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CNN’s The Sixties gazes back a half-century; generations don’t often do that, you know

- May 28th, 2014

Capture Beatles VI

It’s an indication of how important the 1960s were that they’re still worthy of a documentary series today.

Think about it in mathematical terms: The ’60s were 50 years ago now. But if you were living in the ’60s, the decade 50 years previous to that was the 1910s. World War I probably seemed like ancient history to the flower power generation, right?

The ’60s, however, were different. The cultural, political, sexual and musical changes that took place in that decade still shape our world in 2014. So perspective continues to be important.

And perspective is what you’ll get if you tune into the CNN series The Sixties, which is executive-produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and debuts Thursday, May 29.

A few episodes aired previously, coinciding with specific anniversaries. But most of these episodes have not aired yet, and you’ll get to see them all, airing consecutively on Thursdays (keeping in mind that CNN always is at the mercy of breaking news stories).

The debut episode is called Television Comes of Age. Subsequent episodes are titled The World on the Brink (about the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis); The Assassination of President Kennedy; The War in Vietnam; A Long March to Freedom (about the civil rights movement); The British Invasion (about the musical phenomenon spearheaded by the Beatles, pictured above); The Space Race; The Times They Are A-Changin’ (about feminism, environmentalism and gay rights); 1968 (about one of the most dramatic and violent years in U.S. history); and Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll.

True, people in the 1960s probably didn’t think too much about the 1910s. But 50 years is the blink of an eye when looking back at the ’60s, because the changes that were set in motion still dominate our news cycles and our consciousness.

Make docs, not war.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The Listener is Undateable ’cause he’s on The Night Shift with Derek? TV must-sees for the week of May 25

- May 25th, 2014

Capture undateable

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of May 25

1 Undateable
Debut with back-to-back episodes: The premise in this sitcom from Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) is that all of us go through stages where we’re undateable. For some it just lasts longer. Chris D’Elia stars.
When: Thursday on NBC

2 The Normal Heart
Debut: Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch and Jim Parsons star in this powerful drama about the onset of the then-mysterious AIDS-HIV crisis in New York City in the early 1980s.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

3 The Night Shift
Debut: Not another movie about late-night TV, I pray. Oh, wait, this is a scripted hospital drama about the men and women who work through the wee hours. With Eoin Macken and Jill Flint.
When: Tuesday on NBC, Global

4 Derek
Second-season debut: Ricky Gervais is back as Derek Noakes in this bittersweet series about a retirement-home worker whose caring attitude provides acute moments of comedy and sadness.
When: Friday on Netflix

5 The Listener
Fifth-season debut: Snakes on a plane! Well, not quite. But snakes on a body? Toby (Craig Olejnik) investigates a serial killer who has a habit of leaving snakes with his victims. Ewww.
When: Monday on CTV

6 The Sixties
Debut: Documentary series executive-produced by Tom Hanks kicks off with an episode titled Television Comes of Age, looking at shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive and Laugh-In.
When: Thursday on CNN

7 MasterChef
Sixth-season debut: Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot return as judges on the American version, coming off the successful rookie season of the Canadian version.
When: Monday on Fox, CTV

8 Motive
Second-season finale: When a major case from the past resurfaces, it may prompt Detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman) and Sergeant Mark Cross (Warren Christie) to come clean about their history.
When: Thursday on CTV

9 Crossbones
Debut: You have to wonder if we’ve reached the saturation point with all this historic/fake-historic/fake-historic-with-magic TV. Anyway, this stars John Malkovich as the pirate Blackbeard.
When: Friday on NBC, Global

10 So You Think You Can Dance?
Eleventh-season debut: Justin Bieber will be introducing a new “dance crews” component and encouraging viewers to vote through Twitter. Bieber’s bits were shot in Cannes. That sounds dirty.
When: Wednesday on Fox, CTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Rockin’ Dave Clark Five doc will make you Glad All Over

- April 7th, 2014

The Dave Clark Five

No one else sounded like the Dave Clark Five, before or since.

That’s an accomplishment on its own, notwithstanding the substantial commercial success the Dave Clark Five enjoyed as part of the British Invasion in the 1960s. You can get a crash course in the band’s unique crash-and-bang style with the new documentary The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over, which airs April 8 and April 11 as part of the Great Performances series on most PBS affiliates (check local listings).

The doc includes interviews with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks, among many others. It was Hanks who passionately inducted the DC5 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Clark kept the rights to the DC5 music catalogue through the decades, and while that meant the band didn’t get robbed like many of its British Invasion contemporaries, Clark’s devotion to sound quality nonetheless cost the band some cash.

“The reason I took the catalogue off the market was Epic Records made (the records) into electronic stereo, which was terrible,” Clark recalled. “So I thought I would clear the market of all the vinyl, and then when the CD market took off, we would bring it out.

“It was never a monetary thing with me. It’s being protective of one’s creativity. If the records had stayed on the market, you get your publishing income, you get your record royalties. Maybe people thought I was a bit crazy, but I did what I believed in, and I think that’s what I’ve tried to do all my life.”

As stunning as the Dave Clark Five’s output was – 14 top-20 singles in the U.S., plus a record 18 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show – this might be the most rare and remarkable thing of all:

“We never had one legal letter between us,” Clark said proudly, referring to the members of the group.

Talk about Glad All Over.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Dave Clark 5, montage

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

The Amazing Cult on the March to the Jeselnik Offensive; TV must-sees for this week

- February 17th, 2013

Amazing Race cast - season 22

 

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 17:

 

1) The Amazing Race

Why you should watch: So, everybody keeps trying to tell me what a “small world” it is. So how is it that this series is entering its 22nd season (participants are pictured above) and they still keep finding exotic places to visit in different countries? Ex-NHL player Bates Battaglia is one of the competitors this time.
When: Sunday on CBS, CTV

 

2) Cult

Why you should watch: In the series debut, investigative journalist Jeff Sefton (Matt Davis) begins to delve into the dark underworld of a TV show called Cult, and its super-devoted fans. Yes, it’s one of those show-within-a-show things.

When: Tuesday on CW, CTV Two

 

3) Killing Lincoln

Why you should watch: Narrated on-screen by Tom Hanks and starring Billy Campbell in the title role, this two-hour historical drama isn’t a biopic, but rather focuses specifically on the assassination of the 16th president of the United States.

When: Sunday on National Geographic Channel

 

4) Leverage

Why you should watch: In the series finale, Nate (Timothy Hutton) takes a case linked to his son’s death. But when the job goes bad, Interpol interrogates Nate and tries to figure out not only what went wrong, but also what he really was seeking.

When: Monday on Super Channel

 

5) March to the Top

Why you should watch: A documentary about emotional and physical rehabilitation as 12 injured Canadian soldiers attempt to work together to climb the 20,305-foot Island Peak in Nepal.

When: Full-length version Sunday on Documentary Channel; one-hour version Monday on CBC

 

6) Come Date With Me

Why you should watch: An offshoot of the series Come Dine With Me, this new foray sees four eligible suitors try to out-dine, out-shine and out-date each other for the heart of one hottie. You know, just like every night in all bars.

When: Wednesday on W

 

7) The Jeselnik Offensive

Why you should watch: Comedian Anthony Jeselnik has produced some of the most fearless, or offensive, or hilarious Tweets (depending upon your point of view) that I ever have read. You may have seen him on some of those celebrity roasts. Now he gets his own series.

When: Tuesday on Comedy

 

8) Revenge

Why you should watch: The Graysons host their annual Labour Day party – my God, these people throw a lot of parties. Meanwhile, Jack and “Faux-manda” embark upon what is sure to be a stress-free honeymoon.

When: Sunday on ABC, City

 

9) The Good Wife

Why you should watch: Tensions flare when Will and Diane ask Alicia and Cary to face off against them in a mock trial. Hey, remember “Mock Trial with J. Reinhold” on Arrested Development? Now that was funny.

When: Sunday on CBS, Global

 
10) Once Upon a Time

Why you should watch: While Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Henry (Jared Gilmore) seek out Mr. Gold’s son in New York, Regina (Lana Parrilla) attempts to track down one of Rumplestiltskin’s most treasured possessions back in Storybrooke.

When: Sunday on ABC, CTV

 

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv