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Signed, Sealed, Delivered follows the “letters” of the law

- April 19th, 2014

 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, cast pic

In real life, traditional mail delivery is dying in many communities across Canada and the U.S.

Alas, if only budgets allowed for the impossibly dedicated postal employees who are characterized on Signed, Sealed, Delivered, a new series that debuts Sunday, April 20 on M3 in Canada and on the Hallmark Channel (the show’s network of origin) in the United States.

I have to say, Signed, Sealed, Delivered has a unique tone to it. It’s kind of funny, kind of serious, kind of sad, kind of dangerous, kind of corny, kind of sweet, kind of romantic, kind of modern and kind of retro, with a Scooby-Doo mentality holding it all together.

After a made-for-TV movie aired last year, it was decided to expand Signed, Sealed, Delivered to a series, the first season of which consists of 10 episodes. It stars Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty), Kristin Booth (The Kennedys), Crystal Lowe (Smallville) and Geoff Gustafson (Primeval: New World) as civil servants who transform themselves into an elite team of dead-letter detectives.

For example, in the first episode of Signed, Sealed Delivered, a legendary postal supervisor – played by Valerie Harper – oversees the unraveling of a mystery behind a letter from a young boy whose life is in danger. The letter is addressed merely to “Gramma,” and the team must identify both the grandmother and the grandson before it’s too late.

Shot in Vancouver, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was created by Martha Williamson, who also was behind the long-running Touched By An Angel. Generally, if not specifically, there are some similarities, I suppose. Signed, Sealed, Delivered tugs at the heartstrings, but bad guys get caught and loved ones are reunited.

In that way, Signed, Sealed, Delivered brings a whole new meaning to “going postal.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Sean Cullen of Rocket Monkeys says today’s cartoons can’t simply “ape” the past

- January 8th, 2013

rocket monkeys - inside 2

You can’t have a cartoonish attitude toward cartoons any more.

They still can be funny. For example, that’s the point of Rocket Monkeys, a new Canadian animated series that debuts Thursday, Jan. 10 on Teletoon.

But as was pointed out by well-known Canadian comedian Sean Cullen, who is the voice of Gus on Rocket Monkeys, cartoons have come a long way since he was a kid, both creatively and technologically.

“When they used to make Scooby-Doo in the ’70s, kids would see it once and then they’d never see it again,” Cullen recalled. “Now you get it on DVD and watch it 100 times in a row, so it has to be better quality.

“It can’t just be, ‘Oh, it’ll go by so quickly that no one will know that Scooby’s foot disappeared.’ I used to watch Rocket Robin Hood. Every once in a while, someone’s arm moves. It was very basic.

“I watched a lot of cartoons when I was a kid, but they were quite stilted, and stiff, and the stories were quite predictable. These days some of the best writing for comedy and for speculative fiction is in animation. Some of the people we work with on Rocket Monkeys are some of the most talented writers in Canada.”

Besides Cullen’s Gus, Rocket Monkeys also features voice work from Mark Edwards (Wally) and Mark McKinney (Lord Peel). The series follows the cosmic exploits of primate siblings Gus and Wally, who inexplicably have been charged with carrying out important missions in space.

Cullen’s real-life face can be seen regularly these days on Match Game, which airs on the Comedy Network. On that show, Cullen is one of six panelists. But Cullen’s character on Rocket Monkeys is the one in charge. Just ask him.

“Gus is kind of the boss, if there is a boss of either of them,” Cullen said. “He’s the more bossy, pushy one.

“He’s the hero, or he sees himself as the hero, telling everybody how to behave. I kind of model his voice on Charlton Heston. Everything is so dramatic.”

Of course, Charlton Heston had a love-hate relationship with apes. But that’s a much darker tale (not a much darker tail).

Rocket Monkeys is all about fun, and sometimes the best fun can be had by taking something seriously.

“I think humour has taken leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, and animation has benefited from that,” Cullen said. “You realize how much more sophisticated humour has become. For example, The Flintstones (which first aired in primetime in the early 1960s) was aimed at the same kind of audience that in recent years has watched The Simpsons.

“The fact is, when adults take an interest in animation, it becomes better. It’s not just something for your kids to watch and to take up their time.

“And also, people finally have clued in that there’s a lot of money to be made with programming for kids.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca