Make Canoe my Homepage

Hockey is leaving, but Mr. D., Murdoch Mysteries, Heartland and Republic of Doyle are “on side” at CBC

- April 4th, 2014

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Amid the uncertainty of a reduced-hockey existence, Mr. D, Murdoch Mysteries, Republic of Doyle and Heartland are the scripted comedies and dramas that officially have been renewed by CBC.

Also on the list of renewals, which was released Friday, was Dragons’ Den (which had been confirmed previously with the announcement that new Dragons Michael Wekerle and Vikram Vij are replacing the departing Kevin O’Leary and Bruce Croxon), The Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Fifth Estate, The Nature of Things, Doc Zone, Marketplace, Just For Laughs, Steven and Chris, and Winnipeg/Halifax Comedy Festival.

New series include Schitt’s Creek (with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara), Strange Empire, Canada’s Smartest Person and Of All Places.

Prior to this announcement, the news had circulated that The Ron James Show, Arctic Air and Cracked have been cancelled by CBC.

Late last year it was announced that Rogers has purchased Canadian rights to NHL games, beginning next season. Hockey Night in Canada will continue as a staple on CBC on Saturday nights for at least four years, but the broadcast will be controlled by Rogers, and there are no guarantees beyond that four-year window.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Vikings and Mr. D try Mixology for a Remedy? TV must-sees for the week

- February 22nd, 2014

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

1 Vikings
Second-season debut: Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) faces new challenges, both to his authority and on the home front. Will his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) have the guts to go through with his betrayal?
When: Thursday on History

2 Remedy
Debut: New Canadian medical show stars Enrico Colantoni, Sara Canning, Sarah Allen and Dillon Casey. High-stakes surgeries are fine for TV, but what this country really needs is a few more family doctors, am I right, people?
When: Monday on Global

3 Mr. D
Third-season debut: In his third year at Xavier Academy, Gerry Duncan (Gerry Dee) is determined to finally land the only job he really wants: Gym teacher. Just think, he’d get to yell at kids and wear shorts all day. Dare to dream.
When: Monday on CBC

4 Late Night with Seth Meyers
Debut: As Saturday Night Live alumni continue to populate the showbiz universe, Meyers joins the weeknight world. His opening-show guests are Amy Poehler, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden and A Great Big World.
When: Monday (technically early Tuesday) on NBC, CTV

5 Mixology
Debut: This is a high-concept sitcom, with the entire season taking place on one night in a bar. Ten attractive young people are looking for sex and/or love. Who gets lucky and who goes home alone is the big question.
When: Wednesday on ABC, CTV

6 The Ron James Show
Fifth-season debut: Just how far would you go to avoid “spoilers” if you hadn’t seen the previous night’s Game of Thrones? That issue is explored in one of the sketches, and let’s just say more than winter is coming.
When: Monday on CBC

7 Growing Up Fisher
Debut: Eleven-year-old Henry (Eli Baker) always has been the eyes for his blind dad Mel (J..K. Simmons). So Henry understandably is a little insecure when a new guide dog basically takes over the job.
When: Sunday on NBC, Global

8 Hannibal
Second-season debut: Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is locked in an asylum, accused of crimes we know were committed by Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). The trick for Will is to get someone, anyone, to believe him.
When: Friday on NBC, City

9 Mind Games
Debut: This has nothing to do with the John Lennon song, although that would be cool. Rather, Steve Zahn and Christian Slater star as brothers who are part mental magicians, part master manipulators and part con artists.
When: Tuesday on ABC, City

10 The Americans
Second-season debut: Elizabeth (Keri Russell) comes back from her injury, but what should be a routine mission goes awry. She also cheers way too loudly for Russia in the Sochi Olympics. Wait, that’s not right.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Compete, don’t retreat: That’s Gerry Dee’s philosophy with Canadian sitcom Mr. D

- December 20th, 2012

Gerry Dee of Mr

Gerry Dee is competitive. So even if his TV show, Mr. D, primarily is an artistic and comedic endeavor, he is aware of the wider landscape.

With Mr. D set for its second season, beginning Jan. 7 on CBC, Dee has been concentrating on how to propel his sitcom to the next level, artistically, comically and, well, numerically.

“I think trying to understand (ratings) numbers was a new experience for me (in season one),” Dee said. “I think the numbers have changed over the years, in terms of understanding how they work.

“So at the end of it all, we did well, I think. But you’re still thinking, ‘How do we get higher? How do we do better?’

“We averaged 800,000 viewers (in season one, which is a strong total for a Canadian sitcom). But how do we average a million? How does The Big Bang Theory get 3 million? What is it? So it’s one of those things where your competitive nature drives you.”

That is a really healthy attitude for the star and creator of a Canadian TV show, don’t you think? Rather than living in a Canadian cocoon, it’s probably a good thing to feel competitive with all the shows in your genre, including the American ones, right?

“Oh sure, no question,” Dee said. “We have a great second season coming, we’re very excited about it, we’re very fortunate.

“This still is a dream to me. It’s one of those, ‘Pinch me, is this still going on?’ kinds of things. You don’t want it to end. So now, the competitive nature in me will try to find a way to get even more people to watch it.”

Mr. D stars Dee as a teacher at a private school. Dee used to be a teacher in real life, but he stresses his show is autobiographical only in basic structure.

“A lot of teachers watch it – some are against it, some are for it,” Dee said. “But it’s a comedy. I think people need to understand that. There’s hyperbole.

“When I was a teacher, I wasn’t the best teacher, but I was a good teacher, I was nothing like what you see. I wouldn’t have lasted 10 years.

“My character in the show is a little obtuse, but you can tell he cares about the kids, and the principal does see that there is some good in this guy.”

A positive thing about Mr. D is that it’s fairly fearless by sitcom standards. The youngsters aren’t always fawned over, which is refreshing for television. And the show finds a way to be a bit edgy with its subject matter, without resorting to the usual TV go-to guys of sex and violence.

“What I learned through the course of the first season is, story is important, heart is important, and likeability, I always knew was important,” Dee said. “Because when you cross the lines my character crosses, it’s a balancing act.”

No one ever really “wins” the TV game. But Gerry Dee promises to stay competitive.

“I don’t see us ever mastering this, but you just try to do your best,” he said. “You’re always learning.”

Unlike Mr. D’s students.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca