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What day is it? What year is it? Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays returns to CBC

- March 4th, 2015

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The return of previously cancelled sitcom Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays was the most notable of CBC’s programming announcements for 2015-16.

Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, which many critics admired, aired one season back in 2011 and was axed for the obvious reason, a.k.a. low ratings. The second season, which picks up the story five years later, will consist of six episodes.

The list of returning CBC shows (some of which were announced previously) includes Heartland, Murdoch Mysteries, X Company, Schitt’s Creek, Mr. D., Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Canada’s Smartest Person and Dragons’ Den.

New CBC shows include The Romeo Section from producer Chris Haddock, and Kim’s Convenience, based on the play of the same name.

Strange Empire has been cancelled.

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

Bonnie and Clyde meet Sons of Anarchy in Lilyhammer; top 10 must-sees for the week

- December 7th, 2013

Emile-Hirsch-and-Holliday-Grainger-play-Bonnie-and-Clyde-in-miniseries

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Dec. 8

1 Bonnie & Clyde
Debut: A four-hour, two-night simulcast over three channels that stars Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger as the infamous Depression-era title couple. Also with Holly Hunter and William Hurt.
When: Sunday on History, Lifetime, A&E

2 Lilyhammer
Second-season debut: Steve Van Zandt, best known as Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist in the E Street Band and Sil on The Sopranos, heads back to Norway for more criminal and cultural clashes.
When: Friday on Netflix

3 Sons of Anarchy
In a special extended episode to wrap up the sixth season, the ramifications of the choices made by Jax (Charlie Hunnam) put his club and his family in jeopardy. Um, isn’t that every episode?
When: Tuesday on Super Channel

4 Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale
Debut: This is billed as a comedic musical take on a traditional Christmas morality story. Joining Clarkson are the likes of Blake Shelton, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Heidi Klum and Danica Patrick.
When: Wednesday on NBC, Global

5 Dragons’ Den
The Dragons – Arlene Dickinson, Bruce Croxon, Jim Treliving, David Chilton and Kevin O’Leary – get into the Christmas spirit by listening to holiday-themed pitches. Ugly festive sweater, anyone?
When: Wednesday on CBC

6 Civil War 360
Canadian premiere: Hosted by Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins and Dennis Haysbert – all of whom had ancestors who were greatly impacted – this three-part series explores the American Civil War.
When: Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel

7 Cedar Cove
Back-to-back episodes: Olivia (Andie MacDowell) is shocked by the arrival of a pregnant woman with a possible connection to Jack (Dylan Neal). Yep, might put a damper on turkey dinner.
When: Wednesday on W

8 The Sing-Off
Return: Hosted by Nick Lachey, this reality-competition holiday extravaganza for “a cappella” groups will air seven episodes before Christmas, including the two-hour finale on Dec. 23.
When: Monday on NBC, CTV Two

9 Holidaze
Debut: Made-for-TV movie follows Mel (Jennie Garth), an executive who unexpectedly finds herself in her home town trying to convince residents to let her company construct a massive discount store.
When: Sunday on ABC Spark

10 Modern Family
In a holiday episode directed by Bryan Cranston, Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is on edge because her mother is visiting. Likely will be slightly less violent than Cranston’s recent work on Breaking Bad.
When: Wednesday on ABC, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Dragons’ Den tests the economic realities of the Christmas spirit

- December 6th, 2013

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You’d be forgiven for wondering if Dragons celebrate Christmas. All that fire has to be murder on mistletoe.

This year’s special holiday episode of Dragons’ Den – which airs Wednesday, Dec. 11 on CBC – proves that the scary beasts at least acknowledge there’s something different going on at the end of each calendar year. But does it make them feel any more generous than usual?

Dragons’ Den, of course, is in its eighth season and currently features Bruce Croxon, David Chilton, Jim Treliving, Kevin O’Leary and Arlene Dickinson as its signature investors.

We all know the format of the show by now. Entrepreneurs come in and pitch their business ideas. They’re all looking for investment money from the Dragons, in return for a chunk of whatever their money-making scheme is. The Dragons either can agree to the terms the entrepreneur has suggested, propose new terms, or take a polite pass. Well, sometimes not so polite.

The holiday episode showcases a batch of holiday-themed pitches, naturally. Everything from ugly Christmas sweaters to exterior light-hanging apparatuses designed to reduce trips to the hospital are presented, as entrepreneurs hope to find some much-needed cash in their stockings.

Something to watch for: Think of the grumpiest Dragon. Now think of a silly costume. The mind wanders.

The holiday pitchers this year are: Holiday Rejects (Chris Cheng, Adil Hooda and Kyle Fitzgerald from Calgary); Christmas Linka Lights (Patrick Grau and John Schram from St. Catharines, Ont.); You Stuff It Boxes (Mary Read from Orr Lake, Ont.); Hot ‘N’ Clean (Shayne Elliot from Haney, B.C.); Winter and the Secret of Santa (Janelle Jeffrey from Squamish, B.C.); Magball (Enock Laplante from Toronto); Kooldog House (Ki Park from Richmond Hill, Ont.); and Rollergard (Victor Posa, Benito Posa and Paul Steinhauser from Aurora, Ont.).

Will the Dragons be naughty or nice?

Seems like an obvious answer if we’re talking about Dragons. But the Christmas spirit can do miraculous things.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Air Farce, Ron James plan an “ex-PSY-ting” New Year’s Eve, Stephen Harper style

- December 30th, 2012

Air Farce - Paul Henderson, Craig Lauzon as Don Cherry

Canada doesn’t seem to treasure as many traditions as it has in the past. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your point of view.

But one Canadian tradition that has hung on is comedy on CBC on New Year’s Eve.

First up at 8 p.m. (local time) is the annual Air Farce New Year’s Eve special. That’s followed at 9 p.m. by The Ron James Show’s New Year’s Eve Special.

Then at 10 p.m., it’s the news, which rarely is funny. So let’s focus on those first two.

The Air Farce extravaganza this year features a hilarious video parody starring Craig Lauzon, doing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, doing Korean rapper PSY. The words to PSY’s massive hit “Gangnam Style” have been changed to reflect Harper’s world.

Besides Lauzon, the usual Air Farce crew of Don Ferguson, Luba Goy, Alan Park, Penelope Corrin and Arnold Pinnock will be on hand. Guests include hockey legend Paul Henderson (pictured above left, with Lauzon as Don Cherry at right), Olympic gold medallist Rosie MacLennan, Yannick Bisson of Murdoch Mysteries, recording artist Victoria Duffield and David Chilton of Dragons’ Den.

Then it’s time for Ron James (pictured below), who – as we successfully head into 2013 – vows “never to listen to a Mayan again.” Damn straight.

Regular James characters Aunt Vivien, Buell Crawford and fan favourite Li’l Ronnie also stop by to help ring in the new year.

The real beauty of the back-to-back Air Farce and Ron James New Year’s Eve specials is that you can watch both and still have two hours to get drunk.

Now THAT’s a Canadian tradition.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Ron James New Years Eve