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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

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

Hide your valuables, Britain; more Vikings are coming

- March 25th, 2014

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This is really, really bad news if you happen to live in a British coastal village.

Vikings has been given an early renewal for a third season, only four episodes into its second season on History. The announcement came Tuesday.

The third season will consist of 10 episodes, as does season two, which wraps up May 1. Season one was only nine episodes, but the response to the series was swift and positive.

According to Shaw Media, the first season of Vikings was the No. 1 specialty drama of 2013 on Canadian TV, and season two currently is the No. 1 Canadian specialty drama in multiple key demos, not to mention being the No. 1 program on History.

Written and created by Michael Hirst, Vikings is an international co-production that centres on Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel, pictured above). Ragnar is a restless Scandinavian warrior and family man – multiple families, actually – who longs to find and conquer new lands by sailing west. But his wanderlust has put his own lands back home in peril, as we have seen in season two.

Filling out the ensemble cast are Clive Standen, Katheryn Winnick, Donal Logue, Gustaf Skarsgard, Alyssa Sutherland, Linus Roache, Jessalyn Gilsig, George Blagden and Alexander Ludwig.

So beware, monks of Britain. Hide your valuables. More Vikings are on the way.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Bomb Girls consult The Audience about Surviving Jack; TV must-sees for the week of March 23

- March 23rd, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 23

1 Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy
Finale: In a two-hour made-for-TV movie to wrap up this previously cancelled series, it’s the spring of 1943, and Gladys (Jodi Balfour, pictured above right) covertly is recruited to sniff out a traitorous saboteur working at Victory Munitions.
When: Thursday on Global

2 Girls
Third-season finale: Self-obsessed Hannah (Lena Dunham) gets some news that could change the direction of her stalled career on the very day that her boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) is set to debut on Broadway.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

3 Surviving Jack
Debut: It’s the early 1990s – that’s what the music tells us, anyway – in this sitcom about a gruff dad, played by Christopher Meloni, who suddenly must take more of a day-to-day interest in the lives of his teenage kids.
When: Thursday on Fox, CTV

4 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
First-season finale: An investigation by Jake (Andy Samberg) into a popular civic leader is shut down by higher-ups. When Jake won’t drop it, there could be serious consequences – well, “sitcom serious,” anyway.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

5 Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge
Debut: Cookie Monster had to start somewhere. This reality-competition series sees 10 hopeful innovators vying for jobs in magical Muppet-land. One of the judges is Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson.
When: Tuesday on Space

6 Kroll Show
Second-season finale: Sketches include the PR tag team known as PubLizity (Kroll and Jenny Slate) organizing a red-carpet gala for Blisteritos. Also, C-Czar graduates from Dad Academy and Rich Dicks throw a party.
When: Tuesday on Much

7 Kids’ Choice Awards
Live: This 27th annual event is hosted by Mark Wahlberg, who is no kid any more. But the focus of the evening will be all those pop-culture things that most adults likely don’t understand, and the second you do understand them, they’re passe.
When: Saturday on YTV, Nickelodeon

8 Charley Boorman’s Extreme Frontiers: South Africa
Debut: As a follow-up to his cross-country adventures in Canada, Boorman and producer/director Russ Malkin embark upon a similar trek in distinctly different territory. To sum up, fewer polar bears, more tigers.
When: Wednesday on Discovery World

9 Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan
Second-season debut: The host embarks upon a Kenyan safari to track down the aggressive and deadly giant spitting cobra. And for anyone who didn’t see the first season, yes, Monaghan is doing this on purpose.
When: Tuesday on OLN

10 The Audience
Debut: Faced with life-changing decisions, individuals volunteer to have their situations scrutinized by 50 strangers. At the end of each episode, a verdict is delivered. Because group choices always are the best choices … right?
When: Thursday on W

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv