#10 – PAUL SUN-HYUNG LEE
This is really Mr. Lee’s year. He was hilarious in the role of Mort in Jennifer Liao‘s film END OF DAYS, INC. In 2012, Lee won the Best Actor citation from the Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards for his portrayal of Appa in Kim’s Convenience a 2011 play by Ins Choi. This year he reprised the role of Appa in a TV comedy of the same name. The show, which airs Tuesday nights on CBC, became the highest rated comedy in Canada, surpassing even SCHITT’S CREEK in popularity. It is a charming and very funny show, and one learns quite a bit about Korean culture from watching.
For a change of pace, Mr. Lee dyes his beard black and gets serious as Marty Chen, lawyer for The Gazette on SHOOT THE MESSENGER Monday nights on the same network. KIM’S CONVENIENCE has been renewed for a second season. There is no word yet on a possible second season of SHOOT THE MESSENGER. Mr. Lee has been acting for quite a while. He made his TV debut in a Gideon Oliver mystery in 1989 on ABC. (All attempts to find that episode online or on VHS have failed.)
#9 – SCREAM QUEEN STREAM
Award winning horror director and scream queen Jessica Cameron and her best friend Heather Dorff host this sometimes drunken, sometimes out of focus reality web series. There are now fifty episodes and they are about all sorts of stuff. There is an interview with Scottish actor Niall Flannigan. There is an episode about Tinder (in which Dorff is reluctantly persuaded to join). But the best are the cooking episodes (there are four of them), in which Cameron feigns culinary incompetence. (It is clear she really does know how to cook.) There is great chemistry between Cameron and Dorff and all the episodes with the two of them are a lot of fun to watch, and often informative. The episodes without Dorff (there aren’t many of them) tend to be a bit more serious. SCREAM QUEEN STREAM is on Patreon., and once they reach their goal of $1000 a month in pledges (they are about halfway there) Cameron and Dorff will live stream a “monthly drinking session where all patrons can join in the craziness”.
#8 – RAINE HAMILTON
“Oh the past is right behind you
Right there to remind you it’s moving fast, it goes right past
There’s the future bright and distant
You’ll know it in an instant when its gone, it moves along”
That’s from time, Time, the first cut on Hamilton’s 2015 debut album, Past Your Past. On the album, she is backed by strings, drums, and horns, but the best of Hamilton happens when she is alone with a guitar or violin. She sang “I Read Your Book” (track 8 on the album, which is about a friend whose book was published after he died) in September 2014 in Winnipeg’s Union Station, accompanying herself on the guitar, and it was wonderful. (video on YouTube). More recently, she sang “January” (track 4 from the album) for The Barbershop Sessions at The Humble Barber in Summerside, PEI. Again it was just Raine and her guitar. (video on YouTube) Lyrics to all ten songs on the album are on her website.
#7 – IF I WERE YOU
This 2012 film by Joan Carr-Wiggin turned up on Netflix this year. It’s about Madelyn and Lucy, two women whose interests collide when Madelyn discovers that her husband is sleeping with Lucy. Madelyn follows Lucy home and stops her from hanging herself and they begin a friendship that in the beginning is burdened by a lie. (Madelyn does not in the beginning tell Lucy that she is married to Paul.) The two of them decide that since their lives have been ruled by bad decisions, they will each make decisions for the other. (Hence the title) Eventually the friendship triumphs, with the aid of an amateur theatrical production of King Lear, in which Madelyn is Lear and Lucy is The Fool. The best part of the movie is when Madelyn goes out for ice cream and a walk with Derek after her mother’s funeral.
#6 – HILARY JARDINE
This year, on VAN HELSING, Hilary Jardine‘s character Susan was Vanesssa Van Helsing‘s best friend. She appeared in ten of the thirteen episodes, and was almost the only source of humour in the series. Susan was a big part of episodes nine and ten, and Jardine made viewers love her. (It is interesting to note that these episodes were both written by women. Karen Lam wrote episode 10 and Jackie May wrote episode 9.) Susan died in episode eleven, and her death scene was well written and well acted, but it was so infuriating that it was difficult to watch. Having Susan around made Vanessa a lot more interesting.
You might also remember Jardine as the gallery-owner’s mousey assistant Julia Conrad (who was also the victim) in episode 1.9 of MOTIVE, and as Rebecca Hodges, the assistant to a crooked Vancouver politician who begins to imagine that a cameraman is filming all his illicit activities in the 2012 comedy CAMERA SHY. (In that film, director Mark Sawers shows us the action through the eyes of the imaginary cameraman.)
#5 – THE MARY SUE
The Mary Sue describes itself this way: “We love and live geek culture, comic book movies, genre television, space exploration, emerging technologies, the coolest video games, and the weirdest finds on the internet.” The site has been around for three years, posting reliable news on a variety of subjects from a feminist perspective and it belongs on this list because in a year of horribly unreliable and opinionated internet news, I found myself reading this site a lot. Here are some of the best articles published recently: (The Mary Sue tends to gravitate towards long titles. These have been abbreviated.)
— Wonder Woman’s Amazons Finally Getting An Origin of Their Own
— Hey, Gotham City Sirens Movie? You Better Not Screw Up
— Networks Want to Start Gearing Television Towards Trump Voters
A subscription to The Mary Sue costs 4.99/month or $47.88/year, and comes with monthly live chats with the editors, a newsletter, and a completely ad-free site.
#4 – APRIL MULLEN
Mullen directed episodes nine and ten of AFTERMATH (written by Adriana Maggs and Vince Shao, respectively) and she made those two episodes into what was effectively a two-part full length horror flick. Except for the little connecting scene at the end, those episodes together are a self-sufficient story. (The way she handled Joshua’s peyote experience was unique.) She also directed the KILLJOYS episode “Heart-Shaped Box” The best part of that was Sabine’s final scene with Dutch in the woods on Leith.
She was the youngest person ever to direct a live action, fully stereoscopic feature (DEAD BEFORE DAWN, which is available on Amazon Video). Her next film, BADSVILLE, a greaser romance, will be released in the US on 5 July.
#3 – FOUR IN THE MORNING
“It’s a genre-bending show. It’s a dark comedy, but also a drama, perhaps even more so. There’s fantasy, magical realism, and even sci-fi. And we never show the sun coming up until the final episode.”
—- Ira Parker (creator)
Michelle Mylett, in a departure from her usual horror film roles, is Bondurant’s girlfriend Jamie in this refreshingly original absurdist comedy. She and three others, the overstated Bondurant (Daniel Maslany) who blows up the moon in one episode, the ethically challenged Mitzi (Lola Tash), and the understated William (Mazin Elsadig), live in a small corner of the twilight zone that is just slightly farther away from midnight than it is from dawn. There is a talking pig. There are “day kids” who live a lifetime in twenty-four hours. There is a great deal of discussion about Bondurant’s trumpet. In Canada, all eight episodes can be streamed on the CBC website. No word as yet about a second season.
#2 – CAVEBOY
“Everybody’s goin’ round
In circles ’till I hit the ground
Hanging all together like a pack of wolves
They’re comin’ for me
Comin’ to take me out
Can you save me”
That’s the start of “Love Song” (track 4 on the Caveboy EP) which is the song D’Avin and Dutch danced to on Lucy in the KILLJOYS episode “Come the Rain“. Of all the songs on the KILLJOYS soundtrack, that one is the most memorable.
Caveboy consists of Michelle Bensimon (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Synth), Isabelle Banos (Synth and Bass) and Lana Cooney on drums. Their music is hard to define, danceable, and primitively futuristic. “Caveboy is who we are,” Banos told music writer Taija Anderson. “It’s this primal, raw, passionate, getting your hands dirty kinda people who love music and love what we’re doing.”
Recently the three went off into the woods to write songs, and a full length album may be in the works. Below is track five from the EP, which also was heard on KILLJOYS (in episode three).
#1 – WYNONNA EARP
“The minute I opened up Beau Smith’s comic, my face got tingly. If someone had concocted my dream project, it would be Wynonna Earp. The lead was witty, wild and wackadoodle; it was chock-a-block with monsters getting dispatched in hilariously violent and clever ways; and it was set in the West, where I grew up (I’m from Calgary, Alberta). It felt like karma. I came in with a strong pitch…I wanted it to be about two sisters, I wanted Wynonna to have a mysterious boss and I wanted to re-introduce and re-invent Doc Holliday. My take was Buffy meets Justified meets Frozen via Rodriguez…Syfy bought it straight to series off the pilot and here we are. Pinch me.”
—- Emily Andras [to Jeff Spry of SyFy Wire – April 2016]
After the first season, Wynonna Earp’s mysterious boss is only a little less mysterious. Doc Holliday has spectacularly re-invented himself (he had a long time at the bottom of a well to re-think his worldview), and is in love with Wynonna, the distant descendant of his best friend. It is possible that Wynonna adores him back, but not even Wynonna is sure of that. The younger sister, Waverly, has fallen in love with Nicole Haught, who used to be Sheriff Nedley’s deputy but now, like Wynonna, works for Agent Dolls. Agent Haught did not die in Earp’s first season, and in 2016, when more than a dozen LGBT television characters bit the dust, that was a very good thing.
Season One will eventually stream on Netflix.