ve been there, when you’ve been dating somebody and you go into something so unfamiliar for the first time, it’s like, ‘Whoaaaaaa.’ ”

In the season finale of Mistresses, Joss’ engagement party is front and centre. If you’re a male, charades or no charades, the whole extravaganza will be like sneaking into the girls’ bathroom in high school.

“That’s exactly what it’s like!” Jes Macallan agreed excitedly.

Meet you in there.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Jonah from Tonga finds Partners and Mistresses at The Knick; TV must-sees for the week of Aug. 3

- August 3rd, 2014

The Knick cast, with Eve Hewson as Lucy Elkins, centre rear

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Aug. 3

1 The Knick
Debut: Set at a New York hospital in 1900, Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) becomes chief surgeon but quickly is pressured by benefactors to hire a black assistant, Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland).
When: Friday on HBO Canada

2 Partners
Canadian debut with back-to-back episodes: On a bad day for both of them, community lawyer Marcus Jackson (Martin Lawrence) meets unscrupulous corporate reject Allen Braddock (Kelsey Grammer). An unexpected alliance forms.
When: Thursday on Global

3 Jonah from Tonga
Canadian debut with back-to-back episodes: Chris Lilley revisits one of his characters from Summer Heights High, but this update caused a lot of controversy in Lilley’s native Australia earlier this year.
When: Friday on HBO Canada

4 Bachelor in Paradise
Debut: Twenty-five of the franchise’s most controversial contestants, both men and women, are back again, still looking for love. It all begins in an isolated romantic paradise in Mexico. Hey, what doesn’t?
When: Monday on ABC, City

5 The Strain
A secret autopsy demonstrates the bizarre progression of the mysterious virus, while Ephraim (Corey Stoll) and Nora (Mia Maestro) race to find the father of the youngest victim of the plane tragedy.
When: Sunday on FX Canada

6 Halt and Catch Fire
First-season finale: Gordon (Scoot McNairy) and Joe (Lee Pace) prepare to transport the Giant, but a suspicious defect threatens the partnership and Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) takes control of her future.
When: Sunday on AMC

7 Perception
When an FBI agent is found dead, Pierce (Eric McCormack) must face the one case he never solved. It could mess him up mentally, but he agrees to help Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook) anyway. What a guy.
When: Tuesday on Bravo

8 True Blood
As Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) close in on Sarah (Anna Camp), Adilyn (Bailey Noble) finds refuge with Violet (Karolina Wydra). Um, don’t trust her.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

9 Unforgettable
Al (Dylan Walsh) becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a parolee he helped put in jail, forcing Carrie (Poppy Montgomery) to conduct an off-the-books investigation to prove his innocence to Internal Affairs.
When: Sunday on CBS, CTV

10 Mistresses
April (Rochelle Aytes) worries her past is coming back to haunt her after receiving a shocking phone call, while Savi (Alyssa Milano) reaches out to her long-absent dad. Hey, could it be Tony Danza?
When: Monday on ABC, CTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The Killing, The Quest, Sharknado 2 and Hell on Wheels; TV’s must-sees for the week of July 27

- July 27th, 2014

Sharknado 2

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of July 27:

1) The Killing
Debut of fourth and final season: Sarah (Mireille Enos) made a really questionable decision at the end of season three. She always has been really tough, but is she tough enough to live with what she did?
When: Friday on Netflix

2) Sharknado 2: The Second One
Debut: It’s fin-tastic. See it with a chum. More bite for your buck. Something to chew on. Give it a hand. Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are back to battle double shark storms headed for New York City.
When: Wednesday on Space

3) Hell on Wheels
Fourth-season debut: Awaiting the birth of his baby, Cullen (Anson Mount) toils under the thumb of The Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl), while Durant (Colm Meaney) feels the chill after an icy miscalculation.
When: Saturday on AMC

4) The Quest
Debut: This sounds like a reality-competition series for Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings geeks, as 12 contestants are transported into an imaginative realm, with ogres and dragons and a dark lord.
When: Thursday on ABC, City

5) Running Wild With Bear Grylls
Debut: Bear leads actor Zac Efron on a survival journey into the Northeast Appalachian mountain range. But then Zac dances his way out of it, dammit! Take that, danger! East High forever!
When: Monday on NBC, Global

6) The Bridge
Marco (Demian Bichir) gains a new ally while discovering that cartel leader Fausto (Ramon Franco) has a wider reach than anticipated. Meanwhile, a disruption at a local bank provides new intel.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

7) The Leftovers
A hate crime tests the resolve of Laurie (Amy Brenneman), while Kevin (Justin Theroux) turns down an offer of assistance and Matt (Christopher Eccleston) brings his pulpit to the street.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

8) Masters of Sex
When Bill (Michael Sheen) delivers a baby with ambiguous genitalia, he encourages the parents not to surgically assign a gender. Meanwhile, Virginia (Lizzy Caplan) learns about Bill’s troubled childhood.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Movie Central

9) Under the Dome
After a bad plan by Big Jim (Dean Norris) and Rebecca (Karla Crome) leaves the town divided, Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) takes over as leader of Chester’s Mill. But that’s not actually a paid position any more.
When: Monday on CBS, Global

10) Masters of Illusion
Debut: Hosted by Dean Cain, this series features illusionists performing everything from sleight-of-hand to great escapes, all in front of a live studio audience. I watched it. Or did I?
When: Friday on CW

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Should TV series creators worry about hashtags when titling their shows?

- July 15th, 2014

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Perhaps the new series How To Get Away With Murder should be retitled How To Get Away With A Long Name For A TV Show.

The panel session for How To Get Away With Murder at the Television Critics Association tour produced a lot of questions about the title, which doesn’t lend itself very well to hashtags on Twitter. Like, #HTGAWM? Not really catchy.

But series creator Shonda Rhimes didn’t want to hear about it.

“We don’t consider a hashtag when we’re writing a show,” said Rhimes with flat incredulity.

But you know, I’ll bet a lot of writers do. And maybe they should, in this day and age.

“The idea that we decide what Twitter is going to call something is a very weird notion to me,” observed Rhimes, whose new show is coming this fall to ABC and CTV. “Twitter makes its own decisions about that kind of thing.

“Twitter has a lovely community of people who decide stuff and then they hashtag stuff. It’s a very new notion now that networks are trying to push (hashtags and trends) on the community of Twitter. Twitter makes stuff up and that’s far more interesting.”

Over to you, Twitterverse.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

 

Three reasons soccer is scoring far more often on North American TV

- July 12th, 2014

Capture world cup

There is a channel in Canada called Bite TV, and yes, wouldn’t it be appropriate if Luis Suarez were given his own show?

Suarez, of course, is the Uruguayan soccer star who was booted out of the World Cup for biting an opponent. It was the third time in his career that Suarez has been suspended for gnawing on human flesh (on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO and HBO Canada, the host joked that if Suarez bites seven more people, he gets a free person with FIFA’s “frequent biter” card).

But with the 2014 World Cup final set to air Sunday, July 13 on CBC and ABC, here’s something else to gnaw upon: Soccer has kind of arrived as a major North American viewing spectacle.

No, not all soccer. But soccer at the highest level is capable of drawing big North American TV audiences now, and in my humble opinion, this fairly recent transformation has occurred for three main reasons:

1 High-definition TV.

No sport has benefited more from the high-definition revolution than soccer. The game lends itself to the shape of a high-def screen, much better than the old box-shaped screens. And since soccer players don’t wear helmets or caps or masks, you get to see their faces and expressions (and teeth), which is more important than you think when you’re trying to introduce a sport to someone who doesn’t know much about it.

2 Availability.

With the explosion of sports specialty channels and pay services, mostly through Rogers and Bell, the biggest and best soccer leagues in the world – the Premier League in Britain, La Liga in Spain, the Champions League, which gathers the best club teams from across Europe, etc. – are much more accessible now to North American TV audiences than they ever were before. For example, personally I am a fan of Manchester City in the Premier League, and over the past few seasons, I have been able to see virtually every one of Man City’s games from the comfort of my own home. That was unthinkable a decade ago, or even a half-dozen years ago. And the more you watch the best leagues, the more interest you’ll have in something such as the World Cup, which essentially is a big all-star tournament with players competing for their home countries.

3 No commercials.

This wouldn’t be the first thing you’d care about if you didn’t care about soccer at all. But if you do have even a marginal interest in soccer, or if you’re just catching onto it a little bit, you will begin to notice something remarkable. A soccer game starts. The first half goes for 45 minutes, plus injury time. There are no ads. No TV timeouts. There will be some commercials at halftime. Then the second half begins, and it’s the same thing. And you start to get used to that. Watch five soccer games, then try watching an NFL or CFL or NHL or NBA game. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself shouting at the TV, “How is this normal? Why do we put up with this in North America? All these ads and stoppages are driving me bonkers!”

Maybe a sport with no ads speaks more to a generation that has grown accustomed to watching TV shows with no ads, through online services or premium cable channels. Is that the soccer generation?

Regardless of the hows and whys, more North American TV viewers than ever are getting a kick out of big-time soccer. It’s up to savvy TV executives – and players such as Luis Suarez – to make a meal of it.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv