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The Killing, The Quest, Sharknado 2 and Hell on Wheels; TV’s must-sees for the week of July 27

- July 27th, 2014

Sharknado 2

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

1) The Killing
Debut of fourth and final season: Sarah (Mireille Enos) made a really questionable decision at the end of season three. She always has been really tough, but is she tough enough to live with what she did?
When: Friday on Netflix

2) Sharknado 2: The Second One
Debut: It’s fin-tastic. See it with a chum. More bite for your buck. Something to chew on. Give it a hand. Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are back to battle double shark storms headed for New York City.
When: Wednesday on Space

3) Hell on Wheels
Fourth-season debut: Awaiting the birth of his baby, Cullen (Anson Mount) toils under the thumb of The Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl), while Durant (Colm Meaney) feels the chill after an icy miscalculation.
When: Saturday on AMC

4) The Quest
Debut: This sounds like a reality-competition series for Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings geeks, as 12 contestants are transported into an imaginative realm, with ogres and dragons and a dark lord.
When: Thursday on ABC, City

5) Running Wild With Bear Grylls
Debut: Bear leads actor Zac Efron on a survival journey into the Northeast Appalachian mountain range. But then Zac dances his way out of it, dammit! Take that, danger! East High forever!
When: Monday on NBC, Global

6) The Bridge
Marco (Demian Bichir) gains a new ally while discovering that cartel leader Fausto (Ramon Franco) has a wider reach than anticipated. Meanwhile, a disruption at a local bank provides new intel.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

7) The Leftovers
A hate crime tests the resolve of Laurie (Amy Brenneman), while Kevin (Justin Theroux) turns down an offer of assistance and Matt (Christopher Eccleston) brings his pulpit to the street.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

8) Masters of Sex
When Bill (Michael Sheen) delivers a baby with ambiguous genitalia, he encourages the parents not to surgically assign a gender. Meanwhile, Virginia (Lizzy Caplan) learns about Bill’s troubled childhood.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Movie Central

9) Under the Dome
After a bad plan by Big Jim (Dean Norris) and Rebecca (Karla Crome) leaves the town divided, Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) takes over as leader of Chester’s Mill. But that’s not actually a paid position any more.
When: Monday on CBS, Global

10) Masters of Illusion
Debut: Hosted by Dean Cain, this series features illusionists performing everything from sleight-of-hand to great escapes, all in front of a live studio audience. I watched it. Or did I?
When: Friday on CW

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Abba and Queen have nothing on Jaime Murray as Defiance returns for season 2

- June 13th, 2014

Jaime Murray as Stahma Tarr in Defiance, two

Whenever I see the science fiction series Defiance, I think it looks like all the music videos from the 1970s and 1980s rolled into one.

“I know!” said actress Jaime Murray, who plays Stahma Tarr. “There was a scene recently where, just the way they were shooting it, I thought, ‘My God, we look like Abba, or Queen.’ ”

Well, whether or not there’s a musical episode coming up at some point, Defiance returns for its second season, Thursday, June 19 on Showcase in Canada and on Syfy in the United States. As for Abba and Queen particularly, I imagine Stahma Tarr’s favourite songs might be The Winner Takes it All from the former and Under Pressure from the latter.

Defiance is set in a future world that has been radically transformed by the arrival of several alien races. Murray – who, prior to this series, probably was best known to TV audiences for her portrayal of Lila, the main antagonist in the second season of Dexter – plays a member of an alien race known as the Castithans.

The Castithans have the most striking look in Defiance, with their long white hair and bleach-white skin. Remember the band Nelson? Just pretend there were more than two of them and you’ll be on the right track.

“(The makeup) is a huge part of the job, it takes two hours in the morning to put it on, and then an hour to get it off, because you don’t just pull off the wig, it’s glued on,” Murray said. “After season one, I felt as if I had been home for a good two or three months before I got the white residue fully out of my skin.

“I actually do quite a lot of Pilates when I’m up in Toronto (where Defiance is shot), and the Reformer machines and the mats are all black. So the instructors always know when I’ve been in, because there are all these white Jaime shapes and marks everywhere. It’s like a chalk outline.

“I couldn’t commit a crime while I’m filming. Everyone would know it was me very easily.”

For Murray’s character in Defiance, however, getting things done without calling attention to herself has been her specialty. But there’s a striking scene in the first episode of the new season where Stahma’s icy resolve will give you a whole new way of thinking about the character.

“You see that steely moment in the first episode and you just know there’s more to come,” Murray said. “It’s quite frightening when somebody has been so repressed culturally and psychologically for such a long time. You don’t know how angry she is and what’s going to come out of that, but you definitely have a feeling that it’s not going to be good.”

Murray also has the added burden of having to speak an alien language, in addition to English, in Defiance. Jaime, please tell me you just make that up on the spot. That would be so cool.

“No! I don’t make it up on the spot!” Murray said with a laugh.

“You’d think that you could, because it’s gobbledygook. But it’s so well thought out, and there’s such a rhythm and a symmetry and there are certain vowels that just sound like Castithan vowels. I learn it from these recordings, and if I get a syllable wrong, I’m like, ‘Damn, I messed it up,’ and I go back to the beginning.”

Considering the makeup and the language, I sure hope Jaime Murray is getting paid in future “adjusted for inflation” dollars.

“I should get paid more than the other actors!” she said. “The amount of time I spend learning Castithan and being painted head to toe in white, surely there has to be more compensation than the human characters. The humans have it so easy.

“I’m like Pinocchio. I go in and by the third episode every season, I’m like, ‘I just want to be a real girl.’ ”

Hmmm … what’s the Castithan word for “renegotiate?”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Spring TV lineup: It’s not just for finales any more

- May 2nd, 2014

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Big TV debuts can “spring” up any time.

Spring used to be reserved for overwrought season finales and the arrival of crappy summer shows. But now there can be major debuts in May and June, as the jockeying for competitive advantage intensifies. Even as the weather warms up, here are some offerings to keep you inside. Keep in mind, networks can change broadcast dates at their whim, so check local listings as things approach:

24: Live Another Day
May 5 on Fox, Global
Jack is back. And as usual, he ain’t happy.

Louie
May 5 on FX Canada
Louis C.K. is back. And as usual, he’s confused.

Penny Dreadful
May 11 on The Movie Network, Movie Central
Horror series stars Josh Hartnett, Eva Green and Timothy Dalton.

Rosemary’s Baby
May 11 on NBC
Two-part mini-series based on the 1967 novel/1968 movie.

Rookie Blue
May 19 on Global
This show has displayed great resilience, heading into season five.

The Maya Rudolph Show
May 19 on NBC
A variety special. Say what?

Gang Related
May 22 on Fox
Action drama about L.A. police battling gangs.

Labyrinth
May 22 on CW
Time-jumping historical mini-series seeks the Holy Grail.

Undateable
May 29 on NBC
New sitcom from creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town).

Derek
May 30 on Netflix
Second season of nursing home-set series starring Ricky Gervais.

Crossbones
May 30 on NBC, Global
It’s a pirate’s life for John Malkovich.

Halt and Catch Fire
June 1 on AMC
About the computer revolution, set in the early ’80s.

Mistresses
June 2 on ABC, CTV
Second season of sultry series starring Alyssa Milano.

Orange is the New Black
June 6 on Netflix
Prison does not improve with time.

Defiance
June 19 on Showcase
Second season of sci-fi series starring Grant Bowler.

True Blood
June 22 on HBO Canada
The final blood-sucking season.

Falling Skies
June 26 on Super Channel
The skies are still falling, apparently.

Reckless
June 29 on CBS, Global
Sexy legal drama set in South Carolina.

The Leftovers
June 29 on HBO Canada
After the “Rapture,” these folks didn’t make the cut.

Under the Dome
June 30 on CBS, Global
Were they spared our nasty winter under that thing?

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Take a Turn into Silicon Valley and play a Game of Thrones with the Veep; TV must-sees for the week

- April 5th, 2014

Dragon in Game of Thrones

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 6

1 Game of Thrones
Fourth-season debut: Veterinary medicine figured out “dog years” versus “people years. But what of “dragon years?” When do dragons become adults? I’m just waiting for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to turn loose those fire-breathers.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2 Turn
Debut: Based on the book Washington’s Spies by historian Alexander Rose, this drama set in the 1770s tells the tale of fledgling new-world espionage as the American Revolution becomes a reality. With Jamie Bell, Heather Lind and Samuel Roukin.
When: Sunday on AMC

3 Silicon Valley
Debut: Created by Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis & Butt-Head), this live-action series is about nerdy but brilliant high-tech dudes who are on the cusp of successes they couldn’t possibly handle. Sort of The Big Bang Theory on steroids.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

4 Veep
Third-season debut: Last time we saw VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), she had been handed an opportunity to run for president in the next election. But she doesn’t exactly connect with everyday voters a la Rob Ford, as we soon will see.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

5 The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over
Debut: Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks are among those saluting the DC5 in this new documentary. With 14 top-20 hits in the U.S., the DC5 appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, more than any other British Invasion group.
When: Tuesday or Friday on most PBS affiliates

6 The Haves and the Have Nots
Canadian debut: Drama series from Tyler Perry is about a rich Georgia family and the servants who serve them. John Schneider – yes, from The Dukes of Hazzard – stars as a powerful judge and family patriarch who is leading a double life. Hey, who isn’t?
When: Tuesday on OWN

7 Jacked
Debut: Jeremy Patterson is the hurricane slayer. Well, no, he doesn’t stop hurricanes. But Patterson and his rag-tag team travel across the continent, raising hope by raising hurricane-damaged houses that many thought were beyond salvage. One inch at a time.
When: Monday on Discovery

8 Win, Lose or Draw
Canadian debut: A revamped version of the 1980s game show, this one is hosted by Justin Willman and features young and current Disney stars teaming up with kid contestants. This definitely is a more high-tech version than the original, though.
When: Monday on Family

9 Being Human
Series finale: It’s a wrap, folks, as this show has been cancelled. In the final episode, Sally (Meaghan Rath) makes a major sacrifice to stop her vision of Aidan (Sam Witwer) killing Josh (Sam Huntington) from coming true.
When: Monday on Space

10 Disaster Decks and Decked Out
Season-two/season-four debuts: One deck-based series wasn’t enough for Paul Lafrance. He needed two, with double episodes of each, airing back-to-back-to-back-to-back. This could lead to some crazy crossover episodes, with famous decks making guest-appearances on the other show.
When: Tuesday on HGTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Stephanie Leonidas “faces” facts about her freaky alien character in Defiance

- April 10th, 2013

DEFIANCE_510x317

Stephanie Leonidas recalls the first time she ventured onto the set of Defiance without her alien headgear.

I went on set one day without my prosthetic, to watch a scene, and nobody recognized me,” said Leonidas, who is pictured above left.

And it wasn’t as if Leonidas was brand new to the cast.

It was really funny, because it was, like, two months into shooting,” she said.

Well, it’s certainly true that Irisa Nyira – Leonidas’ character in Defiance – has a look all her own.

Defiance, which debuts across Canada Monday, April 15 on Showcase (and also on Syfy in the United States), is another science fiction series set in a post-apocalyptic world. Why is the future always so bad in science fiction?

Anyway, Defiance in this case is a place – kind of a futuristic wild-west frontier town – set atop the ruins of St. Louis.

Earth has been changed forever by the arrival of seven unique alien races. All of these alien races, not to mention the humans who have survived, are not exactly living in peace and harmony.

Irisa, an alien known as an “Irathient,” has been raised by a human named Joshua Nolan, played by Grant Bowler (pictured above right). Their unconventional alliance faces many dangers, and Irisa has grown up with the general understanding that basically everything and everyone is a threat.

“Irisa is young and she has always just known her life to be her and Nolan,” said Leonidas, who is from Britain. “Suddenly she is surrounded by lots of different characters, human and alien (in the town of Defiance), and she is having to adapt to that.

Irisa doesn’t really want to interact with the other characters at first, and she eventually has to. I hope a lot of people will relate to some of the stuff Irisa goes through, just because she has grown up in a place that she doesn’t feel comfortable in.

Anybody who doesn’t feel settled can relate to her story. And she goes through many difficult situations that she has to deal with herself. She doesn’t always feel as if she can turn to Nolan. So she’s quite lonely at points.”

Is it fair to say that Irisa has to become more human?

Definitely,” Leonidas said. “Although she also is separated by the fact that we do have alien languages, so I speak Irathian in it as well.”

Um, hopefully you had to learn that for the show. You weren’t already speaking it at home, were you?

Yeah, pretty much,” Leonidas said with a laugh.

What really attracted me to this series is that it didn’t just feel like aliens, shooting, killing people, a big war. It’s aliens with heart, and they go through quite human experiences as well. So it felt like it was much more than a war piece.

It’s very character-based and it’s about the heart of each character and the drama of it, really.”

Besides Leonidas and Bowler, Defiance also stars Julie Benz (Amanda Rosewater), Tony Curran (Datak Tarr), Jaime Murray (Stahma Tarr), Graham Greene (Rafe McCawley) and Mia Kirshner (Kenya Rosewater).

Conveniently, if Stephanie Leonidas ever wants to find out what her cast-mates really think about her, she can just take off her prosthetic and wander amongst them undetected.

That’s a good idea, I might do that,” she said. “I’ll let you know.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv