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I see a red door and I want it painted (Orphan) Black

- April 14th, 2014

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Orphan Black. Orange is the New Black. The Blacklist.

Are you sensing a theme here?

It seems as if the entire entertainment landscape has been painted black. Didn’t the Rolling Stones predict this in a song close to 50 years ago?

Regardless, the real subject at hand this week is Orphan Black, which returns for its second season Saturday, April 19 on Space in Canada and on BBC America in the United States.

Through its first season and in the subsequent months leading up to season two, Orphan Black has become one of those weird shows that retains its cool cult status, and yet everyone is talking about it.

Orphan Black exists as both a secret club and a mainstream media monster. It’s a niche show that everybody knows. Or at least, they know of it. With all the positive publicity, surely everyone involved with Orphan Black will be hoping for big ratings with the new campaign.

Orphan Black is a clone-based conspiracy thriller that stars Regina native Tatiana Maslany, who plays multiple roles. And more are coming. Sheesh, there must be some very long days on set where Maslany curses the modern filming technology that makes this all possible.

Maslany obviously was deserving of the accolades she received for season one. She won a TCA award, a Canadian Screen Award, a Critics’ Choice award, a Young Hollywood award and was nominated for a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice award (hey Emmys, do you think you missed something?).

In season two, while the bond remains strong between the core characters, they’ve all made choices that have dire consequences. That leaves main character Sarah (played by Maslany, or course) to navigate a dangerous world of new enemies and shifting allegiances.

Hmmm, sounds pretty dark. Black, even.

As Mick Jagger once sang, “No colours any more, I want them to turn black.” Orphan Black, that is.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Mad Men and Orphan Black’s clones visit Fargo; must-sees for the week of April 13

- April 11th, 2014

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 13

1 Orphan Black
Season-two debut: Clone-based series sees Tatiana Maslany returning in her signature role as Sarah. And Rachel. And Cosima. And Alison. And on and on and on. I hope Maslany is getting paid accordingly.
When: Saturday on Space

2 Fargo
Debut: This is not a direct remake of the Academy Award-winning movie, but rather a new story, “inspired by” the original. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, a dangerous drifter with a cruel sense of humour.
When: Tuesday on FX Canada and FXX Canada

3 Mad Men
Seventh-season debut: This technically is the final “season” for this acclaimed series, but it’s airing over two years, just like Breaking Bad. Last we saw Don Draper (Jon Hamm, pictured above), he was out of a job. Poor ugly schmuck.
When: Sunday on AMC

4 MTV Movie Awards
Live: Conan O’Brien hosts yet another annual hardware handout. So does this officially bring an end to “awards season?” Regardless, scheduled presenters include Kate Upton and Mila Kunis, so count me in.
When: Sunday on MTV

5 Vegas Rat Rods
Debut: No, this isn’t about an infestation of rats in Sin City and the questionable methods used to control them. Rather, it focuses on a company called Welder Up, which specializes in crazy vehicles known as “rat rods.”
When: Thursday on Discovery

6 When Calls the Heart
Canadian debut: Family drama based on a book series by Janette Oke, this stars Erin Krakow as Elizabeth Thatcher, a 19th-century, high-society teacher suddenly living in a coal town. Also with Lori Loughlin.
When: Wednesday on Super Channel

7 Mom
First-season finale: Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) try to help an emotional Violet (Sadie Calvano) through labour. This series has been renewed, so time to buy some cutesy baby clothes.
When: Monday on CBS, City

8 Unusually Thicke
Debut with back-to-back episodes: This is a reality show with Alan Thicke, his young wife Tanya, and his three sons, including pop star Robin Thicke. I’ll bet Robin gets into more mischief than Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains.
When: Wednesday on Slice

9 Californication
Debut of seventh and final season: As usual, Hank (David Duchovny) is desperate to reunite with his eternal love Karen (Natascha McElhone), while Charlie (Evan Handler) is overcome by performance anxiety.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

10 Nurse Jackie
Sixth-season debut: Jackie (Edie Falco) is “using” again. And lo and behold, she is getting her drugs at the gym. You know, this show seemed a lot more daring and shocking before Rob Ford dulled our senses.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

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

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

Friends With Better Lives win Juno Awards while Inside Amy Shumer; TV must-sees for the week of March 30

- March 29th, 2014

Cristin Milioti, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Bob Saget

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 30

1 Juno Awards
Live: Co-hosted by Serena Ryder, Johnny Reid and Classified, scheduled performers include Arcade Fire (taped), Tegan and Sara, Sarah McLachlan, Robin Thicke, the Sheepdogs and Thunderface (kudos if you get that joke).
When: Sunday on CTV

2 How I Met Your Mother
Series finale (cast pictured above): There are many rumours and theories about what might be revealed, some of them quite dark. Here’s hoping Ted (Josh Radnor) and “the mother” (Cristin Milioti) aren’t facing some horrible tragedy. It’s a sitcom, people!
When: Monday on CBS, City

3 Friends With Better Lives
Debut: New sitcom following the How I Met Your Mother series finale that clearly wants to be the next How I Met Your Mother, albeit a notably dirtier one. With Kevin Connolly, Brooklyn Decker and James Van Der Beek, among others.
When: Monday on CBS, City

4 Short Poppies
Debut: This eight-episode series sees Rhys Darby – who you will remember as hapless band manager Murray Hewitt on Flight of the Conchords – playing multiple characters in a “mockumentary” about ordinary New Zealanders.
When: Thursday on Netflix

5 The Late Late Show/The Price is Right
It’s an April Fool’s switcheroo, as Drew Carey and Craig Ferguson swap jobs. Note that Carey hosts The Late Late Show in the early hours of Tuesday, a.k.a. late Monday night, with Ferguson hosting The Price is Right on Tuesday morning.
When: Tuesday on CBS, OMNI/CBS, City

6 Inside Amy Schumer
Season-two debut: Another 10-episode campaign for this combination sketch/standup/interview series gets off to a purposely awkward start, as Amy’s characters marry a black guy, lose a tennis match and try to pray away a nasty case of herpes.
When: Tuesday on Comedy

7 Dragons’ Den
Eighth-season finale: The Dragons hit the road to surprise some of the show’s most memorable pitchers. Have the people who landed deals succeeded or failed? And what of those who were turned down but were convinced the Dragons got it wrong?
When: Wednesday on CBC

8 Raising Hope
Series finale: Back-to-back new episodes wrap up this underrated series after four seasons. In the first episode, Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol guest-stars. In the second, Kenny Loggins makes a musical appearance, playing himself.
When: Friday on Fox, City

9 Intelligence
First-season finale: Riley (Meghan Ory) and Gabriel (Josh Holloway) are shocked to learn there are foreign sleeper agents embedded in the U.S. government, and even more shocked when the identities of the spies are revealed.
When: Monday on CBS, CTV Two

10 Family Guy
An ad executive guest-voiced by Peter Dinklage asks Peter Griffin (voice of Seth MacFarlane) to be the face of an anti-smoking campaign, as long as he continues to smoke. Sheesh, and I thought Game of Thrones was complicated.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv