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Hockey is leaving, but Mr. D., Murdoch Mysteries, Heartland and Republic of Doyle are “on side” at CBC

- April 4th, 2014

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Amid the uncertainty of a reduced-hockey existence, Mr. D, Murdoch Mysteries, Republic of Doyle and Heartland are the scripted comedies and dramas that officially have been renewed by CBC.

Also on the list of renewals, which was released Friday, was Dragons’ Den (which had been confirmed previously with the announcement that new Dragons Michael Wekerle and Vikram Vij are replacing the departing Kevin O’Leary and Bruce Croxon), The Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Fifth Estate, The Nature of Things, Doc Zone, Marketplace, Just For Laughs, Steven and Chris, and Winnipeg/Halifax Comedy Festival.

New series include Schitt’s Creek (with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara), Strange Empire, Canada’s Smartest Person and Of All Places.

Prior to this announcement, the news had circulated that The Ron James Show, Arctic Air and Cracked have been cancelled by CBC.

Late last year it was announced that Rogers has purchased Canadian rights to NHL games, beginning next season. Hockey Night in Canada will continue as a staple on CBC on Saturday nights for at least four years, but the broadcast will be controlled by Rogers, and there are no guarantees beyond that four-year window.

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

From Red John and the Challenger to Cosby and Cracked; TV must-sees for the week

- November 24th, 2013

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Nov. 24

1 The Challenger Disaster
Debut: Made-for-TV movie about the controversial commission that investigated the infamous 1986 space-shuttle tragedy. Cast includes William Hurt, Joanne Whalley, Bruce Greenwood and Brian Dennehy.
When: Sunday on Discovery

2 The Mentalist
After a 10-year pursuit, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) finally comes face to face with Red John, the killer who murdered his wife and daughter. Well, it’s about damn time.
When: Sunday on CBS, CTV Two

3 How I Met Your Mother
Titled Bedtime Stories, this has been billed as a special rhyming episode told in three tales: Mosby at the Bat; Robin Takes the Cake; and Barney Stinson, Player King of New York City.
When: Monday on CBS, City

4 Ja’mie: Private School Girl
Debut: Another comic installment from Australian Chris Lilley, who reprises his role as schoolgirl Ja’mie. But now she’s far away from her familiar stomping grounds at Summer Heights High.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

5 The Secret Disco Revolution
Documentary about the dominant music genre of the 1970s features the Village People, Gloria Gaynor, the Trammps, Kool and the Gang and K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Shake your booty.
When: Tuesday on Bravo

6 Murdoch Mysteries
Doesn’t that Newfoundlander on the run from the law look a lot like Jake Doyle from Republic of Doyle? It is, in fact, the man who plays Jake, Allan Hawco, guest-starring as one of Jake’s ancestors.
When: Monday on CBC

7 Bill Cosby: Far From Finished
Debut: This new standup special from the 76-year-old sweater-wearing, Jell-o Pudding Pop-eating comedy legend was filmed last summer in Los Angeles.
When: Saturday on Comedy

8 Cracked
Second-season finale: Dr. Clara Malone (Brooke Nevin) initiates an experimental therapy that explains the voices a young man is hearing in his head, which in turn leads to a peril-filled climax.
When: Monday on CBC

9 Getting On
Debut: Six-episode dark and candid medical comedy about a hospital unit in California that cares for elderly patients. Stars Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein and Niecy Nash.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

10 Sleepy Hollow
Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) come across a Colonial-era house – or, as Ichabod calls it, “new” – that is hiding long-dormant evil. You know, like all old houses do.
When: Monday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Detective Murdoch tracks a Doyle to The Rock

- November 19th, 2013

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It appears Jake Doyle merely is sticking to his mischievous and irascible roots.

At least, that’s what is suggested in a new episode of Murdoch Mysteries, airing Monday, Nov. 25 on CBC.

Private investigator Jake Doyle, played by Allan Hawco, is the lead character on another CBC series, Republic of Doyle, which is set in modern-day Newfoundland. Murdoch Mysteries, of course, is set in Toronto in the early 1900s.

But lo and behold, in this special episode of Murdoch Mysteries – which is titled Republic of Murdoch – there’s someone on the run from the law who looks an awful lot like Jake Doyle. It is, in fact, Jacob Doyle, one of Jake’s ancestors, played by Hawco in a guest-starring role.

So how many generations separate Jacob and Jake? Er … um … when I became a TV critic they told me there wouldn’t be any math. About 110 years worth, whatever that works out to be, keeping in mind that people tended to become parents at younger ages in the olden days.

Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris) wind up following Jacob Doyle to the “Colony of Newfoundland,” which was not yet part of Canada. My God, how well-staffed was the Toronto police back then that they could afford such a foray, in terms of both money and manpower? Anyway, it turns out Jacob Doyle’s reputation already is well established.

The head of the local Newfoundland police grants Murdoch “limited” powers to arrest, since Murdoch is from “another country.” But Murdoch is told he is free to arrest Jacob Doyle “as many times as you please.”

The modern-day Jake Doyle actually is more misunderstood than menacing, more greedy than grimy. Without revealing too much, let’s just say his ancestor Jacob might travel those rocky paths, too.

So Jake Doyle can’t help the way he is. It’s in his genes, dammit. He should use that the next time the cops hassle him.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

 

Shouldn’t the alternate name for CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries really be Love Interrupted?

- October 9th, 2013

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Are the doctor and the detective ever going to get together on Murdoch Mysteries?

The series, which has begun its seventh season, airing Mondays on CBC, has thrown no shortage of roadblocks between Det. William Murdoch, played by Yannick Bisson (pictured above, centre), and Dr. Julia Ogden, played by Helene Joy (pictured above, second from right). So much so, some viewers could be excused for screaming at their televisions, “For God’s sake you two, it’s the early 1900s, just get on a train and go off together, no one ever will bother you.”

“But isn’t that wonderful angst?” Joy asks rhetorically. “Isn’t that lovely angst to be having?”

Both Joy and Bisson point out that one of the things they love about the doctor-detective relationship is that it feels very real, in terms of both the professions of their characters and the times in which they’re living.

“Because it’s the Victorian era, we’re able to manufacture more and more reasons, plausible reasons, why they would be apart,” Bisson says. “Whereas if it were happening on CSI, it would be like, ‘Oh, come on.’ But all of these issues are very real.

“And they respect each other professionally, too. Part of the kick they get from each other is working together. They don’t want to jeopardize that. So that has to be layered in, too.”

Luckily, Murdoch Mysteries has been such a homegrown ratings juggernaut since shifting to CBC last season (from its original home on City), Det. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden have time on their side. And the series has been picked up by the Ovation network in the U.S., airing under the name The Artful Detective (say what? How is the name Murdoch Mysteries too Canadian?).

“Both these people (Dr. Ogden and Det. Murdoch) are very passionate about their work and they still have to get on,” Joy says. “They stand alone, they have power separately, and they’re trying to navigate something. I think that’s really refreshing and I’ve had fans tell me that, too.

“Love will overcome, ultimately. But it might take a while. It might take a few more seasons.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca