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From Storage Wars Canada to Lady Gaga; TV’s must-sees this week

- August 25th, 2013

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Here are the top 10 TV must-sees for the coming week:

1 Storage Wars Canada

Series debut: A Canadian version of the popular reality franchise, where potential buyers have mere minutes to scan the contents of abandoned storage units before making bids. Figure Canadians aren’t as obsessed with junk as Americans? Think again.

When: Thursday on OLN

2 Covert Affairs

Fourth-season debut: After three years of emotional tension between lead character Annie Walker, played by Piper Perabo, and co-worker Auggie Anderson, played by Christopher Gorham, a romance is blooming.

When: Wednesday on Showcase

3 The March

Documentary debut: A look back at a watershed moment in the Civil Rights Movement, when a massive demonstration on Aug. 28, 1963 ended with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

When: Tuesday on PBS

4 Breaking Bad

Only six episodes remain, counting this one. If you watched last weekend, you know that Hank (Dean Norris) is about to have what we assume will be a very intense and interesting conversation with Jesse (Aaron Paul).

When: Sunday on AMC

5 Canadian Pickers

Fourth-season debut: Scott Cozens and Sheldon Smithens travel across Canada again in search of forgotten treasures. This season also sees a trip to the U.K., as the guys pursue a collection they have coveted for 15 years,

When: Monday on History

6 King and Maxwell

Canadian debut: Jon Tenney and Rebecca Romijn star as lead characters Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. They’re private investigators who are rebuilding their careers after being fired as Secret Service agents.

When: Tuesday on Showcase

7 Under the Dome

Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) uncovers the shocking truth about her husband’s mysterious disappearance while Maxine (Natalie Zea) reveals to Barbie (Mike Vogel) how she plans to take control of Chester’s Mill.

When: Monday on CBS, Global

8 The Listener

Fourth-season finale: After shooting and killing a suspect, Toby (Craig Olejnik) struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Hey, if Toby can’t make sense of his own thoughts, how is he supposed to make sense of other people’s thoughts?

When: Wednesday on CTV

9 The Newsroom

Rebecca (Marcia Gay Harden) continues to collect depositions from staff to piece together the network’s fateful decision to go ahead with a special report on Operation Genoa that is threatening to ruin multiple careers.

When: Sunday on HBO Canada

10 MTV Video Music Awards

Lady Gaga will open the show with a performance of her new single Applause. We’ll see if she gets any. Other scheduled performers include Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Kanye West, Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus.

When: Sunday on MTV, MuchMusic

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Much VJ Search is a throwback sugar rush

- April 18th, 2013

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The young men and women involved in the Much VJ Search are all so perky.

Just wait until the winner has to find an apartment in Toronto. That’s when the perkiness will disappear, my friends.

But there’s no need to put a damper on things yet. The Much VJ Search is continuing, with the finale taking place Friday, April 26, conveniently on MuchMusic.

The Much VJ Search has been around in various forms for quite a few years now. The idea is to anoint a new on-air personality for the channel, which has undergone many changes since it was such a powerful force on the Canadian TV landscape in the 1980s and early 1990s.

If you watch any episode of this year’s Much VJ Search, it’s actually nice to see that young people still can get excited about something.

It’s almost impossible to get most people in their late teens or early 20s to look up from their smart phones. So to find a group of young contestants who are openly passionate about wanting this TV gig, there’s almost a heartwarming throwback feel to it, for lack of a better term.

This year’s Much VJ Search began with a cross-Canada bus trip. Eliminated contestants were left on random street corners to fend for themselves. Okay, not really. But by the time the bus arrived in Toronto at the MuchMusic headquarters, only 12 competitors remained, and that number immediately was whittled to 10.

It certainly seems as if the youngsters picked for the Much VJ Search emerged from the same central casting agency that selected the contestants for Big Brother Canada, which currently is airing on Slice. Yes, the Big Brother Canada folks are older, but there’s an unmistakable similarity between reality-TV participants on various shows.

And that’s what the Much VJ Search is, essentially: A reality TV show that increasingly has incorporated elements from other reality TV shows.

The town-to-town touring thing had an American Idol feel to it at times, at least in the early weeks of any American Idol season.

When the top 10 contestants on the Much VJ Search settled in Toronto for the stretch run, they found out they would be living in the MuchMusic studios, dubbed Camp Much for the occasion. That, of course, brings Big Brother to mind.

And then the top 10 were divided into five groups of two, each mentored by an existing MuchMusic VJ: Damian Abraham, Phoebe Dykstra, previous Much VJ Search winner Liz Trinnear, Scott Willats and Tyrone (T-RexXx) Edwards. You know, exactly like The Voice.

The underpinnings of the music industry have been altered so dramatically since the glory days of MuchMusic, a VJ needs to know far more about pop culture than ever before. The channel now is way more of a pop-culture channel for mid-teens and tweens than a music channel for people in their 20s. That’s not a criticism, merely an observation.

But again, even if it’s pop culture and not music necessarily that we’re taking about, it’s nice to see young people excited about something, anything.

With all its perkiness, watching any random half-hour of the Much VJ Search will leave you with a sugar rush similar to eating a dozen doughnuts in one sitting.

Um, not that I’ve ever done that, but you get the idea.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Much ado about something; fresh VJs required

- January 21st, 2013

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If a VJ introduces a video that isn’t there, does it make a sound?

Whoa, too deep for me.

Point being, VJs still exist, even though channels such as MuchMusic don’t spend a lot of time playing music videos any more.

Thus, in the spirit of Menudo, the 2013 Much VJ Search is doing exactly what its name describes.

MuchMusic has announced that the competition officially opens on Feb. 19. Full details are available at muchmusic.com.

In short, starting on Feb. 19, VJ hopefuls can register, create a profile and upload a submission video. Hard deadline for submissions is March 10 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Finalists will be featured in a month-long reality series that premieres April 1.

MuchMusic declares that the Much VJ Search “gives everyone a shot at the coolest job ever – to be a Much VJ. No experience is required; the only criteria needed are a passion for music and pop culture, a kick-ass personality, a flair for television, and the gift of gab.”

The winner of the Much VJ Search is presented with the Erica Ehm Cup. Not really, but that would be cool.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Chaz Bono is Degrassi’s Simon Cowell in a battle of the bands

- November 22nd, 2012

Chaz Bono on Degrassi

Degrassi is adding a little “Chaz-matazz” to its lineup this week.

The long-running Canadian teen-targeted series, which is airing on Much in its current incarnation, has back-to-back new episodes – titled Tonight, Tonight, parts one and two – on Friday, Nov. 23. In the second episode, none other than Chaz Bono guest-stars as himself.

Bono, of course, is the only child of iconic showbiz duo Sonny & Cher. Bono was born a girl – Chastity – but underwent female-to-male gender transition a few years ago.

In Degrassi, Bono not only serves as a judge in a “battle of the bands” (wonder if anyone sings I Got You Babe?), but also is involved in the story line with transgender character Adam Torres, played by Gemini Award winner Jordan Todosey.

And you probably thought the odds were low that you’d ever see another acting “Chaz” after Chazz Palminteri. Wrong.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

When the “hell” are my shows on? The full list of fall 2012 TV debuts

- September 8th, 2012

Rachael Taylor in 666 Park Ave

“Where’s the TV?” asks Rachael Taylor in 666 Park Avenue (pictured above). “And when the ‘hell’ do my favourite shows debut?”

That’s kind of a specific 666 Park Avenue joke. But Rachael is not alone.

For the past several years we’ve put together a chronological list of fall TV debut dates for publication. The feedback we get indicates that readers/viewers like the simplicity of presenting it in this form. Easy to read, easy to follow.

However, every year we offer the same disclaimer: Things change. Networks reconsider and react to their own failures and successes.

So in terms of both the American and Canadian TV scheduling landscapes (and the meshing of the two, which can get quite complicated), the following list is the most accurate we can put together at the present time. As always, as it gets closer to the debut dates for your favourite shows, please double-check local listings.

Sunday, Sept. 9

Wallander (most PBS affiliates; later in September on others)

CCMA Awards (CBC)

The Inbetweeners (MuchMusic)

Monday, Sept. 10

The Voice (NBC, CTV Two)

The New Normal (NBC, CTV)

Katie (Citytv)

The Jeff Probst Show (Global)

Ricki Lake (Global)

Men at Work (Comedy)

Sullivan and Son (Comedy)

Shannen Says (E!)

Hoarders (A&E)

Tuesday, Sept. 11

Guys With Kids (Global, the next night on NBC)

Parenthood (NBC, Global)

Go On (time-period premiere, already sneak-peaked, NBC, Global)

Sons of Anarchy (Super Channel)

Wednesday, Sept. 12

The X Factor (Fox, CTV)

Thursday, Sept. 13

Glee (Fox, Global)

Tia and Tamera (E!)

Friday, Sept. 14

The Fifth Estate (CBC)

Marketplace (CBC)

Shark Tank (ABC, CTV Two)

What Would You Do? (ABC)

20/20 (ABC)

Saturday, Sept. 15

Saturday Night Live (NBC, Global)

Sunday, Sept. 16

Boardwalk Empire (HBO Canada)

Heartland (CBC)

Over the Rainbow (CBC)

The Mob Doctor (CTV, the next night on Fox)

Monday, Sept. 17

Revolution (NBC, Citytv)

Bones (Fox, Global)

Who Do You Think You Are? (CBC)

Tuesday, Sept. 18

Rick Mercer Report (CBC)

Anger Management (time-period premiere, already sneak-peaked, CTV)

Wednesday, Sept. 19

Survivor (CBS, Global)

Titanic: Blood and Steel (CBC)

Dragons’ Den (CBC)

Thursday, Sept. 20

Flashpoint (CTV)

Parks and Recreation (NBC, Citytv)

The Office (NBC)

Up All Night (NBC)

The Nature of Things (CBC)

Doc Zone (CBC)

Saturday, Sept. 22

W5 (CTV)

Sunday, Sept. 23

Emmy Awards (ABC, CTV)

Treme (HBO Canada)

Call Me Fitz (HBO Canada)

Monday, Sept. 24

Dancing With the Stars (ABC, CTV)

2 Broke Girls (CBS, Citytv)

Mike and Molly (CBS)

Partners (CBS, Citytv)

How I Met Your Mother (CBS, Citytv)

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, Global)

Tuesday, Sept. 25

New Girl (Fox, Citytv)

The Mindy Project (Fox, Citytv)

Ben and Kate (Fox, Citytv)

NCIS (CBS, Global)

NCIS: LA (CBS, Global)

Vegas (CBS, Global)

Private Practice (ABC, Citytv)

Criminal Minds (CTV, the next night on CBS)

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Modern Family (ABC, Citytv)

The Middle (ABC, Citytv)

The Neighbors (ABC)

CSI (CBS, CTV)

Law and Order: SVU (NBC, CTV Two)

Animal Practice (time-period premiere, already sneak-peaked, NBC)

Thursday, Sept. 27

Elementary (CBS, Global)

Person of Interest (CBS, Citytv)

Two and a Half Men (CBS, CTV)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, CTV)

Last Resort (ABC, Global)

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, CTV)

Scandal (ABC, Citytv)

Friday, Sept. 28

Haven (Showcase)

Kitchen Nightmares (Fox, Global)

Fringe (Fox, Citytv)

CSI: NY (CBS, CTV)

Made in Jersey (CBS, Global)

Blue Bloods (CBS, CTV)

Sunday, Sept. 30

Dexter (TMN, MC)

Once Upon a Time (ABC, CTV)

Revenge (ABC, Citytv)

666 Park Ave. (ABC, Citytv)

The Amazing Race (CBS, CTV)

The Good Wife (CBS, Global)

The Mentalist (CBS, CTV)

Homeland (Super Channel)

The Simpsons (Fox, Global)

Bob’s Burgers (Fox, Global)

Family Guy (Fox, Global)

American Dad (Fox, Global)

Call The Midwife (PBS)

60 Minutes (CBS)

Tuesday, Oct. 2

Raising Hope (Fox, Citytv)

Hart of Dixie (CW)

Wednesday, Oct. 3

The Bachelor Canada (Citytv)

Supernatural (CW)

Thursday, Oct. 4

30 Rock (NBC, Citytv)

Covert Affairs (Showcase)

Jersey Shore (MTV)

Sunday, Oct. 7

The Cleveland Show (Fox, Global)

Monday, Oct. 8

Gossip Girl (CW)

90210 (CW)

White Collar (Bravo)

Wednesday, Oct. 10

Arrow (CW, CTV Two)

Nashville (ABC, CTV Two)

Chicago Fire (NBC, Global)

Duck Dynasty (A&E)

Thursday, Oct. 11

The Vampire Diaries (CW, CTV Two)

Beauty and the Beast (CW, Showcase)

Covert Affairs (Showcase)

Sunday, Oct. 14

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Monday, Oct. 15

Match Game (Comedy)

Tuesday, Oct. 16

Emily Owens, M.D. (CW, CTV Two)

Holmes Makes it Right (HGTV)

Underemployed (MTV)

The Big Decision (CBC)

Wednesday, Oct. 17

Suburgatory (ABC, Citytv)

American Horror Story (FX Canada)

Friday, Oct. 19

Whitney (NBC)

Community (NBC, Citytv)

Nikita (CW, CTV Two)

Hunted (HBO Canada)

Sunday, Oct. 21

Happy Endings (Citytv, two days later on ABC)

Monday, Oct. 22

Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 (Citytv, one day later on ABC)

Friday, Oct. 26

Touch (Fox, Global)

Friday, Nov. 2

Last Man Standing (ABC, Citytv)

Malibu Country (ABC)

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv