It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended andTV Reviews A-Z lists every TV show ever reviewed here
We’re back on Wednesday again thanks to a massive surfeit of shows on Sundays and Mondays compared to the rest of the week (thanks, Babylon Berlin, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Travelers, Star Trek: Discovery and The Brave). Hopefully, that’s not rocked the bedrock of your beliefs about the universe.
Elsewhere, this week’s Boxset Monday was season 1 of 4 Blocks(Germany: TNT Series; UK: Amazon), and I’ve also reviewed the first episodes of the aforementioned Frankie Drake Mysteries (Canada: CBC; UK: Alibi)and Damnation(US: USA; UK: Netflix). I’ve not yet found time to review Sisters (Australia: Ten) (Narrator: he never will), which is now up to episode three, but I’m going to review the first episodes of both it and Future Man (US: Hulu) some time in the next week, and I might even have a whirl at No Activity (US: CBS All Access) if I have a mo – assuming the arrival of Marvel’s The Punisher (Netflix)on Friday doesn’t nuke my entire viewing schedule.
No other new TV shows this week and I’ve not watched any movies, either, which means it’s time to look at the tail end of the Fall season after the jump with the latest episodes of the regulars: Babylon Berlin, The Brave, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Mr Robot, SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery and Travelers.
We’ll also be looking at the season finale of ProfessorT, although you’ll have to wait until next week to hear what I think about the final episode of Marvel’s Inhumans, as lovely wife hasn’t mustered up enough enthusiasm to watch it yet. I can’t really blame her.
Canada has had a rich and varied history of TV over the years, with many classic shows, some of which you might not even have realised were Canadian at the time (did you think The Kids of Degrassi Street was American like I did, for example? Cos it’s not). Unlike our own BBC, though, the entire Canadian media industry seems to have no qualms about sticking its entire back catalogue on YouTube for the whole world to enjoy.
I say this because today, they only went and did this:
As of today, Canadian and world audiences will have a renewed access to memorable Canadian film and TV content from years gone by. Key Canadian audiovisual industry organizations announced the launch of a YouTube channel which provides free access – anytime and anywhere – to a wealth of iconic content in the age of digital connectivity. Visit Encore+ at youtube.com/EncorePlusMedia.
The new channel was launched at Google Canada’s offices with talent in attendance that contributed to titles now available on Encore+, including actresses Liane Balaban, Jennifer Dale, Karyn Dwyer, Sheila McCarthy, Cynthia Preston and Michelle St. John; actors Henry Czerny, Aiden Devine, Shawn Doyle, Pat Mastroianni, Tony Nardi, Michael Riley, Michael Theriault, and John Wildman; as well as producers Bernard Lajoie, and Rayne and Bernie Zuckerman.
Encore+ already offers over 300 videos across 100 award-winning feature films and television series in both official languages, including comedies, dramas, children’s and youth shows, documentaries and short films. Every week, dozens of titles will be added as part of an ongoing editorial calendar, including a number of Canadian feature films premiering on Encore+ in newly re-mastered versions. All digitizing, encoding and remastering of works is provided by Deluxe Toronto.
Among the top titles featured on Encore+, audiences will find fan-favourites that transcend generations, including Cornemuse, Da Vinci’s Inquest, Degrassi High, Due South, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, John A: Birth of a Country, La Petite Vie, Le Vieil Homme et la Mer, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Moi et l’Autre, Maman Last Call, Moccasin Flats, Mr. Dressup, New Waterford Girl, The Corporation, The Littlest Hobo, Watatatow and dozens of other exceptional productions reflecting Canada’s history and stories from coast to coast to coast.
Managed by service-provider BroadbandTV (BBTV), Encore+ will generate worldwide exposure and seek to stimulate demand for Canadian content and talent, particularly from young audiences who access media primarily via mobile devices.
Using a non-exclusive approach, Encore+ will complement the offerings of Canadian stakeholders already active in online distribution. This channel is a Canadian content discoverability and visibility tool, at a time when we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Through this industry-wide effort, the presenting partners also seek to ensure that rights holders and Canadian creators are the first to benefit from views of their works on YouTube, as well as test new business models for catalogue content.
Working closely with Canada’s film and television producers, distributors, broadcasters, unions, guilds and other industry associations, Encore+ is spearheaded by the Canada Media Fund (CMF) with support from Google Canada, Bell Media, BroadbandTV (BBTV), and Deluxe Toronto. Telefilm Canada is also a key partner in this endeavor, providing financial and promotional support.
To cut a long story short, loads of classic shows in both French and English, including The Littlest Hobo, Due South and Degrassi High, with more to come, all of which anyone in the world can watch. Here’s a video with some of the highlights, including a whole bunch you’ve probably not seen before unless you’re Canadian but which will make you wonder if everyone’s on drugs over there.
Oh yes, and here’s season 2 of The Littlest Hobo to prove it.
And the first episode of Due South in both English and French as Direction Sud:
In Canada: Mondays, 9pm (9:30 NT), CBC In the UK: Will air in early 2018 on Alibi
Let’s have a little thought experiment. Imagine you’re the commissioner for UKTV channel Alibi.
Yes, I know this a review of a Canadian TV show but bear with me.
Imagine you are said commissioner. You largely get by on repeats and imported foreign dramas. But there are two very popular ones you’re worried about and will leave a gap in your schedule if they disappear.
One is CBC (Canada)’s Murdoch Mysteries, a period detective drama set at the turn of the 20th century. It’s been cancelled once and recast its hero once, too, and is now on its 11th season. Surely all good things must come to an end?
Then there’s ABC (Australia)’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a 1920s-set detective drama that’s having a few problems. It’s made it as far as its third season, but the fact its star has moved to London is making scheduling hard, and even creating a one-off movie needed a kickstarter project to get it up and running.
What should you do? Have a think.
Correct! Well done!
That’s right: you agree to make a co-production with CBC that’s basically a mash-up of Murdoch Mysteries and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, thus killing two birds with one stone.
Where’s the The?
Frankie Drake Mysteries stars Lauren Lee Smith (CSI, Good Dog, This Life, The Listener) as the eponymous heroine, the only female private detective working in 1920s Toronto. The daughter of the late head of the criminal Drake Gang, she now solves crimes using her inherited insight with the help of partner Chantel Riley and police officer gal pal Rebecca Liddiard (Houdini and Doyle), facing off against G-Men, communists, union busters and, in this pilot episode, (spoiler) her supposedly dead mother as she investigates the disappearance of a pearl necklace from a hotel safe.
Drake has moxie. You can tell this because she has red hair. But she served during the War, goes to back-street Chinese ‘cupping’ parlours to help her quit smoking, and hangs around with famous historical figures, just like that Murdoch, having gone to the Valley of the Kings with Howard Carter before the War and hobnobbed with local reporter Ernest Hemingway for most of the first episode (he really did work at The Toronto Starin the early 20s, before you start quibbling).
Unfortunately, these are the only real signifiers of her moxie because although the script works really hard to make her an exciting, well-rounded, Canadian Miss Fisher, Lee Smith’s performance is consistently breathless, underpowered and lacking in confidence. While she certainly looks the part, she seems almost surprised to be the star of the show for once and would rather skulk away and hide in anonymity among the supporting cast. Even the supposedly mousy Liddiard is more of a presence than she.
Lee Smith’s miscasting aside, Frankie Drake Mysteries is a whole load of fun, luxuriating in its period setting: there’s a heavy flapper ambience and fashion focus; there are loving details in its recreation of the Toronto of the time; there are copious jokes about the booming Toronto; the jazz soundtrack is great; and you have to love a show in which criminal gangs still leave behind signature feathers as their calling cards.
Everyone knows it’s supposed to be a fun show, too, so is playing it slightly for laughs, aiming for something like the screwball comedies of the period. It’s certainly a whole lot more optimistic than its near contemporary Babylon Berlin. It’s also aiming to be positive for women, with a largely female cast and Drake the kind of forward-thinking go-getter that would make you want to root for her, were she played with a little more aplomb.
While the mysteries themselves are no great shakes, the ultimate culprit in this first episode being entirely obvious, it’s the historical setting and general exploration of women’s roles in this period that make the show more than just a simple “me too” to replace other shows and that makes it worth watching. UK viewers should also be primed for future Brit guest stars turning up, with Laurence Fox (Lewis) lined up for an appearance at some point.
It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z.
We’re now entering mid-mid-season in the US, that time when a number of shows have their November finales and a new set of somewhat lesser shows get ushered onto the scene to fill the airwaves. It beats alternating new episodes with re-runs I guess, but it does mean I had to endure S.W.A.T. (US: CBS) this week. Young Sheldon (US: CBS) has also made its return – but more on that later – and there are more to come now the likes of Will & Grace have bowed out.
Elsewhere, I reviewed Babylon Berlin(Germany: Sky 1; UK: Sky Atlantic) and the whole of Stranger Things 2 (Netflix), but there are a few new shows floating around the airwaves that I’ll be looking at later in the week. CBC in Canada has decided to staple The Murdoch Mysteries onto Miss Fisher’s Mysteries to give us (you guessed it) the ubiquitous Lauren Lee Smith in The Frankie Drake Mysteries, so I’ll be letting you know what I think of that in the next couple of days. Sperm-crimes drama Sisters (Australia: Ten) has somehow been slipping by me over the past couple of weeks, so I’ll try to play catch-up with that, assuming it’s any good.
After the jump, then, the latest episodes of the regulars: The Brave, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Great News, Marvel’s Inhumans, Mr Robot, Professor T, Star Trek: Discovery, Travelers, Will & Grace and Young Sheldon.
I’ll also be casting my eye over one new show, Strike Back: Retribution, as well as a movie: Spider-man: Homecoming. See you in a mo.