Archive for July, 2007

Filmed in Vancouver: Smallville


Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Title: Smallville
Stars: Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack
Canadian Content: None unless I missed something.
Lasting Impact: The first show that I’ve profiled that is still being produced Smallville helped kickstart a second wave of shows that mixed teen drama with science fiction elements (after Buffy The Vampire Slayer invented the genre), some of which were also filmed in Vancouver. It also helped Warner Brothers finally decide to go forward with the Superman Returns movie.
Good or bad: Mixed. The show does suffer from being compared to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the movie version of Superman, the Bruce Timm / Paul Dini animated Superman/DC universe cartoon(s) and the comics all of which it is inferior to. Taken on its own however it’s an engaging mix of teen drama and superheroics.

The last time Canada stood in for Smallville USA, the childhood home of Superman, was in the 1978 Richard Donner film where Alberta filled the role of the Kent farm. After first scouting Australia it was decided that Vancouver and other lower mainland locations, would be the new home of Smallville Kansas in a teen action/drama series that explored the early years of Clark Kent as he grew into the role of Superman. Superman had been on the small screen a few times since the movies including in Superboy [wp] and Lois and Clark [wp] but it has been the newest series that has been the most enduring helping to define the Clark Kent character to a generation of non-comics readers and paving the way for the Man of Steel’s eventual return to the big screen in last year’s Superman Returns.

Initially my appraisal of Smallville was going to be much more positive, until I remembered Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Smallville follows the path that Buffy, and other shows, tread in mixing science fiction / fantasy into a teenage high school drama, but Smallville has always lacked the incredibly smart writing that Joss Whedon and his team brought to Buffy and while it remains one of the better shows of this kind on television today it just can’t compare. Like the episode of South Park where Butters discovers that everything he can think of doing The Simpsons already did and did it better, Smallville may forever be in the shadow of Buffy. Having said that from this point forward I will try not to mention that vampire show (which I’ll point out was not filmed in Vancouver).

Rainmaker is bringing back Reboot

If you’re like me and your first taste of computer animation was from the old Reboot catoon then you might be interested to know that local Vancouver studio Rainmaker Entertainment [rm] is gearing up to relaunch the series in the form of (a potential) three animated movies based on the characters and universe from the mid-90s’ YTV series [nar].

Which is cool, but their mistake might be in making the entire process a wiki type thing where the creative process is being thrown open online for fan input. It sounds noble when Rainmaker’s partner in the project Zeroes to Heroes founder Matt Toner says, “What we want to do is be a social network where creators and fans come together and look over new concepts. Inherently we’re trying to democratize the medium. We want to let the fans have their say.”

It’s also being used as way to find new creative talent, which is fine. I’d just worry that the process is going to get bogged down in online fighting over fas’ competing ideas of what a Reboot movie should be. As they say nothing great was ever created by a committee. I also think they might be overestimating the demand for Reboot, which generally looked good but lacked a bit on story end. It’s one of those things that maybe we all remember a bit more fondly than we should.

Vancouver’s Now Public gets $10.6 million

NowPublic – wii

Originally uploaded by The Chaninator™.

Now Public is a Vancouver based site that’s meant to be a central hub for citizen journalists [np]. If you haven’t looked at it before check it out, it’s work a look. So much so that it just recieved over ten million dollars (US) in venture capital money [cbc]. It’s good news that a Vancouver start-up is getting some VC love, and all the best to them.

My only issue is a my belief that with a few exceptions the idea of citizen journalism is bullshit. I think that there can be websites that deliver news content, and that they don’t have to be owned by traditional media, but the fact is doing proper journalism is more than most people can do as a hobby. Most of the content on Now Public seems to be cut and pasted stories from other news sites, sometimes with comment below. Hey we do that here, as long as it’s proper attributed there’s nothing against the law about it, but I wouldn’t call myself a citizen journalist because I linked to the CBC for this story. I didn’t report on the story, I didn’t do the interview or fact check it the CBC did.

I’m all for alternative media, such as The Tyee [tt], but most of what’s on Now Public in relation to Vancouver is either a) reposted stories from major media, b) one sided stories with no actual journalistic integrity c) last and numberically least stories with actual journalistic intent. Again I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just saying that it’s not journalism. The big name media isn’t going to be replaced with citizen journalists anytime soon if all they do is copy and paste big name media stories.

And why should we expect them to? Writing a good news story takes effort and time, and most people just don’t have the time, connections and resources to do it on their own. Sometimes a blogger lucks out and just happens to be on the scene of an important story and I suppose Now Public’s hope is that if enough bloggers are on their team the number of lucky onsite people will give them something worth calling themselves a new source. It’s not there yet though, and we’ll see how far $10 million goes to taking it to that level.

Filmed in Vancouver: X2: X-Men United


Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Title: X2: X-Men United
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, James Marsden, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin and others
Canadian Content: Wolverine might be pop culture’s most well known Canadian. Much of the film takes place exploring Wolverine’s past and this portion is set in Alberta.
Lasting Impact: The third X-Men film was also filmed in Vancouver, as have been other superhero movies following this including the two Fantastic Four films. Spin-off movies for both Magneto and Wolverine are in pre-production. It was the biggest production ever filmed in Canada until the sequel.
Good or bad: X2: X-Men United (called X2 from this point forward) is widely considered one of the best superhero movies of all time, ranked alongside the first Superman film and Batman Begins. Comic book fans are generally hard to please with movie adaptations, but this film was met with both fan approval and managed to be popular with non-comic readers.

The X-Men were always an unlikely movie success. With a large cast of characters, unlike Superman or Spider-Man where there’s only one hero, and a complicated mythos it seemed that there would never be a big screen adaptation and certainly nothing that could win fans of the comics over. Yet after the first X-Men film proved that by focusing on the character arcs of a few characters and by having the talented Bryan Singer at the helm movies were just another medium that the X-Men could conquer. With the first movie filmed in Toronto production moved to Vancouver and Kananaskis Alberta for X2.

From the opening scene with Nightcrawler in the White House bamfing through the Secret Service, it was clear that for the sequel things had been cranked up. Drawing primarily from Chris Claremont’s X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills the movie once again narrowed its focus to explore the backstory of Logan also known as Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman), whose history ties into a current threat for the X-Men.

Five things the Canucks need to succeed

Canucks v Flames

1) A new Trevor Linden: While the current Trevor Linden is one of the team’s leaders, he’s not the force on the ice he once was. Though he can dig in and provide a few goals when needed (25 points in 80 games is pretty good for a third line player) he’s not someone that the Canucks can build a team around anymore. The team needs a player who might not lead the team in points, will lead them by being a role model that mixes passion and dedication. For awhile it seemed like Todd Bertuzzi could have stepped into that role, but that didn’t work out. Ryan Smyth would have been perfect in the role, but ended up in Colorado instead.

2) A career year from Markus Naslund: The sort of numbers Naslund produced last year would have been impressive but down from the year before and quite a bit lower than his golden period of 1998-1999. Despite the fact that the Sedins have stepped up their offensive output Naslund is still the team’s main scoring threat. A successful playoff run depends on him being effective every game, with no dry spells. There’s only a few more great years left in him, this needs to be one.

3) A healthy Roberto Luongo: Let’s face it Luongo is the first netminder since Kirk McLean that the Canucks have had who can win them games. Previously fans have just had to be content with holding their breath and hoping that the team’s goalie wouldn’t let in a shot from centre ice. However the club has been through goalie injury troubles before, and if Luongo gets hurt the entire year could be thrown into chaos. Let me say it again, Roberto Luongo is currently the cornerstone of the franchise and without him we might as well just change our name to Seattle and cheer for the Super Marinerhawks.

Filmed in Vancouver: MacGyver

Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Title: MacGyver
Stars: Richard Dean Anderson
Canadian Content: MacGyver is a hero that uses engineering knowledge instead of guns, pretty much the sort of action hero you’d expect Canadians to develop, though the show’s creators were American (the Mountie hero of Due South was a broad parody of a MacGyver like hero). MacGyver, like the Minnesota born Anderson, is an avid hockey fan and plays the sport in several episodes.
Lasting Impact: More than maybe any other TV series filmed in Vancouver MacGyver has become a cultural meme. MacGyver also became a verb, meaning to rig up an engineering solution to a problem using household items. Helped first bring Anderson to Vancouver, he would return for Stargate, and was an early major network show filmed locally.
Good or bad: Anything with a mullet ages badly, and the pacing of the show is sort of slow compared to current action / adventure shows now. However there’s nothing terrible there for the most part, and the show is still enjoyable if somewhat cliché in parts.

Living on a houseboat in Coal Harbour and working for the United States Government, and later the Phoenix Foundation, MacGyver was a different type of action hero one that refused to carry a gun and never tried killing an enemy. Instead of brawn he used his mind, and the central gimick of the show was that at some point in every episode there would be a situation that MacGyver would need to address by engineering a solution using nothing more than his Swiss Army knife, duct tape and whatever random objects might be laying around. That the bad guys would never just shoot MacGyver and instead would lock him up and leave him unguarded was one of those things that you learn to accept in James Bond films, but week after week it became a bit clunky.


MySpace does Vancouver news

Originally uploaded by ‘stpiduko’.

Like you needed a website to be compulsively reloading all day to pass the time at work. I mean you have us don’t you? Well if we’re not enough then head on over to the MySpace where they’ve apparently launched a local news website for Vancouver [msn]. Or rather they’ve launched a blog aggregator that takes the RSS feeds from a number of local Vancouver blogs and calls it news. Having no ability to tell whether or not a post is news, it makes it a bit of a difficult way to keep track of the actual events going on in Vancouver, but what the hell it’s not like anyone paid $580 million for it right?

Right now it looks like that Rebecca [m604], Darren Barefoot [db], Vanmega [vm] and us are being included but that might just be whose been active recently. For some odd reason that’s not quite clear to me users have the ability to rate stories, I guess the idea is to steal as much from Digg as possible.

Update: Oh wait, Wikipedia tells me that this has been going since April. I guess never logging into my MySpace account has its drawbacks. Still if I’ve missed it you might have as well.

News: Skytrain service interuption

expo line

Originally uploaded by velkr0.

As of about twenty minutes ago Expo Line [wp] service for the Skytrain has been halted due to a medical emergency at 29th Avenue Station. All travlers are being sent to the Millennium Line or buses to get downtown for the fireworks. Or to get downtown to go home after work.

Again this information is about twenty minutes old, and I probably won’t be able to update this information because I’m going to be trying to make my way home by other means.

Update (9 pm): Trains heading into the downtown core seem to be pretty much packed. Check updates on the still closed line on Translink’s site here [tl].

Update (9:51 pm) The
Skytrains are running but it’s wonky and slow. I’d add 30 minutes onto any trip you’re planning.

Update (1:10 am) I made the following video from footage recorded during the kerfluffle. I make no promises about it’s educational value, nor its cinematography but it’s short. Photos of crowds of people standing around looking annoyed will be added after the jump, after they get loaded onto Flickr.


Filmed in Vancouver: 21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

Originally uploaded by Photocat62.

Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Title: 21 Jump Street
Stars: Johnny Depp, Richard Grieco, others
Canadian Content: Very little, the show takes place exclusively in the United States
Lasting Impact: Johnny Depp became an actual star. Producers James Wong and Glen Morgan would later return to Vancouver with a number of other shows including The Commish and The X-Files [mbv].
Good or bad: It seemed good at the time, however because it was rentlessly aimed at youth culture it ages very badly. Also so painfully earnest that it’ll make your ears bleed sadness. It was never as good as Degrassi, despite it’s attempt to be that show with guns. Also cured AIDS, ended the drug war and prevented all teen suicide.

Like The Mod Squad but with the sort of hard hitting social issues that teens in the early 90s’ had to address 21 Jump Street was one of the first hits on the Fox Network. It was edgy because it addressed things like AIDS, drugs and all the other stuff that Degrassi had already addressed but hadn’t counted because it was a Canadian show. 21 Jump Street was all American, took place in a major American city and featured American actors who graced the cover of teen magazines. Don’t let that fool you though, it was filmed in Vancouver and quite obvious about it.

From the Skytrain in the credits, complete with the provincial logo, to a bus with East Hastings destination on it, the show was easy to identify as being filmed in Vancouver to locals. New Westminster Secondary School, David Thompson Secondary School and others were key filming locations, and local teens were cast as extras or one-shot guest stars. The effect of being shot in Vancouver on the show itself is less obvious with 21 Jump Street than with shows like The X-Files where the location becomes a character, but instead it’s being filmed in Vancouver keeps the show from being pegged to a specific location, it’s Anycity USA a mix of Seattle, LA, Chicago, New York and other big cities allowing the social problems addressed to be universal in a way that being set in a specific city wouldn’t.

Strike deal on the table


Originally uploaded by VancouverGo.

Metroblogging Vancouver can exclusively reveal that there is a contract on the table between the city and the union that should end the strike. The CBC reported earlier today that the union had gone back to bargain with the city [cbc] and this is the fruits of their labour. Most of the hold up has centred around when the contract will end, with the union wanting it to end just before the Olympics (giving them the upper hand in the next round of bargaining) and the city wanting it to end after, and as such any compromise is going to centre around the period of the Olympics.

The Details of the New Contract

– the contract will extend beyond the Olympics, ending one month after the close of the 2010 Games

– all city employees will be given two extra paid days off during the Games in which they’ll have free admission to any of the events. Their shifts will be staffed by members of the Finnish Nordic Combined team [wp]

– the city of Vancouver promises to not allow live performances by Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk during a period running from one month before to one month after the Olympic Games

– The mayor promises to put the full weight of the city behind getting Skijöring [wp] another chance as an Olympic Demonstration Sport

– The Union agrees to trade their dental plan for a free keg of beer at all of their future meetings

– City Employees will no longer have to go through the yearly Blood Trials (or cha’Dich) in order to maintain their seniority

– The idea to house Olympic athletes in the homes of City Employees to save on the costs of building the Olympic Village has been nixed. Housing British Red Coats however is still mandatory

– City Employees will no longer have to refer to the city as “Vancouver the home of the Coca-Cola 2010 Winter Olympics” while on duty, they however still do have to refer to Mayor Sam Sullivan as “Smokey” [wp]

These are of course simply the highlights. In any negotiation such as this there is a lot of give and take, and by the time the ink is dry and the press are alerted some small details here may have been changed. Keeping checking back here for more updates as we have news.

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