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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 more the Mary-er (or “marry her?”), says Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery

- January 3rd, 2013

Maggie Smith (left) and Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery was asked why, seemingly against all odds, Britain’s Downton Abbey has become a pop-culture phenomenon in North America.

“It’s really difficult to pinpoint why,” said Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley. “You tell me.”

Well, I’m not sure I have a better answer than you do, Ms. Dockery. But it’s a good thing for both of us, don’t you think?

Downton Abbey returns to North American TV with its third season, starting Sunday, Jan. 6 on most PBS stations. Set early in the 20th century, the lush period drama follows an aristocratic British family and the servants in their massive house, known as Downton Abbey.

As season three begins, it’s the spring of 1920. What later would become known as World War I finally is over and the long-awaited wedding of Lady Mary and Matthew (Dan Stevens) is nearing.

But as one would expect, all is not tranquil at Downton Abbey, as world-altering social changes, romantic intrigues and personal crises pulsate through the majestic English country estate.

What of poor, wrongly imprisoned Mr. Bates, played by Brendan Coyle? Will the scheming Thomas (Robert James-Collier) be rewarded or punished for his continued malevolence? And how will a visit by Lady Mary’s American grandmother, played by Shirley MacLaine, shake things up?

It certainly isn’t usual for North American audiences to get caught up in a British series such as this. But Downton Abbey somehow has hit upon the right mix of eye candy, class tension, romance and quality story-telling to grab the attention of a continent otherwise obsessed with the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Honey Boo Boo.

“But it feels like kind of a steady process,” said Dockery, who was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2012 and is pictured at right in the above photo, with Maggie Smith at left. “The first (season), people were just kind of catching on. It was the second (season) that seemed to really take off over here.

“So it feels like it has been a steady progression. At home (in Britain) it was quite an explosion right away, millions of people tuned in for the very first episode. And it has just grown from there, it’s wonderful.”

In many ways the fate of Lady Mary has been at the centre of Downton Abbey‘s story. So from the vantage point of the 21st century, does Dockery view Lady Mary as a sympathetic character, or as something of a brat?

“I think Mary started out as a bit of a brat,” Dockery said. “I mean, she was certainly far colder in the beginning.

“Initially I thought she would be the Kristin Scott Thomas type of character in Gosford Park, when I read those first few scripts. And then, you know, I realized she actually becomes far more sympathetic and sensitive, and I’ve really enjoyed that journey, which I wasn’t expecting.”

Not that Lady Mary becomes Mother Teresa or anything. Lady Mary certainly is not interested in anything resembling a diminished lifestyle, even as significant factors threaten the Crawley family’s stature in season three (watch for a Canadian connection in that regard!).

“Every year it gets better, actually,” Dockery said of Downton Abbey. “This year is even better than the last.”

Literally, the world is watching.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Dennings, Hendricks compete for “breast dressed” title on Emmys red carpet

- September 24th, 2012

Kat Dennings Emmys 2

The first star to make a buxom splash on the red carpet at the 64th annual primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday was Kat Dennings of 2 Broke Girls.

Dennings (pictured above) was one of the first celebrities interviewed during red-carpet coverage on E!, outside the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

And when the well-endowed Dennings, wearing a low-cut red dress, mounted some steps to the interview area, interviewer Giuliana Rancic’s eyes just about jumped out of her head.

Rancic: “OK, when you walked up here, I was like, ‘Wow, you look gorgeous.’ ”

Dennings: “Well, no matter what I do, they’re there, so, what are you doing to do?”

Rancic: “You knew what I was getting at?”

Dennings: “Yeah.”

Rancic: “Could you tell I was staring at them?”

Dennings: “Well, you know what I mean? I looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘Uh, God.’ But what am I going to do? They’re always the same size.”

Rancic: “Honey, don’t even say it like it’s a problem. It is a good thing.”

We concur.

There was a similar moment when E!’s Ryan Seacrest was interviewing the similarly curvy Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, who was wearing a low-cut silver dress. Seacrest asked Hendricks (pictured below) how Mad Men’s fans would react if her character, Joan Harris, and Jon Hamm’s character, Don Draper, ever got together.

“Um … I don’t know how the fans would react … it would be a very combustive situation, I would think,” Hendricks stammered.

“Combustive is the right word for this moment,” Seacrest said.

Touche.

E! always brings a sense of fun to red-carpet coverage, as opposed to ABC’s approach, which tends to be a bit more stiff.

But E! went the extra mile at the Emmys Sunday with three deliberately ridiculous innovations:

* The Mani-Cam (celebrities stuck their hands close to a little camera so their fingers could walk a tiny red carpet and their manicures could be examined).

* The Stiletto-Cam (same idea, with shoes).

* And the Glam-Cam 360, in which stars were photographed “in the round” to be more intricately examined by Fashion Police.

Speaking of Fashion Police, Joan Rivers kicked off E!’s red-carpet coverage with the following speech:

“It does take a village to produce a great show,” Rivers said. “Fashion Police would not be a big hit without the help of many of you wonderful celebrities, so I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to some of them.

“Tara Reid, thank you for being a skank. Christina Aguilera, thank you for being a chubbo. Courtney Love, thank you for not even knowing that you are Courtney Love. And thank you Lindsay Lohan, for just being you … hic!”

Former Emmys host Jimmy Fallon also dipped into the deep well of celebrity rap sheets for humour when he was speaking with Seacrest.

As the interview began, Fallon was pretending to be out of breath and panicked, as if he had just had a narrow escape from a dangerous situation.

“I’m just glad to be alive,” Fallon said. “Amanda Bynes gave me a ride over.”

Fallon also quipped that he didn’t actually have a ticket for the Emmys, but that “Clint Eastwood is saving me a chair.”

The really funny thing was, when ABC opened its red-carpet coverage with Fallon, he told the exact same jokes to Chris Harrison!

Great lines, Jimmy Fallon, but remember, people have clickers and they aren’t afraid to use them.

Then again, jokes about Bynes aside, it’s possible that Fallon really was frazzled. Maybe he caught a glimpse of the four-part attack provided by Kat Dennings and Christina Hendricks.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

(For full coverage of the actual Emmy Awards ceremony, which aired on ABC and CTV, you can check out the story I filed for Sun Media here.)

Christina Hendricks