Make Canoe my Homepage

Archer and Agent Carter read The Book of Negroes and start an Empire with Glee; TV for the week of Jan. 4

- January 4th, 2015

Anna Faris, Allison Janney, People's Choice Awards

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 4

1 Marvel’s Agent Carter
Debut
Decades before the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, there was Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). She pledged a similar oath, but as a female in the 1940s, she had to fight from being marginalized when all the men returned home from World War II.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 6 on ABC, CTV

2 Downton Abbey
Fifth-season debut
Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) feels a bit insulted when the townspeople choose someone else to head up a local project. Meanwhile, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) has trouble keeping her distance from her big secret.
When: Sunday, Jan. 4 on most PBS affiliates

3 People’s Choice Awards
Live
From the Nokia Theater in L.A., awards season kicks off by honouring fan favourites in movies, music and TV. Anna Faris and Allison Janney (pictured above) from the sitcom Mom are the hosts, with musical performances from Iggy Azalea and Fall Out Boy.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on CBS, Global

4 The Book of Negroes
Debut
Six-part mini-series follows the harsh journey of Aminata Diallo (Aunjanue Ellis), who was abducted and enslaved as a child, but eventually returns home to West Africa. Also with Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lyriq Bent and Allan Hawco, among others.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on CBC

5 Empire
Debut
Music-company kingpin Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) learns he has a disease and must choose one of his three sons to take over. But it gets even messier when Lucious’ ex-wife re-emerges unexpectedly and is determined to claim her share.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on Fox

6 Archer
Sixth-season debut
Notice something different about this long-running animated series? The producers announced last fall that the spy agency no longer will be called the International Secret Intelligence Service – a.k.a., Isis – for obvious reasons.
When: Thursday, Jan. 8 on Teletoon

7 Sunnyside
Debut
Canadian sketch series featuring Kathleen Phillips and Pat Thornton centres on a quirky town where, for example, a voice from an open manhole replaces the internet. It’s the voice of Norm Macdonald, so I assume it’ll be sarcastic.
When: Thursday, Jan. 8 on City

8 Say Yes to the Dress Canada
Debut, back-to-back episodes
Set at a Toronto bridal boutique, Canadian brides must be more patient and polite than their American counterparts, right? Hello? Well, maybe brides are brides wherever you go, and they all speak the international language of tension.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on W

9 UFOs Declassified
Debut
“Take me to your leader” aside, this six-episode series purports to present a balanced examination of the subject matter, with state-of-the-art CGI based on both eyewitness accounts and government/military documentation.
When: Friday, Jan. 9 on History

10 Glee
Sixth-season, two-hour debut
Upon learning that Sue (Jane Lynch) has banished the arts at McKinley High, Rachel (Lea Michele) endeavours to re-establish the glee club. More and more of the old gang will return home to help. Thank goodness this is the final season.
When: Friday, Jan. 9 on Fox, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv​

Allen Leech of Downton Abbey warns: Use the wrong fork? You can be certain Maggie Smith will notice

- January 2nd, 2015

downton-abbey-season-4-allen-leech

All things are not created equal. It’s as true today as it was in the Downton Abbey era a hundred years ago.

Allen Leech, who plays chauffeur-turned-awkward-aristocrat Tom Branson in Downton Abbey, has some first-hand experience in this regard.

Alastair Bruce, our historical advisor, has always left me slightly outside the group in relation to etiquette,” Leech said. “I’ve never been given the full brief. So if you ever notice, sometimes I do accidentally pick up the wrong cutlery. And Tom should do it wrong.

“Actually, the best at this is Maggie (Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess), because she’ll throw a look. It’s often in the show, where I pick up the wrong cutlery, and she’ll go, ‘Hmmm.’ There’s a reason for that. She doesn’t do that accidentally. Because she knows. She sees it.

“But oh my God, she’s the most fun ever. Between takes, she has me in fits. We all make mistakes with our lines, but the first person to enjoy that and make fun of it is Maggie. It puts you at ease immediately. And when she does it, she’s the first to go, ‘Oh my God, this is going terribly.’ She is a legend, she really is.”

I should point out, Leech’s impression of Smith was shockingly good. But he has had quite a bit of time to work on it, with season five of Downton Abbey making its North American debut, Sunday, Jan. 4 on most PBS affiliates (the fifth season already has aired in the U.K.).

“What Julian (Fellowes, Downton Abbey creator) does so well is, you’ve got 22 characters, and he constantly keeps those plates spinning,” Leech said. “You constantly have 22 stories, really. So you’re always going to find someone to root for, and someone to hate, and someone you’re in the middle of the road about and you hope they come around.

“While there is a hierarchy within the story, there is no hierarchy within the story-telling. What Julian gives us is a platform. You have 22 characters who are given exactly the same amount of opportunity to show what they are as people.”

Leech’s Tom Branson certainly has shown many sides of himself through the first four seasons of Downton Abbey, which commenced in 1912 and has progressed to 1924. In season five, Tom basically has reached the peak of how high he can rise within the household, and with echoes of his past life calling to him, the question is what he does next.

“(Tom) has accepted that these people (the Crawleys) genuinely love him, and he loves them, they are his family,” Leech said. “He had to create this life around what was best for his daughter (following the death of Tom’s wife, Lady Sybil, who was played by Jessica Brown Findlay). But in relation to series five, you see Tom wrestle with what’s best in the future.”

While Leech admitted Downton Abbey has opened doors for him in the acting world that weren’t open previously, there remain some gender-related limits to the level of fame he has achieved.

“Myself and Rob (James-Collier, who plays Thomas Barrow) have been out numerous times as two members of the cast, and we don’t get recognized at all,” Leech said. “The women get recognized a lot more than we do.”

By “the women,” Leech is referring to the likes of Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, Joanne Froggatt, who plays Anna, Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith, Lily James, who plays Lady Rose, and Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy.

“I don’t know if that’s because women tend to follow the fashions a lot more, and the way the girls look, and the style,” Leech added. “We (the male cast members) don’t tend to get that at all. We go under the radar.”

But do you think Allen Leech would get noticed more often if he simply stopped using the wrong fork?

Somewhere, somehow, Maggie Smith just raised a subtly disapproving eyebrow.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Rockin’ Dave Clark Five doc will make you Glad All Over

- April 7th, 2014

The Dave Clark Five

No one else sounded like the Dave Clark Five, before or since.

That’s an accomplishment on its own, notwithstanding the substantial commercial success the Dave Clark Five enjoyed as part of the British Invasion in the 1960s. You can get a crash course in the band’s unique crash-and-bang style with the new documentary The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over, which airs April 8 and April 11 as part of the Great Performances series on most PBS affiliates (check local listings).

The doc includes interviews with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks, among many others. It was Hanks who passionately inducted the DC5 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Clark kept the rights to the DC5 music catalogue through the decades, and while that meant the band didn’t get robbed like many of its British Invasion contemporaries, Clark’s devotion to sound quality nonetheless cost the band some cash.

“The reason I took the catalogue off the market was Epic Records made (the records) into electronic stereo, which was terrible,” Clark recalled. “So I thought I would clear the market of all the vinyl, and then when the CD market took off, we would bring it out.

“It was never a monetary thing with me. It’s being protective of one’s creativity. If the records had stayed on the market, you get your publishing income, you get your record royalties. Maybe people thought I was a bit crazy, but I did what I believed in, and I think that’s what I’ve tried to do all my life.”

As stunning as the Dave Clark Five’s output was – 14 top-20 singles in the U.S., plus a record 18 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show – this might be the most rare and remarkable thing of all:

“We never had one legal letter between us,” Clark said proudly, referring to the members of the group.

Talk about Glad All Over.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Dave Clark 5, montage

Take a Turn into Silicon Valley and play a Game of Thrones with the Veep; TV must-sees for the week

- April 5th, 2014

Dragon in Game of Thrones

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 6

1 Game of Thrones
Fourth-season debut: Veterinary medicine figured out “dog years” versus “people years. But what of “dragon years?” When do dragons become adults? I’m just waiting for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to turn loose those fire-breathers.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2 Turn
Debut: Based on the book Washington’s Spies by historian Alexander Rose, this drama set in the 1770s tells the tale of fledgling new-world espionage as the American Revolution becomes a reality. With Jamie Bell, Heather Lind and Samuel Roukin.
When: Sunday on AMC

3 Silicon Valley
Debut: Created by Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis & Butt-Head), this live-action series is about nerdy but brilliant high-tech dudes who are on the cusp of successes they couldn’t possibly handle. Sort of The Big Bang Theory on steroids.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

4 Veep
Third-season debut: Last time we saw VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), she had been handed an opportunity to run for president in the next election. But she doesn’t exactly connect with everyday voters a la Rob Ford, as we soon will see.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

5 The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over
Debut: Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks are among those saluting the DC5 in this new documentary. With 14 top-20 hits in the U.S., the DC5 appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, more than any other British Invasion group.
When: Tuesday or Friday on most PBS affiliates

6 The Haves and the Have Nots
Canadian debut: Drama series from Tyler Perry is about a rich Georgia family and the servants who serve them. John Schneider – yes, from The Dukes of Hazzard – stars as a powerful judge and family patriarch who is leading a double life. Hey, who isn’t?
When: Tuesday on OWN

7 Jacked
Debut: Jeremy Patterson is the hurricane slayer. Well, no, he doesn’t stop hurricanes. But Patterson and his rag-tag team travel across the continent, raising hope by raising hurricane-damaged houses that many thought were beyond salvage. One inch at a time.
When: Monday on Discovery

8 Win, Lose or Draw
Canadian debut: A revamped version of the 1980s game show, this one is hosted by Justin Willman and features young and current Disney stars teaming up with kid contestants. This definitely is a more high-tech version than the original, though.
When: Monday on Family

9 Being Human
Series finale: It’s a wrap, folks, as this show has been cancelled. In the final episode, Sally (Meaghan Rath) makes a major sacrifice to stop her vision of Aidan (Sam Witwer) killing Josh (Sam Huntington) from coming true.
When: Monday on Space

10 Disaster Decks and Decked Out
Season-two/season-four debuts: One deck-based series wasn’t enough for Paul Lafrance. He needed two, with double episodes of each, airing back-to-back-to-back-to-back. This could lead to some crazy crossover episodes, with famous decks making guest-appearances on the other show.
When: Tuesday on HGTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The new Cosmos is lucky there’s a Family Guy

- March 7th, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson

A new version of Cosmos is coming to, uh, Fox.

Actually, it’s coming to Fox as well as Global, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild in Canada. But the point is, does Cosmos really fit on the home of Family Guy?

Not so fast, Earthling. Seth MacFarlane has a hand in both shows.

“I had always been a fan of (the original) Cosmos, I had seen it as a child, and then when I was in high school I saw it again and was able to process it in even more depth,” explained MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and one of the executive producers of the new Cosmos, which debuts Sunday, March 9.

“I met Neil (deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and author who hosts the new Cosmos and is pictured above) through an organization called the Science & Entertainment Exchange, and I found out he was working on a new Cosmos. I said that while the networks being considered to pitch to – National Geographic, Discovery Channel – are great networks, in a way you’re sort of preaching to the converted. Wouldn’t it be nice to broaden it even more?

“I thought there was a strong possibility that this particular regime at Fox, as creative and open-minded as they are, would be receptive. And sure enough, they were.”

So more than three decades after Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was Carl Sagan’s iconic exploration of the universe as revealed by science, we have Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. The new 13-part series is meant to be a successor.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of crossover, actually, even from the animated shows (on Fox and Global) to Cosmos,” MacFarlane said. “The show is presented very much in the spirit of the original in that you can’t really call it a documentary. It’s more a journey. It’s certainly educational, but it plays with the flavour, we hope, of a feature film.”

But not Ted.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv