Monday, June 30, 2008

Robson Arms has left the building.

Tonight the final episode of the series airs.
It's been an amazing experience.

Susin Nielsen and I have been talking like a couple of parents worrying over their kids.
We're pretty happy, although all the characters' lives are up in the air our feeling is: everybody's gonna be okay.

Is it weird to worry about the fates of fictional characters that we create?

Absolutely, yes.

Last one out turn off the lights.

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Wall-e

Yes!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Feeding the Writer in Banff!... Dave's Yes/No Restaurant Review

Chicken Wings at the St. James Gate: Yes!
Chicken Wings at the Rundle Lounge of the Banff Springs Hotel: No!

Delegate Breakfast: No... (I had to wrestle a fellow delegate for half a bagel!)

Breakfast at McDonald's: No... the labour shortage is so bad in Banff you'll arrive at 10am for your Egg McMuffin, finally get to the front counter at 11am only to be told they've stopped serving breakfast. Grrrrrrrrrr. Daddy needs his Bacon and Egg Bagel!

Chicken Souvlaki at El Toro: Yes!... A delicious meal with the fantastic folks from Omnifilm! Don't let the schizo menu and cafeteria style furniture fool you. The food (mostly Greek with a little French and Spanish??? thrown in) was delicious.

The Maple Leaf Grill: Yes! The best restaurant of the trip. I dined on Steak upstairs with the great poeple from Ocean Entertainment, while, downstairs, Omnifilm wined and dined broadcasters at their No Pitch Dinner. Classy!

The Elk and Oarsmen: Nookay. (although I had an awesome evening with all the people from the showrunner program and plus I got to sit next to Christine Shipton for the first two courses!) the bison steak was fine but the desserts (of which I sampled plenty) and the appetizers (of which I had one, an endive salad) tasted like they were prepared a few days earlier.

Raisin Bran from the Husky Gas Station across the street: No. But that was only because the best before date had long since passed. Which is more than I can say for my.... never mind.

Geeks gets nom!... maybe.

I'm pleased to say that I think my episode "Geeks In Love" (RA303) was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award.

I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't really aware that there was such a thing.

What's worse when I got an email from my pal, Daegan, congratulating me, I googled it and couldn't even find it. When I found it listed in Wikipedia my family withdrew their congrats until I found a second source.

I'm sorry to say I haven't found one yet... not even on CTV's own press release that highlights other shows on its network that were nominated.

So... uhm... ahem... everyone just... you know, carry on with whatever.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Robson Arms Episodes Online

Okay.

This is the best I can do. I know some of you out there "don't have a TV" or "don't have cable" (even though it doesn't seem to me that CTV is a cable-necessary channel)... but for those of you who asked: is it online?

The answer is "Yes". Enjoy.

dave's yes/no movie review: Iron Man.

Yes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

See my beautiful face, maybe win an iPod

For those of you who are interested in seeing this handsome mug and getting a chance to win an iPod-- hurry over to the Robson Arms web site and click on "The Question."

It's our version of the Behind The Scenes stuff other shows are doing, except this one's got a super-hawt host.

For those of you tuning in for writer-porn particularly, keep an eye out for suave showrunner Susin Nielsen and hilarious story departmenters Ken Craw and Jen Daley.

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Baby Mama

Yes.

Listen, I know. Nobody's more surprised than me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Talk it out.

I've been going around the last couple days telling my writing buddies about this great technique I use to help me break a story.

I was all ready to write a best-selling screenwriting self-help book about it only to find Alex Epstein has already written a nice little post about it: Telling your story.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Robson Arms on TV-eh Podcast

TV-eh is a great resource for anyone interested in Canadian television.
A few months ago Diane Wild, the force behind the site, posted a number of podcasts with members of the industry. I'm happy to see that she's bringing them back... and even happier to see that Robson Arms will be the subject of the latest. Diane will be interviewing my bosses co-executive producers Susin Nielsen and Gary Harvey.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Robson Arms III gets an airdate.

Released today...

Toronto, ON (April 10, 2008) – The paint may be peeling, the taps leaking and there may be an unpleasant smell here and there, but there’s never been a better time to move into Robson Arms. Season 3 of the CTV Original Series returns Mondays at 9:30 p.m. ET beginning April 28 following Dancing With the Stars (visit CTV.ca to confirm local broadcast times)

Just in time... of course 930pm ET means 1030pm back home but that's why God made PVRs.
If anybody sees any promotion for the show could you leave a little comment here to let me know what you saw, where you saw it and when?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Drunk History

Alexander Hamilton



and Ben Franklin and his dick son.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What am I doing this afternoon instead of writing?

...having my eyes pried opened and my heart rate pushed up by reading a blog about Canadian Film and Television. Yeah, I know.

If you've ever looked at a Canadian TV show or feature film and asked: Why?
You'll find the "because" here.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hey, Ma! Look at Me!

I dunno.

Maybe for some writer's it's when they get their first paying gig.
For others it may be when they get their WGC card.

But for me... that feeling of having arrived... having written something that somebody actually wants to see-- just arrived in my google alerts.

"Geeks in Love" AKA "Robson Arms S03E02" has been Bit Torrented.

So long, suckers!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Robson Arms III: What I like about Episode 2... or Now let us Praise Gary Harvey


So. Tonight's my episode.

Make no mistake. I love the DRAHMAH. But I was raised in sketch comedy. And bringing a tear to somebody eye is great... but if it's by making them laugh... even better.

Drama is analog and comedy is binary. They laugh... or they don't. You can't kid yourself. Genuine involuntary laughter... you can literally take score. And that's why I can say: if you don't actually laugh tonight watching "Geeks In Love"... I have failed you faithful viewer... and if I haven't broken your heart little a bit while I did it, I have failed myself.

Because I can't blame anybody else for anything that's less than awesome about tonight's episode. Which is a long way to introduce--

The things I love about tonight's Episode:


1. The Troubadours.
If you go to the Robson Arms' website and hit the goodies, you can hear it. It's one of those things that, as a writer, leaves you humbled and amazed. The whole episode captured in a 30 second ditty. The lyrics, the music, the performance bring a tear-ball to my eye and soften my crusty and cynical old heart and make me all post-xmas Grinch. Gosh.


2. Haig.
Actors... you know what I mean? Oh, they're characters all right. And Haig Sutherland, who plays arguably the most unassuming of the Robson Arms tenants, Fred Fochs, is one of the largest characters on the set. Check out him messing with me during "The Question" on the RA site and you'll get a small taste.

Anyway... again, all eyes will be on Will Sasso's Bark. And with good reason, Bark is huge, and so is Will. Bark gets all the good lines, and so he should. But who is the heart of the episode? Who is the engine that keeps this story moving? Who do we see at his glorious best and heart-breaking worst? It's Haig's Fred. So in love and gloating, so insecure and jealous, so out of control and maniacal, so vulnerable and alone.

3. The Harv.
Okay. Most of you have never heard of Gary Harvey, and why should you? How many great television television directors are household names? But if you spend anytime working in film and television in Canada-- or spend any time WATCHING Canadian television I can almost guarantee you've seen his work. He's prolific.

In addition to his directing duties Gary is one of the executive producers of the show (along with Susin Nielsen and Brian Hamilton of whom we will hear more in future posts). They are an awesome triumvirate. But more than anyone Gary is the guy who is responsible for the tone on set. I've heard nightmare stories from friends and co-workers who have had to endure unbelievably tense and miserable months on sets run by people with the emotional sophistication of a two year old. Screamers. Tantrums. Shutdowns. Madness. Anyone who has had the opportunity to work with Gary doesn't know any of that. Cast, crew-- even critics, all remark on the feeling of the set. It isn't quiet like a library: there are plenty of disagreements and differing of opinions as there are bound to be whenever independent, talented and creative people with a job to do get together. But it's handled with perspective, respect and humour. And I blame Gary for that.

And if that wasn't enough-- he's also a hotshot director! Watch the episode tonight. And you'll barely see his work, but you're sure gonna feel it. Gary isn't a director that builds his scenes around a shot. He builds his shots around the scene. He teases out amazing performances out the actors, and pushing them further sometimes... sometimes reining them in. And comedy is a killer. It's all about rhythm and pace. Watch how he builds each scene, each moment! See how with the help of Franco our editor, the moments and scenes work with one another and take us deeper into the story.

Lucky, lucky me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Robson Arms III: Things I like about Episode One.



1) John Cassini's performance.

For me, the character of Yuri is at his best when he doesn't know what the hell is going on. He's not the brightest guy, he's a bit of a jerk... but he doesn't see himself that way. Yuri sees himself as the guy who's got every angel covered, he's tough but fair. If anything, he's too easy on people, a bit of a soft touch.

In Gila Monster Yuri discovers how wrong he is.

I think one of the reasons the Robson Arms writers keep coming back to Yuri is that his usual state is as a guy whose world is constantly crumbling beneath him and he's always struggling to get on top of things. Yuri is most fun to write when he's failing.

In episode one, though many eyes will be drawn to the talented Dave Foley, for me it's Cassini that captures and shares the soul of a man who discovers he's not as smart or as tough as he thinks he is. It's a vulnerable and brilliant performance.

2) Nothing is written in stone.

Do the writers know how the season will end when they start writing the first episode? We think we do. I mean, there's a plan. But to be honest we're not even sure which episode will be the last episode or which will be the first. For example this year: "Geeks in Love," "Mean Girls" and "The Prince of Nigeria" were all written long before we knew the building had been bought by Americans.

But it's not just imagination that shapes the season. Real life gets in the way too! In this case we discovered well into writing that certain actors were unavailable. Some wouldn't be coming back and others couldn't come back... Which brings me to the another thing I like about episode one: the episode ends where other series' seasons end.

Okay, that might be overstating it a little. But here's the thing: even though the writers' can't take credit for "the why" of certain events, I think we did our best to turn a practical production problem into an opportunity for story. It's a terrifying and fun part of the job.

Watch it and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about. Or maybe it'll appear to be a surprising but inevitable turn in a character's journey. Here's hoping.

The Reviews are In...!


...in a trickling sort of way.

But they've been generally quite positive.
Here's a couple of reasons to tune in to the Sneak Preview of Robson Arms this Tuesday and Wednesday after American Idol.

In addition to asserting that the show could be read "as an extended metaphor" for Canada (and if that doesn't bring in the viewers, what will?) television critic for the Globe and Mail, John Doyle, says:

"The series is a smartly made social comedy, aimed at grown-ups and the better for it"

Brad from the Winnipeg Free Press says:
Over its first two seasons, Robson Arms has quietly established itself as one of the best-written shows on Canadian TV. Filled with a wacky, constantly rotating rabble of characters played by a stellar homegrown cast (which has included the likes of Mark McKinney, Leslie Nielsen, Gabrielle Miller, Fred Ewanuick, Joe Flaherty, Margot Kidder, Shirley Douglas and more), the series has kept its focus squarely on creating small, quirky and completely charming stories that resist the urge to lapse into standard sitcom silliness.

As such, Robson Arms is one of those sneaky-funny shows that prompts out-loud laughter at the most unexpected of moments. And that, of course, is more than half the fun.
So that's pretty good.

Read Oswald's complete review here!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Robson Arms Website is Up and Running

Just in time for the Robson Arms Sneak Preview this week after American Idol... The site is filled with video, behind the scenes stuff, and a chance to win an iPod Touch. Sweet.

Speaking of sweet, there was a promotion for the show just before the Oscars last night. If you've seen any other spots, let me know, would you?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Robson Arms "Season Three" Sneak Peek After American Idol

Folks will have a "sneak peek" of Robson Arms Season Three, next week after American Idol.

What does a "sneak peek" mean? I don't want to analyze what it REALLY means but the upshot is that CTV will be airing RAIII episodes 1 ("Gila Monster" by Jesse McKeown) and 3 ("Geeks in Love" by yours truly) next week after "American Idol", Tues. Feb 26 at 9:30 and Wed. Feb 27 at 9:30.

I know this is short notice, maybe even extremely short notice, but I'll do my bit. I'll let you know a little bit about the episodes before they hit the air, but for now, ladies and gentlemen, start your PVRs!

Or better yet, call your friends and make an evening of it. Not together in one place... no, each of you at your own television in separate residences.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dave's Top 5 Yes/No Films of 2007

I know that some will find gaping holes in my list. I've missed (or haven't yet seen) what I hear were some great films last year... and some terrible ones too.

Dave's Top Five "Yes" Films 2007

1. No Country For Old Men
2. Death Proof
3. Zodiac
4. Eastern Promises
5. Super Bad

Dave's Top Five "No" Films 2007
(to clarify: the worst that I saw... and granted there were a lot that I didn't see because you know... why put yourself through 'em. However, that's the same argument my parents would use about several of my "Yes" List too.)

1. Into the Wild
2. Stardust
3. Spiderman
4. Shoot'em Up
5. Meet the Robinsons