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East Coast Cool; lessons learned from Jon Pardy’s win on Big Brother Canada

- May 9th, 2014

Jon Pardy wins season two of Big Brother Canada, with host Arisa Cox

Be from the East. But don’t be obsessed.

Those arguably are the two big lessons one might take away as the second season of Big Brother Canada wrapped up this week on Slice. Jon Pardy of Clarenville, Nfld., emerged as the champion, earning $100,000, and as I chatted with Jon, we came up with a couple of theories about what it takes to win this bizarre game.

1) The East is a beast.

Jon (pictured above with host Arisa Cox) is the second straight winner of Big Brother Canada to come from Eastern Canada, with season-one winner Jillian MacLaughlin hailing from New Glasgow, N.S. While some might think this merely is a coincidence, I tend to think it’s more than that, and Jon agreed.

“No, no, no, that’s East Coast culture, two great showings two years in a row by the East Coast,” Jon said. “Everyone in the game who was from the East Coast had a huge, great show. I’m so proud to have been part of a show with all these amazing Eastern Canadians. And Western Canadians, just Canadians, I guess.

“But yeah, Eastern Canada, wooooo. I think it probably is the culture we’re raised in. Everyone from the East Coast is very humble, we’re down to earth. We get along with everybody.”

Indeed, over the course of the game, Jon was a tough guy to dislike. Even the evicted houseguests/jury members who had the most reasons to be personally bitter – Neda Kalantar of Vancouver and Arlie Shaban of Stouffville, Ont., for instance – wound up voting for Jon in the end.

2) Don’t over-prepare.

You always get people in Big Brother Canada who have watched the U.S. version of the show for many years, and therefore they think they see familiar patterns and trends in everything, and they try to adjust their games accordingly. Jon admitted he knew very little about the game before he entered the house. But that turned out to be a good thing for Jon in terms of focus and observation.

“I knew I needed to learn quickly, but I guess the saving grace was, I learned quickly about THIS season, about THESE people who were in this house,” Jon said. “That was my big thing. I wasn’t learning about Dan Gheesling or whatever season he was in. I was learning about this season, these people. And I think that really helped me throughout this game. Focusing on the past too much doesn’t really help you, because in Big Brother things never stay the same.”

Jon said he’s going to get his grandparents a new kitchen, but other than that, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do with the money. Hey Jon, make sure you hire a respected contractor for your grandparents’ kitchen, so at the end of the renovation he won’t say, “Uh, yeah, that’ll be, uh, $100,000.”

Regardless, after being sequestered for two and a half months, Jon is looking forward to getting back to The Rock.

“As soon as I get home, I’m going to get all the boys together, we’re definitely going to sit around and talk about the show, have a few beers,” Jon said. “And we’ll definitely hit up George Street (the bar area in St. John’s), for sure. So you’d better get ready for that, Newfoundland.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Big Brother Canada down to final three houseguests

- May 7th, 2014

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The weather turned against Heather.

The second season of Big Brother Canada is down to three houseguests, with 23-year-old Heather Decksheimer having been evicted on Wednesday night. That leaves 22-year-old Neda Kalantar, 23-year-old Jon Pardy and 25-year-old Sabrina Abbate heading into the finale, Thursday night on Slice.

Heather’s fate was sealed Wednesday when Jon won the power of veto and naturally took himself off the eviction block. With Sabrina safe as head-of-household, that meant Jon had the lone vote in deciding whether Heather or Neda would be ousted.

I wondered if Jon might have a bit of an epiphany and realize that his best friend in the house, Neda, is not really on his side at this late stage of the game. Jon thinks he and Neda have a strong final-two alliance, but the truth is, Neda believes – probably rightly – that she has a far better chance of beating Sabrina than beating Jon in a final-two situation.

But ultimately, Jon stayed more loyal to Neda than she potentially will be to him. So it was bye bye, Heather, who thought she had a final-two alliance with Jon on some level, but she wasn’t completely surprised by Jon’s allegiance to Neda.

In a post-eviction interview with host Arisa Cox, latest jury member Heather revealed that she “wants” Neda to win, which supposedly means Heather will vote for Neda, provided Neda makes it to final two.

Along with the six most recently evicted houseguests, the seventh and potentially deciding jury vote goes to viewers of the show. Neda, Jon and Sabrina all made their cases to Canada with podium speeches on Wednesday.

I have to assume that likeable, blue-eyed Jon will win that Canada-wide vote. But he has to make it to final two, or it won’t do him any good.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

“Upon further review” … Big Brother Canada season one finale needed NFL refs

- March 3rd, 2014

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If you saw the first-season finale of Big Brother Canada, you never will forget it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of reality-competition TV or not. Drama is drama. And the best kind of drama is the kind that is completely unpredictable.

The second season of Big Brother Canada, which debuts Wednesday, March 5 on Slice and Global (subsequent episodes will be on Slice exclusively), has a tough act to follow.

It was back on May 2, 2013 that Jillian MacLaughlin was crowned the controversial winner in the first season of Big Brother Canada. But the controversy had nothing to do with Jillian herself.

The final vote was between Jillian and Gary Levy. But one of the people on the jury – previously evicted house-guest Topaz Brady, who was a total Gary loyalist and one of Jillian’s enemies – accidentally voted for Jillian instead of Gary. So Jillian won the vote 4-3.

They actually had to go to a replay, like determining whether the puck crossed the goal line in a hockey game, or whether a receiver kept his feet in bounds in a football game. One of the camera shots clearly showed how Topaz had cast her vote. It wasn’t any sort of malfunction. She just messed up, and she was distraught about it, having cost her friend Gary $80,000 (first prize was $100,000, second prize was $20,000).

It turns out Gary got an additional consolation prize, though.

New for season two is the Big Brother Canada Side Show, which is a weekly post-eviction wrap-up led by series host Arisa Cox and featuring Gary and another memorable season-one house-guest, Peter Brown. With Big Brother Canada airing three times a week (Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday), every Thursday on the Side Show you’ll see Arisa, Gary, Peter and some surprise guests analyzing what has just happened in the house.

No one can predict if season two of Big Brother Canada will be as controversial as season one. But it all begins with the personalities – some great and some grating – and we get to see those starting on March 5.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The Oscars get Spun Out in Chicagoland; TV must-sees for the week of March 2

- March 1st, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 2

1 Academy Awards
The 86th edition of the annual hardware handout will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. Scheduled performers include Bette Midler, Karen O, U2 and Pharrell Williams. What is this, the Grammys?
When: Sunday on ABC, CTV

2 Big Brother Canada
Second-season debut: Pack a bunch of young people into a confined space. What could go right? What could go wrong? Hosted again by Arisa Cox. And new this season is a Side Show following evictions.
When: Wednesday on Slice, Global

3 Bates Motel
Second-season debut: No, this isn’t a Downton Abbey spinoff with Mr. Bates starting his own business. Rather, it’s the return of a creepy Psycho prequel starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.
When: Monday on A&E

4 Spun Out
Debut: Starring Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall, this sitcom is set at a dysfunctional PR agency. Hmmm, they never should have taken on Rob Ford as a client. Also with Rebecca Dalton and Holly Deveaux.
When: Thursday on CTV

5 Kirstie
Debut: Kirstie Alley plays a Broadway star suddenly faced with the son she gave up for adoption 26 years earlier, played by Eric Petersen. Not to be confused with Eric Peterson, a.k.a. Oscar on Corner Gas.
When: Friday on CTV

6 Seed
Second-season debut: Harry (Adam Korson) and “sperm recipient” Rose (Carrie-Lynne Neales) try to raise a baby in a platonic arrangement. Reminds me of Hermey in the Rudolph Christmas special: “Let’s be independent together.”
When: Thursday on City

7 Those Who Kill
Debut: It seems every second show on TV these days is about serial killers in some way, shape or form. Well, here’s another one, with Chloe Sevigny starring as a recently promoted Pittsburgh homicide detective.
When: Monday on A&E

8 Chicagoland
Debut: No, this isn’t yet another scripted series about cops or firefighters in the Windy City. It’s an eight-part documentary series, executive produced by Robert Redford, about real-life Chicago issues and politics.
When: Thursday on CNN

9 The Next Step
Season-two debut: The A-Troupe has won regionals, but the dancers are shocked to learn that prior to nationals they must re-audition with rivals from other studios. Bet those wimps on Fame never had to do that.
When: Friday on Family

10 Almost Human
Season finale: Years ago the father of Kennex (Karl Urban) put away a bad guy. Now new copycat murders are being committed. As always, Dorian (Michael Ealy) is there to help with his dreamy eyes.
When: Monday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Much VJ Search is a throwback sugar rush

- April 18th, 2013

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The young men and women involved in the Much VJ Search are all so perky.

Just wait until the winner has to find an apartment in Toronto. That’s when the perkiness will disappear, my friends.

But there’s no need to put a damper on things yet. The Much VJ Search is continuing, with the finale taking place Friday, April 26, conveniently on MuchMusic.

The Much VJ Search has been around in various forms for quite a few years now. The idea is to anoint a new on-air personality for the channel, which has undergone many changes since it was such a powerful force on the Canadian TV landscape in the 1980s and early 1990s.

If you watch any episode of this year’s Much VJ Search, it’s actually nice to see that young people still can get excited about something.

It’s almost impossible to get most people in their late teens or early 20s to look up from their smart phones. So to find a group of young contestants who are openly passionate about wanting this TV gig, there’s almost a heartwarming throwback feel to it, for lack of a better term.

This year’s Much VJ Search began with a cross-Canada bus trip. Eliminated contestants were left on random street corners to fend for themselves. Okay, not really. But by the time the bus arrived in Toronto at the MuchMusic headquarters, only 12 competitors remained, and that number immediately was whittled to 10.

It certainly seems as if the youngsters picked for the Much VJ Search emerged from the same central casting agency that selected the contestants for Big Brother Canada, which currently is airing on Slice. Yes, the Big Brother Canada folks are older, but there’s an unmistakable similarity between reality-TV participants on various shows.

And that’s what the Much VJ Search is, essentially: A reality TV show that increasingly has incorporated elements from other reality TV shows.

The town-to-town touring thing had an American Idol feel to it at times, at least in the early weeks of any American Idol season.

When the top 10 contestants on the Much VJ Search settled in Toronto for the stretch run, they found out they would be living in the MuchMusic studios, dubbed Camp Much for the occasion. That, of course, brings Big Brother to mind.

And then the top 10 were divided into five groups of two, each mentored by an existing MuchMusic VJ: Damian Abraham, Phoebe Dykstra, previous Much VJ Search winner Liz Trinnear, Scott Willats and Tyrone (T-RexXx) Edwards. You know, exactly like The Voice.

The underpinnings of the music industry have been altered so dramatically since the glory days of MuchMusic, a VJ needs to know far more about pop culture than ever before. The channel now is way more of a pop-culture channel for mid-teens and tweens than a music channel for people in their 20s. That’s not a criticism, merely an observation.

But again, even if it’s pop culture and not music necessarily that we’re taking about, it’s nice to see young people excited about something, anything.

With all its perkiness, watching any random half-hour of the Much VJ Search will leave you with a sugar rush similar to eating a dozen doughnuts in one sitting.

Um, not that I’ve ever done that, but you get the idea.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv