The Shows – Global/CH and CBC

American Dad

American Dad

Global/Fox, Sundays 9:30-10 p.m.

30 min., debuts midseason

the story: Animated story of a man who works for the CIA and shares his life with a sarcastic space alien he rescued from Area 51 and a lascivious, German-speaking goldfish – the result of a spook experiment gone seriously wrong.

the cast: Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy), Wendy Schaal (Good Grief, It’s a Living, Fantasy Island) , Rachael MacFarlane, Ricky Blitt, Dee Bradley Baker.

the backing: 20th Century Fox Television, with Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)and Matt Weitzman (Father of the Pride, Off Centre, Family Guy) as executive producers and writers.

the verdict: Strictly for animation fans and viewers who still sort of miss audacious Alf’s wisecracking. TP

The Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best

CH/Fox, Tuesdays 8-9 p.m.

60 min., debuts TBA

the story: Sir Richard Branson, the colourful head the Virgin Group of companies, leads young entrepreneurs on an epic journey around the world, testing their mettle by having them stage some of his own madcap adventures while being eliminated one by one.

the cast: Richard Branson, others TBA.

the backing: Bunim-Murray Productions (The Simple Life, Real World) with Richard Branson, Jonathan Murray, Kevin Lee, Lori Levin-Hyams, Laura Fuest and Tod Dahlke as executive producers.

the verdict: Trumping Donald Trump by taking the cutthroat action out of the boardroom and into the wild blue yonder has a fair amount of fascination potential. TP

Blind Justice

CH/ABC, Tuesdays 9-10 p.m.

60 min., midseason debut

the story: Blinded in the line of duty, a determined cop (played by the talented Ron Eldard) returns to the precinct and must rely on his other senses to solve crimes.

the cast: Ron Eldard (ER) and Rena Sofer (Coupling).

the backing: Exec producer Steven Bochco brings instant credibility to this series, however it’s important to remember that he was also responsible for Cop Rock. (Will he ever live that down?)

the verdict: With NYPD Blue’s old time-slot on ABC (Dennis Franz and company are hanging up their badges after an 11-year run) and executive producer Bochco, Blind Justice has a great opportunity to excel. SW

The Block

Global, time-slot TBA

debut TBA

the story: Hit reality/renovation series format from Australia focuses on four couples who move into a rundown apartment building and compete to see which ones can renovate their units fastest and for the best sale price.

the cast: TBA.

the backing: FremantleMedia North America.

the verdict: The highest-rated program in Australian TV history, this import should appeal to the huge number of viewers who dote on decorating shows. Interestingly enough, Global has also bought The Complex: Malibu, an Americanized version of The Block, but hasn’t yet decided when to air it. TP

Center of the Universe

CH/CBS, Wednesdays 9:30-10 p.m.

30 min., debuts this fall

the story: Comedy about a happily married security company owner and his wife of 20 years as they try to cope with the husband’s eccentric extended clan, which includes a sex-obsessed father, a ditzy mother, a gleefully oblivious brother, a wacko therapist sister and a nutty 12-year-old son.

the cast: John Goodman (Roseanne), Emmy winners Jean Smart (Frasier, Designing Women) and Ed Asner (Lou Grant), Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck), Diedrich Bader (Eurotrip, The Country Bears), Melinda McGraw (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Living in Captivity), Spencer Breslin (Raising Helen, Cat in the Hat).

the backing: Warner Bros. Television Production in association with CBS Productions, with Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two & A Half Men) and Mitch Katlin and Nat Bernstein (The Gregory Hines Show) as executive producers.

the verdict: The welcome return of beloved John Goodman, plus a powerhouse supporting cast, pretty much guarantee huge viewership, at least initially. A good fit with lead-in King of Queens, but do we really want to see a slavering Lou Grant? TP

The Contender

Global/NBC, Tuesdays 8-9 p.m.

60 min., debuts midseason

the story: Yo Adrian, Sylvester Stallone returns to the spotlight with Mark Burnett, the reality genius who brought Donald Trump back into the public’s consciousness. The Contender follows 16 amateur boxers in the pursuit of beating the living crap out of their opponents. Stallone will act as a Jeff Probst figure, taking viewers behind the scenes of the squared-circle.

the cast: Sylvester Stallone (Rocky), veteran boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and a collection of amateur boxers.

the backing: Mark Burnett – need we say more. Despite The Restaurant’s struggle to maintain its ratings in the second season, Burnett has a virtually flawless record with reality TV.

the verdict: Drama, violence, athletic ability, cutthroat competitiveness, Rocky – look for this series to be a real knockout. Plus it has no real competition in its time-slot on NBC. SW

Father of the Pride

Global/NBC, time-slot TBA

30 min., debut TBA

the story: A pride of white lions is taken from a wild habitat of eclectic creatures and supplanted to similar surroundings: Las Vegas. Made famous by Siegfried and Roy’s famed Sin City review, the 3-D computer-generated lions are now stars of what may be a much better show.

the cast: Voice talent includes John Goodman (Roseanne, The Big Lebowski), Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show), Orlando Jones (Say It Ain’t So).

the backing: Brought to you by Jeffrey Katzenberg and the folks who made Shrek, this CG comedy will be the first prime-time series presented in this visually rich form of animation. Considered a much more expensive venture than the cheaply-produced reality TV series, you can expect NBC to pull out all the stops to make sure this series roars in the ratings.

the verdict: Although the timing of this series couldn’t be worse, given Roy’s recent tragic mauling by one of the act’s white tigers, one buyer called this the ‘best-written’ adult comedy hitting the air this season. Look for this series to go far, providing the writing stays on par with the pilot, and Dreamworks can continue to make the animation financially viable. SW

The Good Life

Global, time-slot TBA

debut TBA

the story: Reality series in which 10 young women are taught how to fit into high society while staying at the Hilton Hotels’ flagship Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

the cast: Kathy Hilton, former actress and mother of Paris Hilton, plus 10 nubile hopefuls.

the backing: Endemol USA, with executive producers Paul Bucciere, Jason Hervey and Rick Hilton.

the verdict: If Paris Hilton is the standard her mum’s going for in grooming these unsuspecting young women, heaven help us all. Could be gruesome fun, though. TP

Hawaii

CH/NBC, Wednesdays 8-9 p.m.

60 min., debuts this fall

the story: Hawaii, land of coconuts, macadamia nuts, leis and…crime? In the spirit of Hawaii Five-0 comes this new crime drama from the land of Don Ho. Follow a diverse group of cops as they venture into the seedy underbelly of crime – Hawaiian style.

the cast: Michael Biehn (Terminator), Sharif Atkins (ER), Ivan Sergei (Crossing Jordan), Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under).

the backing: Jeff Eastin (Shasta McNasty) is the series creator and executive producer. Daniel Sackheim (The Lyon’s Den) is the series director. The series is produced in-house by NBC Universal Television.

the verdict: Critics have noted that NBC’s placement of this crime series at 8 p.m. is curious. Crime usually shows up at nine or 10, so we’ll have to wait and see if the move pans out. But since the show is produced in-house, NBC may move the series if it struggles rather than give up on it. SW

House

Global/Fox, Tuesdays 9-10 p.m.

60 min., debuts this fall

the story: Mystery series evidently inspired by the C.S.I. phenomenon, only this time the villains are not criminals but medical maladies. The hero is a brilliant, cantankerous doctor who, along with his hand-picked team of experts, does whatever it takes to solve cases and save lives.

the cast: Hugh Laurie (Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows), Lisa Edelstein (Leap of Faith, Felicity, Daddy Day Care), Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society, Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, In The Gloaming), Omar Epps (Against the Ropes, Big Trouble), Jesse Spencer (Australia’s Neighbours series).

the backing: Universal Television, with Paul Attanasio (creator of Homicide: Life on the Street), Katie Jacobs (Century City, Gideon’s Crossing) and David Shore as executive producers, Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) directing and David Shore writing

the verdict: Could be too much like the C.S.I.s to find a sizeable audience, but got good buzz from buyers. TP

The Inside

Global/Fox, Fridays 8-9 p.m.

60 min., debuts midseason

the story: Borrowing the winning formula of the Agent Cody Banks feature films but switching genders, this drama is set in a suburban high school and features a seemingly quintessential American teenager who’s actually a 22-year-old federal agent working undercover to solve crimes.

the cast: Rachel Nichols (Dumb & Dumberer), Peter Facinelli (Fastlane) and Willa Holland (Ordinary Madness).

the backing: 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television, with Kathryn Bigelow (Karen Sisco, Homicide: Life on the Street), Todd A. Kessler, David Nevins and superstars Ron Howard (Arrested Development, 24) and Brian Grazer (Miss Match, The Big House, Arrested Development) as executive producers, Bigelow as director and Todd and Glenn Kessler as the writers.

the verdict: Ron Howard and his team don’t often strike out, but this show seems too familiar with overtones of tediousness. (Sorry, Opie.) TP

Joey

Global/NBC, Thursdays 7:30-8 p.m.

30 min., debuts this fall

the story: Dim-witted Joey Tribbiani leaves his New York Friends behind and heads to Los Angeles hoping to become the next Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. Hitting the big screen proves to be a challenge, so to make ends meet, he moves in with his nephew – who just happens to be a rocket scientist.

the cast: Matt LeBlanc (Friends), Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos), Paulo Costanzo (Road Trip), Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey).

the backing: Joey has to be this season’s biggest story among all four major U.S. networks and NBC has graciously given Joey his familiar 8 p.m. time-slot on Thursday night. Both Global and the Peacock will no doubt promote the heck out of this series, hoping to hold those who kept watching its predecessor long after the magic had gone.

the verdict: Critics who viewed the Joey pilot at the NBC Fall Preview Review in New York seemed to come away with a consensus that this show has potential. (Interestingly, it was only the third time in network history that a full pilot was shown for the upfront.) Whether it has Frasier potential has yet to be seen. SW

Jonny Zero

Global/Fox, Fridays 9-10 p.m.

60 min., debuts midseason

the story: Freshly released from prison for drug possession, our hero is now torn between his need to redeem himself with his family and temptations from his own dark past, not to mention the FBI’s attempts to force him to go undercover to bust old friends in the underworld.

the cast: Franky G (The Italian Job, Manito), Ritchie Coster (Traffic: The Miniseries) GQ, Brennan Hesser, Chris Bauer, Tawny Cypress, Sean Moran.

the backing: Warner Bros. Television in association with John Wells Productions, with John Wells (The West Wing, ER), Llewellyn Wells and R. Scott Gemmill (Jag, ER) as executive producers with Gemmill as writer and acclaimed director Mimi Leder (ER, John Doe, The Beast).

the verdict: With an impressive gaggle of experts in charge, this replay of the classic theme of a hero caught between good and evil definitely has breakout potential. TP

Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show

Global/Fox, Sundays 7-7:30 p.m.

30 min., midseason debut

the story: Americanized version of the critically and commercially successful UK, The Sketch Show features Laugh In-style gags, puns and fast-paced sketches, averaging a remarkable 30 vignettes per half-hour.

the cast: Kelsey Grammer, with original UK cast member Lee Mack (Dick Whittington), Kaitlin Olson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Paul F. Tompkins and Malcolm Barrett.

the backing: Gramnet Productions and Avalon Television, with Kelsey Grammer, Steve Stark, Jon Thoday and Dan Patterson as executive producers, UK director Richard Boden (Blackadder, Time Gentlemen Please) directing and writing by Dan Patterson

the verdict: How can we miss Kelsey if he won’t go away? Then again, he just might leave the building again soon if this one turns out to be as lame as it now seems. TP

Last Chance for Romance

Global, Saturdays 7:30-8 p.m.

30 min., debuts this fall

the story: This Canadian production is set in a five-star Sandals resort in the Caribbean. The documentary features leading therapist Joe Rich as he counsels couples who are at crossroads in their relationships.

the cast: Cheryl Hickey (Global reporter) hosts, others TBA.

the backing: Frantic Films (Quest, The Core, The Italian Job and X2: X-men United), with Jamie Brown as executive producer.

the verdict: Hey, this sort of thing works for Dr. Phil even without the surf, sand and opportunities for near-nudity, so maybe this one’s worth a try. TP

LAX

Global/NBC, Mondays 10-11 p.m.

60 min., debuts this fall

the story: Primetime mainstay Heather Locklear returns in this drama chronicling the goings on at Los Angeles International Airport. People are losing luggage, children are missing and long-distance lovers are parting ways. Caught up in it all is our bleached blonde airfield chief who will no doubt be afforded the opportunity to lob a catty remark or two at rival terminal manager Blair Underwood.

the cast: Heather Locklear (Spin City, Melrose Place), Blair Underwood (L.A. Law), Paul Leyden (As The World Turns), David Paetkau (Final Destination 2).

the backing: Nick Thiel and Mark Gordon are creators and executive producers. Thiel was writer on the feature V.I. Warshawski and on Magnum P.I. while Gordon was executive producer on such features as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003).

the verdict: Never underestimate the drawing power of Heather Locklear, but LAX will have a tough time taking off since it’s up against last season’s runaway hit CSI: Miami. SW

Listen Up

CH/CBS, Mondays 8:30-9 p.m.

30 min., midseason debut

the story: Based on the writings of real-life sports commentator and columnist Tony Kornheiser, this is a comedy about a sports talk show host who struggles to gain respect, but too often suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome and lands in hot water for using his family as comic fodder for his syndicated newspaper column.

the cast: Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show), with Will Rothhaar (Now You Know, Hearts in Atlantis) and newcomer Daniella Monet.

the backing: Regency Television in association with CBS Productions, with Jeff Martin (The Simpsons) and Lindy DeKoven as executive producers.

the verdict: On the plus side, airing between Still Standing and Everybody Loves Raymond (on CBS) may be enough to finally break the ‘Seinfeld curse.’ On the negative, in the U.S., this time-slot is now ruled by NBC’s Fear Factor. TP

The Mountain

Global/WB, time-slot TBA

60 min., debut TBA

the story: When the owner of a famous ski resort dies, leaving the family’s posh but struggling mountain resort business to his most irresponsible grandson, the free-spirited young man must give up his own dreams and juggle clashing motivations from the rest of the family.

the cast: Oliver Hudson (My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, Rocket’s Red Glare), Barbara Hershey (The Stranger Beside Me, Chicago Hope), Anson Mount (Line of Fire, City by the Sea), Tara Thompson, Alana De La Garza, Johann Urb, Elizabeth Bogush, Timmy Dewey, Mitch Pileggi, Penn Badgley.

the backing: Warner Bros. Television Production in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision, with executive producers McG (The O.C., Superman, Charlie’s Angels), Stephanie Savage (The O.C.), Shaun Cassidy (American Gothic) and director David Barrett (Fastlane).

the verdict: Intriguing soap-style storyline, but buyer buzz on how this one actually turned out ain’t good. TP

Next Great Champ

Global/Fox, Fridays 8-9 p.m.

60 min., debuts this fall

the story: Unscripted series in which six-time World Boxing Champion Oscar De La Hoya discovers a dozen raw young boxers with the potential to become top prizefighters. The hopefuls will push themselves to the limit as they train and slug it out in the hope of achieving a shot at a titleholder, plus a professional contract with De La Hoya’s promotional company.

the cast: Oscar De La Hoya, plus the hopefuls.

the backing: Endemol USA, with Paul Buccieri and Joe Livecchi as executive producers.

the verdict: Clone of NBC’s upcoming The Contender (or vice versa), this umpteenth twist on the reality formula should do well with sports-minded viewers. TP

One Tree Hill

Global/WB, Wednesdays 9-10 p.m.

60 min., debuts this fall

the story: One Tree Hill centres around the conflict of two half brothers: Nathan, who has grown up with his father’s wealth and influence, and Lucas, who has had to struggle since birth. While estranged for most of their lives, the two brothers are forced to come to terms with each other when they find themselves on the same basketball team, battling each other for position on the court and for control of the hearts of several of the young women. While the series is returning to the WB, this is the first time Canadian viewers will be able to watch it on a homegrown net.

the cast: Chad Michael Murray (as Lucas), James Lafferty (as Nathan), Bethany Joy Lenz, Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush.

the backing: Created by Mark Schwahn (The Perfect Score), One Tree Hill is executive produced by Joe Davola (Smallville), Ann Hamilton (thirtysomething and Party of Five), Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins.

the verdict: Teens and angst – it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. With the brand already established with WB viewers, it’s likely to catch on with young Canadians as well. BC

Partner

Global/Fox, Sundays 9-10 p.m.

60 min., debuts this fall

the story: Reality series focuses on a group of Ivy League graduates who face off against a scrappy team from less esteemed schools until one remains and is awarded a job in a major law firm. Meanwhile, a jury of lay people determines the winner of each trial. Then the losers go on trial, defending their performance before a celebrity ‘judge’ who will decide which one will be thrown out of court.

the cast: TBA.

the backing: Rocket Science Laboratories, with Jean Michel Michenaud (Joe Millionaire, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance) and Chris Cowan as executive producers.

the verdict: Probably good cerebral fun for courtroom aficionados, but will likely bore everyone else silly. TP

The Practice: Fleet Street

CH/ABC, Sundays 10-11 p.m.

60 min., debuts this fall

the story: James Spader reprises his role as Alan Shore on The Practice. He’s still defending clients, but now he’s working at a prestigious Boston legal firm with a rich clientele. Joining him is the ever-plastic William Shatner as another lawyer in the firm.

the cast: James Spader (The Practice, Sex, Lies & Videotape) and William Shatner (uh, Star Trek).

the backing: David E. Kelley, who created the original, returns as producer. The series will air in The Practice’s old time-slot.

the verdict: Trekkies unite: William Shatner has returned to prime time, saving him from those horrific All Bran commercials. But if The Practice was slipping in the ratings, why go back to the well with a variation on the same show? SW

Revelations

Global or CH/NBC, time-slot TBA

60 min., midseason debut

the story: A scientist discovers signs that the end of the world is near. Forced to acknowledge that there’s no scientific reason for it, he dusts off his bible. Together with a nun, the two try to figure out if the world indeed is coming to an end – or is it just a false alarm, like when the Olsen twins were born?

the cast: Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Natasha McElhone (Solaris) and Michael Massee (Se7en).

the backing: NBC plans to pull the West Wing in midseason to air this eight-episode limited-run series. Critics believe that NBC will launch this apocalyptic drama during sweeps. Revelations is written by David Seltzer (Bird on a Wire) and directed by David Semel (American Dreams). Creators/executive producers are DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler, both probably best known for their work on Three Sisters and Ellen.

the verdict: Could end up like one of those fanatical apocalyptic videos featuring horrific special effects and sub par acting. SW

Savages

Global/ABC, Wednesdays 8:30-9 p.m.

30 min., midseason debut

the story: A single father attempts to raise his brood of five uncontrollable boys by teaching them the fine art of running a household.

the cast: Keith Carradine (Deadwood) and Erik Von Detten (Dinotopia).

the backing: This series is slotted in ABC’s family-geared TGIF lineup between 8 Simple Rules (which hasn’t been the same since the passing of John Ritter) and Hope & Faith. It’s based on Mel Gibson’s life and he’s also the executive producer. Simpsons writers Mike Scully and Julie Thacker-Scully are producers.

the verdict: Savages sounds like it has a chance. With a solid group of producers and cute teen heartthrobs, this series could be a Friday night hit. SW

The Temps

Global, time-slot TBA

debut TBA

the story: Canadian reality show sets the stage for a group of unsuspecting hired temps as they cope with absurd office antics with viewers in on the joke.

the cast: TBA.

the backing: Lone Eagle Entertainment, which produced three hit seasons of Popstars.

the verdict: The kind of nasty banana-peel humour that usually finds favour with a hefty hunk of the viewing public. TP

Ciao Bella

CBC, time-slot TBA

30 min., debuts this fall

the story: Never to ruffle any feathers, pretty young thing Elena Battista is quite content to live a rather vanilla existence in Montreal’s Little Italy. All this changes however when Elena is hit by a bus on her sister’s wedding day and comes out of the coma a changed woman. A woman who wants to take chances, leave Little Italy and live her life.

the cast: Claudia Ferri (Mambo Italiano), Ellen David (Mambo Italiano) and Tony Calabretta (Nightlight).

the backing: Directed by Jean-Francois Asselin and Patrice Sauve.

the verdict: The concept is unique and this comedic series should appeal to the thousands of Canadians who headed to theatres to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If the writing is strong and the characters are quirky, Ciao Bella has a good chance to be a hit. SW

Comedy Gold

CBC, time-slot TBA (part of Comedy Week)

2 x 120 min., debut TBA

the story: This four-hour documentary proves what we, as Canadians, already know – we’re a pretty funny bunch. Covering all those crazy Canucks who made us laugh over the years, Comedy Gold includes clips as far back as Mack Sennett to modern day Mike Myers. Others include the late John Candy, Martin Short, Jim Carrey, Michael J. Fox, Ken Finkleman and Saturday Night Live mastermind Lorne Michaels.

the cast: A who’s who of Canadian comedy.

the backing: Executive producers are John Brunton and Barbara Bowlby. Written by Martha Kehoe and John Murray. Produced by Insight Productions in association with the CBC.

the verdict: The clips will no doubt speak for themselves. Maybe Canadians will realize that great hockey players aren’t the only thing our country exports in high volume. SW

The Greatest Canadian

CBC, Mondays 8-9 p.m.

5 x 60 min., debuts this fall

the story: CBC taps into the popularity of American Idol with a uniquely Canadian twist on a BBC format. Who do we think is the greatest Canadian of all time? The votes are in and they’ll be whittled down to a top 10 list. Once a top 10 has been decided, CBC will bring in the winning nominators to argue passionately about why their selection should be considered the greatest Canadian of all time. Each week viewers vote by phone or Internet – culminating in the announcement of the Greatest Canadian ever. Your tax dollars hard at work.

the cast: TBA.

the backing: CBC launched a big ad campaign in the spring of 2004 asking people to submit their nominations for the Greatest Canadian. These ads ran heavily during the hockey playoffs, ensuring that viewers took notice and action.

the verdict: Do Canadians really care? That’s the question. Clay or Ruben – that’s something to get excited about. It’s hard to imagine viewers sitting through a 60-minute speech on why John A. MacDonald or Margaret Atwood rocks, but the show did already get over 100,000 nominations. SW

H20

CBC, Sunday Oct. 31 & Monday Nov. 1

2 x 120 min.

the story: Corruption in the Canadian government? You don’t say! This Paul Gross vehicle is set in the not-so-distant future. Canada is embarking on a possible continental union with the United States. Unfortunately the Prime Minister dies in what looks like a tragic accident – or was it? An investigation reveals that Canada was planning to sell its water unbeknownst to the public. Worse yet, the Prime Minister could have been murdered. The plot thickens.

the cast: Paul Gross (Due South), Martha Henry (Emily of New Moon) and Leslie Hope (Dragonfly).

the backing: Paul Gross co-wrote the political thriller with John Krizanc.

the verdict: Paul Gross has a loyal following which should lead to some viewer interest. And with the current sponsorship scandal that has plagued Paul Martin and the Liberals, viewers might want to tune in to get a closer look at the oft seedy underbelly of Ottawa politics. SW

Hatching, Matching & Dispatching

CBC, time-slot TBA

60 min., debut TBA

the story: Chronicles the adventures of the enterprising Furey family, who run just about every service in town, including the local funeral parlour, ambulance, wedding hall, garage and retirement home in the small town of Cats’ Cove, Newfoundland & Labrador. Features sketches linked by documentary-style interviews with the main characters.

the cast: This Hour Has 22 Minutes alum Mary Walsh, Greg Thomey and Shaun Majumder.

the backing: Veteran comedienne Mary Walsh has teamed with Mary Sexton and multiple Gemini Award-winning comedy director Henry Sarwer-Foner (Corner Gas, Made In Canada).

the verdict: Any series that features the nutty bunch from This Hour Has 22 Minutes ought to be checked out. SW

Making the Cut – Presented by Bell

CBC, Tuesdays 8-9 p.m.

60 min., debuts in September

the story: Hockey hopefuls from across the Great White North demonstrate their stick handling, body checking and other ice skills in the hope of receiving one of six invitations to an NHL training camp.

the cast: Unsigned hockey talent.

the backing: Scotty Bowman (multiple Stanley Cup winner) and Mike Keenan (GM of the Florida Panthers), two of the most respected NHL coaches, will preside over this unique competition, offering advice and deciding the fate of those brave enough to take to the ice. Bell has already signed on as title sponsor.

the verdict: This is sure to be a winner. The only question is what effect a possible NHL work stoppage will have on viewer interest in this competition. SW

Sex Traffic

CBC, time-slot TBA

2 x 120 min., debuts after October

the story: This dark mini-series centres on sisters Elena and Vara, two of countless victims of a massive $7-billion worldwide prostitution operation. Inspired by actual events.

the cast: Anamaria Marince (Elena), Maria Popistasu (Vara), Wendy Crewson (Many Trials of One Jane Doe, 24), John Simm (State of Play, The Lakes) and Chris Potter (Spymate).

the backing: This production has the backing of both London Weekend Television for Channel 4 and the CBC. It features location shoots in Halifax, London and Romania. Sex Traffic is written by Abi Morgan and directed by David Yates (State of Play).

the verdict: Sounds like this big-budget production has all the makings of a gripping drama. SW

The Tournament

CBC, time-slot TBA

6 x 30 min., debut TBA

the story: A light-hearted look at the often pressure-filled world of minor league hockey. The drive. The determination. The win-at-all-costs mentality. Am I talking about the kids who hit the ice? No – their parents. A film crew is sent to the small town of Briarside where they will document the journey of the Farqueson Funeral Home Warriors in their pursuit of the Golden Puck (consider it a Stanley Cup Jr.).

the cast: TBA.

the backing: Brought to you by Howard Busgang (An American In Canada) and the folks behind Just For Laughs.

the verdict: This comedic look at the often ridiculous behaviour of hockey parents will entertain all those who ever got up at the crack of dawn to take their little ones to practice. SW

Trudeau – The Prequel

CBC, time-slot TBA

2 x 120 min., debuts mid-season

the story: The CBC continues to capitalize on Canada’s love affair for Pierre Trudeau. This mini-series travels back in time, long before the National Energy Program, wife Margaret cavorting with the Rolling Stones and his declaration that politics has no place in the bedroom. Trudeau – The Prequel gives viewers a closer look at the influences that shaped one of our most charismatic Prime Ministers – from his early schooling to his rebellious teens and 20s as a law student.

the cast: French actor Stephane Demers (Temps Dur) plays the late Prime Minister.

the backing: Wayne Grigsby, who wrote the original 2002 mini-series, is sharing scriptwriting duties with French writer Guy Fournier (Les Parfaits) on this project. Directed by Tim Southam (Inner Voices).

the verdict: Love him or hate him, Pierre Trudeau will likely be remembered by Canadians for decades to come. Unlike many of the Prime Ministers who followed him, Canadians were fascinated by this never conventional leader. Judging by the success of the original mini-series, this prequel will likely receive the same viewer interest. SW