Brad Oswald

  • 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.
  • Tiresome, screamy sitcom far from a laughing matter

    Here's one of the things we learned about TV sitcoms back in the '70s: louder punchlines are not necessarily funnier. It's a lesson that seems to have been lost on the producers of The Carmichael Show, the second retro-designed NBC comedy to be given a mercifully short three-week burnoff schedule for its limited six-episode run.
  • Stylish crime caper stays on track during wild ride

    The heist is bold and stylish. The investigation is dogged and determined. Based on those two factors alone, the Brit-import miniseries The Great Train Robbery has the makings of a ripping-good TV yarn. And it doesn't disappoint, as it turns the story of Britain's most infamous crime caper into a captivating four-hour drama divided into two distinctly different parts.
  • The beginning of the end

    Talk about an easy setup. And, at the same time, a very daunting challenge. The prequel-ish series Fear the Walking Dead arrives on AMC with the one thing that all new TV shows covet -- an opening-night audience guaranteed to be well in excess of 10 million viewers (a huge number by cable-network standards), thanks to the huge and rabid following its predecessor, The Walking Dead, has attracted.
  • So, a not-very-funny thing happened on the way to this comedian's show

    If it's true that tragedy plus time equals comedy, then Tig Notaro must, by now, be pretty freakin' hilarious. Since the beginning of 2012, the veteran standup comic has endured the death of her mother, suffered a serious intestinal disorder, received a diagnosis of bilateral breast cancer, undergone a double mastectomy and, somehow, managed at the same time to establish herself as one of the most in-demand performers in her field.
  • New festival puts off-the-wall standup comics in unconventional venues along south Osborne

    There's no disputing that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Later this month, a trio of enterprising Winnipeggers will attempt to prove that the funniest distance between two points is a straight-line stroll down a single city block.
  • HBO's Sesame Street deal shows change in how children access TV

    It's been an interesting week for HBO. At the same time the U.S. premium cable network’s executives were confirming that discussions regarding a long-awaited Deadwood movie had been restarted, they announced a stunning five-year deal that will make Sesame Street a major part of HBO’s programming roster. Now that’s a one-two punch of press releases that nobody could have seen coming. It’s entirely likely that no pairing of network announcements has ever referred to two shows so completely at opposite ends of the language-and-content continuum — one of the cleanest, brightest and most enlightening of all the addresses in TV land, and the other the dustiest, filthiest, most violently foul-mouthed dirt-road destination in television history.
  • Bureaucratic battleground

    OK, kids, it's quiz time. Which of the following is an ideal setting for a great television drama? A) A big-city police precinct
  • Series wrings a lot of swing out of the '60s

    There's no disputing the notion that the 1960s were a groovy time. Free love, wild music, long hair and short skirts, political activism, social unrest and easy attitudes toward sex and drugs and all the rest made it a decade of tremendous cultural upheaval.
  • Emotional send-off hits all the right notes

    Imagine retiring from your job and getting a farewell card signed by every single person with whom you ever worked. That's essentially what Jon Stewart received on his final edition of The Daily Show on Thursday night, in a special double-length show filled with equal measures of heart, humour, gratitude, genuine emotion and what was most assuredly the best walk-off music any entertainer has ever enjoyed.
  • Curtain drop on Stewart near-perfect television

    Imagine retiring from your job, and getting a farewell card signed by every single person with whom you ever worked. That’s essentially what Jon Stewart received on his final edition of The Daily Show on Thursday night, in a special double-length show filled with equal measures of heart, humour, gratitude, genuine emotion and what was most assuredly the best musical play-off any entertainer has ever enjoyed.
  • Three local comedians vie for comedy fortune, fame in Top Comic contest

    One of the unique beauties of standup comedy as an art form is the immediacy with which it tells those who practise it whether they've succeeded or failed. Tell a joke, and the audience laughs. Or doesn't. Either way, you know exactly where you stand, in extremely, sometimes exhilaratingly and sometimes agonizingly real time.
  • Stereotypical sitcom setup delivers old-school laughs

    For some people, summer is all about living in the present, a time for chasing new adventures, exploring new destinations and making new memories. For others, these fleeting warm-weather months represent a more nostalgic time, when time is spent lazily reflecting on the events of summers past. How your summer preferences lean, toward past or present, will likely help determine your feelings toward Mr. Robinson, a decidedly retro sitcom being given a soft off-season launch by NBC. The series, which debuts tonight at 8 on NBC, is an unapologetic throwback that embraces, for better or worse, the time-warped elements and attitudes of TV comedies that were popular a quarter-century ago.
  • Artificial intelligence

    2With these words, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show reluctantly accepted the 2004 Television Critics Association Award for outstanding achievement in news and information. But here's the thing: the TV critics did know, and still do know, that The Daily Show isn't a mainstream newscast. The TCA Award for news and information has also been given to PBS's Frontline, ABC's Nightline, CBS's 60 Minutes and, last year, Fox and National Geographic's COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey.
  • Happy campers

    For most people, watching the Netflix summer-camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp will be a lot like the experience of actually going to summer camp -- a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. There's no middle ground; depending on your sense of humour, this eight-part prequel to the cult-favourite 2001 comedy Wet Hot American Summer will strike you as either completely lame and stupid or one of the best What-I-Watched-On-My-Summer-Vacation things ever.
  • Relax, Josh; we do like you... quite a lot Aussie comic's winning sitcom a gentle charmer

    The request is simple and direct: Please Like Me. And as it turns out, liking is an easy thing to do when it comes to this Australian sitcom and its charming and funny creator and star. Josh Thomas is the tousle-haired comedian whose autobiographical standup act provides the foundation for Please Like Me, a gentle and sweet but occasionally razor-sharp series that follows the struggles of a not-quite-21-year-old man who's coming to terms with his own sexuality while at the same time trying to maintain a relationship with his divorced and wildly dysfunctional parents.
  • SNL legend started doing standup much later than his contemporaries

    This is no lie: it was practicality, rather than performing desire, that finally prompted Jon Lovitz to give standup comedy a whirl. "It was something I always wanted to do, but I was scared to try it," the former Saturday Night Live cast member explains. "But the fear of being broke again was stronger. I wasn't really anywhere near broke, but I started to realize that (my agent and manager) weren't going to get me any work, and I had to work, so that motivated me to finally try standup."
  • Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV, Sharknado returns

    It’s a fine line. Or something like that. Apparently, in the realm of campy TV programming, there’s a subtle difference between “so bad it’s actually sort of good” and “so bad that it’s just really bad.”
  • Mike Holmes' new series solidly built, but fans might not feel at home

    As any fan of Canadian DIY-themed television can tell you, Mike Holmes has built a specialty-TV empire on the strength of his "Make It Right" brand. Whether he lives up to that motto with his new Fox series, Home Free, depends on what you expect from a home-reno-driven TV show.
  • Are you ready to rock?

    Denis Leary is a particular kind of performer -- aggressive and abrasive, coarse and confrontational, brash and Bostonianly blunt, profane and most decidedly politically incorrect. In short, his public persona is the embodiment of his 1994 not-exactly-a-hit single, Asshole.
  • Say hello to Pluto, earthlings

    Dan Riskin is excited. Very excited. And he thinks you should be, too.


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