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Jack Bauer gets the hoop and the harm with the new 24

- May 5th, 2014

Kiefer Sutherland, episodic two

Basketball coaches talk all the time about “clock management.”

But in terms of scripted TV, “clock management” never has been more important than it is with the return of 24.

Fully titled 24: Live Another Day, the acclaimed action series starring Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer adopts a new format beginning Monday, May 5 on Fox and Global. This new season of 24 will be only 12 hours long, as opposed to the 24-hour format that gave the series its title and its hook from 2001 to 2010.

“I anticipate and have every expectation that we’re going to maintain the quality we’ve had for 24,” executive producer Howard Gordon said. “But (the original 24-hour format, meaning 24 one-hour episodes) was a marathon and it was really, really punishing.

“This (new 12-hour format) felt like we could catch our breaths a little bit. We felt like we could craft this.”

The path to 24: Live Another Day was a circuitous one. When 24 ended as a yearly TV series in 2010, there immediately was talk of a feature film. The alleged negotiations and rumours went on for years.

But for whatever reason (financial, likely), it has proven easier to reboot the TV show than to get a movie off the ground. All those involved say the idea of a movie isn’t dead, but maybe those are the same people who still are waiting for an Arrested Development movie.

Regardless of a future movie, or the past, Gordon said 24: Live Another Day is a stand-alone story.

“It’s part of our task, obviously, to make the narrative abundantly clear to people who are watching for the first time,” Gordon said. “Those who were with us for eight seasons are rewarded for their knowledge, but it’s not a requirement.”

However, good “clock management” is a requirement. Don’t be a “chucker,” Jack Bauer.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Here comes the Sunday; John Oliver targets television’s “week spot”

- April 27th, 2014

John Oliver, Last Week Tonight

One only can assume the difference between “daily” and “weekly” will not be lost upon John Oliver.

So this should be a breeze, right?

I’m just kidding. In some ways, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver may be harder to put together than The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, because the choices of what to include may be tougher.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which debuts Sunday, April 27 on HBO Canada – the same date as HBO in the United States – is being billed as a weekly satirical look at the events of the previous week. So, it’s kind of what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report do now on a nightly basis, snugly stuffed into a once-a-week format.

Oliver, of course, previously was a regular contributor to The Daily Show, as the “senior British correspondent” beginning in 2006. Then Oliver really proved his mettle in the summer of 2013, as he filled in as host of The Daily Show for eight weeks when Stewart was off directing a movie.

Oliver, who also has a recurring role as Professor Ian Duncan on the sitcom Community, obviously was impressive enough hosting The Daily Show that HBO snapped him up. Sometimes timing is everything.

It was in December 2013 that HBO announced it had hired Oliver for this new weekly gig. But then just a few weeks ago in early April 2014, David Letterman suddenly announced he’s retiring from The Late Show, and Stephen Colbert has been hired as Letterman’s replacement, starting some time in 2015.

You just wonder, had HBO not hired Oliver, would he at this moment be the No. 1 candidate to take over Colbert’s time slot?

Well, at least John Oliver has to put on a tie and perform in front of the cameras only once a week now.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Vikings, Musketeers and Americans argue about Who Lives Here? TV must-sees for the week of April 27

- April 27th, 2014

agents-of-shield-cobie-smulders

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 27

1) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Debut: With the Jon Stewarts, Stephen Colberts and Bill Mahers of the world, we know there’s a market for this kind of show from Monday to Friday. The question is, what about Sundays?
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Canadian Cobie Smulders (pictured above), who was in the pilot episode of this series, returns now that How I Met Your Mother is over. She is welcomed back by someone holding up a blue French horn. I kid, I kid.
When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

3) About a Boy
Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) is excited when his dad (guest-star Tony Hale) makes a surprise visit, but Will (David Walton) has to smooth the path for some much-needed father-son bonding.
When: Tuesday on NBC, Wednesday on Global

4) 24: Live Another Day: Jack is Back
Debut: That’s a lot of colons. But if you just can’t wait the extra 48 hours and need to get a fix, this is a “sneak peek” of the return of 24, with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast members.
When: Saturday on Fox, Global

5) Vikings
Second-season finale: Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and King Horik (Donal Logue) return, and Ragnar is forced to consider some new alliances. You know, Ragnar doesn’t really do the “trust” thing all that well.
When: Thursday on History

6) Fargo
Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) flips the script on the blackmail operation, and predictably there are complications and repercussions when Lester (Martin Freeman) returns to his job selling insurance.
When: Tuesday on FXX Canada

7) The Musketeers
Debut, sort of: So this show debuted last Sunday on BBC Canada, but the more widely available Showcase is airing it a week behind. Are these slick swordsmen purposely trying to confuse us?
When: Sunday on Showcase

8) Who Lives Here?
Debut: This tests how well people’s personalities match their homes. In each episode, five strangers tour each other’s living spaces, and then they must match the right house to the right person.
When: Monday on W

9) The Following
Second-season finale: This was one of the biggest-buzz new series last season, but not so much in season two. I still think it was a mistake to bring back Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). It lowered the stakes.
When: Monday on Fox, CTV

10) The Americans
The Spies are Alright? Won’t Get Turned Again? Reagan, Can You Hear Me? (Compromising) Pictures of Lily? This episode features a new song co-written by Pete Townshend of The Who.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Canada’s Smartest Person: Competition or job fair?

- April 22nd, 2014

capture dyakowski

When you first hear CBC is seeking Canada’s Smartest Person, it sounds like a job posting to run the CBC.

But despite the challenges facing CBC with regard to government budget cuts and the loss of the NHL contract to Rogers, how you parlay the title of Canada’s Smartest Person into other successes will be up to you.

Canada’s Smartest Person, which aired as a two-hour special in 2012, is returning to CBC this fall as a nine-episode series. It will be taped in front of a live studio audience.

The application process currently is under way, having begun last week and remaining open until June 15. But waiting until the last minute would not be, um, a smart thing to do. Details are available at cbc.ca/smartestperson.

Applicants must be 16 years of age or older as of January 2014. So no annoying whiz-kids, please.

Canada’s Smartest Person is based upon the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which in recent years has endeavored to redefine what it means to be smart. According to the theory, there are six main categories of intelligence: Logical, visual, physical, linguistic, musical and social. Most people have strength in two or three of these areas, but few excel in all of them.

Which essentially means, you don’t necessarily have to be a rocket scientist. Back in 2012, Peter Dyakowski – an offensive lineman with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, pictured above – emerged with the title of Canada’s Smartest Person.

Dyakowski now has a corner office at CBC. I kid, I kid. But nonetheless, being named Canada’s Smartest Person would be a pretty impressive thing to put on a resume.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Devious Maids clean up after a Bad Teacher in Salem? TV must-sees for the week

- April 20th, 2014

Ari Graynor in Bad Teacher

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 20

1 Bad Teacher
Debut: Based on the Cameron Diaz film, this stars Ari Graynor (pictured above) as a former trophy wife masquerading as a teacher. Wait a minute, isn’t there already a show called Trophy Wife? I’m so confused.
When: Thursday on CBS, Global

2 Devious Maids
Season-two debut: More sexy clashes between the rich and not-so-rich. Marisol (Ana Ortiz) finds a new love, while Zoila (Judy Reyes) discovers that Valentina (Edy Ganem) has returned from Africa.
When: Sunday on Lifetime

3 Salem
Debut: This is a new take on the infamous witch trials of the 17th century, exploring intriguing theories as to why they actually may have taken place. Stars Janet Montgomery and Shane West.
When: Sunday on Space

4 Parks and Recreation
One-hour, sixth-season finale: Leslie (Amy Poehler) ponders her future while Ron (Nick Offerman) has another run-in with ex-wife Tammy 2 (Megan Mullally). Michelle Obama guest-stars.
When: Thursday on NBC

5 Tracy Morgan: Bona Fide
Canadian debut: Standup special sees Morgan performing in his home town of Brooklyn, talking about everything from growing up in the projects to the time he had to be, um, removed from Prince’s house.
When: Saturday on Comedy

6 Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Debut: If you’ve ever wondered what happens to “dead letters,” well, this is not a documentary. Rather, it’s a new series about ridiculously dedicated postal people, starring Eric Mabius and Kristin Booth.
When: Sunday on M3

7 Veep
Dan (Reid Scott) tries to minimize the impact of a Saturday Night Live sketch about Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) just as she is preparing to announce her candidacy for president of the United States.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

8 Black Box
Debut: Kelly Reilly stars as Dr. Catherine Black, a world-famous neurologist intent on unraveling the mysteries of the human brain. But she is hiding the fact that she’s bipolar. Is that good thinking?
When: Thursday on ABC

9 The Returned
Canadian debut: This creepy series from France allegedly breaks conventional zombie stereotypes. I’m just stunned we’re living in a world where conventional zombie stereotypes exist.
When: Saturday on Space

10 True Tori
Debut: I’m not going to lie, while it really doesn’t affect my life one way or the other, I don’t quite get the endless fascination people have with Tori Spelling. What is this, reality show No. 90210 for her?
When: Tuesday on Lifetime

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv