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CBC’s The Best Laid Plans is an “antidote” to Rob Ford, says star Jonas Chernick

- December 20th, 2013

Jonas Chernick in The Best Laid Plans

The upcoming mini-series The Best Laid Plans is a political satire. Hmmm, not much material for that these days, huh?

“What’s to satirize, really?” Jonas Chernick asks rhetorically. “But I think you’ll feel better watching our show than watching the news.”

Based on a novel by Terry Fallis, The Best Laid Plans debuts Jan. 5 on CBC. Chernick (pictured above) stars as Daniel Addison, the head speech writer for the federal Leader of the Opposition.

“My character has had enough of the game of politics, the spin, so I’m out,” Chernick explains. “I go to tell the party that I’m out and they coerce me into doing one last task before they let me out of politics forever. They want me to find a candidate and manage his campaign in a can’t-win riding.

“It’s a riding outside of Ottawa and the party that’s in power, their finance minister, who is like a superhero, that’s his riding. But someone has to run for our party. We’re not going to win, I don’t want to win, because I’m getting out.

“So I find a wacky, eccentric, Scottish nut-case (Angus McLintock, played by Kenneth Welsh) who has no interest in politics and we strike up a deal. So the show is about this fake campaign that we mount, and of course, through the absurdity of politics, things start to change and having him win becomes less unlikely. And then this web of lies we’ve created for ourselves starts to bite us in the ass.”

Rounding out the cast of The Best Laid Plans are Jodi Balfour, Sarah Allen, Mark McKinney, Peter Keleghan, Eric Peterson, Leah Pinsent, Sonja Smits and Barbara Gordon.

“The show does have a pure heart, it’s comedic but it’s not a cynical show,” Chernick assures. “I can’t watch any more Rob Ford coverage. So the antidote, really, is The Best Laid Plans.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Sean Cullen of Rocket Monkeys says today’s cartoons can’t simply “ape” the past

- January 8th, 2013

rocket monkeys - inside 2

You can’t have a cartoonish attitude toward cartoons any more.

They still can be funny. For example, that’s the point of Rocket Monkeys, a new Canadian animated series that debuts Thursday, Jan. 10 on Teletoon.

But as was pointed out by well-known Canadian comedian Sean Cullen, who is the voice of Gus on Rocket Monkeys, cartoons have come a long way since he was a kid, both creatively and technologically.

“When they used to make Scooby-Doo in the ’70s, kids would see it once and then they’d never see it again,” Cullen recalled. “Now you get it on DVD and watch it 100 times in a row, so it has to be better quality.

“It can’t just be, ‘Oh, it’ll go by so quickly that no one will know that Scooby’s foot disappeared.’ I used to watch Rocket Robin Hood. Every once in a while, someone’s arm moves. It was very basic.

“I watched a lot of cartoons when I was a kid, but they were quite stilted, and stiff, and the stories were quite predictable. These days some of the best writing for comedy and for speculative fiction is in animation. Some of the people we work with on Rocket Monkeys are some of the most talented writers in Canada.”

Besides Cullen’s Gus, Rocket Monkeys also features voice work from Mark Edwards (Wally) and Mark McKinney (Lord Peel). The series follows the cosmic exploits of primate siblings Gus and Wally, who inexplicably have been charged with carrying out important missions in space.

Cullen’s real-life face can be seen regularly these days on Match Game, which airs on the Comedy Network. On that show, Cullen is one of six panelists. But Cullen’s character on Rocket Monkeys is the one in charge. Just ask him.

“Gus is kind of the boss, if there is a boss of either of them,” Cullen said. “He’s the more bossy, pushy one.

“He’s the hero, or he sees himself as the hero, telling everybody how to behave. I kind of model his voice on Charlton Heston. Everything is so dramatic.”

Of course, Charlton Heston had a love-hate relationship with apes. But that’s a much darker tale (not a much darker tail).

Rocket Monkeys is all about fun, and sometimes the best fun can be had by taking something seriously.

“I think humour has taken leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, and animation has benefited from that,” Cullen said. “You realize how much more sophisticated humour has become. For example, The Flintstones (which first aired in primetime in the early 1960s) was aimed at the same kind of audience that in recent years has watched The Simpsons.

“The fact is, when adults take an interest in animation, it becomes better. It’s not just something for your kids to watch and to take up their time.

“And also, people finally have clued in that there’s a lot of money to be made with programming for kids.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca