Television

Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2014


calgary-expo1

Yesterday I had the most amazing time at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2014. It’s the once a year gathering place to geek out in Central Alberta. Whether you are into anime, horror, sci-fi, action….it’s all represented at this massive show. The place was crawling with uber fans & celebrities (who were glad to take pictures with you and give you their autograph for some $$$) of every genre. Considering the event has over 60,000 attendees, the crowd control was excellent and it never felt too crowded. I highly recommend this event and will be back next year. Highlights for me at this event included: Meeting Sean Astin from The Goonies, a hilarious panel with John Ratzenberger, bumping into people with the most incredibly detailed costumes, and listening to Sigourney Weaver speak about all her awesomeness in Alien, Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest. Here are some of the pictures I took throughout the day. Enjoy!

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Big Brother Canada Audition

big brother canada logo

After procrastinating for weeks now, I finally recorded and edited my Big Brother Canada audition video! For something that’s less than 3 minutes, it took me a few hours to actually get it completed. I’m a huge fan of Big Brother, so it’s exciting to have the chance to possibly be on the Canadian version.  I will also be attending the in person auditions in Toronto, just to increase my chances, hopefully. It’s a mystery as to how close it will follow the U.S. format, but I’m ridiculously excited to find out if I make it to the next round of auditions. Wish me luck!

Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.

Arthur Christmas: A blatant rip-off of Prep & Landing?

Arthur top, Prep and Landing below

Watching television tonight I saw a trailer for “Arthur Christmas,” a new movie from Sony. Here’s the description: “On Christmas night at the North Pole, Santa’s youngest son looks to use his father’s high-tech operation for an urgent mission.” The first thing I thought was that this is a blatant rip-off of Disney’s Prep and Landing. Here’s the description of that: “Wayne gets a new rookie partner, Lanny, after his previous partner got the promotion he wanted. Lanny has to remind Wayne of the Spirit of Christmas and the importance of being an elf in Santa’s Prep and Landing elite unit.” The difference being that Prep and Landing is a television special that came out 2 YEARS AGO! Looking further into Arthur Christmas, it really isn’t a simple copy, but some sequences look a little too similar to me. Mainly the whole high-tech, Mission Impossible type elves. Even other websites have made this mistake. (See screencap below.) You can’t argue that some of the ideas are definitely “borrowed”. Check out the trailer below, followed by a clip of Prep and Landing. What do you think?


The listing says Arthur Christmas, but the image below is Prep and Landing.

The 5 Best Canadian TV Shows made before 2000

Being a Canadian kid in the 90’s was sometimes difficult. Growing up we never had Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or MTV. We were deprived of channels and shows that we heard about but couldn’t get access to. What’s a kid to do? Luckily, we had some great homegrown TV shows that helped us fill our time with good natured fun. While Americans are familiar with Degrassi, when it comes to many other great kids TV shows they have no idea what childhood gems they missed. Some of these did air in the U.S., but were never as popular as American shows. Here are a few Canadian made TV show that I really liked and still do. What are your favourite Canadian made shows?

Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High

Not that remake, were talking the original series here people. With Spike having her baby, Joey Jeremiah getting some guy to buy him beer, Snake as an awkward teenager, the Twins and their abortions. You know, all the usual examples of drama the average Canadian teen grows up experiencing. There is so much to love here. The hair, the “real” life story-lines, and if you live in Toronto, the many locations used for the show. You can watch episodes online here, thanks PBS!

Fast Forward

I completely forgot about this show until I started writing this article. It aired on Family Channel I believe. It’s been so long I can’t even remember anything about the show other than I liked it. Here’s the IMDB description:

Tucker and Becca are close friends. So close that they live next door to one another with facing second story windows and share a birthday. Tucker is at times an absent minded goof-off while Becca tends to be opinionated and in a hurry to grow up. Now in middle school, they find themselves caught in everyday events that turn into comical adventures. Throughout the show, Tucker, Becca, and their friends speak directly to the audience, telling the story as they remember how much more simple everything was when they were five. If they can survive junior high, then their friendship can survive anything.

Ready or Not

This show followed Busy and Amanda through the drama of growing up. I don’t know why I liked it, maybe because they are having so much fun in the photo booth. Stop judging me! I do remember though when I worked at McDonald’s, they had a Crew (that’s McD’s speak for employee) magazine that featured the time Lani Billar (Busy) came to a McDonald’s. And this was years after the show. Isn’t that exciting!

Popular Mechanics for Kids

This was an awesome show that gave us insight into the world of technology and cool stuff. They had a wicked episode about Islands of Adventure before it opened. Jay Baruchel was one of the hosts, and so was Elisha Cuthbert. I loved her. Seriously. Then she was in a bizarre TV movie called Lucky Girl and the awful but hot The Girl Next Door. Now she’s on Happy Endings which is awesome! Jay became part of the Judd Apatow crew and was in Undeclared and the great movie She’s Out of My League.

Breaker High

This was about a high school on boat and the hijinks of the teens that went there. Hmmm…sounds alot like The Suite Life on Deck doesn’t it? Regardless, it starred a pre-movie star Ryan Gosling and Tyler Labine who’s always “that guy” in tons of movies but you don’t know his name. I remember hearing this show might be cancelled and joining a petition on the web to keep the show alive. Were talking like a Geocities website here. Wow, I’m dating myself.

Why “Terra Nova” is the best new TV show this Fall

Despite the negative outlook I had after reading about production issues, budget overruns, and schedule push backs, I must say I really liked the 2-hour premiere of Fox’s “Terra Nova“. Let’s get the brontosaurus in the room out of the way: Yes it does allude to a few other popular movies and television shows of the past, mainly “Jurassic Park“, “Avatar“, and “Lost“. Despite these comparisons, it’s a completely fresh concept that has tons of potential to entertain viewers. And from the Tweets I was following during the show, many people would agree with me. Here are a few reasons why I think “Terra Nova” is the best new show on television:

1. It sends a great message without being preachy

In “Terra Nova”, humans have almost destroyed the earth and are now transporting themselves back in time to start over. They are lucky to have technology with them, but they are basically living like early settlers. Unfortunately in the real world we don’t have the ability to time travel, yet. This show can help set a precedent of what can happen in the future and how humans with have to deal, all packaged in a slick, entertaining package. In a way like “Avatar.”

2. It’s breathtakingly beautiful

Television shows are a means of escapism for the general public, and “Terra Nova” does an amazing job of taking viewers to another world filled with lush tropical landscapes and fantastic sets. While there could be a little more work with the CGI dinosaurs, they are dealing with episodes that need to be produced on tighter deadline than movies. The show is filmed in Australia, therefore tons of eye candy to look forward to, especially if your watching in HD.

3. Mythology and storytelling are the foundation

Yes it’s bound to be compared to “Lost”, with a few plot points that are vaguely similar. The mythology that’s been planted from the first episode adds a reason for viewers to keep coming back for more and become engaged. What’s the point of a television show where everything is spelled out to the viewer upfront? The storytelling is also great, with many interesting characters that a broad base of viewers can relate to. In this day of social networking, mythology & the ability to relate are great ways for viewers to connect with each other, share and discuss. In the end building more buzz and drawing in more viewers. No one thought Lost would survive, and yet it lasted for 6 seasons because of this.

4. It’s cheesy in a fun way

The dinosaurs have nicknames like “howlers” and “slashers.” People keep getting killed left, right and centre, and Stephen Lang from “Avatar” is basically playing the same character all over again. While the show is considered a drama, this thick layer of cheese adds to the love I have for this show from the first episode.


5. No matter how hard you try, you will think of “Jurassic Park”, and that’s a good thing

Maybe it’s because Steven Spielberg is an executive producer, or simply that there are dinosaurs involved. Or maybe it’s because a few scenes and set pieces tread awfully close to similar ones in the JP films (I was hoping for electrified fences!). Regardless, the entire time I was thinking about “Jurassic Park”, how awesome it was, and how it’s great to have the same feeling about dinosaurs again as I did when I was 8 years old.

I truly believe “Terra Nova” is going to get enough viewers to stay alive. This show is very risky, especially on a network like Fox. Big budget, big sets, big dinos= big expectations. It will be interesting to see the numbers over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to pop in a DVD of “Jurassic Park”, and maybe follow it up with “Avatar” on Blu-Ray!

Is Dixon on “90210” headed down the same path as “Jessie Spano”?

If the new “90210” had not become on of the most ridiculous shows on television by now, tonight it has. It goes like this: Dixon is trying to pump out some beats for a record producer that he’s meeting in the morning, but can’t focus. In comes his roommate who offers him some ADHD medication to help him stay focused and awake. Now I’m not saying this idea is super original or that it was stolen, it just takes me back a bit. Instantly another show comes to mind, if you haven’t figured it out yet read on. I’m sure this is a setup for some sort of meltdown later in the season, and I’m hoping it’s exactly like one of the best episodes of “Saved By The Bell” entitled “Jessie’s Song.” If you have never been blessed to see this epic story, Jessie is studying for the SATs and needs to stay up late to study. She’s also trying to make it big in her pop group “Hot Sundae” with friends Lisa and Kelly. So much pressure that she comes to rely on caffeine pills to stay up and study all night. (Not caffeine pills!) Zack and Slater find out and are not happy, which results in a majestic meltdown that lives on as one of my favorite moments on television. See below for video. Seems so tame compared to the issues they show on television these days! What’s your favorite television moment of all time?

“The Secret Circle” has the potential to bewitch

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It’s that time again everyone, when I spend the cool nights of September devouring as many new television shows as I can. After dealing with the absence of anything worth following all summer, my television is finally filled with many possibilities to occupy my time. The first show I’ve actually paid attention to is “The Secret Circle” which airs on The CW or if your in Canada on Muchmusic. It’s another potential hit by Kevin Williamson, the creator of my favorite teen show ever “Dawson’s Creek.” Yes I’ll admit that a part of me is a 14 year old girl. Don’t hate, I just grew up watching cheesy teen soaps and continue to do so to this day. Anyways, it’s about a girl who’s parents are dead and moves to a small town in Washington (aka Vancouver) and discovers she’s a witch. As the trend is these days with shows such as “Gossip Girl” and “The Vampire Diaries” there are tons of secrets, mythology and character reveals. Visually the show looks like a cross between “Twilight” and “Dawson’s Creek.” It has the whole foggy Oregon down by the ocean look, with a sprinkling of lush forest in between. Bonus points to Kevin Williamson for integrating a nautical themed restaurant called “The Boathouse”, and a busy fishing boat dock in what I believe is an homage to the best show ever (see above). In addition, the plot seems very reminiscent of the film “The Craft,” especially the girl standing on the dock in the pouring rain and lightning who screams “we can do whatever we want.” Regardless, I feel the show will last as it follows the style of other popular shows and perfectly hits the teenage girl demographic. As with other CW series they have a great soundtrack with a mix of bans they promote at the end. That’s all for now, stay tuned for more Fall TV show reviews!

The 5 best “Are You Afraid of the Dark” episodes

Are You Afraid of the Dark” is an immensely popular kids show from the mid-1990’s that is cited as one of the all time favourite shows for Generation Y. Personally, I can watch episodes of this show over and over, never getting tired of the “Midnight Society” and cheesy 90’s-ness of the whole thing. I’m proud that it’s Canadian, and that it’s become such a popular show over the years despite being over 10 years old now. I have never heard anyone speak badly of it, and it tends to come up as a favourite with many people when speaking of favourite kids shows.  Nickelodeon in the U.S. will beairing it on “TeenNick” as part of their “the 90’s are all that” nighttime broadcast slot. It stirs my emotions in the same way as “Saved By The Bell” and “Full House“. Reflecting upon the show now, it’s the type of show that would not be made in this day in age. Some of the themes are very dark and scary for kids. Goosebumps was created to fill the gap for tamer fare in same kids horror genre, but it never lived up to the standard set by “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” I recently downloaded the entire series from the web. I intended on purchasing them, but DVD copies are out of print and fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay. In case you weren’t aware, the show had 5 original seasons, went off the air, then had a revival for another 2 seasons. While the original series is amazing, the revival never lived up to the original premise of the show. Regardless, in the spirit of nostalgia, here is my countdown of the best 5 episodes of the show. You’ll notice they are from the first season, as it’s best and more frequently aired.

“The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors”: Emma and Dayday Toll suspect that their new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Braun and their son Lex, may be vampires when people in town start to get sick. The Brauns are originally from Eastern Europe, wear black, collect blood, and only are active at night.

This episode scared me so much as a kid that I still have thoughts of vampires flying through my window in the middle of the night. As a kid I would sleep with the blankets wrapped around my neck so that if they did get into my house, they couldn’t suck my blood. Super creepy!

“The Tale of the Lonely Ghost“:  A girl, Amanda Cameron, goes to stay with her Aunt Dottie and desperately wants to be friends with her snotty cousin, Beth, and her group of friends agrees to spend the night in the haunted house next door, which is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a preteen girl, to become part of the group. Beth’s nanny tries to warn Amanda to stay away from that place.

This episode comes to mind everytime I think of the show. It’s such a touching story, not as scary as many other episodes. It also has the girl from “Ready or Not” so it gets bonus points.

“The Tale of the Phantom Cab”: Two brothers, Denny and Buzz Crocker, get lost in the woods, and come across a mysterious cab driver, Flynn, and a very unusual man, a reclusive backwoods scientist by the name of Dr. Vink, who won’t let any of his victims go unless they solve a riddle: “What is it that has no weight, can be seen by the naked eye, and if you put it into a barrel, it will make the barrel lighter?”

This episode is excellent because it introduces us to an awesome character named Dr. Vink. He makes appearances throughout the series and is always fun to watch.

“The Tale of the Pinball Wizard”: Campbell, a mischievous kid who is obsessed with pinball, finds himself trapped in the mall at closing time after he loses track of time when working at a repair shop for Mr. Olson—and the protagonist of a real life pinball game. He must use all of his skills to escape the enchanted mall and save Princess Sophie, but soon learns that he is not the only one playing.

An excellent episode that takes place in a mall and always reminded me of the Stoneroad Mall in Guelph, ON.

“The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice”: Berkham, a high school outcast, awakens an ancient secret hidden in the school about an evil wizard named Goth after a lesson with Dr. Oliver. After his friend, Alix, discovers what’s going on and is the only one that knows, and it’s up to her alone to not only save Dean, but stop him from releasing the evil sorcerer.

The coolest part of this episode is the secret swimming pool and the sorcerers staff, which always reminded me of  the one that”Jafar” had in the Disney movie “Aladdin.”

Camp Rock 2 Set Visit

This morning I kept my promise that I would go out to Rockwood Conservation Area to check out what was filming there. Let me tell you that quite the production is there. They have the whole beach and canteen area blocked off with security and everything. Given the perseverence that I have, I decided to park as close to the set as possible and hike through the bush to see what was going on. I did not trespass, as I simply “stumbled” upon the set after walking out of the forest. I did not touch or take anything, only taking a few photos. Not much was going on, just some randoms walking around. The whole set looks great, as if it belongs there. They have power cables running all over the forest and lighting rigs everywhere. It looks like they may be doing night filming with all that equipment. Anyways, it’s confirmed that its the site for Camp Rock 2 as the flag clearly says Camp Rock on it. Here are some of the pictures. It took quite the hike to get these, without actually going onto the set. I walked around the entire lake to get some of these pics. I find it interesting that they are using the name Coin Flip as the production name, yet have the flag waving out in the air. Maybe that’s why they have Guelph Line shut down, as you can see the lake and sets clearly when you drive by. I guess gotta keep the Jonas crazy girls away so they can get this shot!
I guess these are for the night shoot?

I assume they are filming at night, as the place was dead when I was there in the afternoon

This is across the lake a bit, at one of the campsites

Is this where the Jo-Bros tee-off for fun between takes?

Camp Rock shoot confirmed…..

This is another path to get to the set….interesting that the guard’s chair was empty. Maybe lunch break?

Random power cables…there are tons of these everywhere. Save the environment!

Giant crane, must be for lighting or overhead shots?

Another shot of the famous flag
This was their way of warding off people…fake Poison Ivy signs and pylons!

View from across the lake…by the closed Guelph Line

This is the map of the conservation area… I walked all of the trails to get some shots without trespassing on the set

So overall my visit was a success. Despite the tons of walking through the woods and feeling like a 00-agent, I got everything I planned on. In doing more research, I believe they are mainly shooting at night. The park officially closes at dusk, but I may just pop over again and walk down Guelph Line once it gets dark to see what’s happening. Anyways, according to the schedule, they will be shooting again next week starting Tuesday after tomorrow’s stuff is completed.