The Great Canadian Guide to the Movies (& TV) Presents...





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Sample: Title; rating (out of 4); principal setting; year of release; international co-producer (if any); cast; description; scriptwriter; director; content warning; running time.

TO CATCH A KILLER (TVMS)  * *  setting: USA.
(1992) (/U.S.) Brian Dennehy, Michael Riley, David Eisner, Michael Copeman, Scott Hylands, Margot Kidder.....Fact based account of the ten day investigation in the U.S. that led to the conviction of serial killer J.W. Gacey (Dennehy) and of the cop (Riley) who led it. Restrained, but still schlocky story manages to be boring with uninteresting characters. 4 hours. sc: Jud Kinberg. dir: Eric Till.

TO KILL THE KING * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1972) Patrick O'Neal, Susan Tyrell, Lance Henriksen, Barry Morse, Cec Linder, Ken James.....Deciding that the U.S. President is a dangerous megalomaniac, some of his closest advisors plot to kill him, and a sociopathic Secret Service man (O'Neal) is out to stop them. Boring, cold, low-budget suspenser. Weak performances except for O'Neal and Linder. sc: Bernard Eismen, Rod Sheldon and Tom Cole (from the novel by Anthony McCall). dir: George McCowan. 87 min.

TO SERVE AND PROTECT (TVMS)  * * *  setting: Ont.
(1986) Geraint Wyn Davies, Frank Moore, Ken James, Annie Kidder, Philip Akin.....The experiences of a rookie second generation cop (Davies), both professional and personal. This solid, low-key (and low budget) drama, with its emphasis on realism, grows on you. No Dirty Harry, but it isn't trying to be. This was a try-out for a never realized series. Three one hour segments.

TO WALK WITH LIONS * * * 1/2  setting: other
(1999) (/U.K./Kenya) Richard Harris, John Michie, Kerry Fox, Ian Bannen, Hugh Quarshie, Honor Blackman, Geraldine Chaplin.....True story of the aging George Adamson (Harris) -- popularized in in the 1960s book and movie "Born Free" -- who ran a centre for reintegrating lion's into the wild in Kenya, and of Tony Fitzjohn (Michie) an aimless drifter who stumbles into working for him...and finds it changes his life. Atmospheric, bittersweet drama is beautiful looking with excellent performances from all. Harris, as an eccentric Adamson, and Bannen as his equally eccentric brother, are particular stand-outs. The movie benefits from a "warts and all" approach that, while still celebrating its heroes, doesn't become cloying the way many bio-pics can. Episodic at times, but thoroughly absorbing and affecting. Not necessarily the "family" film one might expect, with some grown up subject matter and some grittiness as it progresses and gets darker, detailing conflicts with poachers and the like. None of the actors are Canadian. sc: Sharon Buckingham, Keith Ross Leckie. dir: Carl Schultz. - violence.- 110 min.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first book in Philip Jose Farmer's classic Riverworld series was part of the basis for the movie Riverworld.

TOBY McTEAGUE  * * 1/2  setting: P.Q.
(1986) Winston Rekert, Yannick Bisson, George Clutesi, Stephanie Morgenstern, Timothy Webber.....Story of Toby (Bisson), his difficulties with his widower father (Rekert), his first romance (with Morgenstern) and a "Karate Kid" style dog sled race. Predictable family film is competently done but nothing special. sc: Jamie Brown with Jeff MacGuire, Djordje Milicevic. dir: Jean Claude Lord. 94 min.
 
 
TODD & THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL (TV Series) 

(2010-2011)  * 1/2  Alex House ("Todd Smith"), Maggie Castle ("Jenny Kolinsky"), Bill Turnbull ("Curtis Weaver"), Melanie Leishman ("Hannah B. Williams"), Chris Leavins ("Atticus Murphy Jr."), Jason Mewes ("Jimmy"), others.....Comedy/horror about a high school plagued by supernatural evil in the form of a cursed book that magically appears to disgruntled teens, granting them their deepest wishes...usually with grisly and disastrous results -- and of the dorky teen (House) and his pals who seek to stop it. Turnbull plays his good-hearted, but equally dimwitted pal...with an artificial arm! Leishman the mousey smart girl; and Castle the popular girl who reluctantly got roped into their group. Leavins plays the nerdy Guidance Counsellor who is secretly with an evil cult, trying to get the book for his own ends. Counter-culture icon, American actor Mewes (known for his association with indie U.S. filmmaker Kevin Smith) plays the janitor who offers sage advice from time to time.

This TV series has attained a cult following and first saw life as a one-time short film in 2003, before becoming a series (with a new cast). And it is a no holds barred black comedy, with profanity and blood, vomit, urine, and other bodily substances regularly thrown about the room -- and onto the actors. Although some have likened it to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (both revolving around teens fighting the supernatural in a high school, with even some slight character parallels -- the smart, timid girl, the pretty popular girl "slumming" with the nerds) the parallels aren't too close. For one thing, Buffy was more "PG"-rated while Todd is definitely an "R"-rated series, and Buffy, though very funny, was ultimately a comedy-drama while Todd is principally a slapstick comedy. Oh, and if you want to compare, in the realm of teen comedy, Buffy was more like "Diner" and Todd is more like Porky's...3. The series has developed a fervent fandom but one suspects its main audience is a lot like its main character...substance-abusing metal heads who spend more time in the Guidance Counsellor's office than in class -- and I suspect they would see that description as a compliment! (Yo! Rock on, dudes!) The actors are game, and there are occasional chuckles, but like with a lot of "shock" comedies, there's too much of a sense that the need to shock is driving the humour...rather than the humour veers fearlessly into taboo areas when necessary for a punchline. That is, gore, projectile vomiting and semen can be funny...but that doesn't mean just tossing them about willy-nilly will inherently illicit laughs! Unfortunately, even the plotting isn't especially clever (that is, even if many jokes fall flat, the story twists and turns could keep your attention) so even at half an hour it can drag a bit. Still -- hey, I'm presumably not the target demographic (well, except that I loved Buffy, and did often find "South Park" funny...so it's not like I'm exactly outside their audience-type either). Created by Craig David Wallace, Charles Picco, Anthony Leo. Two seasons of half-hour episodes shown in Canada on Space.

TOKYO COWBOY  * * 1/2  setting: B.C.
(1994) Christianne Hirt, Janne Mortil, Hiromoto Ida, Alec Willows, Anna Ferguson, Denalda Williams, Brent Stait.....Ensemble piece about a Japanese man (Ida), wanting to be a cowboy, coming to small town Canada to see his childhood pen pal (Hirt), who's secretly in a lesbian relationship (with Mortil); and some of the other characters around them. Understated comedy-drama boasts a particularly good cast, intelligent dialogue, and sure direction. And if not quite riveting, it remains consistently interesting because of those virtues. Michael Ironside has a cameo at the beginning. Not to be confused with Samurai Cowboy, a less ambitious, but similar-themed Canadian movie from around the same time. sc: Caroline Adderson. dir: Kathy Garneau. 94 min.

TOM ALONE  * *  setting: CDN.
(1989) Noam Zylberman, Nick Mancuso, Ned Beatty, Gordon Tootoosis, Ron White, Timothy Webber.....In 1885, a young boy (Zylberman) goes west in search of his fugitive father (White) and encounters historical figures like Poundmaker (Tootoosis) and Sam Steele (Mancuso, hamming it up terribly). Sluggish, poorly done and somewhat mean-spirited "adventure" for youngsters. Originally aired as two episodes of the CBC's Family Hour. a.k.a. The Last Train Home. sc: Jeremy Hole. dir: Randy Bradshaw. app. 96 min.

TOM, DICK AND HARRIET * *   setting: USA
(2013) (/U.S.) Steve Webber, Andrew Francis, Michelle Harrison, Michael Eklund, Mackenzie Porter, Hamza Adam, Ali Liebert, Diana Bang, Scott Hylands.....Middle-aged American ad man (American actor Webber) finds he's considered too "old" by the hip, new advertising agencies, so gets a young con artist (Francis) to act as his front, presenting his ideas. Made-for-TV flick has a likeable enough cast and is not remotely disagreeable...but suffers from a certain blandness being basically a light drama. Despite potential for wackiness, it's not really a comedy (more just humorous at times). It's a sort of romance -- except the pairings only have a few scenes together! And for a drama, the simple narrative slips into obvious grooves, with few real complications or obstacles to be overcome until toward the end...when they are resolved fairly easily. Basically a movie for people who find most movies too crass. And just to quibble: isn't there an irony to a movie tackling the theme of ageism, and a youth-obsessed culture, when the romantic interest (Harrison) is younger than him? Prominently billed Hylands has just a brief scene at the beginning as Webber's retiring boss. sc: Ken Krauss. dir: K.T. Donaldson (a.k.a. Kristoffer Tabori). app. 90 min.
 
 
TOM STONE (TV Series) 

(2001-2003)  * *  Chris William Martin a.k.a. Chris Martin ("Tom Stone"), Janet Kidder ("Maria Di Luzio"), Stuart Margolin ("Jack Welsh"), with Timothy Webber ("Grant Davidson"), Natascha Girgis ("Amy") (1st), Sherry Miller ("Insp. Alexandra Black") (2nd-), Noal Auguston ("Dee Bullock"), Terence Kelly ("Sweater Man") (1st), Carmen Moore ("Sherry Goodstriker") (1st), Ben Bass ("Graham Pearson") (1st), Greg Lawson ("Staff Sergeant Claude Pennington") (1st).....Mystery/comedy-drama set in Calgary about an ex-cop, ex-roughneck, ex-con (Martin), reluctantly recruited by a relocated, fish-out-of-water R.C.M.P. detective (Kidder) to help her tackle corporate crime cases where regular police methods might not work. Margolin plays a shady entrepreneur who is "Tom's" friend. Auguston plays the woman who owns the land on which "Stone" has his trailer home; Webber the local police c.o.; Girgis the police secretary. Kelly played "Di Luzio's" enigmatic Ottawa boss; Lawson an up-beat Mountie always looking for ways to improve the work place. Bass played "Di Luzio's" love interest, a political reporter, and Moore "Stone's" love interest who ran a local stable. The second season seemed to entail a few sophomore shake ups, dropping many of the supporting players, changing some of the dynamics ("Di Luzio" no longer seemed to be on her own, but now worked out of the bullpen), and Miller was added as everyone's self-serving boss. The series started out with various sub-plots (what was "Di Luzio"'s Ottawa boss' true agenda, who framed "Tom"), plots that weren't that interesting and just seemed to take up wa-ay too much of the screen time (as noted in my original review); but such plot threads had largely been discarded by the second season.

This TV series likened itself to the classic American series, "The Rockford Files", and Martin and Kidder showed promise as the leads, and Margolin (a co-star of "The Rockford Files"!) is also fun, and the use of Calgary, not just as a generic backdrop, but as very much a part of the stories (with its boom and bust high rollers, and urban-rural dichotomies) is well handled. And in a Canadian television field largely dominated by earnest dramas and gritty cop shows, an old fashioned, light-hearted detective series is refreshing. But, ultimately, the series has largely failed to live up to its initial promise. Originally I gave it a O.K. review, but, I'll admit, the more episodes I've seen, the more my enthusiasm wanes. 

The problem is that as a comedy-drama-thriller...it's not very funny, it's not very dramatic, and it's not very thrilling. The plots, by and large, are nothing to write home about, and can either be too confusing, or too simple (and sometimes both) where the cons and undercover operations seem kind of ill-conceived (like the one with Tom Jackson involving corruption on an Indian Reserve, resulting in a "Sting"-like con...but I'm not sure it made any sense at all). As well, the characters are rarely endangered until the climax (unlike Jim Rockford), making for somewhat dry investigations. And despite my above compliments to Kidder and Martin as actors, the whiny characters just aren't very endearing, or likeable, and have no real on screen relationship -- romantic, platonic, or otherwise. Have them bitch and snipe at each other if you want, but there should be an undercurrent of camaraderie...but there ain't. They seem cordial at best. Add to that the technical decision to crank up the ambient sound of background noises, traffic, etc., as well as a blaring music score, and whole chunks of dialogue are lost in the background noise. And if the filmmakers don't think the dialogue is important, why should the viewer? Ultimately, for a series that's meant to be entertainment, it ends up being too darn much like work, without providing any real rewards (witty lines, loveable characters) to make it worth it. Too bad. At times, it threatens to join the ranks of modern, Canadian executive-approved dramas like Traders and DaVinci's Inquest: slick, stylish, but with a weak grasp of the niceties of story telling. In fact, the "corporate crime" angle makes one suspect Traders was very much in the filmmakers' minds.

Ultimately, it's nice to see the CBC attempting something a little less pretentious than its usual fair. And one or two episodes will probably make you nod to yourself, thinking it has potential, but after a few more episodes, there's a sense it's just getting further away from fulfilling that potential. A few years later, "The Rockford Files" was also cited as an inspiration for another light-hearted detective series, this one on the other side of the country -- The Republic of Doyle! Created by Andrew Wreggitt. Two seasons of hour long episodes (with a couple of two parters), totalling only about 20 or so. Shown on the CBC.

TOMCAT  setting: USA.
(1993) Richard Grieco, Natalie Radford, Maryam D'Abo, Serge Houde, Sean Orr.....A man (Grieco) whose genes have been crossed with those of a cat, acts libidinously and kills those who get in his way. One of those films which leaves you wondering how it even got the green light. Is it horror? Suspense? Romance? A dance movie (I kid you not)? Slow, dumb and really te-di-ous. sc./dir: Paul Donovan. - sexual content, violence.- 96 min.

TOMMY TRICKER AND THE STAMP TRAVELLER* * *  setting: P.Q./other
(1987) (/China) Lucas Evans, Anthony Rogers, Jill Stanley, Andrew Whitehead, Paul Popowich.....Story of some kids who are heavily into stamp collecting and how they discover a magical way to travel around the world on a stamp. Nicely done comedy-adventure takes some time before it gets into the fantasy part, but it's never boring. One of producer Rock Demer's (who has a cameo as a guy getting his shoes shined) Tales for All children's series. Followed, seven years later, by The Return of Tommy Tricker. sc./dir: Michael Rubbon. 105 min.

THE TOMORROW MAN  * 1/2
(1979) Stephen Markle, Don Francks, David Clement, Stan Wilson, Gail Dahms, Michelle Chicoine.....In the near future, a man (Markle) is imprisoned without trial by a socialist police state. This really low-budget science fiction drama could have been interesting, but its various ideas never come together in a story. O.K. performances and it does have a twist ending. Still, the British TV series "The Prisoner" did this kind of thing so much better. a.k.a. 984 - Prisoner of the Future. sc: Stephen Zoller, Peter Chapman. dir: Tibor Takacs. 70 min.

TOMORROW NEVER COMES  * * 1/2  setting: CDN.
(1978) (/U.K.) Oliver Reed, Susan George, Stephen McHattie, John Ireland, Donald Pleasence, Paul Koslo, John Osborne, Raymond Burr, Richard Donat, Cec Linder.....After a knock on the head, a man (McHattie) takes his ex-girlfriend (George) hostage, and a level-headed cop (Reed) wants to resolve things peacefully despite department pressure to just shoot it out for the sake of political expediency. Uneven film, mixing drama, suspense, political paranoia, and touches of social satire, is arguably well-intentioned, and boasts some interesting, quirky characterizations (like Linder in a bit part as a reluctant police sniper) but is heavy handed, particularly in the dialogue. Conceptually similar to April One, made some years later. Look for Richard Comar as a moustached tourist. sc: David Pursall, Jack Seddon, Sydney Banks. dir: Peter Collinson. 109 min. - brief female nudity.-

TOO MUCH SEX  * *  setting: CDN.
(1999) Michael McMurtry, Janet Kidder, Murray Furrow, Christine Donato, Diane Flacks, Joan Heney.....Promiscuous sex-aholic (McMurtry) has a near- death experience where his abrasive Guardian Angel (Flacks) warns him he really will die if he has sex again. He comes back, swearing celibacy...just as two seductive adult entertainers (Kidder and Donato) move in with him. Though made under the auspices of the "high brow" Canadian Film Centre, this isn't too far removed from the sex comedies Canada used to make in the early eighties. Though maybe there isn't quite enough nudity to qualify as a sex comedy (though there's still nudity, and raunchy antics, including a sensual performance routine between Kidder and Donato). The movie has a good cast and some cute scenes, but its thin plot doesn't quite sustain itself (particularly as it is more cute than laugh-out-loud funny). Eugene A. Clark, better known as an actor, sings the closing, Barry White-like theme song. sc./dir: Andrew Ainsworth. - female and male nudity, sexual content..- 83 min.

TOO OUTRAGEOUS! * * 1/2  setting: USA./CDN.
(1987) Craig Russell, Hollis McLaren, David McIlwraith, Ron White, Lynne Cormack, Paul Eves, Timothy Jenkins, Frank Pellegrino, Michael J. Reynolds.....Robin (Russell) and Liza (McLaren), doing O.K. in New York, move back to Toronto as he is pushed to make his drag act more mainstream...and more commercial. O.K. serio-comic sequel to Outrageous! never quite comes together but features some memorable scenes. McLaren came out of semi-retirement to do this pic. sc./dir: Dick Benner. 100 min.

TOO SMOOTH  * 1/2  setting: USA.
(1998) (/U.S.) Dean Paras, Katie Wright, Rebecca Gayheart, Stefan Brogren, David DeLuise, Neve Campbell, Christian Campbell, Kimberly Huie, Nate Tuck.....Generation X comedy about young players in Hollywood, focusing on a shallow womanizer (Paras) who thinks he may actually be falling in love with his latest conquest (Wright), but complications are many. Many Canadian movies suffer from a turgid tempo, but not so here -- in fact, the movie's a little too rapid paced. It starts out encouraging, if confusing, but unfortunately just gets more and more incoherent, with confusing motivation and an uneven juggling of the relationship plot with a film biz plot (Paras is trying to pitch a story). And the misogynist undercurrents, with Paras' running commentary on how to seduce women and then discard them, while the film's villain is Neve Campbell (in a small, but nicely atypical turn) as one of his jilted lovers, gets uncomfortable after a while. Since most of the cast was involved behind the scenes as producers, one is left feeling maybe they needed a grown up looking over their shoulders to keep things focused. As it is, the word "indulgent" comes to mind. Paras' old Liberty St. co-star, Huie, is wasted in a nothing part as, well, basically the only girl he isn't trying to hit on. A good cast of Canadian and American (Wright, Gayheart, DeLuise) actors, particularly Brogren, formerly Snake of the Degrassi series. Frustrating because it comes darn close to working. None of the characters are supposed to be Canadian, even though Hollywood has a huge Canadian population so it would've been justified. a.k.a. Hairshirt. sc: Dean Paras (story Katie Wright, Dean Paras, Nate Tuck). dir: Dean Paras. 88 min.

THE TOP OF HIS HEAD  * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(1989) Stephen Ouimette, Gary Reineke, Christie MacFadyen, David Main, Julie Wildman, David Fox.....Salesman (Ouimette) finds his life turned upside down when his eccentric girlfriend (MacFadyen) disappears and the cops (headed by Reineke) suspect his involvement in unnamed crimes. Avant-garde, rambling, semi-suspense flick ends up being neither very insightful nor suspenseful and only sporadically amusing. sc./dir: Peter Mettler. 110 min.

TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN  * * 1/2
(1999) Campbell Scott, Fiona Loewi, Nigel Bennett, Tom Everett Scott, Hardee T. Lineham, Bernard Behrens, Peter Donaldson, Elisa Moolecherry, James Allodi, Ron Gabriel, Robert Bockstael.....An eccentric small town finds its citizens being eaten by an unknown entity. Absurdist black comedy parody of 1950s B-grade horror/sci-fi films, with more than a dash of "Twin Peaks", is admirably weird and clever, with note perfect performances from all (particularly Campbell Scott) in a style of comedy that would be so easy to fumble. With that being said, it is a comedy, not a comedy-drama, or a humourous thriller -- in other words, the be all and end all is the laughs. And though you can appreciate what they're doing, and though it's often vaguely amusing, the out right chuckles are fewer (the first big laughs occur at the dinner table scene). Surprisingly, though, it gets funnier as it goes along. Worth a look, but if you watch it, stick with it. The two Scotts, both American imports, aren't related. Campbell is the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, and Dewhurst was Canadian. sc: Phil Bedard, Larry Lalonde. dir: John Paizs. - extreme violence.- 92 min.

TORSO  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.
(2001) Kathleen Robertson, Brenda Fricker, Callum Keith Rennie, Victor Garber, Ken James, Jonathon Potts.....True story of Evelyn Dick (Robertson) who, in 1946, Hamilton, Ontario, was charged in the bizarre and brutal murder of her estranged husband. Made for CTV dramatization of one of the more notorious cases in Canadian legal history is competently enough put together, but the filmmakers want it to be both a true-crime docudrama and, because of the historical milieu, a kind of over-the-top homage to film noire melodramas (kind of reminiscent of another Canadian true crime drama, Sleeping Dogs Lie). But the story, though bizarre, remains sufficiently inconclusive that it's not exactly satisfying, ultimately being just a voyeuristic exercise more than a drama. And its not always clear what is a matter of public record, and where the filmmakers have chosen to embellish the historical facts. It received the Gemini for TV Best Movie. sc: Dennis Foon (from the book by Marjorie Freeman Campbell). dir: Alex Chapple. - extreme violence.- 90 min.

TOTAL RECALL 2070: Machine Dreams * * 1/2
(1999) (/U.S) Michael Easton, Karl Pruner, Cynthia Preston, Michael Anthony Rawlins, Matthew Bennett, Judith Krant, Nick Mancuso, Angelo Pedari.....In 2070, a cop (Easton) and his new partner (Pruner) investigate rogue androids that seem to have some connection to a powerful multinational corporation that specializes in mental implants. Pilot for the TV series benefits from a stylish look and good performances (particularly Pruner and Preston, in a small part as Easton's wife) but it is a bit slow moving, with the emphasis on a distinctive "style" rendering the whole thing a little monotonous. Still, it attempts to be thoughtful (even if much of the movie seems lifted from the motion picture "Blade Runner") and is atmospheric. Though plot threads are left unresolved to carry the viewer into the series. Made for cable TV, unedited the movie contains some nudity (mainly at the beginning) and cussing. sc: Art Monterastelli. dir: Mario Azzopardi. 85 min. - female nudity, violence.-
 
TOTAL RECALL 2070 (TV Series)

(1999-2000) (/U.S.)  * * 1/2  Michael Easton ("David Hume"), Karl Pruner ("Ian Farve"), Cyndy Preston ("Olivia Hume"), Michael Anthony Rawlins ("Martin Ehrenthal"), Matthew Bennett ("James Calley"), Judith Krant ("Olan Chang"), with Damon D'Oliveira.....Science fiction/crime drama about a police detective (Easton) in the future working for the Citizens Protection Bureau and paired with an android partner (Pruner). Preston played his troubled wife. Rawlins played his c.o.; Krant the forensics expert; and Bennett cropped up occasionally as a kind of shadowy superior. D'Oliveira played another cop. Easton and Krant are Americans, Pruner, Preston and Bennett are Canadians. Not sure about Rawlins.

Though using the name "Total Recall" (a 1990 U.S. movie based on a story by Philip K. Dick called "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale") its real inspiration -- at least in production design, police protagonist, (and haircuts) and even the plot of the two-part pilot -- is "Blade Runner", a 1982 movie also bbased on Dick's work (the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). But nowhere is Dick credited! Actually, it seems like "Blade Runner" meets "Holmes and Yoyo" (and if you gotta ask...).

Unlike TekWar and RoboCop, this was a science fiction series about a detective, not just a cop show with SF trappings. The look and mood of the thing was genuinely atmospheric, but a tad monotonous. Nor were the often thin plots exactly well-developed, science fiction-wise or detective fiction-wise, and were muddled by cryptic undercurrents, particularly in the relationship between the hero and his wife, that could leave you scratching your head. The series juggled its portrayal of a dystopic future of big corporations engaged in shadowy experiments while not being too dystopic: the reality still seemed liveable, and our heroes triumphed most episode.

Ultimately, this was an O.K. series, but needed stronger plots and some much needed humour to counterpoint the sombre mood and lethargic pacing. And an unfortunate tendency to slide into right wing machismo was also unappealing. Essentially, the more episodes one sees, the greater one's ambivalence. But the real weakness was American import Easton (starring in his second Canadian series). A brooding actor with a patented style of refusing to meet the eyes of his co-stars, he doesn't connect with his fellow actors (a real liability in a series that's both a buddy cop show and a domestic relationship drama). Easton, with his limited emotional range, seems more like an android than Pruner. That may be on purpose -- "Blade Runner" has a cult following who have inferred that the lead character is secretly an android -- but as a drama, and for a character that the audience has to invest in emotionally, it's problematic. Pruner, though, was a stand-out -- it wasn't a particularly novel take on an android, but he was appealing, investing the character with subtle emotion. Beautiful Preston was also very good, but she was largely wasted in a roll that was frustratingly ill-defined and unrealized. 

The guest stars were sometimes all-Canadian, sometimes fronted by an American. Interestingly, and remarkably for a Canadian series, the show took advantage of its future reality and was set in a kind of ambiguous North America, rather than being explicitly in the United States. Like a lot of recent syndicated series, there were two versions made, one for conventional TV, and one for cable with saltier profanity and, at least in the pilot, nudity. Created by American Art Monterastelli. One season of hour long episodes in syndication. - violence.- 

TOUCH OF PINK  * * *  other/Ont.
(2004) (/U.K.) Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan, Suleka Mathew, Kristen Holden-Ried, Veena Sood, Brian George, Liisa Repo-Martell, Raoul Bhaneja....In the closet, gay, Indo-Canadian (Mistry), living in England, still relies on the advice of his childhood imaginary friend -- the spirit of suave movie star, Cary GGrant (MacLachlan); but when his somewhat controlling and conservative mother (Mathew) shows up, he tries passing off his gay lover (Holden-Ried) as simply his roommate. Charming, low-key comedy -- sure, it could be argued it smacks a bit of being just a sitcom, but it's an unusually smart, sweet tempered sitcom, with some unexpected plot turns and a lot of empathy for its various characters (with Mathew emerging as the more compelling character, her role a lot more complex and nuanced than you might at first expect). Perhaps surprisingly, it even works as a romantic comedy, where even a straight audience can find themselves rooting for the two lovers to work things out. Well acted (ironically, with lead Mistry a weaker link), and MacLachlan, though initially a bit distracting, really does do a good job of evoking Grant. Funnily enough, almost all the accents are put on -- Englishman Mistry is faking a Canadian accent, while most of the Canadian (and American MacLachlan) cast adopt various Indian and British accents! The title is a joke on an old Cary Grant film, "A Touch of Mink". sc./dir: Ian Igbal Rashid. - sexual content.- 91 min.

TOUCHED  * * 1/2  setting: B.C.
(1999) Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, Maury Chaykin, Tygh Runyan, Gary Farmer, Ian Tracey, Annick Obonsawin, Graham Greene, Susannah Hoffman.....Story of the May-December relationship between a bitter, alcoholic widow (Redgrave) -- a white woman about to be evicted from her home on Indian land -- and a young, schizophrenic drifter (Runyan) in rural B.C. Well-mounted '70s style drama is sufficiently engaging and well-played (particularly Runyan), but it's the sort of story where characters are supposed to have evolved somewhat by the end, but you more have to take that on faith, rather than because you see the changes on screen. Second billed Davidovich just has a small part as Redgrave's estranged daughter; Greene is amusing and memorable in one scene. sc: Joan Hopper, Mort Ransen (story Hopper). dir: Mort Ransen. - male nudity, brief female nudity.- 105 min.

TOUGH LUCK  see Y'en aura pas de facile.
 
THE TOURNAMENT (TV Series)

(2005-2006)  * * 1/2  Al Goulem, Paula Boudreau, Tracey Hoyt, Richard Jutras, Kate Greenhouse, Christian Potenza, Cas Anvar, Louis-Philippe Dandenault, Dean McDermott, Swikriti Sarkar, others.....Comedy/mockumentary following the antics of a small Ontario town and the adult residents' obsession with the local kids' hockey team -- while also pining after each other in various unrequited infatuations. 

Given hockey is seen as Canada's "national sports", there have been a few attempts to milk fiction from it (He Shoots, He Scores and Power Play, for example, and movies like The Rhino Brothers, Net Worth and The Last Season). But this time, it's done entirely as satire, and by focusing, not on pro sports, but overly zealous hockey parents, it draws upon an aspect of the sport that (unfortunately) has made more than a few headlines. The result, particularly if you stick with a few episodes, is a moderately amusing effort, though the pseudo-documentary technique means it's almost too understated in its gags, and the fact that almost all the characters are there to be lampooned, means it's a series that can be a little too mean-spirited. And when one of the central characters is a boor (Goulem), often given to making snidely racial remarks to an Indo-Canadian character (amusingly played by Anvar), one can ask: is racism really funny? Didn't "All in the Family" teach us that having racist anti-heroes simply serves to make people more tolerant, not less, of bigotry? Two seasons of half hour episodes on the CBC. 

A TOWN TORN APART  * * *  setting: USA.
(1992) (/U.S.) Michael Tucker, Jill Eikenberry, Carole Galloway, Lindsey Connell, Linda Griffiths, Noam Zylberman, Nicholas Van Bruek, Leah Salomaa, Patrick Gillen, Bernard Behrens.....True story of the unorthodox new principle (Tucker) at a troubled New Hampshire school, and how he helped turn things around by encouraging the kids to believe in themselves. Well acted, likeable made-for-TV drama skims over some of the interesting bits and suffers because the good-guy teachers seem a little patronizing, but it's nice to see a movie about school reform that doesn't involve teachers wielding baseball bats. Still, if this wasn't a true story, it'd be a cliché. sc: Anne Gerard (from the book Doc by Susan Kammeraad-Campbell). dir: Daniel Petrie. 100 min.

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