Regret to report that the great wave of Canadian TV that arrives on Canada Day tends to recede once the day is over. Admittedly, CBC does have Absolutely Canadian – I Am: Limitless in prime time (Saturday, CBC, 8 p.m.). It’s an hour-long portrait of a group of Ottawa women who spend ages at local skate parks. None are daredevils, but use skating as an outlet for overcoming frustrations and freeing themselves. The title comes from a young nurse who says that after nailing a trick, “I just feel so elated and limitless.”
A more substantial and sometimes rip-roaring push forward in Canadian drama is found In Pretty Hard Cases (streams on Netflix). The recent arrival of the first season on Netflix offers an opportunity to binge-watch what at times can seem a bonkers cop show. The initial promotion of the show by CBC erred in giving the impression the series is a wacky sitcom about two women cops, one Black and one white, mismatched partners who argue and josh as they must work together.
It is way, way more than a wacky cop show; an entertaining, odd and fascinating hybrid of cop show, comedy and socially aware big-city drama. There hasn’t been anything like it and, anomalous as it is, the series makes a lot of other cop-show content seem irritatingly out of touch. Yep, main characters Sam Wazowski (Meredith MacNeill, from Baroness Von Sketch Show) and Kelly Duff (Adrienne C. Moore, from Orange Is The New Black) are unlikely buddy cops, in the tradition, but the flavour and tone are definitely unorthodox.
The subtle social commentary lands lightly and the series has no pieties, which is a blessing. It upends a lot of crime-drama clichés and, still, there’s a complicated and continuing crime saga unfolding throughout. Again, the treatment is unorthodox, but this is absolutely terrific and original entertainment, with excellent work from everyone involved.
Also airing/streaming this weekend – The Terminal List (streams on Amazon Prime Video) is your glossy but dumb long-weekend, conventional pleasure. It aims to be a meditative thriller about deception, betrayal and paranoia, but ends up with a lot of action scenes, things being blown up and stock characters saying things like, “We got bad intel.”
Chris Pratt from the Marvel movies plays James Reece, a Navy SEAL who returns home humbled and confused after an operation overseas went terribly wrong, and his entire platoon was ambushed. Traumatized, he doubts his own instincts and it looks like he is being blamed for the terrible incident. But violence follows him home and, growing suspicious, he sets out for revenge against, well, traitors and no-goodniks. Eminently watchable (eight hour-long episodes) if you like some gore and well-choreographed action sequences. It’s very male, with Riley Keough as Reece’s wife given very little to do and Constance Wu as a journalist merely looking coolly engaged.
We Hunt Together (Sunday, Crave channel 11:30 p.m., and streams on Crave) returns for a much delayed second season. If you stream the first season to begin, you’ll find a strange, beautiful and oddly mysterious British crime drama. It’s a cat-and-mouse thriller with a peculiar, lush and lurid atmosphere, best described as “psychosexual.”
Baba (Dipo Ola), a guy who works taking care of the toilets at a nightclub while awaiting refugee status in Britain, meets Freddy (Hermione Corfield), a sex worker and woman with both a wicked sense of humour and a sexual allure that transfixes him. Together, they set out on a series of revenge murders. Meanwhile, two bickering detectives investigate the first murder. They are Jackson Mendy (Babou Ceesay, who is wonderful), a cheerful, philosophic fella, and Sergeant Lola Franks (Eve Myles), a cynic as introverted as Jackson is outgoing. Two mismatched duos are played off against each other in a storyline as baroque as it is bluntly sensual. The second season has Freddy as casually, dangerously alluring as before.
Also, don’t forget that the two (lengthy) final episodes of this batch of Stranger Things (streams Netflix) are available from Friday.
And 60 Minutes (Sunday, CBS, Global, 7 p.m.) has a special report on future technology, all of it anchored by Anderson Cooper. There are three items: the missions to Mars and use of the tiny helicopter Ingenuity; and second, what robotic engineers have done recently to make robots that can move like humans and animals; and then a look at “eVTOLs” (electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft), asking if that is a faster, safer and greener mode of transportation.
Finally, a rare movie recommendation, but since we’re talking Canadian content this weekend, note that the award-winning Scarborough lands on Crave from July 1. Derived from Catherine Hernandez’s novel, Scarborough is intimately and intensely devoted to the place in which it is anchored, that portion of the Greater Toronto Area that is often misunderstood. It’s a love letter but bittersweet, directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. It sure pulses with life.
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