BIG RELEASE FRIDAY: (The Captive)
BIG PICTURE: Atom Egoyan (Exotica) directs fellow Canadians Scott Speedman (Barney's Version) and Ryan Reynolds (you know, Scarlett Johansson's ex-husband) in this Hitchcockian suspense thriller about a kidnapped child. But the true revelation could be Mireille Enos (superb on AMC's The Killing) as a grieving mother with buried secrets. Plot twists and red herrings abound, and all signs point to a conspiracy. That doesn't sound like Canada! (Egoyan co-wrote the screenplay and set the film in his home country). Reynold's tormented father is initially a suspect in the crime. Eight years later, new evidence is found in a hotel room -- a comb that looks like it belongs to the lost girl. Ominously, a hidden camera is also found.
FORECAST: This one could boost Reynold's career as a "serious actor." That is, unless the trick ending involves him transforming into the Green Lantern again to save his daughter.
BIG EVENTS: (Houdini, Monday and Tuesday, Showcase, 8 p.m.); Utopia (Sept. 7, Fox, Citytv, 7 p.m.)
BIG PICTURE: The trailer for Houdini features him asking, "What's your biggest fear? Drowning, heights, crowds..." (For the record, my two biggest fears are extraterrestrial invasions and waking up next to a Kardashian.) Adrien Brody is perfectly cast as the mysterious titular magician whose name is still synonymous with magic nearly 90 years after his death. This two-part miniseries promises a revealing look at the personal and professional exploits of the iconic escape artist and illusionist. Kristen Connolly (House of Cards) co-stars as his wife, Bess. Meanwhile, Fox presses the reset button on civilization when 15 people are shipped to the middle of nowhere to "dedicate a year of their lives to build a dream society." No family, no food, no heat -- just a 200-person production crew, 1.2 hectares of land and hundreds of cameras streaming 24-7 for 52 straight weeks. Worryingly, the producers only chose American contestants. Naturally, it doesn't take long for religious, ideological and political tensions to brew. (Next time you're in a random packed elevator, imagine being dropped in the wilderness with your fellow passengers and forming a new society... You may never sleep again). The show moves to its regular 7 p.m. Tuesday and Friday night time-slots at 8 p.m. starting Sept. 9 and Sept. 12.
FORECAST: Abracadabra! TV magic! Houdini deserves to be a multi-year series. Meanwhile, Utopia gives humanity a chance to screw things up all over again. (If I know humanity, my guess is we'll deliver). But it could be fun to watch the group invent their own laws, leadership and societal norms. (By the way, if I was in charge, I would make everyone communicate only in song and establish a Ministry of Silly Walks la Monty Python. Oh, and gluttony? No longer a sin.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sept. 7, 8 p.m.). The fifth and final season begins. Walter White's anti-hero swan song is a tough act to follow. Good luck, Nucky Thompson.
BIG RELEASE TUESDAY: Zeus (Classic Zeus)
BIG PICTURE: My favourite Canadian label, Arts & Crafts, releases another potential gem. The third full-length album from Zeus finds the Toronto band shifting from '70s classic-rock influences into modern indie pop. What emerges is a more dynamic sound than previous efforts, but with the band's familiar harmonies and sense of humour.
FORECAST: It's bold naming yourself after a god, let alone the "king of the gods." Zeus may not yet fully deliver on their name, but this divine effort would certainly get some rotation on the radio station atop Mount Olympus. I predict other Canadian bands will embrace the Greek-Roman pantheon. (I want Feist to change her name to Aphrodite, or an East Coast rock band named Poseidon's Trident.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Blonde Redhead (Barragan); Nick & Knight (Nick & Knight). Nick & Knight: the new Simon & Garfunkel, a new formulaic cop show or a sign the end is near? Nick Carter from Backstreet Boys and Jordan Knight from NKOTB unite as a duo! Meanwhile, the stellar, ever-creative, New York alt-rockers Blonde Redhead return with an album title that sounds like a typo, but the music should be error-free.