Brad Oswald

  • 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.  
  • New television offerings a mishmash of genres, quality

    Day 2 of our Fall TV Preview is a very mixed bag of prime-time programming, featuring a girl who can fly, an inked-up woman who can't figure out why she's tattooed, a cop who can solve crimes before they happen, a singing sort-of stalker and a modern family -- no, not that one -- that's just trying to figure it all out. Ready, set... flip!
  • Soapy series, serious docs round out Sunday night's TV lineup

    Earlier this week, Winnipeggers awoke to the first frosty morning since spring, a sure sign that the seasons are a-changing here on the Prairies. Here's another autumn indicator: the annual Fall TV Preview, which offers a viewer-friendly guide to prime time's new and returning programs.
  • Beloved but predictable doofus Will Ferrell commits too many errors in baseball 'documentary'

    It hardly ranks as a hall-of-fame achievement, but given its charitable good intentions, the new HBO special Ferrell Takes the Field will probably generate more positive reaction than its on-the-diamond performance deserves. This hour-long documentary follows actor/comedian Will Ferrell as he races from ballpark to ballpark in an effort to play all 10 baseball positions (nine on-the-field spots plus designated hitter), in five different games and for 10 different teams, in a single crazy day during Major League Baseball's "cactus league" spring training in Arizona.
  • Stephen reveals the 'real' Colbert as he sheds his right-wing character

    Here’s the good news: even when he isn’t playing a character, Stephen Colbert is quite an engaging character. And it took pretty much no time for the new host of CBS’s The Late Show to separate the genuine version of himself on this show from the amped-up, doltish-conservative guy he played on The Colbert Report. One episode into his Late Show run, the new guy — the real guy — seems to have laid to rest “the question” that has loomed since he was plucked from the post-Daily-Show slot on Comedy Central to replace TV legend David Letterman in CBS’s marquee late-night property.
  • Winnipeg TV star Louriza Tronco shares talents on screens big and small

    For actors seeking success in TV and movies, an early career goal is to land a project that will "make it pop." For Winnipeg-born performer Louriza Tronco, Make It Pop might actually be that star-making vehicle.
  • Documentary examines Farley's rise to the top, and tragic end

    "INFURIATINGLY talented.” That's how comedian Chris Farley is described by his former boss, the guy largely responsible for turning the burly Wisconsin native into one of the biggest TV and movie stars of his lamentably too-short era.
  • Showbiz stories get fresh face in series of short-form docs

    Canadians in Hollywood -- this is hardly a new topic. That's why making a TV series that focuses on showbiz Canucks requires, first and foremost, a fresh perspective on a subject that has been discussed and dissected pretty much to death. The new Movie Central series Reelside succeeds mostly by not seeming to have a pre-planned approach to its short-form documentary profiles. Each half-hour instalment has its own agenda and its own style as it offers a glimpse inside the lives and work of young Canadians toiling in various corners of the Hollywood machine.
  • The skinny on boob tube's new fuzz show

    The atmosphere created in a TV drama is a lot like the actual atmosphere that surrounds us -- at times, it can be fresh and invigorating; at other times, it's oppressive and overwhelming. The new made-for-cable cop serial Public Morals finds itself in the latter category, thanks to its producers' determined effort to reflect the look, sound and attitudes of '60s-era New York City, which often goes so far over the top that it disrupts, rather than enhances, an otherwise entertaining period drama.
  • 'It's a bouncing baby comedy fest!'

    Andy Wood isn't responsible for bringing the Oddblock Comedy Festival into the world, but it might be argued that he's the midwife who assisted with the delivery. Wood, a veteran standup comic who co-founded the long-running and highly successful Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Ore., consulted regularly with the organizers of Winnipeg's new comedy fest, which continues today and Sunday in a cluster of venues on south Osborne Street.
  • Winnipeg couple's Amazing Race journey ends in a Kolkata traffic jam

    It was lousy luck and unfortunate timing, rather than poor performance, that spelled the end of The Amazing Race Canada for Brian and Cynthia Boyd. The long-married members of the Winnipeg Police Service were eliminated in this week’s episode of the CTV series, which saw the six remaining teams travel from the wind-swept prairies of Saskatchewan to the steamy, traffic-clogged streets of Kolkata, India.
  • Odd man out

    For Pat Thornton, one is not the loneliest number. But it might be the funniest. The veteran Canadian performer spent the better part of a decade performing in sketch troupes, both live onstage and on television, before shifting his focus back to standup comedy, the form that lured him into the business of being funny in the first place.
  • Buzz or bust?

    Back in 2013, when Netflix made its most aggressive move into the original-programming realm with the release of House of Cards, it had the star power of Hollywood heavyweight Kevin Spacey as a calling card to lure viewers. It was an important moment in the evolution of what's loosely defined as television these days in North America, and it solidified Netflix's status as a new destination for high-quality scripted programming.


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