Clean-cut crimesolving, Canadian style

Life is different in Canada, it seems. Streets are clean, people are calm and “Murdoch” is forever.
“Murdoch Mysteries” arrived in 2008, with Yannick Bisson as a polite policemen solving crimes in early-1900s Toronto. “I thought, ‘Wow, this will go a couple good years,’” Bisson recalled.
And now? Its 12th season recently concluded in Canada and has just started on Ovation, an American cable network. Compared to U.S. crimesolvers, that ties it with “Bones,” “Dragnet,” “NYPD Blue,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “Murder, She Wrote,” trailing only a couple “Law & Order” series. Read more…

In case we forgot to read it, here’s an epic “Les Miserables”

It’s time for a new version of “Les Miserables,” the epic novel we all read in school, and …Or wait … have we all read it? “My teachers would love to hear me say ‘yes,’” said Lily Collins, one of the stars of the sprawling, six-part PBS mini-series.The teachers of Andrew Davies, the screenwriter, would also be disappointed. “It was one of those great classics that I neglected to read,” he said. Read more…

Yes, Shakespeareans can solve murder mysteries

Great Britain seems to be one big murder mystery. Every Englishwoman and her grandfather are busy committing, solving or writing about homicide.
And Olivia Vinall’s life does nothing to dispute that.
She’s a serious actress, with Shakespearean credits and recent raves for her double role in “The Woman in White.” But now she’s a police detective in the breezy “Queens of Mystery” TV movies. Read more…

New kind of heroine — cynical, sexy, bitter and blind

The CW network already has TV’s most distinctive heroines.
One is super, one’s a zombie, three are witches and one is the world’s only witch-werewolf-vampire tribred. One breaks into song; another was jolted by the return of her dead husband.
Now there’s “In the Dark” and Murphy Mason. She’s “kind of a disaster,” said CW’s Paul Hewitt. “She smokes. She drinks. She’s into casual sex. She’s rude to pretty much everybody – her parents, her roommates, the cops, her guide dog Pretzel. Oh, and she’s blind.” Read more…

Canada’s best export: Talented actors

The question lingers: Why does Canada provide so many talented actors?
The country doesn’t have that many people; its population is smaller than California’s. But it keeps delivering gifted stars, from Sandra Oh and Rachel McAdams to the Ryans (Gosling, Reynolds), Michael J. Fox and a ton of comedy people.
We’ll ask Andrea Roth – who’s had great moments in “Rescue Me” and the current “Cloak & Dagger” — in a minute. But first, here are two theories we’ve heard: Read more…

Amid hostility, nature thrives on TV

Since its earliest days, TV has given us animals.
They were caged — “Zoo Parade” in 1950, the British “Zoo Express” in ’54 — then wild. Still, there’s never been anything like this surge.In December, BBC America concluded “Dynasties.”
On Monday, the National Geographic Channel launches “Hostile Planet” … four days before Netflix’s “Our Planet.” Read more…

A family mystery … and making love to Grandpa

Most families have secrets, Ruth Wilson figures. Most aren’t like the ones in her family.
There was her grandmother, who devoted her final decades to religion. “She was very reserved.”
And then she wrote a memoir for her family. As Rebecca Eaton, chief of PBS’ “Masterpiece,” explains it: “Ruth’s grandmother discovered – at the end of her husband’s life – that he had a completely other life, several other wives and an entire career she didn’t know about.”
Fortunately, Ruh Wilson is a prominent actress who could re-tell the story. In “Mrs. Wilson” — three hours, spread over two Sundays of “Masterpiece” — she plays her own grandmother. Read more…

Life’s complicated when dead husbands turn up

Strange things can happen in the telenovela world
.Evil twins appear, dead husbands re-appear … and the star has a seven-minute, high-octane monolog.“It was a phenomenal challenge,” said Gina Rodriguez.
Viewers will see that Wednesday, when “Jane the Virgin” starts its fifth and final season.
Read more…

A quiet New Zealander finds big laughs in the shadows

Away from Hollywood – 7,000 miles away, actually – Jemaine Clement grew up in obscurity.
That was in rural New Zealand, where he wasn’t much in school. “I became the funny guy,” he said. “I never really applied myself.”
What would happen to this big (6-foot-1), quiet guy with a dry wit? A lot, actually. He’s been a singing crab and an evil cockatoo. He’s had albums, an HBO series and now what could be cable’s surprise hit.“What We Do in the Shadows” has already drawn advance raves from critics.
As John Solberg of FX explains the series, it’s “about a group of vampires … in Staten Island, who have been roommates for hundreds of years, sent over to colonize the new world.” Read more…