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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

Does The Walking Dead still Reign? TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 13

- October 12th, 2013

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Bill Harris’ top 10 TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 13:

1 The Walking Dead

The first episode of the fourth season is titled 30 Days Without an Accident. So why am I thinking the streak is about to end? Followed by the return of wrap-up show Talking Dead.

When: Sunday on AMC

2 Reign

Series debut: Danger, intrigue and romance lurk around every castle corner for Mary Queen of Scots, played by Adelaide Kane. Doesn’t quite pay attention to history, but hey, who does?

When: Wednesday on M3; Thursday on CW and CTV Two

3 The Big Bang Theory

The always awkward relationship between Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) gets even more weird when she takes a job at his university.

When: Thursday on CBS, CTV

4 The Blacklist

Red (James Spader) informs the FBI that the kidnapping of a key witness may have been perpetrated by a criminal known as the Stewmaker. Mmmmmm, stew.

When: Monday on NBC, Global

5 The Biggest Loser

Society does not appear to be running out of contestants for this inspirational show that literally burns fat. Ruben Studdard – a winner back when American Idol still mattered – is on board.

When: Tuesday on NBC, OMNI

6 How I Met Your Mother

As the final season continues, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) helps Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) pick a side in a fight between his mom and Robin (Cobie Smulders).

When: Monday on CBS, City

7 Super Fun Night

A law-firm executive urges Kimmie (Rebel Wilson) to act more professionally, but that won’t sit well with Marika (Lauren Ash) or Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira).

When: Wednesday on ABC, City

8 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish

Series debut: The title pretty much says it all. Vanilla Ice is on a mission to learn the lost art of hand craftsmanship. Feel free to insert your own joke here.

When: Sunday on DIY network

9 Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A woman who is behind a series of high-stakes heists holds a troubling secret that has the potential to ruin Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).

When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

10 Ironside

Holly (Spencer Grammer) and Ironside (Blair Underwood) follow the trail of a professional poker player with a drug problem. Wow, that really narrows it down. I kid, I kid.

When: Wednesday on NBC, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Mom puts Hostages on The Blacklist; TV must-sees for the week

- September 22nd, 2013

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Sept. 22:

1 The Blacklist

Series debut: James Spader stars as a master criminal who surrenders to the FBI and offers help, but only if he can deal directly with a young agent played by Megan Boone. Creepy in a good way.

When: Monday on NBC, Global

2 Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Series debut: Comic books, movies, TV, it’s all the same thing now, for better or worse. Clark Gregg stars in this highly anticipated series, which the creators insist is a stand-alone project.

When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

3 The Michael J. Fox Show

Series debut with back-to-back episodes: A feel-good story as the beloved star returns to TV in a series that borrows from his own life as a public figure dealing with Parkinson’s disease. Also stars Betsy Brandt from Breaking Bad.

When: Wednesday on Global; Thursday on NBC

4 Mom

Series debut: Anna Faris plays a struggling single mother whose life only gets more complicated when her own recovering-addict mother, played by Allison Janney, decides it’s time to reconnect.

When: Monday on CBS, City

5 Hostages

Series debut: Stellar cast – Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott, Tate Donovan – drives this thriller about a doctor who is blackmailed just as she is about to perform surgery on the President of the United States.

When: Monday on CBS, CTV

6 Trophy Wife

Series debut: Trophy wives usually are depicted as dim and greedy, but Malin Akerman’s character – the third spouse of Bradley Whitford’s character – wants to prove she is neither of those things.

When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

7 The Crazy Ones

Series debut: Robin Williams returns to television as a brilliant but unorthodox advertising executive who’s running the family business with his strait-laced daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

When: Thursday on CBS, City

8 Modern Family

Fifth-season debut with back-to-back episodes: Manny (Rico Rodriguez) plans a solo trip back to Colombia, while Claire (Julie Bowen) finds she’s a tad rusty on her big return to the workforce.

When: Wednesday on ABC, City

9 The Goldbergs

Series debut: Jeff Garlin and Wendi McLendon-Covey play the parents in this flashback to family life in the 1980s, when nosy little brothers started videotaping everything as a precursor to today’s world.

When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

10 The Big Bang Theory

Seventh-season debut with back-to-back episodes: Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) share a few secrets while Leonard (Johnny Galecki) is away at sea, but it gets awkward when he returns.

When: Thursday on CBS, 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

the-white-queen

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

 

 

Compete, don’t retreat: That’s Gerry Dee’s philosophy with Canadian sitcom Mr. D

- December 20th, 2012

Gerry Dee of Mr

Gerry Dee is competitive. So even if his TV show, Mr. D, primarily is an artistic and comedic endeavor, he is aware of the wider landscape.

With Mr. D set for its second season, beginning Jan. 7 on CBC, Dee has been concentrating on how to propel his sitcom to the next level, artistically, comically and, well, numerically.

“I think trying to understand (ratings) numbers was a new experience for me (in season one),” Dee said. “I think the numbers have changed over the years, in terms of understanding how they work.

“So at the end of it all, we did well, I think. But you’re still thinking, ‘How do we get higher? How do we do better?’

“We averaged 800,000 viewers (in season one, which is a strong total for a Canadian sitcom). But how do we average a million? How does The Big Bang Theory get 3 million? What is it? So it’s one of those things where your competitive nature drives you.”

That is a really healthy attitude for the star and creator of a Canadian TV show, don’t you think? Rather than living in a Canadian cocoon, it’s probably a good thing to feel competitive with all the shows in your genre, including the American ones, right?

“Oh sure, no question,” Dee said. “We have a great second season coming, we’re very excited about it, we’re very fortunate.

“This still is a dream to me. It’s one of those, ‘Pinch me, is this still going on?’ kinds of things. You don’t want it to end. So now, the competitive nature in me will try to find a way to get even more people to watch it.”

Mr. D stars Dee as a teacher at a private school. Dee used to be a teacher in real life, but he stresses his show is autobiographical only in basic structure.

“A lot of teachers watch it – some are against it, some are for it,” Dee said. “But it’s a comedy. I think people need to understand that. There’s hyperbole.

“When I was a teacher, I wasn’t the best teacher, but I was a good teacher, I was nothing like what you see. I wouldn’t have lasted 10 years.

“My character in the show is a little obtuse, but you can tell he cares about the kids, and the principal does see that there is some good in this guy.”

A positive thing about Mr. D is that it’s fairly fearless by sitcom standards. The youngsters aren’t always fawned over, which is refreshing for television. And the show finds a way to be a bit edgy with its subject matter, without resorting to the usual TV go-to guys of sex and violence.

“What I learned through the course of the first season is, story is important, heart is important, and likeability, I always knew was important,” Dee said. “Because when you cross the lines my character crosses, it’s a balancing act.”

No one ever really “wins” the TV game. But Gerry Dee promises to stay competitive.

“I don’t see us ever mastering this, but you just try to do your best,” he said. “You’re always learning.”

Unlike Mr. D’s students.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca