Brad Oswald

  • Shift of the gab

    We need to talk... about talk. Specifically, we need to have a discussion about TV's late-night hours, and whether the term "talk show" is an appropriate description for the current versions of the medium's most enduring post-prime time programming genre.
  • No costume drama

    There's a natural tendency, given the overwhelming presence of under-performing superhero titles at the box office these days, to react to the release of yet another Marvel Comics adaptation with rolled eyes and muffled, resigned sighs. It isn't hard to transform the phrase "another Marvel adventure" into a plaintive "Not another Marvel adventure," but in the case of the new Netflix series Marvel's Jessica Jones, such a please-make-it-stop sentiment is completely unjustified.
  • It's Bob and David...

    For fans of vintage sketch-comedy TV, this will be a welcome reunion. Clocking in at a meagre four episodes, however, Netflix's new comedy collection featuring re-teamed Mr. Show stars Bob Odenkirk and David Cross isn't likely to leave fans of that late-'90s favourite feeling anywhere near laughed into submission. The pair's new offering, W/ Bob & David, arrives on Netflix on Friday, Nov. 13, accompanied by a half-hour "The Making of" special, and it's fair to say that Odenkirk and Cross, despite having each moved on to bigger stardom in traditional scripted TV fare (including Arrested Development for Cross, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul for Odenkirk), haven't lost their knack for sharp, smart and on-the-edge sketch comedy.
  • Lazy like a fox

    Let's face it -- it's all just a bunch of baloney. But that's the nature of standup comedy, an art form that by its own definition is strictly for laughs. And Derek Edwards is OK with that -- so much so, in fact, that he named his latest cross-Canada comedy tour Baloney and Wine.
  • Aging, bald rap fan battles slam-poet stereotypes in doc

    Middle-aged. Middle-class. White, bald, gainfully employed, happily married, proudly parental. These aren't the attributes one would expect to attach to a slam-poetry performer whose work is fuelled by outrage at life's injustices. But in the case of Ian French, the subject of the new documentary IF the Poet, the idyllic day-to-day reality and the artistic onstage anger have found a way to fruitfully coexist.
  • Ballet drama disappoints; espionage series laughably bad

    On the surface, there doesn't seem to be much in common between international espionage and elite ballet dancing. As it turns out, however, they do share this: they're both subjects that can be handled in a ham-fisted manner by the producers of TV drama series.
  • The new face of TV

    There's been a major demographic shift down at the ol' Central Perk. When Friends ruled the airwaves as TV's top comedy, the sitcom version of New York City was decidedly white, uniformly attractive and unapologetically, unrealistically upscale.
  • Sex, drugs and serial killers on the Strip

    Sex and drugs and rock and roll -- if you're going to create a TV drama set in the '80s along Hollywood's infamous Sunset Strip, those are pretty much the required background elements for the story you're trying to tell. Add in a serial killer or two, and maybe you've got the makings of a prime-time show that people will watch.
  • Oprah gives viewers something to believe in

    Just how big a deal is the inspiration-based documentary series Belief to Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable channel? This big: Oprah herself serves as narrator.
  • Fatal attraction

    What's an appropriate price to pay for stupidity? A few thousand dollars? A couple of million?
  • Vancouver-set spy series unapologetically Canadian

    IT figures that the hero in a Canadian-TV spy thriller would be rumpled, reserved, less than thrilling and perhaps even not all that Canadian. Wolfgang McKee is no James Bond, that's for sure. And that's what makes the new CBC series The Romeo Section, for better and worse, something other than a standard-issue espionage drama.
  • Is it worth returning to Fargo? You betcha!

    Two great bits of news about this week’s TV schedule: first, the second season of FX’s Fargo looks to be just as good as the first; and second, viewers in Winnipeg will actually be able to see it this time. When the TV-series spinoff of the classic 1996 Coen brothers movie premièred last year, Rogers — which owns FX Canada and its companion network, FXX — opted to use the show to drive subscriber traffic toward newly launched FXX rather than placing it on the more established FX Canada channel.
  • Sitcom strikes strange sweet spot

    As the annual wave of new TV dramas and comedies continues to roll along, the singular goal for each rookie show is the same: to get noticed. Given that most of the autumn arrivals fit into traditional formats -- cop shows, courtroom dramas, medical/hospital stories, old-school sitcoms or, more recently, superhero adventures -- one of the most effective strategies for standing apart from the same-old crowd is to be different.
  • Crude British import can be a real howl

    How do you remember your childhood? Happy? Sad? Difficult? Privileged? Funny? Not really worth remembering? How about wildly inappropriate and yet somehow unconventionally articulate?
  • Taking the pulse of health care

    It wasn't necessarily intended to be political, but it very likely will be. When the producers of the ambitious CBC medical-documentary series Keeping Canada Alive sent more than 60 cameras into Canadian communities last spring to capture a day-in-the-life look at hospitals, health-care facilities and care homes across the country, the agenda was simply to give TV viewers an intimate and informative glimpse at a system that most Canadians consider to be one of the nation's core values.
  • Moving parts

    It's a storyline that represents every family's worst nightmare. But for an actor, it's the kind of challenge that turn out to be dream job.
  • Aging TV stars grind it out in two new comedies

    It's a big night for handsome TV actors of a certain age. Two of Hollywood's best-preserved '80s-era leading men -- Rob Lowe and John Stamos -- are front and centre as stars of a back-to-back pairing of new Fox comedies that play well to the actors' strengths, but are very different in terms of their themes and, more importantly, their chances of success.
  • Well-oiled comedy-writing machine made for a slick 'Daily Show' takeover for Trevor Noah

    As transitions go, this one was pretty seamless. With new host Trevor Noah behind the anchor desk, The Daily Show made its long-awaited return to the late-night lineup; Noah is no Jon Stewart, obviously, but the way he handled his first night on the air made it clear that it won’t be long before he makes Comedy Central’s flagship fake newscast his own.

    Seasons change. Autumn's arrival is marked by falling leaves, dropping temperatures, darker mornings and evenings and, of course, the arrival of the annual Fall TV Preview. And times change, too. And these days, TV means a lot more than the programs that exist on those traditional around-the-dial channels and the hundreds of cable and specialty channels that populate the digital programming guide.
  • And, the Emmy winners probably won't be...

    OK, TV fans, gather 'round. Listen closely. Give me your undivided attention. Actually, wait a minute -- we're here for Oswald's annual Fearless Emmy Predictions, so maybe a better plan would be to listen in a slightly distracted manner and give me your sort-of-divided attention.
  • Stream? More of a trickle: Netflix cooks up new dishes, but Shomi and Crave offer only leftovers

    Seasons change. Autumn’s arrival is marked by falling leaves, dropping temperatures, darker mornings and evenings and, of course, the arrival of the annual Fall TV Preview. And times change, too. And these days, TV means a lot more than the programs that exist on those traditional around-the-dial channels and the hundreds of cable and specialty channels that populate the digital programming guide.
  • Friday choices reach for the top... and the bottom

    It's Day 6 -- T.G.I.F. Day -- in our annual Fall TV Preview, and the focus is on high arts and decidedly lowbrow comedy. Dr. Ken gives prime time an injection of something it definitely does not need, and Canada's public broadcaster seeks to inspire with a pair of newcomers that celebrate the creative process. You might think that this brings an end to our annual autumnal assessment of all things TV, but hold on a minute! There's more to come in Saturday's Free Press as we delve deep into the digital realm with our first ever TV Preview for People Who Don't Watch TV -- a cord-cutter-friendly guide to what's happening this fall on streaming-content services such as Crave TV, Shomi and Netflix.
  • Thursday night heroes

    Day 5 of our Fall TV Preview features a show that will be huge news for a certain segment of the TV audience, and a complete non-event for the rest. Heroes Reborn, which restarts NBC's cult-hit 2006-10 series with a new set of specially talented outsiders living in a much more dangerous world. And speaking of special talents, how about an angelic presence with hellishly bad manners? It's like Sue Sylvester died and went to... wherever.
  • Two good hump day dramas and a stinker

    We've reached Day 4 in our Fall TV Preview, and the major wave of new show arrivals seems to have crested. hump day's lineup has just three new offerings -- one a traditional (and rather good) medical drama, another a stylish coroner-who-solves-crime adventure, and the third, a homegrown thriller focused on deep-cover espionage in a Canadian environment.  
  • Tuesdays the best time with fuzzy fun and bloody screams

    It's the best of times, the worst of times and the screamiest, stabbiest and most Muppet-y of times in Day 3 of our Fall TV Preview -- Neil Patrick Harris brings the best, The Bastard Executioner takes a swing at the worst, Scream Queens provides the shrieks and Wicked City takes a stab at, well, the stabbing. And of course, only The Muppets can provide the fuzzy, felt-headed fun.  


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