Brad Oswald

  • Murder mystery slays new series competition

    So much for winter being TV's off-season. Here we are, heading into the first week of March, which was long considered to be the absolute depth of prime-time television's cold-weather doldrums; instead of a steady stream of reruns and mid-season fill-ins, what this week's TV menu brings is no less than five new-series premières on major broadcast networks, a couple of cable-channel series debuts, the return of a trio of veteran series and the binge-ready arrival of the third-season episodes of Netflix's highest-profile offering, House of Cards.
  • Will good be good enough?

    It's a bit of a sticky problem for a TV-show producer: will viewers embrace your new series if it's simply good, when what they've come to expect from you is greatness? That's the situation facing Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and David Shore (House), who share creator/executive producer credits on Battle Creek, a promising but hardly groundbreaking new buddy-cop drama that premières Sunday, March 1 at 9 p.m. on CBS and Global.
  • Mr. Nice Guy rages against the machine

    Ron James has been called a lot of things during two decades of touring Canada as a standup comedian -- inventive, energetic, prolific, patriotic, frantic, frenetic and, of course, funny. But... angry? Ron James?
  • Netflix, Crave TV, shomi go to war online to capture Canadians who want U.S. programming

    It says a lot about the current state of television entertainment that a couple of the most-talked-about TV shows of the new year aren't really on TV. Transparent, a daring comedy-drama produced by Amazon Studios for online distribution, in January won a Golden Globe Award for best TV series (comedy or musical) and a best-actor trophy for series star Jeffrey Tambor.
  • Fine-tuning the funny

    Bigger names, a new and bigger venue, a big new awards show and substantially smaller prices -- these are the elements that Al Rae thinks make this year's Winnipeg Comedy Festival worthy of raising a glass. With a "Whine and Cheese" theme celebrating its 14th-year vintage, the city's annual spring flood of funny business -- which runs April 6-12 -- will feature an expanded schedule that runs a full week and includes a roast, a couple of one-man shows, a bilingual improv event, a gritty urban-comedy night and showcases for local comedy, alternative humour and gay-themed performances, as well as the usual schedule of taped-for-TV galas at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre.
  • Standup gigs the spark in comedian's creative tank

    He's had his fill of Gas, so now it's time for Brent Butt to hit the road. Fresh off last year's hugely successful multi-platform release of Corner Gas: The Movie, the Saskatchewan-born writer/producer/actor/comedian is spending some time reconnecting with his standup-comedy roots.
  • Once upon a laughtrack...

    It has often been said that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. It could be argued, perhaps even more strongly, that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of those who've repeated past mistakes pretty much deserve to suffer the same fate.
  • I spy with my little eye a tame wartime drama

    Unlikely heroes make for the most compelling drama, according to a school of screenwriting thought. If that's true, then the new CBC drama X Company ought to be a real white-knuckle ride, because its secret-mission warriors tend more toward nerdy talents and dysfunctional personalities than the traditional hard-charging, weapons-blazing heroics we're used to seeing.
  • Sun News Network had unimpressive package with limited appeal

    It's an ending that was as inevitable as, well, the setting of the sun. Sun News Network faded to black early Friday, a couple of months short of four years after it arrived on Canadian airwaves with a boldly shouted promise to "change TV history."
  • Sun News Network failed to make people care it existed

    It’s an ending that was as inevitable as, well, the setting of the sun. Sun News Network faded to black early Friday, a couple of months short of four years after it arrived on Canadian airwaves with a boldly shouted promise to “change TV history.”
  • Stewart's perfect timing on display

    If anyone ever deserved his own personal Moment of Zen, it's Jon Stewart. And by making the decision to exit on his own terms, at the very top of his game, the host of the satirical comedy stalwart The Daily Show with Jon Stewart seems to have achieved just that.
  • Stewart's departure another example of his keen sense of timing

    If anyone ever deserved his own personal Moment of Zen, it’s Jon Stewart. And by making the decision to exit on his own terms, at the very top of his game, the host of the satirical comedy stalwart The Daily Show with Jon Stewart seems to have achieved just that.
  • Come along for the ride on humanity's long journey

    How did we get here? The question, for the purposes of the discussion that follows, is concerned not with wherever you or I happen to be sitting as we read this, but rather the place that our species has come to occupy at this moment in our planet's evolutionary history.
  • Saul-id fare

    It's a tough act to follow. And, for that matter, to precede. But that's the doubled-up dare that Better Call Saul is taking on as it arrives in prime time as a prequel-ish followup to one of TV's best dramas ever, Breaking Bad.
  • Lifetime movie bad... but not in a bad way

    It's all a matter of attitude. The difference between a bad movie that's just painfully bad and a bad movie that's somehow entertainingly good can be as simple as the movie's producers having embraced its badness and decided to have a bit of fun with it.
  • British series examines dark side of life above the Arctic Circle

    Every now and then, TV offers up a murder-mystery whodunit in which the "where" and the "who" are of equal importance. The deep-frozen British import Fortitude, which follows the investigation of a shocking killing in a remote mining town beyond the Arctic Circle, is the latest. And despite being set in one of the coldest places on Earth, Fortitude -- which premières Thursday, Jan. 29, on Super Channel (check listings for time) -- is a moody crime thriller that generates a whole lot of heat.
  • Locally shot TV series turns Wild West into mild west

    When the locally filmed TV-western series The Pinkertons has its Canadian première this week, only certain Winnipeg viewers will be able to see it. Which raises a question: who fares better in the exchange -- subscribers to MTS-TV and Shaw Direct (satellite), who can watch The Pinkertons, or local customers of Shaw Cable, who cannot?
  • Podium-placing not part of ride of Hughes' life

    Winning an Olympic medal is impressive. Winning several is outstanding. Winning multiple medals in two different sports, in both the summer and winter Olympics, is a truly awe-inspiring feat. And then doing something that somehow makes all those podium finishes seem like lesser achievements? Well, that’s an accomplishment of another magnitude altogether.
  • Final showdown should be bloody good

    Not much happens in the première of Justified's sixth and final season, but watching it will leave the show's fans feeling secure in the knowledge that before it's all over, a whole lot is going to happen. Justified, the backwoods-lazy, lyrical and poetically violent sort-of-western cop show based on short-story characters created by the late Elmore Leonard, begins the final stretch run of episodes (Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Super Channel) that will bring closure to the core conflict between Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and his boyhood friend-turned-outlaw nemesis, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins).
  • Swede and sour

    How flawed is too flawed? And how brilliant is brilliant enough? Those are the key questions in creating a TV cop who fits into the often-exploited realm of the damaged but uniquely gifted hero. And it's a delicate balance -- the character's flaws must be significant and interesting, but not so crippling that they can't be counterbalanced by the special talents that allow the hero to triumph.
  • Heavy promises, light delivery from former Kid in the Hall

    It's an attention-grabbing title, without a doubt, so it would be a real letdown if it turns out to be only one-third true. Kids in the Hall alumnus Bruce McCulloch returns to prime-time TV this week in a new sitcom, Young Drunk Punk, that purports to be loosely based on his late-teen misadventures growing up in Calgary.
  • The greatest waste of time

    The first problem with Whitney is its title. The implication is that the TV movie that carries it will offer a biographical look at the life and career of its subject, music legend Whitney Houston. But in truth, the movie -- which airs Saturday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. on Lifetime -- offers few insights, personal or professional, about the singer, and focuses solely on a single aspect of her troubled and too-short life.
  • Schitt's Creek not worst place to lose remote

    Well, that's a relief. Based on the mixed sets of expectations its pending arrival in CBC's lineup had created, the new comedy Schitt's Creek was going to be one of two things:
  • New HBO comedy fresh take on familiar

    Given its subject matter, its tone, its cable-network locale and the timing of its arrival, it would be easy for the new HBO comedy Togetherness to get lost in the shuffle and mostly overlooked. And that would be a shame, because it's a show that -- despite being neither ground-breaking nor particularly risk-taking -- has a lot to offer to viewers willing to seek it out and give it a chance.
  • Wolseley-shot sketch show a bright spot on the TV schedule

    Many folks hereabouts regard the Wolseley neighbourhood as kind of a different place to live. But when the Toronto-based producers of the new Citytv sketch-comedy show Sunnyside moved in for a few weeks last year, Winnipeg's earthy granola-belt enclave was transformed into something downright weird.

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