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Survivorman gets Bitten by Killer Women in Four Rooms at Downton Abbey? Must-sees for the week

- January 4th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 5

1 Downton Abbey
Fourth-season debut: This already has aired in Britain, so be aware that the internet is crawling with spoilers. But you know Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) will continue to resist the changing times.
When: Sunday on PBS

2 Helix
Debut: No, this is not a documentary about the 1980s Canadian hard-rock band. Rather, it’s about a team of scientists trying to stop a disease outbreak that could doom the world. Billy Campbell stars.
When: Friday on Showcase

3 Four Rooms
Debut: You have an item you’ve been hanging onto for years. What’s it worth? The twist with this show is, once you’ve turned down an offer, you can’t go back to it. Reshmi Nair hosts.
When: Sunday on CBC

4 Chicago P.D.
Debut: From producer Dick Wolf, this is a spinoff series from Chicago Fire, which is in only its second season but really has re-invented the procedural. This new show stars Jason Beghe and Sophia Bush.
When: Wednesday on NBC, Global

5 Survivorman
Sixth-season debut: Les Stroud finds a new home on a new channel. Well, I say “new home” in the philosophical sense, since each episode starts with him stranded in a remote location. Buy a map, Les!
When: Wednesday on Travel + Escape

6 Intelligence
Debut: Josh Holloway plays a high-tech operative who has a super-computer microchip in his brain. This means he always has access to internet, phone and satellite data. But is his WiFi ever spotty?
When: Tuesday on CBS, CTV

7 Enlisted
Debut: Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell and Parker Young star in this sitcom as three brothers who are getting to know each other again on a small Florida army base. Sort of a Gomer Pyle for the 21st century.
When: Friday on Fox, City

8 The Best Laid Plans
Debut: Political satire about a man trying to get out of politics, played by Jonas Chernick, who is given one last menial task: Run an election campaign in a can’t-win riding. You can guess what happens.
When: Sunday on CBC

9 Killer Women
Debut: Tricia Helfer plays Molly Parker, one of the first women in the elite group of law-enforcement agents known as the Texas Rangers. Executive-produced by Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara.
When: Tuesday on ABC, City

10 Bitten
Debut: Laura Vandervoort plays a female werewolf who is just trying to break away from the pack and live her own life. Can she forget her family ties and repress her own instincts? That’s a howl.
When: Saturday on Space

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

“Dick Wolf girl” Stefanie von Pfetten gets cracking on Cracked

- December 6th, 2012

Luisa d’Oliveira, Dayo Ade, Stefanie von Pfetten, Karen LeBlanc, David Sutcliffe

To borrow the title of an old Duran Duran song, Stefanie von Pfetten was “Hungry Like the Wolf” for her new TV series Cracked.

Debuting Jan. 8 on CBC, Cracked is a drama inspired by the real-life experiences of police officers and mental-health professionals.

The two main characters are a psychologically “cracked” cop played by David Sutcliffe, and his partner, a psychiatrist on active police duty played by von Pfetten (pictured in the centre above with her castmates, and below).

“Beat cops actually are paired up with mental-health professionals on the street now,” von Pfetten said. “And 30% of crimes are committed by people with mental illness, so they’ve brought in the psychological nurses and psychologists to educate the police and de-stigmatize mental illness.

“So that’s what my character does. That’s what she is passionate about.”

According to von Pfetten, she was cast in the role of Dr. Daniella Ridley on tape, without previously having met the creator or producers of Cracked. So, Stefanie – and you don’t have to be modest – what do you think they saw in you?

“Okay … well … all I know is, nine years ago when I moved to Los Angeles, I met with an agent at William Morris,” recalled von Pfetten, a Canadian. “And he looked at me, he didn’t take me on, but he said, ‘Stefanie, you’re a Dick Wolf girl.’

“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You can do smart and pretty very well.’ ”

Wolf, of course, is the godfather of police procedurals, including the Law & Order franchise.

“One doesn’t find it often to see a female character on television who is powerful and kind and smart at the same time,” von Pfetten added, talking specifically about her role on Cracked.

“I think I am able to do that balance, I’m good at those roles, but I’ve never really had a chance to play it. I’ve been acting for 15 years, so it’s time.”

Indeed, von Pfetten was hungry for this role – in a fortune-telling kind of way – long before it actually existed.

“Do you know what else I have to tell you? I wrote this down, this specific role, I wrote it down in my diary four years ago,” von Pfetten said. “I’m not joking. I kid you not.

“I said, ‘I want to play a cross between Mariska Hargitay (who plays Olivia Benson) and Wong (played by George Huang) on Law & Order: SVU. So that’s a homicide detective and the forensic psychiatrist in the special victims unit. And I wanted it to be a show that had, you know, heinous crimes of a psychological nature.

“I wrote it down. And four years later – well, three and a half – it happened. Everyone in my life was like, ‘Oh my God,’ because I would talk about it all the time. And then I got the call.”

Geez, Stefanie, did you also happen to write down any lottery numbers?

“Acting is like gambling, it’s not a meritocracy,” von Pfetten said with a laugh. “So to me, this is winning the lottery.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Stefanie von Pfetten of Cracked

Dick Wolf stalks himself as Law and Order: SVU hits 300 episodes

- October 23rd, 2012

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When you’ve had shows on TV for as long as Dick Wolf has, eventually you can’t help but compete with yourself.

Wolf is the creator and executive producer of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which airs its landmark 300th episode Wednesday, Oct. 24 on NBC and CTV Two. Law & Order: SVU currently is the longest running drama on U.S. network television.

So does the series have anything left to accomplish?

“Well, if I say it, you’ll say I’m insane, but the next goal would be to go 21 years and beat Law & Order,” Wolf told TV reporters in a conference call. “Another six additional years, you never know.

“I don’t think the show has ever been better. It’s something that is a very dependable player and continues to be for the network. If you ask what my final goal for SVU is, that would be it.”

The 300th episode of Law & Order: SVU is titled Manhattan Vigil. A young boy is kidnapped while in the care of his father and the investigation reminds Captain Cragen (Dann Florek), Sergeant Munch (Richard Belzer) and Detective Benson (Mariska Hargitay) of an unsolved case that occurred in the same neighbourhood 13 years earlier.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv