By Jaime Weinman - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Fights, werewolves, a heroine whose power is sexiness: no wonder Lost Girl is a hit
Here’s one kind of television that Canadians may be doing better than Americans: titillating fantasy with lots of fights, stylized sets and people in monster makeup. The show that offers this kind of wildness is Lost Girl, the story of a beautiful succubus (Anna Silk) solving supernatural mysteries that is completing its third season on Showcase and has just been picked up for a fourth. It’s been one of the Canadian channel’s highest-rated shows since it began in 2010, consistently winning its time slot on the Syfy network in the U.S. And instead of a serious genre show, it’s what writer and current showrunner Emily Andras calls “a world of mermaids and werewolves and sex manatees.”
Executive producer Jay Firestone says he started developing the show several years ago when friends pointed out that TV had nothing like Buffy the Vampire Slayer anymore. When he set out with writer-creator Michelle Lovretta to change that, he found that a lot of networks thought the idea of a girl-power fantasy show was “old news. I got one network executive telling me the show was too much like Witchblade, a show that didn’t last.”
Networks wouldn’t have been so dismissive of this kind of show in the ’90s, when the first-run syndication market and a proliferation of cable networks created a demand for low-budget action shows that made up with humour what they lacked in money: Buffy and Xena: Warrior Princess were two of the most popular. But in today’s TV world, science fiction tends to be quite dark and serious, like Battlestar Galactica. “A lot of incredible genre stuff is quite earnest right now,” Andras says, and even shows that could be campy, like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, are basically solemn.
By Emma Teitel - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
A chat about his new radio show and, of course, Spenny
Kenny Hotz is a breaker of records in (among other things) octopus wearing, semen producing, bible peddling, and gas passing. Post Kenny vs. Spenny, he’s been covering new–equally gross– ground. There was Testees, a short-lived comedy about human test subjects, Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will, a reality series in which Kenny wanders a Nevada desert naked, tries to get his mother laid, and enlists a Jewish community to help him build a mosque. And now, for the first time in his career, he’s doing radio–with Testees actor, Jeff Kassel. Hotzcast, will debut this month on Sirius XM’s Laugh Attack (XM channel 160), live on Tuesdays at 5 PM ET. Kenny and Jeff will be covering politics and popular culture, with the occasional guest (including, he hopes, Martin Short some day.) Here’s Kenny Hotz on life without Spencer, Hebrew school, the NHL lockout, and his new “no mandate” radio show.
Q: Hi Kenny, how are you?
A: Surprisingly well. Still relevant, thank God. How are you? How is everyone at Maclean’s?
Q: Everyone’s fine, I think. We’re all in cubicles, so I can’t see anyone right now.
A: Yeah that’s good. You don’t wanna see those people.
Q: Tell me about your new radio show.
A: It’s funny because I’m not really a radio guy and my fans have been bugging me for years, telling me to do a podcast, but podcasts are stale and they’re dying now. But I’ve always been a really big fan of radio and I grew up with it. I’m 45 and the early part of my life I spent with headphones on in my basement listening to radio.
Q: What kind of radio?
A: Brave New Waves, 102.1, a lot of CKLN, you know, Ryerson. And then when I moved to Los Angeles I lived in a garage for five years, and it was Howard Stern every morning.
Q: Have you ever met Howard Stern?
A: No, but I heard he liked the show [Kenny Vs. Spenny].
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 12:56 PM - 71 Comments
Our critic picks the English-language shows from the past 10 years that kept him glued to the small screen
10. Clone High (2002 – 2003)
This one-season wonder was created by Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) as a Canada-U.S. co-production, but the U.S. partner dropped the show so quickly that only Canadians saw the full series. A parody of sitcoms, high school shows, and world history, it featured a premise-explaining theme song, characters based on JFK, Cleopatra and Gandhi, and a robot who talked like Mr. Belvedere. Even with an American creator, how could it not make the list?
9. Mantracker (2006 – )
Schlocky, cheesoid TV needs to be represented on a list like this. The obvious choice is the story of Terry Grant, a bad-ass horse-riding, hat-wearing, bearded cowboy who spends every episode hunting down a team of city-dwellers released into the wild. It’s basically the Most Dangerous Game on horseback, or Dog the Bounty Hunter without all the Christian moralizing. In other words, something you feel guilty for kind of enjoying.
8. Kenny vs. Spenny (2003 – )
A combination of reality competition and sitcom, this show about two mismatched buddies (a neat nut and an evil schemer, like a Canadian Odd Couple) show Kenny and Spenny doing various humiliating things every week in a desperate attempt to one-up each other. Many episodes feature the evil Kenny destroying his supposed friend through deceit, trickery and blatant cheating. When Trey Parker and Matt Stone joined the show as producers, it seemed to suggest what we already knew already: these guys are the new Cartman and Butters.
7. Life With Derek (2005 – 2009)
Canada has produced a number of “tween” comedies (Naturally Sadie, Radio Free Roscoe, The Latest Buzz) that were considerably better-acted and better-written than their counterparts on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. This Family Channel show, about a blended family that—unlike the Brady Bunch—can’t get along, was perhaps the best of the bunch, a throwback to real-world family problems in a TV landscape increasingly dominated by escapism. It was like Step By Step with people who aren’t disgusting.
6. The Hour (2005 – )
Though The Rick Mercer Report was the ‘00s most obvious answer to The Daily Show, George Stroumboulopoulos comes closer to matching Jon Stewart’s appeal: a comedian and “personality” performer conducting interviews with many serious, earnest people. After years of interviewers who were totally serious and earnest themselves, or talk-show hosts who only interviewed second-rank entertainers, seeing “Strombo” chat it up with James Cameron or Barbara Walters demonstrated that Canadian talk shows could successfully follow the U.S. template.
5. Corner Gas (2004 – 2009)
With the success of Brent Butt’s half-hour comedy about wacky small-town Saskatchewan residents, we saw how Canadians can step into the breach and do things the U.S. isn’t doing—in this case, rural comedy. The show also took techniques that had become common in U.S. single-camera comedy, like sudden cutaways and flashbacks, and brought them into the Canadian mainstream. It was about a place where life moves slowly, but it helped Canadian shows move a lot faster.
4. Durham County (2007 – )
A mashup of cop shows and American Beauty-type stories about the hidden evil of suburbs, this drama starred Hugh Dillon as a big-city cop who tries to start a new life in suburbia, only to discover there’s lots of murdering and depravity going on. Though the second season was not as strong as the first, it was The Movie Network‘s most interesting attempt to do a show in the style of its U.S. counterpart, HBO.
3. Trailer Park Boys (2001 – 2008)
One of the most influential and successful comedy shows of the era, this mock-documentary show about a bunch of beer-swilling lowlifes premiered in 2001, leading to a seven-season run and two films. In mining comedy from the adventures of people who are basically horrible, it preceded shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and it was doing fake documentary comedy before Arrested Development and The Office made it cool again.
2. Slings & Arrows (2003 – 2006)
A Canadian show so good that international viewers don’t know it’s Canadian. A comedy-drama about the pressures of putting on a play at an artistically-compromised, financially-strapped Shakespeare festival, the show was both an inside look at the insanity of show business and a universal story about the things that go wrong in any workplace. It helped that the great cast was full of big names like Paul Gross and co-creator Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall) and big names to be, like Rachel McAdams. The three seasons of the show were so successful they led to the ultimate compliment any show can receive: a foreign remake, the Brazilian Som e Fúria.