Watch­ing TV

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - EN­TER­TAIN­MENT -

His por­trayal of for­mer agent and cur­rent “most wanted” list en­try Ray­mond (Red) Red­ding­ton, who makes a strange deal that finds him help­ing the FBI to hunt down other fugi­tives, is huge, creepy fun. Mis­cel­la­neous mis­be­haviour TV news had more of its share of dis­taste­ful an­tics to cover in 2013, from the po­lit­i­cal realm’s stilldeep­en­ing Se­nate ex­pense-ac­count scandal and the out-of-con­trol Rob Ford soap opera to the pop-cul­ture fusses caused by Mi­ley Cyrus’s twerk and Duck Dy­nasty’s dad be­ing a jerk. For news out­lets and en­ter­tain­ment magazine shows, 2013 was a non-stop frenzy; for joke writ­ers at TV’s late-night talk shows, this was the eas­i­est year ever. The Amaz­ing Race Canada Thanks to Win­nipeg’s en­try in this homegrown (and Canuck-bor­der con­fined) spin on the pop­u­lar re­al­ity/com­pe­ti­tion fran­chise, TV found a new in­spir­ing hero in the per­son of Tim Hague Sr., who part­nered with son Tim Jr. in the race and then re­lied on ad­vice given by his wife (pay at­ten­tion and take co­pi­ous notes) to en­gi­neer a come­from-be­hind win in the se­ries’ first­sea­son fi­nale. Add in the fact that Hague en­dured the gru­elling jour­ney while deal­ing with early-on­set Parkin­son’s disease, and you’ve got a win­ner whose tri­umph is hard not to cel­e­brate. Broad­church/Top of the Lake Two im­ported mur­der-mys­tery minis­eries — one from the U.K., the other from New Zealand — de­served more ac­claim and much big­ger au­di­ences than they re­ceived. Dark and bleak, some­times to the point of be­ing dif­fi­cult to watch be­cause they fo­cused on mur­dered chil­dren, each did a mas­ter­ful job of telling a very chal­leng­ing story. The con­tin­u­ing dom­i­nance of ca­ble-chan­nel dra­mas There are still some solid, de­pend­able, en­ter­tain­ing drama se­ries on the ma­jor broad­cast net­works, from the afore­men­tioned new­comer The Black­list to the great (and still im­prov­ing) vet­eran se­ries The Good Wife, but TV’s new golden age boasts a fast-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of out­stand­ing shows on ca­ble chan­nels and pre­mium pay-TV out­lets. Re­turn­ing se­ries

Board­walk Em­pire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, The Walk­ing Dead, Jus­ti­fied and Sons of An­ar­chy con­tin­ued to im­press, and the ad­di­tion of a new crop that in­cludes Ray Dono­van, Masters of Sex, The Amer­i­cans and sev­eral ti­tles men­tioned above meant tough choices for view­ers, as PVRs ev­ery­where filled up far too quickly with must­see pro­gram­ming. That girl from Saskatchewan A year ago, no one had ever heard of Ta­tiana Maslany. But now, thanks to her role — make that roles, as in at least 10 of them — in the sci-fi thriller Or­phan Black (which airs on Space), the Regin­aborn ac­tress is the talk of the TV world. Her per­for­mance in Sea­son 1 of Or­phan Black, which con­cerns it­self with a small-time con artist who dis­cov­ers she’s ac­tu­ally one of sev­eral prod­ucts of an il­le­gal hu­man-cloning ex­per­i­ment, drew raves from crit­ics ev­ery­where and also sparked a mi­nor wave of out­rage when she was passed over by Emmy vot­ers, who left her out of this year’s best-ac­tress bracket. She’ll get another chance to be no­ticed, how­ever — Sea­son 2 of Or­phan Black pre­mières in the spring. The hockey deal No one’s sure yet ex­actly what it’ll mean for hockey fans and their big-screen TV sets, but there’s no ques­tion the re­cently an­nounced 12-year, $5.2-bil­lion deal that gives Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­clu­sive na­tional broad­cast and dig­i­tal-me­dia rights to NHL games will bring ma­jor changes to the way Cana­di­ans watch hockey. TSN, peren­ni­ally this coun­try’s pre-em­i­nent sports net­work, loses the most im­por­tant property in its ros­ter. CBC will main­tain Hockey Night in Canada for four more years, pay­ing noth­ing for the sub­let rights but reap­ing none of the ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue gen­er­ated by the Satur­day-night in­sti­tu­tion. Hockey will re­side mostly on Ci­tytv and Rogers Sport­snet, and will likely be made avail­able on nu­mer­ous dig­i­tal plat­forms as modes of de­liv­er­ing TV con­tent con­tinue to evolve. The big ques­tion, of course, is how much it’s go­ing to cost at-home fans to ac­cess hockey on what’s sure to be a multi-tiered ar­ray of pay-to-watch’em-play op­tions.

SPACE

Ta­tiana Maslany in Or­phan Black.

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