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Top 10 TV must-sees for the week of July 21

- July 20th, 2013

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of July 21:

1 Animation Domination High-Def

Debut: This project gives us two new cartoons, namely Axe Cop, with the voice of Nick Offerman, and High School USA!, with Mandy Moore and Vincent Kartheiser.

 When: Preview Sunday on Fox; regular time slot the following Saturday on Fox

2 Top Chef Masters

Season-five debut: Canadian celebrity chef Lynn Crawford is one of the competitors on this U.S.-made show this year. And Canadian Gail Simmons is the new head critic.

When: Wednesday on Food Network

3 True Blood

Bill (Stephen Moyer, pictured above) seeks advice from that mysterious vampire deity Lilith (Jessica Clark) regarding the ongoing vampire-human crisis. Can’t we all just retract our fangs and get along?

When: Sunday on HBO Canada

4 The Vineyard

Debut: Set in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., this reality series follows a mix of 11 locals and so-called “wash-ashores” who are working, living and playing together for the summer.

When: Tuesday on ABC Spark

5 Ray Donovan

Ray (Liev Schreiber) and the family visit Bel Air Academy, in the hope that his daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) might be enrolled there.

When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Movie Central

6 American Haunting

Debut: Get ready for three hours of spookiness, examining three families whose lives have been tormented by paranormal activity in their homes. This is not a drill, ghosts.

When: Saturday on A&E

7 Cedar Cove

Debut: This series stars Andie Macdowell as Judge Olivia Lockhart, whose municipal court in Cedar Cove is where the town’s surprises and secrets are unveiled.

When: Sunday on W

8 Dexter

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) tracks down another serial killer from a list provided by Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling).

When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Movie Central

9 Breaking Pointe

Second-season debut: If TV has taught me anything, it’s that new dancers always bring new drama. It’s proven again at an elite ballet school in Salt Lake City.

When: Monday on CW

10 The Newsroom

Maggie (Alison Pill) gets an assignment she has been begging for, but it turns out some professional wishes are better left unfulfilled.

When: Sunday on HBO Canada

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Farewell to heroes: Dexter season-seven finale

- December 16th, 2012

Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C

Dexter has become a Bonnie and Clyde story.

This isn’t so much a lonely tale any more. It’s a bizarre partnership of self-preservation that watchers of this series in its earliest years never could have seen coming.

SPOILER ALERT: This is a review of the Dexter episode titled “Surprise, Motherf—–!” – the 12th and final episode of the seventh season – which aired Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 on Showtime in the United States and on The Movie Network and Movie Central in Canada. If you’d rather not know what occurred, now’s the time to avert your eyes.

As Dexter asked at the end of the episode, “Who is Deb now? Who am I? Is this a new beginning, or the beginning of the end?”

It feels weird even typing this, but here goes: Deb killed La Guerta. Shot and killed her. As La Guerta was begging Deb to shoot Dexter instead.

How the heck did they – and we – get to this point?

Well, the series took more than one important turn on Sunday night. The first one was that Dexter (Michael C. Hall) had wrapped his brain around the notion that he was willing to kill La Guerta (Lauren Velez), even though she didn’t meet his code. Dexter decided he could and would do it, if it meant saving not only himself but, more importantly, his foster sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter).

I guess that part shouldn’t have been completely surprising. After all, in the previous episode, Dexter had turned in to police the only woman he ever really has loved – Hannah McKay, played by Yvonne Strahovski – because he believed (rightly, as it turned out!) that Hannah was a threat to Deb.

And I’ll say this about La Guerta. She was damn tenacious in her efforts to prove that Sgt. James Doakes (Erik King) was not the Bay Harbor Butcher, but that Dexter was the rightful owner of that dubious title.

Even after Dexter had planted false evidence to make it seem as if La Guerta was trying to frame him, and La Guerta’s career was in shambles, she didn’t drop it, wouldn’t drop it, couldn’t drop it.

Why? Because she knew she was right.

And now she’s dead right.

It was La Guerta’s ability to link Deb to the torching of the church in which Dexter had killed Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks) at the end of the sixth season that put the wheels in motion for the final, important sequence of the seventh season.

Now, I’m not going to try to claim that I knew in any way PRIOR to the crucial scene that Deb was going to wind up killing La Guerta.

BUT, once Deb showed up, with La Guerta there, and Dexter there, and when Deb first pointed the gun, I think at that point they kind of telegraphed where it was going to go. The scene went on for almost two minutes, and it was great, don’t get me wrong. But you just knew Deb was going to shoot La Guerta, not Dexter. At least that’s how I saw it, anyway.

So what does this mean for season eight, which supposedly, allegedly, will be the last for Dexter? The mind whirls and swirls. This is almost too much to take in so quickly.

But we have to understand one super-important thing that has changed, and it’s something from which this series can’t back off:

There is absolutely nothing heroic about Dexter and Deb now.

They’re in it for themselves, and for each other. And for Dexter’s toddler son Harrison, I suppose.

They’re Bonnie and Clyde.

So it can be both a new beginning and the beginning of the end. In this twisted case, they’re kind of the same thing.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Mauled by dinosaurs? Miranda Frigon stays safe on Primeval: New World

- October 22nd, 2012

Miranda Frigon 3

Miranda Frigon’s character is the voice of reason and the face of authority on Primeval: New World.

“Comedy is more my thing, but I have a blast playing the hardcore chick who’s just the straight guy telling everyone what to do,” said Frigon (picutred above, and second from left in the cast photo below). “I’m very good in the power positions on TV.

“Some of the other characters are out dinosaur-hunting, so I get envious a little bit. But I avoid getting eaten and things like that. It keeps me safe.”

It isn’t just dinosaurs that show up in Primeval: New World, which debuts Monday, Oct. 29 on Space. The setup of the series is that just about anything can get in and out of our world – and vice-versa – through these mysterious time anomalies in modern-day Vancouver.

Primeval: New World is a 13-episode spinoff of the original British series, focusing on animal experts and scientists investigating paranormal events while battling prehistoric and futuristic creatures.

Led by inventor Evan Cross (played by Niall Matter), the team is comprised of predator-attack expert Dylan Weir (Sara Canning), security specialist Mac Rendell (Danny Rahim) and physics prodigy Toby Nance (Crystal Lowe).

Ange Finch (Frigon) is Evan’s oldest friend and business partner, the woman through whom everything runs. Ange also is the key liaison to quirky Ken Leeds (Geoff Gustafson), the head of the government’s decommissioned department for investigating alien life.

“Nothing really happens without me,” Frigon said of her character. “I’m kind of holding the company together.”

Frigon has a diverse acting resume, including a recurring role on CBC’s Heartland, and episodic work on series ranging from Sanctuary to Dexter to Emily Owens, M.D. But getting this series-regular role on Primeval: New World was a long-delayed silver lining to a frustrating period of her life.

About five years ago, the Edmonton native made the mistake of traveling home to Canada while the renewal for her U.S. work visa was in process. When she tried to go back to L.A., where she was living full-time, she was stopped at the border.

“They locked me out of the U.S. for two months, they threw out my visa application, I had to re-apply, it was awful,” Frigon recalled. “I had, like, two days worth of clothes with me. I had to borrow clothes from friends.

“But during that time, I got the audition for Sanctuary (which was shot in Vancouver). That’s where I worked with (director and producer) Martin Wood, and we got along so well. Then all these years later, when I first got the breakdown for (Primeval: New World), I saw that the executive producer is Martin Wood.

“If I had never made that (visa) mistake, I never would have met Martin, we wouldn’t have hit it off, and I probably wouldn’t be here now. You make mistakes, but sometimes there’s a reason for everything.”

Thank goodness for that, because what would the other characters on Primeval: New World do without Miranda Frigon?

Even the dinosaurs know she’s in charge.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

cast of PNW

REVIEW: Dexter, episode 1, season 7. How does Dexter Morgan spell relief?

- September 30th, 2012

Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C

Relief.

That’s what Dexter Morgan was feeling. He closed his eyes. He exhaled. He was relieved. That sounds bizarre. But I’m sure of it.

That’s how the first episode of the seventh season of Dexter ended on Sunday night.

SPOILER ALERT: This is a review of the episode and is meant for people who saw it. If you don’t want to know what happened, now’s the time to bail.

Okay, so the previous season ended with Dexter (played by Michael C. Hall, pictured above right) and his foster sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter, pictured above left) having reached a crossroads in their relationship. Deb had walked in on Dexter just as he was completing one of his patented kills.

So for the entire first episode of the new season, Dexter was trying to limit the damage. Or contain the damage. Yes, Deb knew the truth. But she didn’t know the WHOLE truth. Dexter was determined to keep Deb in the dark about that.

It didn’t work.

The final scene has Dexter entering his apartment, only to find his place torn apart, and Deb sitting there. In front of her is all of Dexter’s killing equipment and paraphernalia and souvenirs, including his blood slides.

“Did you kill all these people?” Deb asks coldly.

Dexter has no choice but to come clean.

“I did,” he says.

And then the big question.

“Are … are you a serial killer?” Deb says.

The entire run of Dexter has been leading up to this moment.

“Yes,” he answers.

Finally, there it is.

And I swear, Dexter is relieved. His life as he knew it is over. But being a serial killer, even one who’s trying to live by a code, is a lot to carry around on your own.

That big story line is the reason Dexter still is on the air. But other plot paths were set up as the seventh season began, with some of them having the potential to link up with the overriding arc as things proceed.

The “unrelated crime angle of the season” involves a dead stripper, a strip joint with mob connections in Ukraine, and, notably, a dead cop.

When Detective Mike Anderson (Billy Brown) stops to help someone with a flat tire, he finds the dead stripper in the trunk and instantly is shot dead. Mike always was a secondary character, but still, his murder – especially in the first episode of a season – was a shock.

Dexter later tracks and kills Mike’s killer. It’s a risky move by Dexter, given the Deb situation, but Dexter feels he needs to “centre” himself.

Ironically, that effort to return to normalcy helped lead to Deb’s wider discovery.

She never bought Dexter’s explanation at the church. So she was watching him closely. She learned that Dexter had told his omnipresent babysitter Jamie Batista (Aimee Garcia) that he was working late, when he clearly was not. “Does that happen a lot?” Deb asks, as she starts to put two and two together.

Two other noteworthy plot lines:

Dexter rightfully gets the creeps from Jamie’s boyfriend Louis Greene (Josh Cooke) – and vice versa, right? – but Dexter doesn’t yet understand what a threat Louis is.

And La Guerta (Lauren Velez) found one of Dexter’s blood slides at the church. This raises the spectre of James Doakes again, since the accepted wisdom of the Miami Metro Police Department is that one of their own, the now-deceased Doakes, was the Bay Harbor Butcher. And the butcher is associated with blood slides.

But we know – and Dexter knows – that it wasn’t really Doakes.

God, I wish I had a photographic memory of Dexter’s early seasons, since the show is doubling back on itself for key developments more and more.

All things considered, there was a heck of a lot going on as Dexter returned for season seven. You know, in the real world, I still think Deb would have “called in” the crime right away when she saw Dexter commit murder.

But hey, this is Dexter, so we left the real world behind a long time ago. If you want reality, watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv