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I see a red door and I want it painted (Orphan) Black

- April 14th, 2014

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Orphan Black. Orange is the New Black. The Blacklist.

Are you sensing a theme here?

It seems as if the entire entertainment landscape has been painted black. Didn’t the Rolling Stones predict this in a song close to 50 years ago?

Regardless, the real subject at hand this week is Orphan Black, which returns for its second season Saturday, April 19 on Space in Canada and on BBC America in the United States.

Through its first season and in the subsequent months leading up to season two, Orphan Black has become one of those weird shows that retains its cool cult status, and yet everyone is talking about it.

Orphan Black exists as both a secret club and a mainstream media monster. It’s a niche show that everybody knows. Or at least, they know of it. With all the positive publicity, surely everyone involved with Orphan Black will be hoping for big ratings with the new campaign.

Orphan Black is a clone-based conspiracy thriller that stars Regina native Tatiana Maslany, who plays multiple roles. And more are coming. Sheesh, there must be some very long days on set where Maslany curses the modern filming technology that makes this all possible.

Maslany obviously was deserving of the accolades she received for season one. She won a TCA award, a Canadian Screen Award, a Critics’ Choice award, a Young Hollywood award and was nominated for a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice award (hey Emmys, do you think you missed something?).

In season two, while the bond remains strong between the core characters, they’ve all made choices that have dire consequences. That leaves main character Sarah (played by Maslany, or course) to navigate a dangerous world of new enemies and shifting allegiances.

Hmmm, sounds pretty dark. Black, even.

As Mick Jagger once sang, “No colours any more, I want them to turn black.” Orphan Black, that is.

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

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

- March 23rd, 2014

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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

Lindsay Lohan hears Sirens in Wild Canada; must-sees for the week of March 9

- March 9th, 2014

RESURRECTION-Season-1-Cast-PHoto

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 9:

1 Resurrection
Debut (pictured above): One of the most buzzed-about shows of 2014, with Omar Epps, Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher starring in a tale about loved ones coming back many years after they disappeared, without having aged.
When: Sunday on ABC, City

2 True Detective
First-season finale: Gripping series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson has been razor-sharp and crazy intense from the get-go. Hard to predict how it’s going to end, but I’m betting not well.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

3 Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Debut: Meant as a successor to the Carl Sagan science series, Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane is one of the executive producers behind this new four-channel project. Hey, Stewie had a time machine, so that’s science-y.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild

4 Sirens
Canadian debut: Adapted from a British show, this is a foul-mouthed but funny American series about paramedics and cops, executive produced and co-written by foul-mouthed but funny American Denis Leary (Rescue Me).
When: Thursday on Comedy

5 Believe
Debut: Created by Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), this story focuses on a young girl named Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) who was born with special abilities and now needs protection. Kind of Heroes meets Touch.
When: Monday on NBC, CTV Two

6 Wild Canada
Debut: From the makers of Human Planet and Planet Earth, this is a four-part natural-history documentary series using the latest in camera technology to explore our nation’s sweeping terrain and diverse species.
When: Thursday on CBC

7 Working the Engels
Debut: Starring Kacey Rohl, Azura Skye, Benjamin Arthur and SCTV’s Andrea Martin, this sitcom is about dysfunctional relatives who must unite to run the family law firm when the patriarch passes away.
When: Wednesday on Global

8 Canadian Screen Awards
Hosted by Martin Short, this is the Canadian TV and film industry’s annual “everybody gets a trophy” soiree. There’s less hardware handed out at an average kids’ soccer tournament, and that’s saying something.
When: Sunday on CBC

9 Cache Craze
Season-two debut: Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes Alex Bilodeau, Rosie MacLennan and Benoit Huot participate in this adventure series based on the GPS-aided game called “geo-caching.” Um, did they do this in Sochi?
When: Tuesday on YTV

10 Lindsay
Debut: From filmmaker Amy Rice, this documentary series follows fallen actress Lindsay Lohan through yet another period of crisis and recovery, and crisis and recovery, and crisis and recovery. And crisis.
When: Sunday on OWN

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The new Cosmos is lucky there’s a Family Guy

- March 7th, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson

A new version of Cosmos is coming to, uh, Fox.

Actually, it’s coming to Fox as well as Global, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild in Canada. But the point is, does Cosmos really fit on the home of Family Guy?

Not so fast, Earthling. Seth MacFarlane has a hand in both shows.

“I had always been a fan of (the original) Cosmos, I had seen it as a child, and then when I was in high school I saw it again and was able to process it in even more depth,” explained MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and one of the executive producers of the new Cosmos, which debuts Sunday, March 9.

“I met Neil (deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and author who hosts the new Cosmos and is pictured above) through an organization called the Science & Entertainment Exchange, and I found out he was working on a new Cosmos. I said that while the networks being considered to pitch to – National Geographic, Discovery Channel – are great networks, in a way you’re sort of preaching to the converted. Wouldn’t it be nice to broaden it even more?

“I thought there was a strong possibility that this particular regime at Fox, as creative and open-minded as they are, would be receptive. And sure enough, they were.”

So more than three decades after Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was Carl Sagan’s iconic exploration of the universe as revealed by science, we have Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. The new 13-part series is meant to be a successor.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of crossover, actually, even from the animated shows (on Fox and Global) to Cosmos,” MacFarlane said. “The show is presented very much in the spirit of the original in that you can’t really call it a documentary. It’s more a journey. It’s certainly educational, but it plays with the flavour, we hope, of a feature film.”

But not Ted.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv