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The hills are alive with Martians and asteroids in Mob City? Must-sees for the week of Dec. 1

- November 29th, 2013

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Dec. 1

1 The Sound of Music Live!
As the title suggests, this is a live telecast based on the stage version of the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Carrie Underwood (Maria) and Stephen Moyer (Captain von Trapp) star.
When: Thursday on NBC, City

2 Return to Downton Abbey
Host Susan Sarandon looks back at the first three years of this lush early 20th century-set drama, and also looks ahead to the fourth season, which makes its North American debut on Jan. 5, 2014.
When: Sunday on PBS

3 Futurama
Haven’t we been through this before? These guys have more series finales than the Who have farewell tours. Anyway, in what purports to be the REAL series finale, Fry asks Leela to marry him.
When: Thursday on Teletoon

4 Mob City
Based on a true story, this series follows the decade-long battle in 1940s Los Angeles between the mob and the police. Jon Bernthal, Ed Burns, Milo Ventimiglia, Robert Knepper and Neal McDonough star.
When: Wednesday on Bravo

5 Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans
Patrick Dempsey the actor bluntly has voiced his complete and utter boredom with his continuing role as “McDreamy” on Grey’s Anatomy. That just pays the bills. Car racing apparently is his real love.
When: Sunday on Discovery World

6 Mission Asteroid
Airing as part of the Doc Zone series, this examines what would happen if the Earth were pummeled by asteroids, as the threat of such a thing actually appears to be increasing.
When: Thursday on CBC

7 Christmas in Conway
Andy Garcia and Mary-Louise Parker star in this made-for-TV movie about a man who wants to build a ferris wheel in his backyard as a romantic gesture. Um, do the town bylaws enforcers know about this?
When: Sunday on ABC

8 Treme
The fourth and final season of this New Orleans-set series, which follows people trying to rebuild their lives post-Hurricane Katrina, begins in November 2008 as residents celebrate Barack Obama’s election.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

9 The Great Martian War
Okay, I know it sounds confusing. But this is a Canadian film that re-imagines the years 1913-1917 with humankind fighting a war against extraterrestrial invaders. And you thought the Kaiser was tough.
When: Thursday on History

10 Once Upon a Time
Regina (Lana Parrilla) decides to adopt a baby. I would hope that a mere Google search by adoption authorities would turn up the term “Evil Queen.”
When: Sunday on ABC, CTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

From The White Queen to The League; TV’s must-sees for the week of Sept. 1

- August 31st, 2013

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Sept. 1:

1 The White Queen

The tale of three different yet equally relentless women trying to scheme, manipulate and seduce their way onto the English throne. You know, just like today. Stars Rebecca Ferguson, Amanda Hale and Faye Marsay.

When: Friday on Super Channel

2 The League

Fifth-season debut: The scene shifts to L.A. for the wedding of Andre (Paul Scheer) and Trixie (Jayma Mays). Meanwhile, Ruxin (Nick Kroll) refuses to live up to his “Sacko” punishments.

When: Thursday on FX Canada

3 Copper

Second-season debut: Tammany Hall’s outspoken General Brendan Donovan (Donal Logue) returns from the Civil War to restore law and order in New York City’s Sixth Ward.

When: Sunday on Showcase

4 TV’s Funniest of the Funniest

This two-hour Paley Center for Media special looks at TV’s biggest laughs from old shows (I Love Lucy, Taxi, Cheers) and more recent ones (The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, 30 Rock).

When: Sunday on NBC

5 Annoying Orange

Canadian debut: Inspired by an animated web series, this follows the fruity adventures of Orange, Pear, Passion Fruit, Marshmallow, Grapefruit and Nerville (Toby Turner) as they travel through time and space in a fruit cart.

When: Thursday on Teletoon

6 Roast of James Franco

Do you think James Franco will be more awake for his own roast than he was co-hosting the Oscars? Regardless, roasters include Andy Samberg, Jonah Hill, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader and Aziz Ansari.

When: Monday on Comedy

7 Highway Thru Hell

Second-season debut: The first episode is titled Welcome to Winter, which sounds ominous. Jamie Davis, proprietor of the heavy-rescue company, begins to worry if he has brought in the wrong machines. Gulp.

When: Tuesday on Discovery

8 The Social

Debut: New Canadian daytime talk show features news anchor Melissa Grelo, gossip blogger Lainey Lui, entertainment reporter Traci Melchor and relationship expert Cynthia Loyst.

When: Monday on CTV

9 Lost and Sold

Series debut: An eccentric group of dealers attends weekly auctions for misguided packages and lost luggage. Just how angry will you be if you see any of your own stuff?

When: Monday on Slice

10 ABC Fall Preview

Presented by The Chew, this special gives you a look at some of the new fall shows, such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (starring Clark Gregg), Super Fun Night (starring Rebel Wilson) and Trophy Wife (starring Malin Akerman).

When: Sunday on ABC

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

 

 

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

- January 8th, 2013

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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