CBC's acclaimed miniseries Human Cargo could have been mistaken for The Lord of the Rings last night, as it won seven of the 17 categories it was nominated for at this year's Gemini Awards.
Over the course of a weekend of galas that culminated in last night's lighthearted, glitzy award show in Toronto, Human Cargo, the three-part drama about the plight of refugees, wound up seemingly in a class of its own, winning award after award including the honour of best TV movie or miniseries.
Managing to share some of the limelight were CBC's Da Vinci's Inquest, beating out last year's winner, CTV's The Eleventh Hour, for best dramatic series, while Showcase's Trailer Park Boys won ahead of CTV's Corner Gas for best comedy program or series. Despite its five nominations and runaway ratings, Corner Gas left empty handed.
In place of a single host, last night's broadcast took a chance on a cross-section of television celebrities performing skits that skewered every notion of what constitutes Canadian television. Actress Sonja Smits lampooned the life of a Canadian drama in development, while Ron MacLean and Don Cherry humorously auditioned to become MuchMusic VJs.
While accepting his award for best news anchor, CBC's Peter Mansbridge joked, "This show's going pretty well for a show without an anchor."
The skits counter-balanced the typically sober tone of the Geminis, which tends to lean toward the high-minded, rather than most popular, while never managing to forget the struggle the Canadian TV industry faces for ratings and recognition.
For instance, Catherine Disher of CBC's Snakes & Ladders won best actress in a continuing leading dramatic role, even though the short-lived political drama has been cancelled.
As is the case with many big awards shows, the categories deemed by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television to be less glitzy than others were relegated to earlier presentations.
Among those receiving awards this weekend were CBC perennials The Nature of Things for best documentary series and the fifth estate for best news information series. Best newscast, however, went to CHUM Television's flagship Toronto news broadcast, CityPulse at Six, a surprise winner beating out The National and CTV News.
Winners named during last night's broadcast included:
- Best TV movie or dramatic miniseries: Human Cargo
- Best dramatic series: Da Vinci's Inquest
- Best comedy program or series: Trailer Park Boys
- Best direction in a dramatic program or miniseries: Brad Turner for Human Cargo
- Best writing in a dramatic program or miniseries: Brian McKeown, Linda Svendsen for Human Cargo
- Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a dramatic program or miniseries: Brent Carver in Elizabeth Rex
- Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a dramatic program or miniseries: Diane D'Aquila in Elizabeth Rex
- Best performance by an actor in a continuing leading dramatic role: Paul Gross, Slings & Arrows
- Best performance by an actress in a continuing leading dramatic role: Catherine Disher, Snakes & Ladders
- Best individual performance in a comedy program or series: Gavin Crawford, This Hour Has 22 Minutes (Episode 4)
- Best ensemble performance in a comedy program or series: Rick Mercer, Peter Keleghan, Dan Lett, Leah Pinsent, Jackie Torrens, Made In Canada
- Best news anchor: Peter Mansbridge, CBC News
- Best host or interviewer in a sports program or sportscast: Ron MacLean
- Viewers' choice award: Mike Holmes, Holmes on Homes
- Donald Brittain Award for best social/political documentary: Dying At Grace