From afar, City's lineup looks as though things haven't really changed very much. But upon closer examination, it's like a whole different channel. Why? Well, where to begin? City's schedule looks strikingly similar to last year's, but it has decided to forego its post-10 p.m. programming in favour of repeats, focusing on everything from hockey to loads of reality.
"With the most competitive schedule to date, from hockey to comedies, drama to reality, the 2014/15 City schedule truly has something for everyone," Hayden Mindell, vice-president of television programming and content for Rogers Media, said. "Featuring the most diverse variety of programming on any conventional network in Canada, we are offering our viewers the programming they want most, while delivering to our clients reliable and consistent audiences each and every week."
But is it really a lineup for everyone? For someone like myself, who prefers actual series to hockey games (yes, I'm a Canadian who doesn't go goo-goo for hockey, sue me), this is quite disappointing. Admittedly, I am a super-stoked that "Scandal" will air an hour earlier (which means I will no longer have to make my Sophie's Choice of Olivia Pope vs. The Bravermans) but the absence of "Nashville" is a little saddening.
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A comedy from writer/producer and author Mindy Kaling that follows a woman who, despite having a successful career, desperately needs to break bad habits in her personal life. Funny, impatient and politically incorrect, Mindy Lahiri can quote every romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan. Mindy is determined to be more punctual, spend less money, lose weight and read more books – all in pursuit of becoming a well-rounded perfect woman… who can meet and date the perfect guy.
This is a high-concept thriller from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, author Chuck Hogan and writer/producer Carlton Cuse, which is based on the best-selling vampire novel trilogy of the same title written by del Toro and Hogan. It tells the story of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism.
"The Bachelor Canada" takes the cast on a series of romantic and adventurous journeys where the bachelor will get to know each of the bachelorettes, in the hopes of finding his soulmate. The dates range from group outings to individual rendezvous, from which the bachelor will choose the women to whom he feels the most attracted.
Gordon Ramsay, the Michelin-starred chef that contestants love to hate returns for a eleventh action-packed season. Back behind the hotplate and cooking on gas, Gordon is certain to make temperatures rise as more restaurateur hopefuls pit their wits and cooking skills against each other, under his watchful eye. The prize for the lucky winner is the chance to run their own restaurant.
Critically acclaimed and lauded for revitalizing the television sitcom, "Modern Family" is also quickly cementing itself as a culturally defining series. These three families give us an honest and often hilarious look into the sometimes warm, sometimes twisted, embrace of the modern family.
Everyone has a secret... and Olivia Pope has dedicated her life to protecting and defending the public images of the nation's elite and keeping those secrets under wraps. Revered and feared at the same time, Olivia, a former media consultant to the President of the United States, left the White House to open her own prominent crisis management firm. She is hoping to start a new chapter in her life -- both professionally and personally -- but she can't seem to completely cut ties with her past.
"Backstrom" is a procedural crime drama from Hart Hanson, creator of the long-running hit series "Bones." The series stars Rainn Wilson ("The Office") as Everett Backstrom, an irascible and offensive detective attempting to change his self-destructive behaviour while solving crimes for the Portland, Oregon police department. The series is based on the hit book series by the Swedish criminologist and novelist Leif G.W. Persson.
Andre 'Dre' Johnson (Anthony Anderson) has a great job, a beautiful wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids, and a colonial home in the 'burbs. But has success brought too much assimilation for this black family? With a little help from his dad (Laurence Fishburne), Dre sets out to establish a sense of cultural identity for his family that honours their past while embracing the future.
"Utopia" is a ground-breaking social television experiment in which 15 individuals, all pioneers of our time, get one year to build an entirely new society – from scratch. They will be leaving their current lives behind to create the ‘perfect world' on a secluded piece of land with no facilities, no laws, and no rules. Will it lead to ultimate happiness? Or complete chaos?
From Howard Gordon, "Tyrant" tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Bassam “Barry” Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner), the younger son of the dictator of a war-torn nation, ends a self-imposed 20-year exile to return to his homeland, accompanied by his American wife and children, for his nephew’s wedding. Barry’s reluctant homecoming leads to a dramatic clash of cultures as he is thrown back into the familial and national politics of his youth.
From Dan Goor and Michael Schur, the writers/producers of "Parks and Recreation," this single-camera comedy stars Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is an ensemble comedy about what happens when a detective who doesn't take anything seriously gets a new “by-the-book” boss who wants him to grow up and respect the badge.
Inspired by a true story, "Scorpion" is a high-octane drama about an eccentric genius, Walter O’Brien, and his team of brilliant misfits who comprise the last line of defense against complex, high-tech threats of the modern age. As Homeland Security’s new think tank, O’Brien’s “Scorpion” team includes Toby Curtis, an expert behaviourist who can read anyone; Happy Quinn, a mechanical prodigy; and Sylvester Dodd, a statistics guru.
A half-hour comedy about being miserably in love. Russ (Nat Faxon) and Lina Bowman (Judy Greer) can barely remember what life was like before kids, debt, and suburbia rained on their romance -- but every once in a while, in between the arguments about their declining sex life and who's driving carpool, they are reminded what drew them together in the first place -- they're best friends.
From Stephen Falk, this show stars Aya Cash, Chris Geere, Kether Donahue, and Desmin Borges. "You’re the Worst" is a comedic love story about what happens when two toxic, self-destructive people fall in love despite themselves and attempt the impossible — a relationship.
Patricia Heaton stars as Frankie Heck in this warm and witty single-camera comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations. Middle-aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country, Frankie Heck is a harried wife and working mother of three who uses her wry wit and sense of humor to try to get her family through each day. Frankie's unflappable husband, Mike, is a manager at the local quarry and her sardonic partner in the daily grind that is raising their average - yes, most definitely average family. In between trying to get to work on time and picking up fast food dinners eaten in front of the TV, Frankie and Mike raise their kids with love and solid Midwestern practicality.
In this comedy by Chuck Lorre, Anna Faris plays Christy, a single mom whose newly found sobriety has given her the ability to see her life clearly – and she does not like the view. Now, she must try to untangle years of reckless decisions in order to make a better life for her and her kids, but everywhere she looks there are challenges: she's trying to stop drinking in wine country; have a healthy romance with her unavailable boss; raise her young son to be a good man despite his father's influence; convince her troubled teenage daughter to make better choices than she did; and – perhaps the most difficult task – forgive her estranged mother, Bonnie, played by Allison Janney, for not giving her any of the tools she needed to handle life in the first place.
Breakout comedy "New Girl" returns with all-new misadventures of a hip, young schoolteacher, her three male roommates and her beautiful best friend -- and the show is still taking a modern look at friendship and romance.
This is the story of three overly close brothers and the woman who comes between them. Danny is the smart, good looking, and successful lawyer brother; Sheldon is the stubborn, politically incorrect, and bossy salesman older brother; and Ryan is the sensitive, slightly metrosexual, and former house-husband brother. Sharing more than just a last name, they are overly involved in each other’s lives – until Kim, a beautiful, smart, and funny woman, begins dating Danny and finally cuts his umbilical cord from his brothers.
A hilarious mockumentary set in the ever exciting world of local Government, from the producers of "The Office." The cameras follow Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), a mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana as she attempts to beautify her town and advance her career.
Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) took the Hamptons by storm. By all appearances, she is a friendly and sophisticated "girl next door" whose disarming charm and generosity have allowed her seamless access to the restricted circles of the Hamptons high society. However Emily Thorne is anything but what she seems. Hiding behind an assumed identity, she is a woman with just one endgame - revenge.
Max and Caroline are just trying to make their rent in New York City. In this outrageous comedy series, two girls from very different backgrounds – Max, poor from birth, and Caroline, born wealthy, but down on her luck – wind up as waitresses in the same colourful Brooklyn diner and strike up an unlikely friendship that could lead to a successful business venture.
City is chalking up "double-digit growth" during the 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. timeslots ("Modern Family" reruns) as the reason for its scaled-down, Fox-like schedule. With the exception of Sunday nights, which will still feature "Revenge" in its normal time instead of one-hour dramas -- which is what usually rounded out weeknights -- City will now offer audiences more syndicated fare at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., with repeats of "2 Broke Girls" and "Two and a Half Men," respectively. (Insert collective groans here.)
The lineup also features the first time NHL hockey will air on City (on Saturdays and Sundays), so with so little real estate left in its lineup, Rogers opted to pick up a mere four series from the U.S. networks for its fall and midseason schedule, which will join the 17 returning shows and events from last year.
"I'm excited for City to join in a time-honoured Canadian tradition this year with the addition of 'Hockey Night in Canada' and 'Hometown Hockey,'" said Mindell. "Hockey is the most coveted content in Canada, and we have PVR-proofed Saturday and Sunday nights on City to become must-see TV for all Canadians."
Look, I get it. Money talks and sports is where it's at. It's why CBS airs NFL games on Thursday nights, NBC will broadcast NFL games on Sunday nights and ABC airs college games on Saturdays. So, sports is in and scripted series are out. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
If you're like me and watch TV solely for shows, specials and local news, then it's not ideal. If I want to watch a game or a match or a bout, that's what the specialty sports channels are for (and which can now be accessed online via Sportsnet. But I understand that we're in an entirely different TV world than years past and Rogers, like every other network and media entity, is changing the way in which we watch their programming -- and City's lineup definitely reflects that.
City's new dramas include "Scorpion" from CBS, which stars Elyes Gabel, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Katharine McPhee and Robert Patrick, among others, as a team of misfits who are Homeland Security's last line of defense against high-tech threats. "Black-ish" stars Anthony Anderson as a man who assimilated too well into his suburban lifestyle and is looking to add some culture back into his life. Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne co-star. City's other fall offering is "Utopia," a reality series that follows 15 people who have one year to build an entirely new society from scratch -- and takes up two precious hours of City's fall schedule.
Its one new midseason show is "Backstrom," starring Rainn Wilson ("The Office") as the title character, a formerly exiled dink of a detective who is asked to run the Portland Police Bureau's Special Crimes Unit. It co-stars Genevieve Angelson, Kristoffer Polaha and Dennis Haysbert. Also look out for the midseason returns of "The Bachelor," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Mike & Molly" and "Parks and Recreation."
Aside from hockey, Rogers' focus seems to be on its cable properties, FX and FXX Canada. "The partnership with FX has been a phenomenal one," gushed Mindell at Tuesday morning's press conference. "They continue to provide us with the best content on television and we couldn't be prouder."
Mindell linked Rogers' focus on hockey with the high-calibre shows FX offers. "There is a similarity [with] what our focuses are," he said. "These are things that people are very passionate about, whether it's a hockey game or whether it's 'Louie' or 'The Americans.' They feel deeply, strongly about something and having FX within Rogers Media is a real benefit to us."
According to Eric Schrier, president of original programming and productions at FX Networks, the portfolio of shows is rapidly expanding and it all kicks off this summer. The new shows include "Tyrant" (premieres June 24 at 10 p.m. ET), which comes from Howard Gordon ("Homeland," "24") and centres on an American family that finds themselves embroiled in the geopolitical intrigue of a volatile Middle Eastern nation.
FX will also debut two comedies, departures from the traditional FX comedy brand, which has always been geared towards young men. "As we expand the types of shows, we're not just trying to do cookie-cutter shows of what we've already done," explained Schrier. Which brings us to "Married" and "You're the Worst" (both premiere July 17), which Schrier describes as "relationship shows that young men and women and even older audiences can watch and relate to."
But FX is banking on "The Strain," which launches July 13. I thought it was a series about an alien invasion but it's actually a vampire drama based on three books written by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and author Chuck Hogan, who co-wrote the pilot script, which was directed by del Toro. It's creepy, it'll graphic -- it's classic del Toro.
Del Toro says that "The Strain" is "very dear" to his heart and he was a "very strange kid," attracted to vampirism since he was a boy. But as far as he was concerned, "The Strain" needed to be on television. "I fell in love with episodic TV right at the beginning of seminal shows and cable TV, and I realized the long arc allows you to lead with characters in a way that no other medium does."
As far as content goes, del Toro states, "We have tried to create a series that turns the vampiric myth on its ear but also gives you very familiar characters." Mission accomplished. "The Strain" will freak your freak -- and more. And if you're lucky enough to get your TV from a provider that airs FX or FXX Canada (sorry, Bell subscribers, we are still s**t out of luck) prepare for a crazy-good summer. City's fall, though? It depends on who you ask.
Here's the fall lineup (all in ET):
8 p.m. "2 Broke Girls"
8:30 p.m. "Mom"
9 p.m. "Scorpion"
8 p.m. "Utopia"
9 p.m. "New Girl"
9:30 p.m. "The Mindy Project"
8 p.m. "Hell's Kitchen"
9 p.m. "Modern Family"
9:30 p.m. "Black-ish"
8 p.m. "The Bachelor Canada"
9 p.m. "Scandal"
8 p.m. "Package Deal"
8:30 p.m. "The Middle"
9 p.m. "Utopia"
7 p.m. "NHL: Hockey Night in Canada"