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Conan gets animated, takes on mob in ‘Archer’ skit

- January 21st, 2015

After working on The Simpsons and creating one of the most beloved episodes in the series’ history (Monorail!), it only makes sense that Conan O’Brien would return to the world of animation.

Tossing grenades at the Russian mob while promoting Uber just wasn’t the way most would have pictured it.

On Tuesday night’s episode of Conan, the late-night host stepped out of his studio and into the cartoon world of Archer, one of FX’s most popular shows.

After getting into secret agent Sterling Archer’s car, Conan is handed a pistol and told to start shooting.

It’s all downhill from here for the two polar-opposite characters.

At first, Conan doesn’t even know where to point the gun, and when he finally does figure out, he spends the majority of time swinging it around in his hands and insulting Archer for not using Uber like, “everyone else.”

A few minutes of hilarious back-and-forth banter between the two breaks out before they’re targeted by another mobster filled jeep, leading them into the empty tunnels of Los Angeles.

This time around, Conan’s got to handle a grenade and the result is just slightly better than his first experience wielding a gun.

Usually stints like these aren’t overly funny and fail at pandering to either fan base, but the adorably obtuse Conan juxtaposed with the overwhelmingly confident Archer makes for a great five minutes of comedy.

FX Canada is re-branding as simply FX

- January 13th, 2015

Capture Americans

FX Canada is getting shorter in the hopes of long-term benefits.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 14, Rogers is re-branding FX Canada, dropping the “Canada” to be known simply as “FX.”

With the bulk of the Canadian channel’s marquee programming – The Strain, The Americans (pictured above), American Horror Story, etc. – airing on the same day as FX in the United States, the change is being made for the sake of simplicity and consistency. Also to save a few characters on Twitter, perhaps.

The Canadian version of FXX, also owned by Rogers, actually never has had the word “Canada” attached to it, so that’s another consistency with the new FX.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Archer and Agent Carter read The Book of Negroes and start an Empire with Glee; TV for the week of Jan. 4

- January 4th, 2015

Anna Faris, Allison Janney, People's Choice Awards

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 4

1 Marvel’s Agent Carter
Debut
Decades before the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, there was Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). She pledged a similar oath, but as a female in the 1940s, she had to fight from being marginalized when all the men returned home from World War II.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 6 on ABC, CTV

2 Downton Abbey
Fifth-season debut
Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) feels a bit insulted when the townspeople choose someone else to head up a local project. Meanwhile, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) has trouble keeping her distance from her big secret.
When: Sunday, Jan. 4 on most PBS affiliates

3 People’s Choice Awards
Live
From the Nokia Theater in L.A., awards season kicks off by honouring fan favourites in movies, music and TV. Anna Faris and Allison Janney (pictured above) from the sitcom Mom are the hosts, with musical performances from Iggy Azalea and Fall Out Boy.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on CBS, Global

4 The Book of Negroes
Debut
Six-part mini-series follows the harsh journey of Aminata Diallo (Aunjanue Ellis), who was abducted and enslaved as a child, but eventually returns home to West Africa. Also with Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lyriq Bent and Allan Hawco, among others.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on CBC

5 Empire
Debut
Music-company kingpin Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) learns he has a disease and must choose one of his three sons to take over. But it gets even messier when Lucious’ ex-wife re-emerges unexpectedly and is determined to claim her share.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on Fox

6 Archer
Sixth-season debut
Notice something different about this long-running animated series? The producers announced last fall that the spy agency no longer will be called the International Secret Intelligence Service – a.k.a., Isis – for obvious reasons.
When: Thursday, Jan. 8 on Teletoon

7 Sunnyside
Debut
Canadian sketch series featuring Kathleen Phillips and Pat Thornton centres on a quirky town where, for example, a voice from an open manhole replaces the internet. It’s the voice of Norm Macdonald, so I assume it’ll be sarcastic.
When: Thursday, Jan. 8 on City

8 Say Yes to the Dress Canada
Debut, back-to-back episodes
Set at a Toronto bridal boutique, Canadian brides must be more patient and polite than their American counterparts, right? Hello? Well, maybe brides are brides wherever you go, and they all speak the international language of tension.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on W

9 UFOs Declassified
Debut
“Take me to your leader” aside, this six-episode series purports to present a balanced examination of the subject matter, with state-of-the-art CGI based on both eyewitness accounts and government/military documentation.
When: Friday, Jan. 9 on History

10 Glee
Sixth-season, two-hour debut
Upon learning that Sue (Jane Lynch) has banished the arts at McKinley High, Rachel (Lea Michele) endeavours to re-establish the glee club. More and more of the old gang will return home to help. Thank goodness this is the final season.
When: Friday, Jan. 9 on Fox, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv​

Rogers’ FX Canada and FXX now available on Bell; gamesmanship caves to power of NHL hockey

- October 10th, 2014

 

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Roger that – or make it, “Rogers that.” The Bell finally tolls for hockey.

What does this mean? Welcome to Bell TV distribution outlets, FX Canada and FXX.

FX Canada and FXX now are available on Bell, as of Friday, Oct. 10. Not coincidentally, FX Canada has its first NHL hockey game of the new season on Saturday, Oct, 11 (Alex Ovechkin, pictured above, and the Washington Capitals at the Boston Bruins).

FX Canada and FXX are owned by Rogers. But up until Friday, Bell had resisted striking a deal to carry FX Canada and FXX. Rogers had been wanting to get its channels wider distribution for years (FX Canada launched in 2011, FXX in 2014).

So what changed? Well, late in 2013 it was announced that Rogers had purchased NHL rights for $5.2 billion over 12 years. The first season with Rogers in charge began on Wednesday.

So suddenly on Friday, Bell miraculously came around. If you call a Bell provider now, they happily will tell you that FX Canada and FXX are available through Bell.

Turns out even Bell couldn’t play hardball with pucks.

And just as significant for all those Bell customers who aren’t necessarily hockey fans, they now finally can have access to exclusive FX Canada and FXX programming, such as the always delightfully creepy American Horror Story, which began its new season on Wednesday as well (full title American Horror Story: Freak Show; Evan Peters pictured below). And FX Canada just came off a record-setting season for the channel with the shot-in-Toronto vampire series from Guillermo Del Toro, The Strain.

So as of now, FX Canada is available in 5 million homes, with FXX in 1.5 million homes.

Game on for Rogers, or gamesmanship over for Bell, depending upon your point of view.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Evan Peters as Jimmy Darling

The Flash feels The Strain as a Million Dollar Critic of American Horror Story; television this week

- October 5th, 2014

Grant Gustin as The Flash, two

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

1 The Flash
Debut
Yup, more superheroes on TV. Barry Allen (Grant Gustin, pictured above) gains powers when lightning strikes him during a freak storm. Almost immediately, those raw new powers are needed.
When: Tuesday on CW, CTV

2 American Horror Story
Fourth-season debut
A “freak show” struggles to stay in business as TV conquers showbiz in the early 1950s. The likes of Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Evan Peters are back again, in new roles.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

3 Homeland
Fourth-season debut, back-to-back episodes
Carrie (Claire Danes) makes a critical decision, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) struggles with his new role in the private sector and Quinn (Rupert Friend) spirals out of control.
When: Sunday on Super Channel

4 The Strain
First-season finale
Eph (Corey Stoll) and Fet (Kevin Durand) prepare an assault that Setrakian (David Bradley) assures them will kill the Master. Um, what’s the betting line on that one?
When: Sunday on FX Canada

5 Murdoch Mysteries
Eighth-season debut
While investigating the murder of a merchant, Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) uncovers possible connections to the assault on Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig).
When: Monday on CBC

6 Arrow
Third-season debut
With crime at an all-time low, Oliver (Stephen Amell) lets his guard down. You know, given all of my TV-watching experience, I’d wager that turns out to be a really bad idea.
When: Wednesday on CW, CTV

7 Strange Empire
Debut
A fateful convergence of lost souls near the Alberta-Montana border in 1869 leads to tragedy and a struggle for survival. Cara Gee, Melissa Farman and Tattiawna Jones star.
When: Monday on CBC

8 Million Dollar Critic
Debut
Giles Coren reviews food hot spots across North America, but in the first episode he meets Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to discuss where the city’s best hot dog can be found.
When: Tuesday on W

9 Cristela
Debut
Sitcom stars standup Cristela Alonzo. In the pilot, she gets an offer for an internship at a law firm, but her traditional Mexican-American family doesn’t quite understand.
When: Friday on ABC, CHCH

10 Mulaney
Debut
Sitcom stars former SNL staffer John Mulaney. In the pilot, he gets a writing job that turns out to be less glamorous than he expected. That sounds preposterous to me, boss.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv