The hockey, the heart, the hits of our fall TV
Toss the sunscreen aside and pick up the remote. It's time to say goodbye to another balmy Vancouver summer. But don't worry your fading farmer's tan won't be the only red-and-white thing this fall. Homegrown Canadian productions will keep you in your seat till Christmas with must-see documentaries, miniseries, and dramas.
Triumph & Treachery: The Brian Mulroney Story (September 9 at 7 p.m., CTV) Set to air the night before Brian Mulroney: Memoirs 1939 1993 hits bookstores, CTV's veteran news anchor, Lloyd Robertson, sits down with Canada's 18th prime minister to review Mulroney's political career and personal life. Mixing interviews with rare photos and archival footage, the program covers everything from the Meech Lake Accord and the Bloc Québécois to Mulroney's rise from poverty and struggles with alcohol.
Test the Nation: Watch Your Language! (September 9 at 8 p.m., CBC) After about 1.5 million Canadians tested their I.Q. in March, CBC's version of Test the Nation's new installment focuses solely on Canadian English. Viewers may take a language quiz along with teams, including a celebrity roster that has Cathy Jones, Sheila McCarthy, Kim Stockwood, Patrick McKenna, and Sook-Yin Lee.
Turning Pages: The Life and Literature of Margaret Atwood (September 13 at 6 p.m., Bravo!) Friends and family of Margaret Atwood, the internationally renowned author of The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake, talk about the writer and literary critic in this one-hour documentary.
Deciphering Dyslexia (Septem ber 17 at 9 p.m., Knowledge Network) This feature doc examines how four people living with dyslexia face daily reading and writing challenges. Emphasizing early detection and coping strategies, Deciphering Dyslexia outlines social stigmas and where sufferers can find support.
St. Urbain's Horseman (Sep tem ber 19 and 20 at 8 p.m., CBC) Adapted from Mordecai Richler's pensively comic novel, which won the Governor General's Award in 1971, this two-part miniseries centres on a melancholic 1950s film director who dreams of following his Nazi-hunter cousin, but instead finds himself embroiled in a racy legal scandal.
Corner Gas (Mondays at 9:30 p.m., CTV; from September 24) Brent Butt's award-winning comedy series returns for a fifth season. Currently nominated for six Geminis, the show's creators have leaked new scenes to those who e-mail Corner Gas video postcards to friends. See www.cornergas.com/.
Hockey Night in Canada (September 29 at noon, CBC) The NHL's 90th anniversary season kicks off with Stanley Cup champs the Anaheim Ducks taking on the Los Angeles Kings in London, England. CBC is featuring 85 games the most ever broadcast in a regular season and seven Saturday triple-headers. The first of 14 Vancouver Canucks games airs on October 6 at 7 p.m. when they play the Flames in Calgary.
Whistler (Saturdays at 9 p.m., CTV; from September 29) Olympic gold-medallist Ross Rebagliati's legal action against CTV and the producers of this Gemini-nominated drama for allegedly basing a character upon him is still before the B.C. courts. The second season delves into the aftermath of Beck McKaye's solved murder. This year will feature music from popular indie bands like The Golden Dogs, Young and Sexy, and Pride Tiger.
Intelligence (Mondays at 9 p.m., CBC; from October 1) For months now, Intelligence fans have been wondering how Jimmy Reardon is going to escape a Seattle restaurant bathroom while trapped by gun-toting D.E.A. agents. "Well, I can tell you that he lives; because we have a Season 2," says creator, head writer, and executive producer Chris Haddock (Da Vinci's Inquest). CBC's gritty drama continues to milk the secretive drug dealer/intelligence officer relationship that sparked the initial series. While Mary Spalding's promoted to the head of CSIS and the Americans try to extradite Reardon on double-homicide charges, Haddock insists that "the issues are really relevant to Canadians right now, in terms of how”¦[they] deal with a globalized world when they have inadequate intelligence services."
The Tudors (Tuesdays at 9 p.m., CBC; from October 2) Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Bend It Like Beckham) portrays a young, virile King Henry VIII in this Emmy-nominated 10-part series. Crowned at 18, Henry marries his brother's widow but becomes obsessed with Anne Boleyn. From writer Michael Hirst (Elizabeth), this Canadian-Irish coproduction looks at the early years of the lascivious king's reign.
Little Mosque on the Prairie (Wednesdays at 8 p.m., CBC; from October 3) After a triumphant first season, the comedic tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in this small prairie town continue to boil as the new imam tries to balance conflicting liberal and conservative views.
No Opportunity Wasted (Wed nesdays at 8:30 p.m., CBC; from October 3) Reality TV with a conscience: inspired by the best-selling book by The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan, each episode follows two ambushed N.O.W. applicants as they attempt to conquer their deepest fears and act on lifelong dreams.
Heartland (Sundays at 7 p.m., CBC; from October 14) Based on the Heartland book series, writer Heather Conkie (Road to Avonlea) says CBC's new one-hour, Sunday-night family drama is "trying to bring that beautiful family hour back". At a horse ranch and rehabilitation centre, the Fleming sisters cope with the death of their mother and reappearance of their estranged father. But Conkie emphasizes that "even in the worst situation, people can find humour in it." Horse whispering, debt, rocky relationships, and compromised dreams come together to create a series that is "very uplifting. Very hopeful. Very beautiful to look at."
The Fiddle and the Drum (October 22 at 5 p.m., Bravo!) A collaboration between legendary Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell and Alberta Ballet's artistic creator, Jean Grand-Maí®tre makes a one-hour dance, music, and visual-arts special that focuses on Mitchell's concerns over the environment and war.
Robson Arms (CTV; from mid November) Boasting a rotating cast of Canadian talent, CTV's half-hour comedy-drama about an apartment building full of quirky tenants returns for a third season, dates to be announced. Executive producer Gary Harvey explains that "the building has been bought by a couple from the U.S.”¦played by Dave Foley and Allison Hossack." Harvey explains that the series is grounded in reality, allowing the makers to blur genre lines. "I would love people to tune in to see a show that is full of heart, and it's funny, and can make you laugh and cry all within the same episode."