After news broke that Degrassi: The Next Generation had been cancelled after 14 seasons on the air, it was only a matter of days before the immortal teen soap opera rose again, this time as Degrassi: Next Class. In 2016, when the new series begins its first season on the Family Channel and Netflix, at least one thing will remain essentially the same: the sets, most of which are in a studio complex in a North York industrial park, where they’re being refreshed—but not replaced—for the new show. Here’s a look at them.
Cringe Benefits: Nathan Fielder’s brand of gonzo comedy is surreal, squirm-inducing and surprisingly human
Nathan Fielder will do anything for a laugh. On his Comedy Central show, Nathan for You, whose third season debuts later this year, he travels around Los Angeles offering advice to struggling small businesses and presenting outlandish marketing schemes to entrepreneurs willing to try them out on camera. He suggests that a clothing store allow pretty people to shoplift, for instance, and tries to make a fledgling caricature artist famous by encouraging him to sketch racist images. The business owners think they’re part of a reality show that follows a legitimate marketing consultant, and Fielder plays the straight man with disarming exactitude, never breaking from his deadpan character despite the preposterous plots he pitches and executes. He’s a wiry, adorkable 32-year-old with a boyishly cropped haircut and a nasal voice, and he comes across as eminently reasonable. It’s that nebbish quality that his targets respond to: they want to make his ideas work for their own success, but they also want to help out this earnest, socially awkward person.
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It’s been a long time since the CBC has had a genuine, spit-out-your-smoothie hit on its hands. This year, however, the network released Schitt’s Creek, a fresh, acerbic sitcom made must-see by the small-screen reunion of Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.
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The CBC’s new feminist western is as gripping and gritty as any premium cable drama. But can it help reverse the beleaguered broadcaster’s fortunes?
The new series Strange Empire is a richly produced western set in 1869 on the unkempt Alberta terrain. It kicks off with a dark, propulsive premise: when the men in a small frontier camp are mysteriously slaughtered, their once-helpless wives and daughters are forced to buck up and take control. Every shot is a swirl of artfully dusty browns and tans, every costume and set piece a bedraggled beauty. The plots are full of brothels, sex and violence. The show bears every trademark of a premium cable drama, with morally ambiguous characters and an irreverent point of view. The strangest thing about Strange Empire? It’s on the CBC.
On Guillermo del Toro’s gruesome horror series The Strain, vampires are the new bioterrorists
The vampires on the new series The Strain are a novel breed. When they’re changed, their hair falls out. Their skin turns a vomitous shade of greenish-grey. Their veins fill with white slime. Instead of growing retractable fangs, they get a stinger—a huge, Alien-esque proboscis that shoots sticky, worm-infested bile into all mortals in its path, draining the victims’ blood and infecting them with a virus that mutates their genes. The show’s radical revision of vampire mythology (and physiology) subverts everything we’ve come to know and love about the pop culture anti-heroes. These vamps aren’t brooding, studly teens. They don’t leap through trees. They’re not lustful deflowerers of virgins. Where Twilight describes its vampires as “devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful,” The Strain turns them into indistinguishable drones. Instead of glamouring humans, they’re terrorizing us.
The ghastly creatures—recently seen prowling through Toronto’s downtown core while the show shot its first season here last spring—are the latest in a string of new monsters invading the small screen. Most of these horror series tap into archetypes that have fuelled the genre for eons: the savage cannibal in Hannibal, the Victorian demons in Penny Dreadful, the serial killer in Bates Motel, the asylum patients and witches in American Horror Story.
On the sci-fi thriller Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany juggles seven distinct characters—a feat of dramatic dexterity that’s made her TV’s biggest breakout star
Tatiana Maslany has the toughest job in television. On the Toronto-shot sci-fi thriller Orphan Black, she plays Sarah, an east London street thief; Alison, a supremely high-strung Scarborough soccer mom; and Helena, a psychotic Ukrainian assassin. Then there’s Cosima, a Berkeley-hippie grad student; Beth, a suicidal cop; and Rachel, an icy CEO. They’re clones, engineered by an evil biotech company for a twisted science experiment. All totalled, Maslany plays seven wildly different characters—a feat of dramatic dexterity that has earned her raves since the show premiered on Space in March 2013.
Isn’t Rob Ford already essentially already a one-man reality show? Regardless, the Globe reports that Pilgrim Studios, the production company behind quality documentary-ish television shows like Swamp Pawn, Dirty Jobs and this Lindsay Lohan miniseries would like to add the mayor of Toronto to its stable of fame-seeking weirdos.
The cop, university professor and TV personality has an urgent message: beware the internet
As a cop who chases online predators, you have a window into the unsettling world of cyberbullying.
I do. Almost as disturbing as the cyberbullying itself is the police’s inability to do much about it. We lack appropriate legislation, responsiveness from Internet providers and departmental support to allot the time required to investigate properly. Plus, research shows that in the vast majority of cases, victims don’t file reports.
According to a ZoomerMedia spokesperson, the new show, to be called Conversations With Conrad, will consist of extended interviews with the same types of political and media-world guests Black already interviews on his other ZoomerMedia show, The Zoomer, which is co-hosted by Denise Donlon. The new show will be all Conrad, all the time. It’s expected to begin airing on VisionTV in April or May.
Judging by recent events, you’d think Rob Ford’s career as a media star was going about as well as his career as a politician. The longstanding radio talk show he hosted with his brother, The City, ended two weeks ago. A few days later, the Fords’ TV show on Sun News,
The Great White North Ford Nation, was cancelled after just one episode. Apparently, this dismal track record is deceiving. Doug Ford revealed in the National Post last night that he and the mayor have been approached by several American and Canadian television producers to star in some unscripted programming. According to Doug, everyone “from Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil” has been courting them for a reality show. Reality, however, has never been the brothers’ strong suit. They are opting to turn down the powerhouse offers in favour of producing their own talk show on YouTube. The show will once again be called Ford Nation, and will be online before Christmas. Stay tuned for more. [CBC]
(Image: Christopher Drost)
Breaking Bad fans are intense. So intense that they’ll brave hours in the cold for the chance to dork-out in a Hazmat suit just like Walter White’s. The meth-focused Breaking Bad RV Tour (not to be confused with the crack-focused Rofo Bus Tour) drew surprisingly long lineups when it hit Yonge-Dundas Square on November 26. Patient fans were rewarded with the opportunity to play dress-up and dabble around with trays of fake meth in a convincing replica of Walter and Jesse’s mobile drug den. The RV, which is part of a promotional campaign for the show’s DVD release, will be touring the city until December 9. Anyone yearning to throw on a gas mask can follow the the RV’s movements on Twitter and Facebook. [Toronto Star]
When the media closes a door, sometimes it opens a window. NewsTalk 1010 ended the Rob and Doug Ford’s weekly radio show last week, sensibly realizing that the risks of giving the increasingly unpredictable brothers unfettered access to the airwaves outweighed the rewards. Apparently, the Sun News Network has no such qualms—despite the mayor’s recent history of shudder-inducing soundbites. Kory Teneycke, a vice president at the station, today announced that the Fords have agreed to host a show called Ford Nation, which starts airing this Monday at 8 p.m. Details about the program remain scarce, but it’s expected to include in-studio chatter from the brothers, along with in-the-field segments and guest personalities like the network’s polarizing bigmouth David Menzies. Doesn’t exactly sound scintillating, but the show should, if nothing else, give the late-night comedians a regular supply of joke fodder. [Sun News]
Reality television is booming in Toronto; nearly 100 shows are made here every year—some of them drawing more viewers than (gasp) hockey. Call it an affront to good taste or appointment TV, it’s the future of Canadian entertainment
Every Wednesday last fall, a friend of mine invited a bunch of us over to her Front Street apartment to watch The Bachelor Canada. The star was Brad Smith, a broad-shouldered himbo tasked with choosing a wife from a harem of 25 tanned, bleach-toothed beauties, including a former Playboy bunny and a Miss Universe contestant. We rated the questionable appeal of the contenders and cringed as they performed awkward cabaret routines or competed in lumberjack competitions to prove their marriage potential. During the solemn rose ceremonies, when Brad sent home our favourites, we shouted expletives at the TV. My friend also hosts parties for a handful of other reality series. We consume these shows the way sports fans watch Leafs games—screaming “Oh my god!” in glorious, cathartic unison.
In a stroke of casting genius, Amazing Race Canada has signed up legendarily chipper Body Break pair Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod for its first season. We’re delighted that the couple is still at the forefront of keeping fit and having fun (though less pleased to note the demise of Hal’s once-heroic moustache). We’re also suddenly a lot more interested in watching the Race’s July 15 premiere, if only to get the answers to some burning questions. Do Hal and Jo use those polished television voices when they fight? Do they wear matching tracksuits every waking hour? Are they going to do in-seat airplane exercises on all their flights? The people need to know.