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D.K. Latta

Pop Culture Blogger

When not trying to earn a real living, D.K. Latta occasionally writes SF and fantasy stories, and has written pop culture opinions on everything from comic books to radio drama. But long ago he adopted as his primary hobby Canadian film & television with his website: The Great Canadian Guide to the Movies (& TV) -- making him either nobly patriotic or just plain nuts.
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Why Are TV Shows Ostensibly Set in Canada Viewed as Unmarketable?

If you think about many of your favourite American series, you'll realize how much the sense of place seeps into the story (U.S. series often put a place name in the opening credits montage). From Breaking Bad's premise arising out of the American health care system to True Blood with its southern drawls and back woods voodoo.
09/30/2013 05:40 EDT
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American Pop Culture Highlights the American Perspective

Breaking Bad is about Walter White, an average man who turns to crime when faced with insurmountable medical bills (to put it lightly). I'm guessing no character in Breaking Bad ever commented: "Gee, Walt, you ever think how if you'd been born in Canada, or Europe, your life might've been different?"
09/26/2013 06:01 EDT
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TIFF: Are Film Festivals Good for Movies?

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the most high profile film festivals in the world. International stars walk the red carpets, the world press turn its collective eye toward Toronto and, it's hoped, tourist revenues shoot through the roof. But does being a big deal at TIFF really translate into mainstream success? Or to put it another way: do festivalgoers who LOVE movies work the same way as people who simply like them?
09/16/2013 06:21 EDT
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Americanizing the Canadian Sitcom

The new tsunami hitting shores are Canadian sitcoms bragging they are just like Hollywood comedies. This has always been a problem in Canadian entertainment -- a deliberate lack of respect for what has come before, or an ignorance of it entirely. And this new push to be more like American shows has lead to a breed of Canadian sitcoms that are the worst of both worlds, like a mermaid with a fish head and human legs.
08/12/2013 08:37 EDT
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When TV Cop Dramas Re-Invent the Headlines

When dramas fictionalize events to provide a buffer between them and the reality (and to avoid being sued!) they reshape the events, sometimes deliberately to make whatever "point" they want to make. Are lines crossed? How would the families of those involved feel?
08/02/2013 05:43 EDT
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No One Hates on Canada Like a Canadian

Here's the hard truth: no one puts down Canadians with quite as much glee as Canadians themselves. This can range from Canadians who think they are being charmingly self-deprecating to conservatives who hate Canada for not being more American. Plus Canadians in one part of the country love to put down Canadians in other parts (and then use the inevitable backlash as a justification for their initial prejudice).
07/29/2013 08:09 EDT
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You Should Be Watching Hard Rock Medical

TV Ontario's new medical drama, Hard Rock Medical, hasn't slipped under the public radar entirely. Still, I'm guessing a lot of potential viewers are unaware of it, and those aware of it probably cynically decided to give it a pass, sight unseen. Which is too bad, 'cause it's actually pretty good.
07/17/2013 05:05 EDT

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

CTV's new sitcom Satisfaction didn't cross any lines. I suspect most people watching it -- male or female -- didn't think about any possible undercurrents. That's kind of my point. Just because we accept it as the norm, doesn't mean it's not worth asking why we accept it as the norm.
07/08/2013 11:16 EDT
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Ten Bio-Pics for Canada Day

Great movies have been made about lesser figures and lesser movies have been made about great figures. With a nod to Canada Day, here's a look at (more-or-less) 10 movies that might warrant a trip to the DVD store...
06/30/2013 11:12 EDT
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Could <em>Orphan Black</em> Have Been a Game-Changer?

Orphan Black is about clones and conspiracies. Part of the series' appeal is doubtless its gimmick. The twinning process -- wherein an actor plays opposite himself -- has been around for decades, but Orphan Black does it better than almost anything before. Even when the clones hand each other glasses you forget special effects are involved!
06/24/2013 12:16 EDT
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The (White) Face of Canadian TV and Film

Look at the faces around you in any big city in Canada. Now turn on a TV series or movie. Is that world appearing on screen? It's not whether non-white actors appear or even star in Canadian movies -- they do! -- it's how often they get roles that don't require a non-white actor.
06/19/2013 05:47 EDT
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The Death and Return of Captain Canuck

Captain Canuck was the first Canadian super hero since the 1940s. And he's the Grand Old Man compared to later characters like Northguard or the American-published Vindicator/Guardian (or whatever he/she's called these days) of Alpha Flight. And this Canada Day, he returns in his very own web series.
06/12/2013 12:09 EDT
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'Seed' and The Logic of the Canadian Sitcom

I'd written before about the sitcom, Seed -- one of the few contemporary Canadian-made sitcoms. My past comments related to my usual pet peeve: Canadian identity. Seed tries to imply it's American.
06/09/2013 11:37 EDT
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Courage and Cowardice in Canadian TV

At heart, every story has probably been told, so it's in the details it's kept fresh. When Canadian filmmakers refuse to set their productions in Canada, they are basically announcing: "We have no intention of doing anything fresh with this material." If the creators aren't willing to fight for something as rudimentary as the setting, can we really expect them to fight for other things? Is the fact that so many of these filmmakers are unwilling to set their stories explicitly in Canada part of the reason why there are so few Canadian series and movies fronted by non-white actors? 'Cause that might be a fight with executives, too.
06/03/2013 12:11 EDT
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Canadian TV Shows Set in Ambiguousville, North America

Canadian series have a history of pretending they're set in America. Where they are supposed to be set -- well, that's a fascinating topic. In recent years we've also seen what could be called the "soft" Canadian setting. Series which admit they are set in Canada but in a way that a lot of viewers probably wouldn't pick up on.
05/27/2013 05:26 EDT
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Canadians Have Culture Too!

Culture, simply, is your life. So what's "national" culture? Culture is all around you. From bilingual cereal boxes to "Canadian Tire" money. I love American pop culture, but I champion the idea of Canadians recognizing they have a place at the table, too.
05/21/2013 05:23 EDT
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When Canadians Are Ashamed to Be Canadian

There are so many Canadians living in Los Angeles that Hollywood is cheekily referred to as the fourth largest Canadian city. Yet Canadians are almost never depicted in American movies and TV shows. Except when they are.
05/17/2013 05:18 EDT
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Who Decides What's Beautiful on the "Most Beautiful" Celebrity Lists?

Everything has its season, and spring brings out the obligatory "Most Beautiful Celebrity" lists. People, FHM, Maxim, Hello Canada, etc. An excuse to plaster a pretty face on a magazine cover and to get readers debating the selections. Is beauty cheekbones? Sensuality? Decorum? Does fame count more than bone structure?
05/13/2013 12:29 EDT
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Hollywood's Dirty Secret: The World Actually Exists

As a guy who has long advocated for more Canadian presence in Canadian movies and TV, I'm literally the last person to suggest a country should exclude itself from its stories. But there's a danger in being too insular. Although Canadian productions over-emphasize America...they can be reluctant about recognizing the multiculturalism within Canada's borders.
05/07/2013 12:23 EDT