TORONTO - A new year, a new batch of TV shows to savour.
There may be a chill in the air, but things are heating up on the tube as several new Canadian series prepare to launch in early 2010. From the long-awaited return of the Kids in The Hall to a sexy adaptation of the Giller Prize-winning book "Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures" to a potty-mouthed Jason Priestley, there are plenty of homegrown series on tap for those snowed-in nights. Add in the non-stop coverage planned for the Vancouver Winter Games and Canadians may have a hard time getting off the couch. A look at what's in store in the coming months (in alphabetical order):
"Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures" (HBO Canada) - This adaptation of the Giller Prize-winning book by Vincent Lam promises to be a mix of "E.R." and "Grey's Anatomy," with its sexy cast, love triangle storyline and hospital setting. Lam's collection of short stories, inspired by his own experiences as an E.R. doctor at a Toronto hospital, outlines a messy tangle of relationships that provide the jumping off point for this romantic drama. The book is not required reading for the eight-part miniseries, but be prepared for complex backstories that are filled in via narration and flashback. "X-Men"'s Shawn Ashmore stars as Fitz, a cocky former air evacuation paramedic battling alcoholism and his emotions for ex-girlfriend Ming. "ReGenesis"'s Mayko Nguyen plays the conflicted Ming, who is married to fellow med-school student Chen, played by Byron Mann. Lam makes a cameo midway through the series as a patient with an interesting backstory of his own. Premieres Sunday, Jan. 10.
"Call Me Fitz" (The Movie Network, Movie Central) - This 13-part comedy brings actor/director Jason Priestley back to Canada as a charismatic used car dealer known as Richard "Fitz" Fitzpatrick. It's a role that allows Priestley to put his squeaky clean image as Brandon Walsh on the old "90210" teen soap well behind him, with his crude, substance-abusing salesman pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour at every turn. But after Fitz botches a test drive and puts a customer in a coma, he finds himself held to account by a new salesman on the lot: Larry, described as "a do-gooder with a heart of gold." Filmed an hour outside Halifax, this edgy series reportedly drew more than 1,000 local residents to audition for roles as extras. Expected to hit the air in the spring.
"Death Comes to Town" (CBC) - The Kids in the Hall are back, and early clips from the show suggest they've lost none of their delightfully surreal and subversive touch. This time around, Mark McKinney, Bruce McCulloch, Dave Foley, Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald forego their sketch roots for a full-out narrative plot that revolves around a small town killing spree. Still, ladies undergarments and fat suits abound as the beloved comics take on multiple roles as town residents. Among them is a forgetful pizza delivery lady, played by McDonald; a 600-pound shamed hockey player, played by McCulloch; a lovelorn town coroner, played by Thompson; and of course, Death, a codpiece-wearing badass who cruises the streets on a motorized bicycle. Debuts Tuesday, Jan. 12.
"The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour" (Showcase) - The stars of the "Trailer Park Boys" reunite for an outrageous six-episode comedy that bears this long and suggestive working title. Billed as "a genre-breaking and highly innovative mix of narrative and sketch comedy," the series stars Mike Smith, Robb Wells and JP Tremblay as the cast of a children's show gone awry in the sleepy town of Port Cockerton. Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson plays an actor that assumes the identity of a German scientist to teach children about nutrition. He creates a powerful hallucinogen from local berries and chaos ensues as the cast unknowingly ingests the drug and loses grip on reality. Throw in a dangerous cult and a dysfunctional crime family and you know this isn't your typical comedy. Smith, Wells and Tremblay - better known as their "Trailer Park Boys" personas Bubbles, Ricky and Julian - serve as writers and executive producers. Expected to debut in the spring.
"How to Look Good Naked Canada" (W Network) - Based on the highly successful British series starring Gok Wan, this self-help show aims to get Canadian women feeling good about themselves, with and without clothes. Former "eTalk" personality Zain Meghji hosts this 13-episode, one-hour program and with a team of fashion and lifestyle experts, tries to help restore body confidence to a new woman each week. Those who conquer their fears prove it by strutting their stuff in a lingerie runway show. Early episodes focus on a single mom insecure about her height of five feet three inches, and a soulful songstress who hides her figure in men's jeans. Launches on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
"Pure Pwnage" (Showcase) - This show is being billed as the first Canadian series to originate on the Internet. Pronounced "Pure Own-age," it's based on a four-year-old web series that boasts more than 200,000 visitors a month, and draws its name from a gaming term used to signify beating an opponent. Jarett Cale stars as Jeremy, a 26-year-old guy that excels at video games but lacks the social skills to deal with reality. He lives in his mother's basement and when she orders him to get a job or move out, Jeremy is forced to deal with society. This half-hour comedy is being billed as a gamer's version of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with a touch of "Flight of the Conchords." Debuts in March 2010.
TORONTO - A new year, a new batch of TV shows to savour.
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