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Bomb Girls consult The Audience about Surviving Jack; TV must-sees for the week of March 23

- March 23rd, 2014

BettyAli_Liebert__GladysJodi_Balfour_work_the_floor

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 23

1 Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy
Finale: In a two-hour made-for-TV movie to wrap up this previously cancelled series, it’s the spring of 1943, and Gladys (Jodi Balfour, pictured above right) covertly is recruited to sniff out a traitorous saboteur working at Victory Munitions.
When: Thursday on Global

2 Girls
Third-season finale: Self-obsessed Hannah (Lena Dunham) gets some news that could change the direction of her stalled career on the very day that her boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) is set to debut on Broadway.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

3 Surviving Jack
Debut: It’s the early 1990s – that’s what the music tells us, anyway – in this sitcom about a gruff dad, played by Christopher Meloni, who suddenly must take more of a day-to-day interest in the lives of his teenage kids.
When: Thursday on Fox, CTV

4 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
First-season finale: An investigation by Jake (Andy Samberg) into a popular civic leader is shut down by higher-ups. When Jake won’t drop it, there could be serious consequences – well, “sitcom serious,” anyway.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

5 Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge
Debut: Cookie Monster had to start somewhere. This reality-competition series sees 10 hopeful innovators vying for jobs in magical Muppet-land. One of the judges is Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson.
When: Tuesday on Space

6 Kroll Show
Second-season finale: Sketches include the PR tag team known as PubLizity (Kroll and Jenny Slate) organizing a red-carpet gala for Blisteritos. Also, C-Czar graduates from Dad Academy and Rich Dicks throw a party.
When: Tuesday on Much

7 Kids’ Choice Awards
Live: This 27th annual event is hosted by Mark Wahlberg, who is no kid any more. But the focus of the evening will be all those pop-culture things that most adults likely don’t understand, and the second you do understand them, they’re passe.
When: Saturday on YTV, Nickelodeon

8 Charley Boorman’s Extreme Frontiers: South Africa
Debut: As a follow-up to his cross-country adventures in Canada, Boorman and producer/director Russ Malkin embark upon a similar trek in distinctly different territory. To sum up, fewer polar bears, more tigers.
When: Wednesday on Discovery World

9 Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan
Second-season debut: The host embarks upon a Kenyan safari to track down the aggressive and deadly giant spitting cobra. And for anyone who didn’t see the first season, yes, Monaghan is doing this on purpose.
When: Tuesday on OLN

10 The Audience
Debut: Faced with life-changing decisions, individuals volunteer to have their situations scrutinized by 50 strangers. At the end of each episode, a verdict is delivered. Because group choices always are the best choices … right?
When: Thursday on W

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Black Sails spook The Walking Dead in a House of Cards? TV’s must-sees for the week of Feb. 9

- February 9th, 2014

Beatles Grammys show, low res, two

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 9

1) The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles
Archival footage from the Fab Four’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show – which occurred 50 years ago, to the exact day and hour – is interspersed with tribute performances by current artists.
When: Sunday on CBS, City

2) The Walking Dead
Return: Eight episodes remain in season four. Following events in the mid-season finale, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) deals with old wounds while members of the prison try to accept their new environment.
When: Sunday on AMC

3) Black Sails
Debut: Taking place 20 years before Treasure Island, this pirate series centres on the tales of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens), who takes on a young addition to the crew named John Silver (Luke Arnold).
When: Friday on Super Channel

4) Dads
One-hour season finale: Eli (Seth Green) ignores David (Peter Riegert), putting one of them in the hospital. And when Crawford (Martin Mull) moves out, Warner (Giovanni Ribisi) has an odd reaction.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

5) House of Cards
Second-season debut: With Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) set to become vice-president, he’s going to have to fly a little more under the radar with his underhanded shenanigans. Um, right?
When: Friday on Netflix

6) MasterChef Canada
The home cooks prepare lunch at the Air Canada Centre for a delegation from the Toronto Maple Leafs, including current player James Van Riemsdyk and alumni Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark.
When: Monday on CTV

7) Twisted
Return: Jo (Maddie Hasson) struggles with conflicted feelings – really, are there any other kind on a show such as this? – while Danny (Avan Jogia) overhears some surprising information about his dad.
When: Tuesday on ABC Spark

8) Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
Debut: No, this is not the movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Airing as part of the American Experience series, this documentary about the real-life 1890s outlaws separates fact from fiction.
When: Tuesday on PBS

9) Girls
Hannah (Lena Dunham) gets a job writing advertorials, while shallow Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) reconsiders her breakup with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) in light of his new-found success.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

10) Super Fun Night
Work intervenes as Kimmie (Rebel Wilson) tries to celebrate Valentine’s Day with new boyfriend James (Nate Torrence). But Kendall (Kate Jenkinson) marks the occasion by hosting a sex-toy party.
When: Wednesday on ABC, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Girls find Flowers in the Attic in Suburgatory; TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 12

- January 11th, 2014

True_Detective_promotional_image

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 12

1) True Detective
Debut: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in this dark and brooding eight-episode series about cops and occult-related killings. The narrative jumps between 1995, 2002 and 2012.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2) Girls
Third-season debut: Some people love it. Some people hate it. Many don’t understand it. But few series in this day and age prompt as much discussion as this one from star/creator Lena Dunham.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

3) Justified
Fifth-season debut: Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) confronts the Crowes, a deadly, lawless family from Florida that is determined to find a new centre of operations.
When: Tuesday on Super Channel

4) 1964
Debut: Documentary examines what has been dubbed “the last innocent year,” in which the world both came together and split apart as it embraced the Beatles and dealt with rising civil unrest.
When: Tuesday on most PBS affiliates

5) Flowers in the Attic
Debut: Made-for-TV movie tells the twisted story of kids living in an attic in an ill-advised effort to reclaim a family fortune. With Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn and Kiernan Shipka.
When: Saturday on Lifetime

6) Golden Globe awards
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey return as hosts of this hardware handout that tends to cause more eyes to roll than any other awards show. But hey, at least Amy and Tina will provide a few laughs.
When: Sunday on NBC, CTV

7) Shameless
Fourth-season debut: This picks up a few weeks after the previous season ended, with the Gallaghers braving a brutal winter. Tell me about it, huh? William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum star.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

8) Suburgatory
Third-season debut: Tessa (Jane Levy) and her dad George (Jeremy Sisto) adopt a furry friend as they try to rebuild their relationship, while ditzy Dalia (Carly Chaikin) tries to fill a void.
When: Wednesday on ABC, Thursday on City

9) Cloud 9
Debut: Executive produced by Ashley Tisdale, this made-for-TV movie stars Dove Cameron as a snowboarding diva. Are snowboarding divas like regular divas, but colder?
When: Friday on Family Channel

10) House of Lies
Third-season debut: Marty (Don Cheadle) is seeking clients for his new firm, while Jeannie (Kristen Bell) plots big moves of her own, like the Veronica Mars movie. Wait, that’s not right.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

TCA14 begins with Julia Roberts, Lena Dunham, puppies … you know, same old, same old

- January 9th, 2014

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PASADENA, Calif. – What do Julia Roberts, Lena Dunham and the Puppy Bowl have in common?

Heck, why stop there. Throw in Kristen Wiig, Matthew McConaughey, Heather Graham, Chloe Sevigny, Jim Parsons, John Oliver and Deion Sanders. What connects them all?

Day 1 of the Winter 2014 Television Critics Association tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif.

It’s always a whirlwind at TCA when the event begins with cable panels. Networks presenting include everything from HBO to Discovery to Lifetime to A&E to OWN to Animal Planet.

I’m probably most looking forward to the sessions for the new HBO series True Detective, with McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and Girls, with Dunham and the entire cast. True Detective debuts and Girls returns Sunday on The Movie Network in Eastern Canada, and Monday on Movie Central in Western Canada.

(The above picture shows critics at the first TCA breakfast).

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Boobs really ARE the answer; a look back at TV trends in 2012

- December 23rd, 2012

lena dunham emmys

In his opening monologue at the Emmy Awards in September, host Jimmy Kimmel noted that cable networks accounted for all the shows in the outstanding drama category in 2012.

“The Academy is sending a clear message,” Kimmel said. “And that message is, ‘Show us your boobs.’ ”

That’s Lena Dunham of Girls in the above picture, by the way, taking Kimmel’s advice to heart – or is it having her cake and eating it, too? – in the opening bit that kicked off the Emmys.

True enough, boobs are the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems, to paraphrase Homer Simpson (he was talking about alcohol). But it actually is more complicated when it comes to TV.

The calendar year 2012 continued the trend of viewers peeling off to specialty programming and specialty channels, as the big broadcast networks try to figure out where they fit in the future of television.

The past year also saw a significant increase in the amount of internet-first “TV” programming, through services such as Netflix and the like.

Genre-wise, there has been a notable push in the past year toward fantasy, at least when it comes to drama. Shows such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time and American Horror Story remind us that when real life gets boring, we always can make something up.

Isn’t it strange that in some ways we now expect our comedies to be more grounded than our dramas? When an alien-based sitcom like The Neighbors comes along, many people turn up their noses because it’s too “ridiculous.” But some of those same people happily will watch Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead and think, “Wow, great art.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just amusing when you think of it that way.

So looking back at TV in 2012, we’ll remember zombies and dwarves, good wives and mad men, drug dealers and high-class schemers, butlers and bootleggers.

And boobs. Lots and lots of boobs.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv