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Winter Olympics, Super Bowl, Jay Leno; TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 2

- February 1st, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 2

1) Super Bowl
Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos meet Richard Sherman’s Seattle Seahawks in New Jersey. The weather could be nasty. Hope the power doesn’t go out. Oh wait, that happened last year.
When: Sunday on Fox, CTV

2) MasterChef Canada
Post-Super Bowl slot: The first Mystery Box Challenge takes place. You know, I really don’t like the word “mystery” associated with food. Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile judge.
When: Sunday on CTV

3) New Girl
Post-Super Bowl slot: A chance encounter gets Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Cece (Hannah Simone) an invite to a party at Prince’s mansion. Prince guest-stars as himself. Really, who else could he play?
When: Sunday on Fox, City

4) Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Post-post-Super Bowl slot: Jake (Andy Samberg) learns that Amy (Melissa Fumero) may be up for a new job. This rookie series recently won the Golden Globe award for best comedy.
When: Sunday on Fox, City

5) Downton Abbey
It’s gutsy to air a new episode of anything against the Super Bowl. There probably is more of a crossover audience than you think. Anyway, no surprise, Edith (Laura Carmichael) gets troubling news.
When: Sunday on PBS

6) Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony
Remember that old SCTV skit with Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas playing hosts on Soviet television? I’m betting the festivities from Sochi, Russia will be a little more elaborate than that.
When: Friday on CBC, NBC

7) The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks are the guests on Leno’s final Tonight Show. Yes, yes, we’ve heard that before. But Leno might actually be leaving this time. Jimmy Fallon takes over on Feb. 17.
When: Thursday on NBC, CTV Two

8) Saving Hope
When a couple is attacked by a bear, Alex (Erica Durance) and Charlie (Michael Shanks) start to suspect there’s more to the story. Like, who was the bear working for?
When: Thursday on CTV

9) The Best Laid Plans
Season finale: It’s time for the election, as Daniel (Jonas Chernick) finally confesses and Angus (Kenneth Welsh) is faced with some unexpected developments when he returns home.
When: Monday on CBC

10) Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful
Host Heidi Klum is joined by swimsuit icons Kate Upton, Tyra Banks, Marissa Miller, Kathy Ireland and Christie Brinkley. But to me, Brinkley forever will be Mrs. Jerry Gergich on Parks and Recreation.
When: Monday on NBC

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Howie “Longs” to be part of unique Super Bowl

- January 30th, 2014

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Here’s some sports-related irony for you.

The NHL can’t seem to schedule enough outdoor games. Fans of special events such as the Winter Classic love being out in the elements.

But some fans of the NFL, which is an outdoor league in many cities, are freaking out because it might be chilly or snowy for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The big game will air Sunday, Feb. 2 on Fox and CTV.

Um, they play games regularly at open-air stadiums in Green Bay and Cleveland and Buffalo, right? There was a regular-season game in Philadelphia this season where the players were plowing through a foot of snow.

I understand the Super Bowl isn’t just about the game, which this year features the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. But no one forced the NFL to schedule a cold-weather Super Bowl. They chose to do it, so everyone just has to deal with it.

“I think the unique thing about football – unlike baseball, basketball and hockey – is it’s not a best-of-five (series), best-of-seven – it’s one game, regardless of what the elements are,” said Fox Sports analyst Howie Long (pictured above second from right), himself a former Super Bowl champion.

“We’ve had (weather) elements in previous Super Bowls. It’s one of the things that I believe draws people to football. Does it impact the game from a quarterback perspective, maybe the receivers? Sure. But I think it embodies what football is really all about.

“And if I’m a player, do I want to be a part of winning a Super Bowl in that kind of an environment, a special, unique Super Bowl like that? Yeah, I do. I really do. Forty below, 20 below, driving rain, sleet, regardless. Whatever it is, bring it on, we’ll play in it.”

Easy to say for someone who’s going to be wearing a big coat and a scarf. But I get what Howie Long is saying. Bundle up and huddle up.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Sean and Catherine’s wedding is an American Horror Story at the Grammys? TV must-sees for the week

- January 26th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 26

1) Grammy Awards
Live: Paul McCartney (above right) and Ringo Starr (above left), the two surviving Beatles, will take the stage as the legendary band is honoured with a lifetime achievement award. Fab, but should have happened long ago, huh?
When: Sunday on CBS, City

2) American Horror Story: Coven
Third-season finale: Another campaign for this innovative and frightening series comes to a close. Which witch will rise as the new “supreme?” The last episode sets up as a kind of in-coven Super Bowl.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

3) Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials
Canadian viewers diverted by simulcasting often complain that they never get to see the American ads that air during the big game. Often it’s much ado about nothing, but here’s a chance to catch up.
When: Wednesday on CBS

4) Episodes
Frustrated by his current role and intrigued by an unexpected new opportunity, Matt (Matt LeBlanc) tries to convince Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tasmin Greig) to kill him off Pucks.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

5) The Following
Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) receives some mysterious phone calls – no, not from telemarketers – while information comes to light about the new life put together by Joe Carroll (James Purefoy).
When: Monday on Fox, CTV

6) Community
As Annie (Alison Brie) and Professor Hickey (Jonathan Banks) prepare the cafeteria for the mid-term dance, they must negotiate with Greendale’s head custodian, played by guest star Nathan Fillion.
When: Thursday on NBC, City

7) True Detective
Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) sets up Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) with a friend, which you know won’t go well. Meanwhile, parishioners identify a scarred man who was seen with the murder victim.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

8) Republic of Doyle
This represents the back end of a crossover-episode arrangement with Murdoch Mysteries. Yannick Bisson guest-stars as Bill Murdoch, a descendant of Detective William Murdoch.
When: Wednesday on CBC

9) 19-2
Debut: Set in Montreal, this is a 10-episode English-language adaptation of a French Canadian series. It’s about two reluctantly partnered beat cops, in this case played by Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes.
When: Wednesday on Bravo

10) The Bachelor: Sean and Catherine’s Wedding
Live: In this special presentation, Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici exchange vows in front of family, friends, paparazzi, gossip-mag reporters, hangers-on, puzzled passers-by, you know the drill.
When: Sunday on ABC, OMNI

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Host Arisa Cox keen to bring some sporty spice to Big Brother Canada

- February 22nd, 2013

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Arisa Cox, sports reporter.

Okay, not literally.

But in her role as host of Big Brother Canada, which debuts Wednesday, Feb. 27 on Slice and Global, Cox will have to call upon some sports-reporting skills.

Think about it: Cox (pictured above) will be the one doing the exit interviews when contestants are booted from the Big Brother Canada house. It’s as if they’re athletes who have just lost the big game and have to face the media.

“That’s a perfect analogy, actually,” Cox said. “Because they’ve still got that adrenalin running through their systems.

And a lot of times when people are evicted from the house, they didn’t see it coming. For a viewer, those are the best evictions, for sure. But a lot of the contestants are really blindsided when it happens.

“So just like an athlete, they’re coming out of this extremely stressful situation. They’re already so overwhelmed from being in this surreal life experience, and then they pop out, and there’s a huge live studio audience, and cameras, and I’m there.”

That’s when Cox will have to be at her best, gauging what approach to take to get the most out of her interview subjects.

“There are millions of things going through their heads, but it’s a really good time to get at some of the meat of the drama that has happened in the house,” Cox said. “So I’m really excited to do those exit interviews.”

Cox described the Big Brother Canada hosting gig as the “perfect job” for her. It gives her an opportunity to call upon many of the things she has learned through her career, both on-camera and behind the scenes.

I think having come from a reality-show background myself (Cox was a house-guest in the first season of Canadian reality show The Lofters back in 2001), and before that journalism, I feel that you have to come at this with a fair amount of levity, because it is, of course, entertainment,” Cox said. “But at the same time, you do have to bring a certain amount of gravitas to it, because it is serious for the people in the house.

I think what I’m bringing to the table is a certain amount of empathy. Sympathy is not the right word, because I don’t feel sorry for anyone on this show. They’ve all volunteered with their eyes wide open, the (U.S. version) has been on TV, they know what they’re getting into. But that said, the second they’re in that house, and the applause has died down, and there’s nothing to do but talk and be with other people and interact, it becomes really real and a little bit scary.

“So I definitely have empathy for the people and what they’re going to be going through, because audience members get the wrong idea that it’s easy. It’s a hard, hard thing these guys are going to do.”

As hard as trying to win the Stanley Cup or the Grey Cup or the Super Bowl or the World Series?

Well, the reporting side of it is very similar. But at least Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox won’t have to venture into a sweaty locker room.

* Want to know who the Big Brother Canada contestants are? Click here. *

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

CTV hopes to “Motive-ate” viewers with post-Super Bowl premiere

- January 29th, 2013

Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn in Motive

The Motive is the message.

But how will the message be received by a viewing public that claims it wants something new, yet often sticks with the tried and true?

That’s the challenge for the Canadian series Motive, which debuts Sunday, Feb. 3, in the plum time slot following the Super Bowl on CTV.

Through the years we all have seen enough police procedurals – the CSI franchise, the Law & Order franchise, etc. – to understand the basic format. But Motive takes that dramatic model and twists it.

In each episode of Motive, viewers are told fairly quickly who “the killer” is and who “the victim” is. What we don’t know is “why?”

How are the killer and the victim connected? What were the circumstances that led the former to murder the latter?

That’s where Vancouver homicide Detective Angie Flynn, played by Kristin Lehman, enters the fray.

Angie and her team – Detective Oscar Vega (played by Louis Ferreira), Detective Brian Lucas (played by Brendan Penny), Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom (played by Roger Cross) and Dr. Betty Rogers (played by Lauren Holly) – spend each episode piecing together what happened. Therefore, until the very end, the team always is more “in the dark” than the audience, which already knows who committed the crime.

The first episode of Motive focuses on a creepy, picked-upon high school kid in a marching band (do Canadian high schools even have those? Isn’t that an American thing?).

When we first see the victim, an adult, he’s singing in a karaoke bar. The connection between the two, and the reasons for what occurs, certainly can’t be predicted or foreseen at first blush, so that’s a good thing.

I had a few different reactions to the debut episode of Motive.

First, it looks great. The production values are top-notch.

And I did like the two leads, Lehman and Ferreira. Lehman has kind of a Marg Helgenberger thing goin’ on, while veteran Ferreira is good in everything he does (including a recent guest spot on AMC’s Breaking Bad). However, I hope it’s not a pattern moving forward that Oscar thinks everyone is guilty and Angie thinks everyone is innocent.

Cinematography and characters aside, Motive‘s format can be disorienting when it comes to sustained attention.

I was interested in the first 10 minutes. I was interested in the last 10 minutes. But that left 20 minutes in the middle where I kind of drifted away, since I already knew who the killer was. It felt like there was some padding going on, and I’m not at all interested in the side story about Angie’s troubled teen.

Those middle 20 minutes also jump around in time, because much of the story has to be told through flashbacks. It never was confusing, that would be overstating it. But it can be a tad dizzying if you’re not right on top of it, which, as I stated earlier, is an issue.

Kudos to Motive for trying something new. A straight-forward police procedural in 2013 would seem at least five years behind the times.

What we’re about to find out is whether the world is open to a police procedural that doesn’t follow procedure.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv