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I see a red door and I want it painted (Orphan) Black

- April 14th, 2014

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Orphan Black. Orange is the New Black. The Blacklist.

Are you sensing a theme here?

It seems as if the entire entertainment landscape has been painted black. Didn’t the Rolling Stones predict this in a song close to 50 years ago?

Regardless, the real subject at hand this week is Orphan Black, which returns for its second season Saturday, April 19 on Space in Canada and on BBC America in the United States.

Through its first season and in the subsequent months leading up to season two, Orphan Black has become one of those weird shows that retains its cool cult status, and yet everyone is talking about it.

Orphan Black exists as both a secret club and a mainstream media monster. It’s a niche show that everybody knows. Or at least, they know of it. With all the positive publicity, surely everyone involved with Orphan Black will be hoping for big ratings with the new campaign.

Orphan Black is a clone-based conspiracy thriller that stars Regina native Tatiana Maslany, who plays multiple roles. And more are coming. Sheesh, there must be some very long days on set where Maslany curses the modern filming technology that makes this all possible.

Maslany obviously was deserving of the accolades she received for season one. She won a TCA award, a Canadian Screen Award, a Critics’ Choice award, a Young Hollywood award and was nominated for a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice award (hey Emmys, do you think you missed something?).

In season two, while the bond remains strong between the core characters, they’ve all made choices that have dire consequences. That leaves main character Sarah (played by Maslany, or course) to navigate a dangerous world of new enemies and shifting allegiances.

Hmmm, sounds pretty dark. Black, even.

As Mick Jagger once sang, “No colours any more, I want them to turn black.” Orphan Black, that is.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Mad Men and Orphan Black’s clones visit Fargo; must-sees for the week of April 13

- April 11th, 2014

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 13

1 Orphan Black
Season-two debut: Clone-based series sees Tatiana Maslany returning in her signature role as Sarah. And Rachel. And Cosima. And Alison. And on and on and on. I hope Maslany is getting paid accordingly.
When: Saturday on Space

2 Fargo
Debut: This is not a direct remake of the Academy Award-winning movie, but rather a new story, “inspired by” the original. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, a dangerous drifter with a cruel sense of humour.
When: Tuesday on FX Canada and FXX Canada

3 Mad Men
Seventh-season debut: This technically is the final “season” for this acclaimed series, but it’s airing over two years, just like Breaking Bad. Last we saw Don Draper (Jon Hamm, pictured above), he was out of a job. Poor ugly schmuck.
When: Sunday on AMC

4 MTV Movie Awards
Live: Conan O’Brien hosts yet another annual hardware handout. So does this officially bring an end to “awards season?” Regardless, scheduled presenters include Kate Upton and Mila Kunis, so count me in.
When: Sunday on MTV

5 Vegas Rat Rods
Debut: No, this isn’t about an infestation of rats in Sin City and the questionable methods used to control them. Rather, it focuses on a company called Welder Up, which specializes in crazy vehicles known as “rat rods.”
When: Thursday on Discovery

6 When Calls the Heart
Canadian debut: Family drama based on a book series by Janette Oke, this stars Erin Krakow as Elizabeth Thatcher, a 19th-century, high-society teacher suddenly living in a coal town. Also with Lori Loughlin.
When: Wednesday on Super Channel

7 Mom
First-season finale: Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) try to help an emotional Violet (Sadie Calvano) through labour. This series has been renewed, so time to buy some cutesy baby clothes.
When: Monday on CBS, City

8 Unusually Thicke
Debut with back-to-back episodes: This is a reality show with Alan Thicke, his young wife Tanya, and his three sons, including pop star Robin Thicke. I’ll bet Robin gets into more mischief than Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains.
When: Wednesday on Slice

9 Californication
Debut of seventh and final season: As usual, Hank (David Duchovny) is desperate to reunite with his eternal love Karen (Natascha McElhone), while Charlie (Evan Handler) is overcome by performance anxiety.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

10 Nurse Jackie
Sixth-season debut: Jackie (Edie Falco) is “using” again. And lo and behold, she is getting her drugs at the gym. You know, this show seemed a lot more daring and shocking before Rob Ford dulled our senses.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Take a Turn into Silicon Valley and play a Game of Thrones with the Veep; TV must-sees for the week

- April 5th, 2014

Dragon in Game of Thrones

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 6

1 Game of Thrones
Fourth-season debut: Veterinary medicine figured out “dog years” versus “people years. But what of “dragon years?” When do dragons become adults? I’m just waiting for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to turn loose those fire-breathers.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2 Turn
Debut: Based on the book Washington’s Spies by historian Alexander Rose, this drama set in the 1770s tells the tale of fledgling new-world espionage as the American Revolution becomes a reality. With Jamie Bell, Heather Lind and Samuel Roukin.
When: Sunday on AMC

3 Silicon Valley
Debut: Created by Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis & Butt-Head), this live-action series is about nerdy but brilliant high-tech dudes who are on the cusp of successes they couldn’t possibly handle. Sort of The Big Bang Theory on steroids.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

4 Veep
Third-season debut: Last time we saw VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), she had been handed an opportunity to run for president in the next election. But she doesn’t exactly connect with everyday voters a la Rob Ford, as we soon will see.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

5 The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over
Debut: Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks are among those saluting the DC5 in this new documentary. With 14 top-20 hits in the U.S., the DC5 appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, more than any other British Invasion group.
When: Tuesday or Friday on most PBS affiliates

6 The Haves and the Have Nots
Canadian debut: Drama series from Tyler Perry is about a rich Georgia family and the servants who serve them. John Schneider – yes, from The Dukes of Hazzard – stars as a powerful judge and family patriarch who is leading a double life. Hey, who isn’t?
When: Tuesday on OWN

7 Jacked
Debut: Jeremy Patterson is the hurricane slayer. Well, no, he doesn’t stop hurricanes. But Patterson and his rag-tag team travel across the continent, raising hope by raising hurricane-damaged houses that many thought were beyond salvage. One inch at a time.
When: Monday on Discovery

8 Win, Lose or Draw
Canadian debut: A revamped version of the 1980s game show, this one is hosted by Justin Willman and features young and current Disney stars teaming up with kid contestants. This definitely is a more high-tech version than the original, though.
When: Monday on Family

9 Being Human
Series finale: It’s a wrap, folks, as this show has been cancelled. In the final episode, Sally (Meaghan Rath) makes a major sacrifice to stop her vision of Aidan (Sam Witwer) killing Josh (Sam Huntington) from coming true.
When: Monday on Space

10 Disaster Decks and Decked Out
Season-two/season-four debuts: One deck-based series wasn’t enough for Paul Lafrance. He needed two, with double episodes of each, airing back-to-back-to-back-to-back. This could lead to some crazy crossover episodes, with famous decks making guest-appearances on the other show.
When: Tuesday on HGTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Friends With Better Lives win Juno Awards while Inside Amy Shumer; TV must-sees for the week of March 30

- March 29th, 2014

Cristin Milioti, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Bob Saget

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 30

1 Juno Awards
Live: Co-hosted by Serena Ryder, Johnny Reid and Classified, scheduled performers include Arcade Fire (taped), Tegan and Sara, Sarah McLachlan, Robin Thicke, the Sheepdogs and Thunderface (kudos if you get that joke).
When: Sunday on CTV

2 How I Met Your Mother
Series finale (cast pictured above): There are many rumours and theories about what might be revealed, some of them quite dark. Here’s hoping Ted (Josh Radnor) and “the mother” (Cristin Milioti) aren’t facing some horrible tragedy. It’s a sitcom, people!
When: Monday on CBS, City

3 Friends With Better Lives
Debut: New sitcom following the How I Met Your Mother series finale that clearly wants to be the next How I Met Your Mother, albeit a notably dirtier one. With Kevin Connolly, Brooklyn Decker and James Van Der Beek, among others.
When: Monday on CBS, City

4 Short Poppies
Debut: This eight-episode series sees Rhys Darby – who you will remember as hapless band manager Murray Hewitt on Flight of the Conchords – playing multiple characters in a “mockumentary” about ordinary New Zealanders.
When: Thursday on Netflix

5 The Late Late Show/The Price is Right
It’s an April Fool’s switcheroo, as Drew Carey and Craig Ferguson swap jobs. Note that Carey hosts The Late Late Show in the early hours of Tuesday, a.k.a. late Monday night, with Ferguson hosting The Price is Right on Tuesday morning.
When: Tuesday on CBS, OMNI/CBS, City

6 Inside Amy Schumer
Season-two debut: Another 10-episode campaign for this combination sketch/standup/interview series gets off to a purposely awkward start, as Amy’s characters marry a black guy, lose a tennis match and try to pray away a nasty case of herpes.
When: Tuesday on Comedy

7 Dragons’ Den
Eighth-season finale: The Dragons hit the road to surprise some of the show’s most memorable pitchers. Have the people who landed deals succeeded or failed? And what of those who were turned down but were convinced the Dragons got it wrong?
When: Wednesday on CBC

8 Raising Hope
Series finale: Back-to-back new episodes wrap up this underrated series after four seasons. In the first episode, Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol guest-stars. In the second, Kenny Loggins makes a musical appearance, playing himself.
When: Friday on Fox, City

9 Intelligence
First-season finale: Riley (Meghan Ory) and Gabriel (Josh Holloway) are shocked to learn there are foreign sleeper agents embedded in the U.S. government, and even more shocked when the identities of the spies are revealed.
When: Monday on CBS, CTV Two

10 Family Guy
An ad executive guest-voiced by Peter Dinklage asks Peter Griffin (voice of Seth MacFarlane) to be the face of an anti-smoking campaign, as long as he continues to smoke. Sheesh, and I thought Game of Thrones was complicated.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Meloni says his Surviving Jack character is “Archie Bunker without the racism”

- March 26th, 2014

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If everyone had a dad like Christopher Meloni’s character in Surviving Jack, we’d all be greeting each other in therapy.

“Sometimes I would think of Archie Bunker without the racism,” said Meloni, whose new sitcom Surviving Jack debuts Thursday, March 27 on Fox and CTV.

Set in the early 1990s, Surviving Jack is based on Justin Halpern’s autobiographical book, I Suck at Girls. Halpern also is responsible for the Twitter feed and book Sh*t My Dad Says, which was turned into a TV series starring William Shatner that got cancelled after one season.

In this new series, Jack Dunlevy (Meloni) is a no-nonsense oncologist who mostly has been at work while his teenage kids Rachel (Claudia Lee) and Frankie (Connor Buckley) were growing up. But now that mom Joanne (Rachael Harris) is going to law school, Jack suddenly is “in charge of parenting,” as he puts it.

“Yeah, this also is based on my father, and I think the line we try to never cross, and the line that my father won’t cross, is I always feel he’s saying what he thinks honestly,” Halpern said. “And sometimes that will sting.

“My dad was worried I would go out into the world and live in what he calls a world of bull—-, which is, like, people in L.A. telling you, ‘Oh, this is great,’ but they don’t really think it is..”

Halpern said he knew Meloni (Law & Order: SVU, True Blood, NYPD Blue, Oz) was the right guy for Surviving Jack after seeing some of the interaction between Meloni and his own kids.

Meloni explained, “The highest compliment I have yet received in my parenting job was when I gave a look to my son like this – (Meloni glared blankly but intently) – and my son’s response was, ‘I don’t know if you’re kidding or not.’

“And I said, “That’s where I want you.’ ”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv