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From Doctors and Miracles to Blinders and Blades; TV must-sees for the coming week

- November 16th, 2013

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Bill Harris TV must-sees for the week of Nov. 17

1 The Day of the Doctor
Debut: A worldwide, commercial-free simulcast marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith teams up with 10th Doctor David Tennant. I hope there isn’t too much math.
When: Saturday on Space

2 Almost Human
Debut: From J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman, this series is set in 2048, when human police officers are partnered with highly evolved androids. Can you tell the difference? Karl Urban and Michael Ealy star.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

3 Battle of the Blades
Fourth-season finale: The three remaining pairs with title hopes are Violetta Afanasieva and Jason Strudwick; Marie-France Dubreuil and Mathieu Dandenault; and Amanda Evora and Scott Thornton. Ron MacLean hosts.
When: Sunday on CBC

4 Nikita
Final-season debut: Nikita (Maggie Q) still is on the run after being framed for the assassination of the president of the United States. Maybe she describes herself as a “patsy,” just like Lee Harvey Oswald.
When: Friday on CW

5 Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles
Debut: Taped in front of a tiny live audience – 39 people, to be exact, at a club in Los Angeles – the never-shy Silverman takes aim at subjects such as pornography, sexuality and U.S. President Barack Obama.
When: Saturday on HBO Canada

6 Peaky Blinders
Canadian debut: A six-part British drama set in 1919 Birmingham as returning soldiers, criminal gangs and revolutionaries angle for supremacy. Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and Helen McCrory star.
When: Thursday on Super Channel

7 New Girl
Jess (Zooey Deschanel) does her best to occupy Schmidt (Max Greenfield) while Cece (Hannah Simone) goes on a date with Coach (Damon Wayans, Jr.). Sound madcap enough for you?
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

8 Battleground
Canadian debut: Originating with U.S. online provider Hulu, this is a dramedy about a group of volunteers who set aside their personal lives to get involved in a long-shot political campaign. Jay Hayden and Teri Reeves star.
When: Monday on Super Channel

9 How I Met Your Mother
John Lithgow returns in a guest-starring role as the father of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). Meanwhile, best man Ted (Josh Radnor) believes he has been framed when a wedding-related duty is botched.
When: Monday on CBS, City

10 Styled to Rock
Debut: Executive produced by Rihanna, this new reality series is a search for the next trend-setting fashion designer. Celebrity guests include Miley Cyrus, Carly Rae Jepsen and Kylie Minogue.
When: Sunday on E!

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Go figure; Kurt Browning says a win is a win on Battle of the Blades

- November 13th, 2013

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Kurt Browning seems a little sheepish as he says it. But there’s no need for him to be. We would expect this sort of attitude from a world-class athlete.

“You like winning,” Browning says. “I’m sorry, but you like winning.”

Browning was attempting to explain what happens to the participants on Battle of the Blades. The fourth season of CBC’s reality-competition series, which pairs figure skaters with ex-hockey players in a figure-skating competition, wraps up with its big finale on Sunday, Nov. 17.

The three remaining pairs with title hopes are Violetta Afanasieva and Jason Strudwick; Marie-France Dubreuil and Mathieu Dandenault; and Amanda Evora and Scott Thornton.

Browning, of course, is a four-time world figure skating champion. But he says it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about hockey players trying their hand at figure skating, or vice versa. If you’re the kind of person who has the drive to compete at the top level of any sport, you just don’t like losing, no matter what you’re doing.

“If you go to one of our live shows and you see the participants skating around beforehand, from the looks on their faces, it might as well be Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final,” says Browning, who serves as a judge on Battle of the Blades.

“Most of the hockey players who have competed on Battle of the Blades wouldn’t have wanted to be figure skaters, because there are musical and artistic things that come along with trying to entertain people without a hockey stick. But they swallow that pill, because they’re doing it for charity, or their wife wants them to, or their kids say they can’t do it, things like that.”

That last one is a major one for athletes. Don’t think they can do something? Then they instantly want to prove to you that they can. It’s in their DNA.

“And it’s very honest when they’re willing to stand up and possibly humiliate themselves, for those reasons,” Browning adds. “These hockey players aren’t doing it because they need to.

“Some of the B-list celebrities on some of the other (reality-competition) shows, they need to. They’re doing it to get their names back out there. But none of the hockey players are really doing that. They’re doing it because they want to.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

“Skeleton” staff for The Amazing Race Canada, as Jon Montgomery hosts

- June 5th, 2013

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The Amazing Race Canada is moving forward with a “skeleton” staff.

CTV announced on Wednesday evening that Jon Montgomery is the host for the first season of The Amazing Race Canada, which debuts July 15. The hosting announcement was made in advance of the annual Bell Media upfront presentation in Toronto on Thursday (Bell Media is the parent company of CTV).

Montgomery won an Olympic gold medal for Canada in skeleton at the 2010 Vancouver Games, prompting his famous and triumphant “golden beer” walk through the streets of Whistler that thrilled Canadians, and made them all thirsty.

In a Canadian twist on the well-known reality-competition franchise, The Amazing Race Canada will utilize Montgomery’s athletic prowess. He’ll demonstrate to both competitors and viewers the risks involved and the skills required for some of the daring challenges the racers will face.

Hey, isn’t Montgomery in training for the Sochi Games in 2014?

Be careful out there, Jon. We don’t want this show to earn the nickname The Amazing Waste.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

 

 

Housing crisis deepens as Big Brother Canada competitors revealed

- February 20th, 2013
Danielle
Canada’s housing crisis just got a little bit worse.

Fifteen people living the the same cramped building? Sounds unruly. And filling it with cameras? That just seems extreme.

Nonetheless, that’s what the contestants face on Big Brother Canada, the first season of which premieres Feb. 27 on Slice and Global.

Of the 10,000 Canadians who auditioned, the identities of the 15 lucky houseguests have been revealed. They are, in alphabetical order:

Danielle Alexander, Fort McMurray party girl (pictured above).

Suzette Amaya, mom from Vancouver.

Alec Beall, Vancouver doctoral student.

Emmett Blois, East Coast farmer.

Emerald (Topaz) Brady, Scarborough dental hygienist.

Peter Brown, New Brunswick professional YouTuber.

Anuj (A.J.) Burman, Toronto salesman.

Gary Levy, Toronto socialite.

Jillian MacLaughlin, Nova Scotia teacher.

Andrew Monaghan, East Coast romantic.

Thomas Plant, Calgary firefighter.

Aneal Ramkissoon, Richmond Hill native who plans to do his thesis on Big Brother.

Talla Rejaei, Edmonton beauty.

Liza Stinton, Toronto salon owner.

Kat Yee, Toronto bartender and tom-boy.

The houseguests will compete for a $100,000 grand prize. Big Brother Canada will be hosted by Arisa Cox.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

No second season for Canada’s Got Talent

- June 22nd, 2012

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CGT, MIA.

Canada’s Got Talent will not be back for a second season in 2012-13, Rogers Media and Citytv confirmed on Friday.

“After careful consideration of all factors, including the current economic climate, Citytv has refocused its programming strategy and will not be producing Canada’s Got Talent for the 2012-13 season,” said Rogers Media president of broadcast Scott Moore in a statement.

“Citytv remains extremely proud of Canada’s Got Talent and the national platform it provided to showcase our diverse and eclectic homegrown talent from across the country.”

Reality-competition shows always can come back, of course – it’s not as if they have ongoing plot lines or key actors who take other jobs. But the fact is, once a show such as this goes on hiatus for a year, it’s very rare that it ever returns.

Any show that requires a cross-Canada talent search, as well as multiple live episodes, certainly is an expensive proposition for any Canadian broadcaster. In that regard, something like the upcoming Citytv project The Bachelor Canada theoretically has the potential to be much more cost efficent.

Canada’s Got Talent, produced by Insight Productions, completed its rookie season last month, with the Manitoba dance team Sagkeeng’s Finest emerging as an upset champion. Judges were Martin Short, Measha Brueggergosman and Stephan Moccio, with host Dina Pugliese.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv