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Three potheads offer a peek at an Ontario grow-op Add to ...

  • Country USA
  • Language English

You have to admire any brave soul who follows their dream, even if it came to them through a purple haze of pot smoke. Still, it's not a bad idea to write down the dream, just in case.

There's a true gem on tonight's TV schedule: Airing on the anthology series Ontario Stories (CBC at 7 p.m.), the low-budget documentary Walk Naked Singing is an engaging tale of three entrepreneurs. The film follows three industrious hippies in their attempt to grow and harvest a bumper crop of marijuana. They are the real-life Trailer Park Boys.

Walk Naked Singing was produced and directed by Geoff Bowie and emerged from a serendipitous scenario: A few years back, Bowie learned his pals Frank and Gordie were planning a commercial grow operation, with help from a fellow named Wayne. Being a filmmaker, Bowie just had to ask.

Gordie, Frank and Wayne agreed to let Bowie inside their clandestine weed-farm, situated "somewhere in Ontario," over the course of a long, hot summer and growing season. There were security stipulations, naturally. Bowie had to wear a blindfold on the ride to the location. Nobody was to be filmed without their permission; the men cover their faces with bandanas while tending to their precious plants.

Even though Gordie, Frank and Wayne clearly partake of their product, they still remember how to set up a dandy marijuana farm. There are hundreds and hundreds of high-density pot plants, located in a substantial cleared-out area in the middle of a dense Ontario forest. The trees have been removed for daytime sun; at night the area is covered completely by a canopy. I think these dudes have done this before.

For all their pot expertise, though, the three men have the business acumen of Larry, Curly and Moe. Their squabbles are priceless. They understand the rudiments of supply-and-demand doobie economics -- millions of Canadians smoke the weed, and it must be coming from somewhere -- but they really haven't thought it out much further. Besides, they're too busy looking over their shoulders.

Going into the dodgy endeavour, Gordie, Frank and Wayne are understandably nervous about getting caught. It quickly becomes more serious once they discover raids have occurred at neighbouring grow operations. Police helicopters are hovering. It's another lever of paranoia that these gents probably don't need.

Context is supplied about the drug's history in this country, and a marijuana activist rails on about absurd pot laws, man. There's also an interview with Robert "Rosie" Rowbotham, who holds the dubious distinction of receiving the longest sentence for marijuana offences in Canadian history.

But the stars of the piece are, obviously, Gordie, Frank and Wayne, three unrepentant potheads and beautiful dreamers. Bowie clearly shows affection for his subjects and is properly sympathetic to the cause. Each of the amateur growers believes the pot harvest is going to be their one big score, the cash crop that will give them financial freedom. May they never lose the stars in their red-rimmed eyes.

Japan's War in Colour (PBS, 10 p.m.) is this week's most original fare. The program is a stark visual history of Japan, presented through the use of never-before-seen film footage, taken by amateur Japanese photographers, and some of it dating back to 1931.

Much of the footage is in colour, and there are indelible moments: scenes of serene Japanese domestic life in the 1930s; foreboding images of occupation troops in Shanghai, circa 1941. As the timeline accelerates, there are scenes from Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway.

The two-part special, which concludes the same day and time next week, is a fascinating chronicle of Japanese life before, during and after the Great War, captured by those who lived through it.

Shallow Celebrity Alert! ABC's Primetime Thursday (ABC, VR, 10 p.m.) finally runs their highly hyped interview with the reclusive Tom Cruise, who agrees to the process about once or twice a year, whenever he has a new movie landing in theatres.

Well, it just so happens Cruise has a movie out tomorrow, called Collateral, which is the only reason he agreed to sit across from Diane Sawyer for this civilized chat. It's the same incentive that saw Cruise on Late Night with David Letterman last night, and a few other judiciously selected appearances this week.

As always happens on such momentous megastar occasions, tidbits from the interview are released in tantalizing fashion by the network a few days prior. Expect the usual star blather, no doubt typed up for Cruise by a publicist's assistant. He is going to talk about how tough it is being a movie-star single dad (he has two young adopted children with ex-wife Nicole Kidman). The lofty program title is in fact Tom Cruise: Single Dad, which is a new role for him.

The magnanimous character spin could possibly be to offset the fact that Cruise plays a low-life hitman in his new movie - the first time he has played the bad guy, I do believe. But I've always thought the little fellow does his best acting in these rare TV interviews, since he shifts into immediate Cruise control, retaining his privacy by revisiting old territory. So long as Tom keeps flashing those sharky pearly whites, no one will notice it's the exact same interview he gave Katie Couric this time last year, or Barbara Walters the year before.

Once again, Cruise will talk about growing up with dyslexia and his Scientology beliefs. He will discuss his failed marriage, his breakup with Penelope Cruz, and inform the lady viewers that's he's looking for love again, ahem. Cruise will flirt shamelessly with Diane, who will blush like a schoolgirl, and then set up more than a few clips from his new movie. It's an hour-long Tom Cruise infomercial.

John Doyle will return August 10.

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