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Twitch City (TV post)

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Warning: Write up contains some spoilers.

Twitch City is a fantastically hilarious and unusual little show that centers around a selfish, television-obsessed, weirdly charming (uh, to me at least) agoraphobe named Curtis. Curtis has a roommate named Nathan. Nathan hates Curtis and loves the job wheel. Nathan has a girlfriend named Hope, Hope is awesome and adorable. Through a series of events in the first episode (which are far too hilarious to spoil for people who haven’t seen the show, but let’s just say it involves a can of cat food) Nathan ends up in prison for pretty much the rest of the series. Which of course means that Curtis and Hope have roommates to look for. These roommates never seem to stick around very long and often are a bit unusual. Also sometimes cats take over the world. It’s a sitcom unlike any other sitcom I’ve ever seen. It has humongous laughs (but thankfully no laugh track) and some really engaging and intriguing characters. It also happens to be my personal favorite television show ever. So um, there’s perhaps a bit of bias in here.

Callum plays Newbie who works at the nearby convenience store and is Curtis’s friend. He’s a walking spazz-ball with bright shirts and even brighter hair who sometimes brings over expired food and defective magazines. This small description does not even close to explain the pure awesome that is Newbie. Callum really should do more comedy because we don’t get to see it all that often and he is amazing at it. Just his complete commitment to the ridiculousness of the role makes this in my opinion some of his best work. And seriously, more comedy! (At least play a funny serial killer or something!)


The IMDB page: Twitch City
Expect to see a lot of familiar and awesome faces in TC. The show is created by and stars Don McKellar who you probably also know from Last Night, Slings and Arrows and a ton of other things. It also stars Molly Parker (Deadwood, Men With Brooms, Suspicious River) and Daniel MacIvor (who wrote Wilby Wonderful). Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney from The Kids in The Hall take turns playing sleezy talk show host Rex Reilly. The series is directed by Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, Highway 61, Claire’s Hat).



Cast / Characters:

Don McKellar
Molly Parker
Callum Keith Rennie
Daniel McIvor
Bruce McCulloch
Mark McKinney

Curtis
Hope
Newbie
Nathan
Rex Reilly (season one)
Rex Reilly (season two)



Year: 1998 (season one), 2000 (season two)

Runtime: 12 episodes, each episode is around 25 minutes long

Country: Canada

IMDB rating: 8.4/10 (106 votes)

Genre: Comedy

Keywords: Apartment, Sitcom, Television



Awards:

Canadian Comedy Awards 2000
Television Writing Season – Don McKellar (nominated)
Television Writing Series – Don McKellar and Bob Martin (nominated)

Gemini Awards 1998
Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series – Bruce McDonald for the episode “Killed By Cat Food” (won)
Best Comedy Program or Series – Susan Cavan and Bruce McDonald (nominated)
Best Costume Design – Lea Carlson for the episode “I’m Fat And I’m Proud” (nominated)
Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Dramatic Program or Series – Jeremy Hindle and Maureen Sless for the episode “My Pet, My Hero” (nominated)
Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series – Don McKeller for the episode “My Pet, My Hero” (nominated)

Gemini Awards 2000
Best Sound in a Comedy, Variety or Performing Arts Program or Series – David Drainie Taylor, Michael Baserville, Dan Daniels, Tim Roberts and Colin Baxter for the episode “Shinto Death Cults” (won)
Best Photography in a Comedy, Variety or Performing Arts Program or Series – Danny Nowak (Nominated)

Writers Guild of Canada 1998
WGC Award – Don McKellar for the episode “My Pet, My Hero”



4 user comments listed on IMDB

One example:
'Twitch City' is one of television's best kept secrets here in Australia. Only shown on cable TV very briefly, if you even managed to HEAR about it you deserve some kind of medal. It's a pity none of the commercial TV channels over here had enough foresight to broadcast it during a reasonable time-slot, as I'm sure it would have eventually have found an appreciative audience.
The brains behind this incredibly cool series are director Bruce McDonald, and writer/actor Don McKellar, whose previous collaborations were the wonderful movies 'Roadkill' and 'Highway 61'. 'Twitch City' share a similar refreshingly original and quirkily subversive world view. McKellar stars as unrepentant couch potato Curtis, who after the unfortunate arrest of his uptight housemate Nathan, manages to woo Nathan's girlfriend Hope (Molly Parker, who gave such an outstanding performance in the controversial 'Kissed'), while dealing with the never-ending series of oddball situations created by their potential new housemates. All this while never missing a minute of his beloved Rex Reilly talk show.


'Twitch City' displays more originality and smarts in one episode than most American or British sit-coms do in a whole series, and manages to be clever and unpredictable while, most importantly for a comedy, being genuinely FUNNY. To me it's as good as ANY comedy series anywhere in the last decade, but sadly it remains one of the least known great shows of the small screen. I'm hoping that one day it will get the attention it deserves, but until then try and see it you WILL enjoy it, believe me!


You can find all the comments here.



Callum Quotient: Callum appears in 8 episodes, and has a very significant role in two of them. So I would say maybe about 45%



Pictures:







Bonus Breastcakes gif!
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Quotes:

Though all the characters are infinity quotable, I’m just going to focus on Newbie quotes because well, that is why we’re here.
  • Newbie: “After the meteor hit, the disease spread and all the pet monkeys died. Without the monkeys around, people became distraught, especially the kids. So the cats were brought in to replace the monkeys. But people started blaming them, resenting the cats for what had happened to the monkeys. We beat the cats, we kicked the cats, we generally just treated them like shit. We forced them to work as our slaves, first at jobs left vacant by the monkeys -- helping organ grinders and stuff. And then just any shit job we could find. Courier, waiter, Canadian actor. Well. It wasn't long before they turned against us. Ironic, isn't it?"
    Hope: "None of that makes any sense. What do you mean, all the pet monkeys died? And you can't train cats to do anything."
    Newbie: "We know that now. We even tried using flamethrowers."

  • Newbie: “Is there blood in your cat’s urine?
    Nathan: Pardon me?
    Newbie: Is there blood in your cat’s urine? Because this catfood has astromagnesium which causes crystals to form in the bladder, which can scrape against the urethra. It’s worse for the boys.
    Nathan: Well why do you sell it if it tortures the cats?
    Newbie: Hate to break it to you man, but not exactly a health food store--for cats

  • Newbie: Curtis is like a biosphere project, only more successful. The way he can create and maintain his own self-sustaining eco-system. It’s a science fiction kind of thing. Like uh, he’s a man of the future. Hey! Futureman. I mean people are always talking about living and working out of your own home, but Curtis is actually doing it.
    Hope: Yeah, but Curtis doesn’t actually have a job. He doesn’t work.
    Newbie: He watches TV. That’s his job.

  • Newbie: DO YOU HAVE ANY RICE CAKES?

  • Newbie: Hey, how’s the cake thing going?
    Hope: Ok.
    Newbie: Done any dick cakes yet?
    Hope: No.
    Newbie: Hey, let me know when you do.

  • Newbie: Hey can you sign that?
    Rex Riley: Oh, sure.
    Newbie: I loved the chapter on the high school years, very inspirational. You and I had very similar experiences, except I never acted in plays because at our school only the fags did theater. Oh hey! Why do you never have Suzanne Summers on the show and what is with that life-saving turtle?




Trivia:
  • The voice of the cat Lucky is provided by Valerie Buhagiar, who some of you may know from Highway 61 and Roadkill.

  • due South fans be sure to keep an eye out for Sandor (Joe Pingue) in the episodes My Pet, My Hero and The Life of Reilly. Also Diefenbaker (Draco) makes an appearance (this show even wins at Canadian dog actor bingo) in the episode Planet of The Cats.

  • Also keep an eye out for two non-speaking approaches by Hugh Dillon as Guy in the Convenience Store in I’m Fat and I’m Proud and as Howard the Cannibal in The Return Of The Catfood Killer.

  • The house that the show was set in is now an independent record store called Paradise Bound.

  • In the episode Klan Bake several of the Nazis are played by the rock band Sloan



  • Newbie episodes:

    • I Slept With My Mother, in which Newbie is introduced, has concerns about cat health and tells Nathan to take it outside.

    • I Look Like Joyce DeWitt--there’s only a very small Newbie appearance in this one, but quite adorable. He gets the key piece of exposition that Curtis really never does leave the apartment.

    • I’m Fat and I’m Proud in which there is cat food dancing, Newbie moving in with Curtis and Hope and an epic TV battle.

    • Killed By Cat Food. IMDB lists him as being in this episode, but he isn’t.

    • Shinto Death Cults, in which Newbie helps Curtis through his Pon Farr (ritual TV withdrawal) and is generally made of awesome.

    • People Who Don’t Care About Anything, in which Newbie gets to meet Rex Reilly!

    • Planet Of The Cats in which the cats take over and Newbie leads the revolution.

    • The Life of Reilly, in which Newbie shows Hope his serial killer scrapbook.

    • Angels All Week. He appears briefly to drug Curtis.



    Do I want to show this to my parents / friends / co-workers?
    Poll #1170152 Twitch City

    Overall rating

    Made of 100% win
    32(74.4%)
    Made of like 92% win
    8(18.6%)
    I liked it okay
    2(4.7%)
    I liked it less than okay
    0(0.0%)
    I hated it so much I set the DVDs on fire afterwards
    0(0.0%)

    Violence

    None at all
    4(9.5%)
    A negligible amount
    23(54.8%)
    I'm going to cut off your head, wrap it in plastic, put it in a thermally-insulated box, and mail it to Nathan
    8(19.0%)
    Quite a bit
    0(0.0%)
    Non-stop bloodbath
    0(0.0%)

    Humor

    Pure comic genius from start to finish
    18(41.9%)
    Almost all funny
    13(30.2%)
    Funny, but also maybe a little sad
    7(16.3%)
    More sad than funny really
    0(0.0%)
    I see how they were trying to be funny, but it didn't work for me
    0(0.0%)

    Sexual content

    Non-stop lovin' it up
    0(0.0%)
    Hell yeah. Sock it to me.
    6(14.6%)
    Some, but none with Callum
    26(63.4%)
    A tiny bit
    3(7.3%)
    None at all
    0(0.0%)

    Sexual Violence

    None
    18(42.9%)
    A tiny bit
    2(4.8%)
    During Pon Farr there's some straddling and slapping going on. That I guess could be considered kind of sexually violent?
    17(40.5%)
    Quite a lot
    0(0.0%)
    Tons
    0(0.0%)




    Newbie
    Poll #1170153 Newbie

    Character

    Heroic!
    6(14.0%)
    Great guy
    16(37.2%)
    Regular guy
    12(27.9%)
    Bad dude
    0(0.0%)
    Villain
    0(0.0%)

    How many people does he kill?

    0!
    42(100.0%)
    1
    0(0.0%)
    3
    0(0.0%)
    10
    0(0.0%)
    Everyone!
    0(0.0%)

    Craziness

    Captain of team sanity
    1(2.3%)
    He chooses to go by Newbie, but other than that he seems normal enough
    4(9.3%)
    An odd one for sure
    22(51.2%)
    There is something seriously wrong in the head with that boy
    5(11.6%)
    King of crazytown
    1(2.3%)

    Hotness

    My screen is melting from the hot
    11(26.2%)
    Hot like noon in the middle of summer
    6(14.3%)
    I wouldn't kick him out of bed
    7(16.7%)
    Super cute, but not really hot
    4(9.5%)
    Um, no thank you
    0(0.0%)

    Queerness

    Exceedingly homosexual
    0(0.0%)
    Pretty gay
    11(25.6%)
    Well...He does sit kind of close to Curtis on the couch
    19(44.2%)
    Impossible to tell
    3(7.0%)
    Not even a little bit
    1(2.3%)



    Does he die?
    You really want to know? Are you sure? Really sure? Well, then. (highlight to read)

    :: Nope! ::




    Articles/interviews

    KENSINGTON HEIGHTS:
    DON MCKELLAR ON TWITCH CITY
    by Ryan J Noth


    FILMCAN: So... reminiscing about Twitch City...
    DON MCKELLAR: Aahh, Twitch City…
    FILMCANAlright, let’s start with a basic timeline: Coleslaw Warehouse (1992)?
    DON MCKELLAROh, that’s this thing I did with Bruce McCulloch. I don’t think it had a huge impact. I guess I knew the Kids in the Hall and I was hanging out with them a bit, and Bruce was the one that initiated that because I had a theatre troupe called the Augusta Theatre Company and he was a big fan and came out to a lot of shows.
    FILMCAN: Where were the shows at?
    DON MCKELLAR: The Poor Alex, Theatre Passe Muraille. They were certainly experimental theatre shows. But I guess he was the first person from the sell-out world of television that I knew. So in a certain way he made it seem possible, I guess, the idea of television. Because they already had their show by then – I was on it a couple of times. I guess that’s what made me even think of television. Because even though I watched a lot of it, it never really occurred to me as a legitimate form. I guess it’s safe to say there weren’t a lot of shows on Canadian television that I had great admiration for, but I did like their show.
    FILMCAN: And just after that you wrote 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (Francois Girard, 1993).
    DON MCKELLARYeah, and that doesn’t seem that similar. But it is similar in that it’s episodic. I started thinking around that time, including about the road movies (McDonald’s Roadkill, Highway 61), that I was writing very episodic. And also – and no one would make this connection – but Gould used to watch TV non-stop. He used to leave television on as background. And when he’d go to sleep he’d leave it on and if he had a strange dream he’d wake up and realize it was just the television. No one would make the connection between Curtis and Glenn Gould, though.
    FILMCAN: Obviously they’re both geniuses.
    DON MCKELLAR: Exactly. But that’s when I started thinking a lot about television, and I had television on all the time too.
    FILMCAN: What about Arrowhead (Peter Lynch, 1994)? There’s a line you have about the apartment building your character lives in, something like “We don’t need clocks here, we run on TV time.”
    DON MCKELLAR: That’s right! That was Peter Lynch’s idea, but maybe that put in my head the idea of the TV as a timetable – in the (Twitch City) episode with the TV contest, where they use it as Curtis’ agenda book in particular. Is that what they call them, agenda books?
    FILMCAN: Daytimer?
    DON MCKELLAR: Daytimer! That’s how far I am from the concept of daytimers, I can’t even think of the word.
    FILMCAN: 1995: Dance Me Outside.
    DON MCKELLARI wrote Dance Me Outside kind of quickly because Bruce (McDonald) was having troubles and I said I would help him out. And that was about two weeks. I probably wasn’t writing Twitch City yet, but I was starting to think about it.
    FILMCAN: Bruce McDonald said one of the original titles for the series was Electric City.
    DON MCKELLAR: Yeah – that sounds like a bad new wave band or something. I guess one idea I had was for this horror film where electricity goes out of control and turns against mankind. Which sounds like a fine concept; maybe there was a little more logic to it than that. In any case, I had that title for quite a while, and then there was this project I was doing about an assassin who ends up being… well, more of a biography of an assassin. It was a bit of an extension of the Roadkill character. But then a bunch of movies started coming out like that. But that was also called Twitch City. These were all a bunch of projects in early stages of development. So while I was doing all those things I was watching a lot of television. And living in (Kensington) market.
    FILMCAN: Bruce also said you had the strangest writing setup in your apartment, where you could write and watch TV at the same time…
    DON MCKELLAR: At one point I had a television against the wall, and a mirror on the sofa, so if I sat at my desk behind my giant old computer, I could see the reflection.
    FILMCAN: Is that where the remote control contest came out of?
    DON MCKELLAR: I think so, yeah. And it can be done. I’ve figured out how to work the control through the mirror. Because I couldn’t get to the television. Well I could, but what’s the point of a remote if you have to get up? So that was my life for quite a while, when I wrote 32 Short Films and Twitch City.
    FILMCAN: So you were living around here for how long?
    DON MCKELLAR: Long time. When I was a kid I came down to the market a lot – it was just a cool place to be. When I was growing up in north of Toronto I came down here and bought all my clothes down here. And used to hang out in the places in Kensington. Like Tigers? All these places don’t exist anymore. And there was also sort of a punk scene happening here in the market, so I was sort of into that. It was always this romantic, glamourous place to me. And it was sort of ironic, because the King of Kensington television show was not the market that I knew.
    I also thought there was a natural irony in doing a show here which had parallels to King of Kensington, but was more about dispossessed kids, the sort of market types. Eccentrics… and I would say hippies, but they’re not really hippies, they’re more like people who live in the Yukon or something. You know what I mean, like people who choose to live outside the boundaries of regular society. Either they’re self-styled anarchists, or the flakier side.
    So I came down here a lot. When I was in college I was living on the other side, on Beverly Street. Then I was in flux for a couple of years. Then I moved in with my girlfriend on Augusta, and I lived a long time there. Now I live outside the market – for the last five years. Three blocks away, but it makes a world of difference. But the market is still the place in Toronto, the neighbourhood that makes it distinctive, in my mind.
    FILMCAN: Is it still a muse now?
    DON MCKELLAR: Well, I guess so – it’s changed quite a bit. When I wrote it there was a bit of a dip. I think it’s had slighter better fortune lately. Places like this (Ideal Coffee, where the interview took place – ed.) didn’t exist. There were always cool places, but not quite so many, especially up at this end – the Augusta end. So I think it changed, and the slightly downbeat side is reflected in the show.
    FILMCAN: The amount of talented collaborators involved in the show is insane.
    DON MCKELLAR: Yeah, it’s true. And a lot of the people involved in the show actually got a cameo in it too. But we were very fortunate at the time, we got a great bunch of people. It was the easiest thing I ever cast, or ever been involved with. We’d just call on people we knew and liked, and they all agreed, and it was sort of effortless. So it really does, in that sense, represent a sort of zeitgeist thing.
    FILMCAN: How did the hook up with Danny Novak (DOP) and some of the other crew and cast come about?
    DON MCKELLAR: Well, I was really impressed with the shooting of Hard Core Logo (1996). I thought it was one of the better-shot Canadian features at the time. And Bruce suggested Callum (Keith Rennie), which was sort of casting against type, I thought. But I was really impressed with Hard Core Logo, so I encouraged him to go with that. And stylistically, too, to try and go with some of that visual style as well. Danny Novak was great, really fast, very unafraid.
    FILMCAN: It’s got such a great visual feel and consistency to the whole series.
    DON MCKELLAR: It really doesn’t look like… television. It still maintains a film look – it doesn’t exactly look like a sitcom.
    FILMCAN: What was it shot on?
    DON MCKELLAR: 16mm film. And we had a widescreen version shot too, but when it was transferred we didn’t have the money to do both versions. Which is a shame because it could have been a great widescreen DVD release. But no one ever thought of that at the time.
    FILMCAN: Bob Wiseman? Such great accompaniment for the atmosphere.
    DON MCKELLAR: Well, he’d just quit Blue Rodeo, seems to me, so… and we’d done a video of his – me and Tracey (Wright), my girlfriend, down at the park down there. He used to come to our plays too, so that’s how we knew him. In any case, we’d go to see his shows.
    FILMCAN: And Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone, Slings & Arrows) was more involved in the second season, right?
    DON MCKELLAR: Yeah, Bob was an old high school friend of mine. I asked him in the first season to write a show. Because, you know, once television gets going, there’s always a certain rush, or speed. And they were already talking about a second season. Even though I basically thought I could probably write a first season, if there was a second season I realized I’d have to figure something out because we’d have to shoot fairly quickly. So I was testing out other people to write episodes, and Bob was one of them. He wrote an episode based on an outline of mine. And that was the first time – I like to remind him of this – that Bob was asked to write for television. Then the second season, as predicted, it came down pretty quickly, and I asked Bob.
    FILMCAN: You mentioned in the commentary that it was important that the couch was against the wall, not in the middle of the room. And there are a lot of really blatant psychological confrontations in the series too, mostly about control. Was the couch a place for therapy?
    DON MCKELLAR: I think there are some real issues and characters had some genuine psychological concerns. But it’s all quite veiled, or deep. Curtis is not a guy who talks about his feelings at all. And Hope is also not acknowledging her issues, so… there’s these two people who are not articulate, but they use the tools around them, like the remote, to work through their relationship. Which is, I think, accurate, in my experience.
    Curtis is sick. But he’s slowly overcoming his agoraphobia, and other genuine mental illnesses. Probably I was working my stuff through him. I always said Curtis was an exaggeration of what I consider to be my flaws.
    FILMCAN: Right. Because he’s really cheap.
    DON MCKELLAR: That’s right. And I bought my coffee today.
    FILMCAN: You said you felt like you were writing in a more episodic style then.
    DON MCKELLAR: Well I just realized that my attention span, my natural rhythm, is more episodic. That is to say, I find movie lengths kind of unnatural. My mind thinks in shorter cycles. Maybe it’s attention span? From watching television a lot? But movies always seem too long to me. And I realized there’s nothing more natural about a movie length, where 90 minutes is somehow the rule. Even for movies I think of them as three television episodes or something. That was just the way I noticed I wrote. And somehow my short attention span became the whole character.
    FILMCAN: With digital downloads or DVDs people watch TV episodes back-to-back, too, and if you add up the first season of Twitch City it’s about 130 minutes – a proper feature.
    DON MCKELLAR: And that’s how I convinced myself I could do it. When I got the go ahead for the series I thought it seemed long – like “Oh god, I have to write a series!” But then I realized it’s only like a TV movie.
    FILMCAN: Did you write out the story arc for the whole season at the beginning?
    DON MCKELLAR: A little bit. I always wanted to have an arc, but also for the episodes to sustain themselves. Which is my favourite kind of television. There wasn’t that much at the time either. My idea was that the plot would be gradually, almost imperceptibly evolving, where you feel like “Oh, I actually had some strange investment in this relationship between Curtis and Hope. More than I thought.” It is essentially a love story.
    FILMCANAnd their relationship is very co-dependent, where Curtis is with this low self-esteem girl and she somehow needs him too.
    DON MCKELLARThey don’t realize it at first.
    FILMCANBut they’re perfect for each other.
    DON MCKELLAR: Yeah, their flaws, which are significant, end up being the pieces that hold them together.
    FILMCAN: Is it a representation of stalled youth? It’s set in an almost student lifestyle.
    DON MCKELLAR: Well it’s definitely reflective, a lot of the stories, of my student lifestyle, when I lived in shared houses. But that was also similarly stalled. If I hadn’t been going to school it probably would have been similar. It’s the gap period.
    I don’t want to overstate it, but the whole Generation X thing was in the air. And I always thought there was something irritating about the whole way it was discussed in the press. Because I was part of that generation and I thought, yes, there’s truth to it, but it’s not about slackerdom per se – it’s about lack of available, significant entry into the world. A bunch of people are educated and that’s why they’re not working. They see there’s flaws in society, so it’s like a kind of unconsidered anarchy, maybe with an unconscious intellectual underpinning.
    FILMCAN: It’s strange, I saw something on IMDB that referenced the series being Tarantino-esque… I really don’t get these labels sometimes.
    DON MCKELLAR: Yeah. I actually liked those Tarantino movies, and I had dinner with him in the market, at The Boat. But I guess it’s because the characters talk about pop culture.
    FILMCAN: But you didn’t talk about the TV specifically that much…
    DON MCKELLAR: That’s true. There are a couple bits, maybe with the Newbie scenes. As a matter of fact I sort of resisted all that TV talk, because I thought there was sort of predictable. And it’s also sort of boring, people telling their favourite bits from TV shows, or repeating dialogue from other movies, that’s always a bit tedious.
    In some ways the show was more of a corrective symptom of it, I thought. I wanted to see a character like Curtis, who was more smart but also somewhat edgy. So it wasn’t just that slacker Ethan Hawke character. You know, he doesn’t think he’s cool – he’s not a poet.
    FILMCANThe second season seems more like a sitcom to me.
    DON MCKELLAR: Well it definitely plays more with the sitcom conventions. It plays more with satirizing television.
    FILMCAN: But the first season is much more contained in a locale, in the writing even, and there’s more stuff on location. There was also a feeling like it would not have been the same if it was shot in the summer – the whole winter isolation and everything.
    DON MCKELLAR: Yeah, that was the other thing about Curtis hiding inside, cocooning. You are in the winter here, you don’t go out much. And you do think of reasons to not go out, like with the garbage thing.
    FILMCAN: What I think gives the series an epic quality, and its longevity, is those exteriors in the first season, and setting it in a particular spatial context.
    DON MCKELLAR: It’s funny, the show always had that sort of bittersweet feeling: a sad guy trying to hook up with this girl, and he’s no good to her. Especially at the time, walking down Kensington Street at night… I’ve had friends visiting and they’re like “Where am I? I’m in Poland or something.” You know, with all these empty streets and garbage, the smell of rotting fish and things like that.
    But when I was feeling lonely or had romantic problems, I remember I would come walking in the middle of the night to Kensington Market and I always had that feeling like “I’m alone in the world.” And I know from living here a lot of people here have that feeling; and then you start hearing singing in the middle of the night, and you’re like “We live here, shut-up!” That was something sad and sweet about the market that I tried to capture.

    From filmCAN. More with Don McKellar can be found in the video podcast available on the main site



    Twitch City
    By Pamela Swedko - Playback - March 22, 1999


    It's the first day of the in-studio portion of the shoot, and just before breaking for lunch the entire Twitch City cast and crew gather around the camera grinning while a couple of sharply dressed cats steal the spotlight.
    One wears a gold lame blouse while the other sports a crisp white shirt and tie. The felines lounge on small, pet-friendly leather couches on the set of The Rex Reilly Show as animal wranglers, armed with a ball of string on a stick, do their best to get the cats to sit up straight.
    The cameras started rolling Feb. 15 and will continue until the end of March for seven episodes and season two of Twitch City. The new shows - budgeted at a low $400,000 per episode - are slated to air on cbc, tentatively beginning in October, following a rebroadcast of the original six-pack from last year.
    Shadow Shows and Accent Entertainment are producing the comedy series, created by and starring Don McKellar and written by McKellar and Bob Martin. Susan Cavan is executive producer with Bruce McDonald, who has resumed his position in the director's chair. Cinematographer Danny Nowak is back behind the camera and Curtis (played by McKellar) is back on the tattered floral sofa.
    Rhombus International holds the foreign sales rights to Twitch City and will be taking the show to the markets for the first time this year. According to Cavan, there is already interest from England, Australia and the U.S.
    While the story pretty much picks up where last year left off, Cavan says the new episodes are slightly more extreme in terms of the situations Curtis puts himself in.
    "What's different this year is that Curtis' particular alternative lifestyle has some strain put on it just by his girlfriend moving in," says Cavan. "He has to cope in his own weird way with a real live-in relationship."
    The shoot started off with two weeks on location in Toronto's Kensington Market before moving into the studio which houses the set of Curtis' dusty, dingy apartment where the majority of the action, or anti-action, unfolds.
    This season, Hope, played by Molly Parker (Kissed) has moved in with Curtis, and like the anti-hero couch potato himself, is developing a passion for sitting in front of the tv for hours on end. Daniel MacIvor (House) plays Nathan, Curtis' ex-roommate who is serving time in jail, and Callum Keith Rennie (Last Night) is convenience store guru Newbie.
    Making special guest appearances are Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tracy Wright (Last Night). Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall) is Rex Riley, host of Curtis' favorite Jerry Springer-like talk show, and Ken Walsh is Hope's partially deaf father who Curtis hits up for rent money.
    Style-wise, McDonald says he and Nowak are pushing the boundaries on framing. Rather than shooting the usual way with the person in the middle of the scene, at times they are capturing the actor in the bottom left corner, for example, leaving a window of blank space filling the rest of the screen.
    "We are basically using this as an experiment with visual style and pushing the boundaries," says McDonald as he scrawls a picture on the table illustrating his point. "The frame is very unusual at times but it's interesting and it makes usual ordinary scenes fresh."
    Coming back to something that went so well the first time around, as did season one, and keeping it fresh and exciting is a challenge for the director, who puts an emphasis on constantly pushing style and performance.
    A couple of performances McDonald seems to have little control over, however, are those of the cats, which come in both real-life and stuffed versions, and on day one of the in studio shoot seem to be garnering all the attention.
    It's kind of like a Planet of the Apes only with cats.
    Someone - McDonald won't reveal who - is having a dream where cats, led by Curtis' pet Lucky, take over the world and the airwaves, making every show on tv about cats.
    Aside from the feline frenzy on The Rex Reilly Show, there's the seafaring adventure show The Old Cat And The Sea, which called for a cat in a yellow rain slicker hanging out by a small lighthouse surrounded by some stuffed buddies.




    ON SCREEN (Twitch City)
    by Adrian Lackey - SEE Magazine - March 19, 1998.

    For those who caught Twitch City - the recently-concluded six-part comedy series on CBC-TV - the visage of Don McKellar will be a familiar one. He plays the most likable Curtis, a severe TV addict and agoraphobe who hasn't left his apartment in years. Not only did McKellar act in Twitch City, he also wrote and co-created the series with Bruce McDonald.

    What a lot of Twitch City's fans might not know is that McKellar has also won Genie Awards for his acting in Atom Egoyan's Exotica and his script for 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, and taken to the director's chair with Last Night. It was this experience as director that brought him to the recent Local Heroes International Screen Festival, as he and Bruce Sweeney (Live Bait) hosted the seminar "Direct Results."

    "You know, all books about movie-making," McKellar said in an interview following the seminar, "they always say that a character must change by the end of the script. I always thought that that misses a big psychological truth that we all understand: People don't change. They can be pushed to the point where they have to act differently."

    Thus, McKellar offered as an explanation for the end of Twitch City, where Curtis leaves his apartment, wins back his girl, but still can't help but glance at a security monitor while kissing her.

    What would be the worst thing that could happen to Twitch City - CBC doesn't renew its commitment for the show, or CBC does? McKellar laughed.

    "I don't know. I ask that myself. I wrote it as a six-part show, and it has the feel of a mini-series more than it does a sitcom. I grew up watching movies, so I think in those kinds of story arcs. And that's how we got people like Callum (Keith Rennie) and Molly (Parker) interested: do six shows and maybe have the job last for three years.

    "I tend to write slowly, so grinding out scripts on a weekly basis would be a lot of work. But I loved doing it. I'd love to be asked to do more of the show, let's put it that way."







    Links

    Fic:
    Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School by brooklinegirl
    When There's Nothing Left to Burn, You Have to Set Yourself On Fire
    and Love in the Bushes (Like There Was No Tomorrow) by pearl_o
    As Seen On TV by lamentables
    Men Who Love Too Much and My Roommate Is A Monster! by glossing
    Experimental Cheese, Winning and Losing and Pemmican by omphale23
    Lucky by slidellra

    Screencaps:
    scriggle posted some picspam here and here.
    c_regalis posted some random picspam and some Planet Of The Cats picspam

    Vids:
    Tape It by sdwolfpup
    My TV and You by fenlings

    Other:
    c_regalis posted some stuff about the DVD extras here, here and here

    Availability

    The show is available on DVD through most online retailers Twitch City at Amazon.

Comments

( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
meresy
Apr. 12th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
Yaaaaay, you prevailed over those dastardly polls! \o/

Excellent show post. You did this crazy show justice. *g*
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 12th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Actually all the poll prevailing was done by the most heroic Belmanoir.

And yay! Thank you! Halfway through when I was working on this I started thinking damn, why couldn't I just have picked some short kinda crappy movie? But it's good to hear I did the show some justice.
(no subject) - meresy - Apr. 12th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mrs_laugh_track - Apr. 13th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snoopypez - Apr. 13th, 2008 10:21 am (UTC) - Expand
bluebelle789
Apr. 12th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Yay! Twitch City! (still with one newbie icon.. *g*)

Cool post. \o/
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
Yay, glad you enjoyed the post!
snoopypez
Apr. 12th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
NEWBIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

..ahem, hi.

I'm totally just commenting to say I love this post and I love you and I love Newbie and I love the quotes you chose (Canadian actor!!) and thiiiis -
Newbie: Hey, how’s the cake thing going?
Hope: Ok.
Newbie: Done any dick cakes yet?
Hope: No.
Newbie: Hey, let me know when you do.

- you know, I love it SO much. I love the WAY he says 'hey', like.. quickly, excitedly almost even though it's also totally casual. <333333

WHY have I not made Twitch City icons yet? Seriously, self.
belmanoir
Apr. 13th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
seriously, YOU! and yes, i love how newbie says hey too!! i totally want a breastcake for my birthday now, too. um. i don't think my friends will understand. maybe i can have a fannish party and a non-fannish party? since normally i have no parties that may be ambitious...
(no subject) - snoopypez - Apr. 13th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - belmanoir - Apr. 13th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mrs_laugh_track - Apr. 13th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
roadrunner1896
Apr. 13th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
I could vote. *bounce*

I love it when I can vote. :D

I also love that you don't want to spoil people for the cat food thing, yet you make it sound like everyone should know what a job wheel is. Which of course everyone should. ♥

I really loved this post. You did an excellent job.
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
Woo! Yay for voting.

Everyone should know about the job wheel. The job wheel is totally objective and totally fair!

And thank you, glad to hear you liked it.
(no subject) - roadrunner1896 - Apr. 13th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC) - Expand
dugrival
Apr. 13th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Breastcakes!

That is all.
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
BREASTCAKES!
hieronymousmosh
Apr. 13th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Job wheel* love! But still no Twitch City icon...



*and proper coding ;)
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
I love the job wheel so much. And your icon kind of works for Twitch City... Kind of.

*all proper coding credit goes to Belmanoir who came in and fixed everything while I made stompy tantrum feet.
neu111
Apr. 13th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
Great post for a not easy job!
I love the pics, they're not the ones which are often posted and they illustrate perfectly well the crazyness of the show (and breastcakes, yay!). In the crazyness poll though, I elected Newbie as Captain of team sanity, cause that's how I see him sometimes in the ambiant madness (and when there's a war raging with cats, someone's got to take charge, don't they?)
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
Glad you like the photos. It was so hard to narrow it down to just three.

And heh, good call about Newbie. He's totally the person I'd call in a cat crisis.
(Deleted comment)
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
Oops, good catch. Clearly I'm a bit of a scatter brain right now, I could have sworn I listed it. I'll go put it in right now. Thanks!
hyzenthlay26
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
The first time I watched my DVDs (all in one sitting, of course) I nearly stroked out in a fit of giggling glee. There is just SO MUCH GOOD STUFF in this show and you've done an excellent job memorialising ALL of it!

mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
All in one sitting is really the only way to go with Twitch City. And yay, thank you! Glad to know I was able to capture some of the show's awesome.
callumvixen
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
EEEEEE! Newbie! *loves* Awesome awesome post :)
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
NEWBIE! And yay, glad you liked.
lamentables
Apr. 13th, 2008 06:08 am (UTC)
The filmCAN video podcast has material that isn't in the written interview with McKellar.

Watching some of it again last week, I found it particularly amusing that one of the tapes Newbie takes round to share with/impress Curtis is Battlestar Galactica.

Good job.
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 06:28 am (UTC)
Oh neat! I'll make a note of the podcast.

And yes, I love that so much.

Thanks!
leonandra
Apr. 13th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
Your post prompted me to watch Twitch City again. Oh, the hardship *g*
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 13th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
Hee. Yes. You make such sacrifices.
c_regalis
Apr. 15th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)
He’s a walking spazz-ball with bright shirts and even brighter hair who sometimes brings over expired food and defective magazines.

*LOVES*

At least play a funny serial killer or something!

Um. Yes. I think at this point I take what I can get. /c\

this show even wins at Canadian dog actor bingo

*nodsnods* I LOVE this. They have twelve actors and ONE dog. Canada, how are you so tiny?

And you found lots and lots of fic. Eeeee! \post/

c_regalis
Apr. 15th, 2008 08:50 am (UTC)
Oh, and I did a few posts about TC a while ago, when I got the DVDs. Let me find them.

Random, but excited picspamming after I got the DVDs

Planet of the Cats picspam

Some stuff about the DVD extras, especially Don's audio commentaries

And another post about the Don's commentaries

And yet another one

I have the commentaries on my other computer and can put them up at the place tonight.
(no subject) - mrs_laugh_track - Apr. 15th, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
woolly_socks
Apr. 15th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
Excellent excellent post that is making me gleeful and full of love!!

Except I feel obliged to nitpick as resident spoilerphobe: if I hadn't already seen this show I would have gone 'gah!' and fled after reading the first paragraph. Spoilers ahoy.
mrs_laugh_track
Apr. 15th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it.

And oh! That didn't even occur to me that it would be an issue. Perhaps because I am such a non-spoilerphobe and since it was just stuff that gets established in the first episode and to me the actual events are sort of less of a point. My bad. It's just such a hard show to describe. How do you think I should change it? Or should I just tack a spoiler warning up?
(no subject) - woolly_socks - Apr. 15th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mrs_laugh_track - Apr. 15th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - woolly_socks - Apr. 15th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - c_regalis - Apr. 15th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - woolly_socks - Apr. 15th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )

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