Big Test Tonight for The Border –

How safe is The Border? We’ll find out tonight as The Border returns for a second season tonight at 9 p.m. on CBC. The Toronto-based series gained a strong foothold last winter when it was one of four scripted shows to join the CBC schedule opposite private network schedules weakened by the writers strike. It consistently pulled in the 600,000 to 700,000 range in terms of total viewers. That’s going to be tougher to accomplish this fall on a very competitive night, with new episodes of Heroes, Prison Break, Two and a Half Men and Dancing with the Stars on the other channels.
I profiled James McGowan, who plays The Border’s team leader Mike Kessler, in a CP article last week. You can read it here. The Montreal-native (above, with cast newcomer Grace Park) is proving to be a real find, a leading man who seemed to come from nowhere when this series premiered last January.
McGowan and several other Border cast members were at the CBC mini-launch last week, a clever little studio gathering set up as a taping of George Stroumboulopoulpos’s The Hour. The launch was a reminder that all of CBC’s big guns are back this week, including Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes (tomorrow), Little Mosque and Sophie (Wednesday) and Air Farce Live (Friday).
Strombo gabbed with Rick Mercer, Peter Mansbridge and Natalie Dormer from The Tudors (also back tomorrow). Mercer, who was in China recently shooting segments with Canada’s special Olympics team, was in fine form. Asked about Green Party leader Elizabeth May joining in on the federal leaders debate this week, he cracked: “she’s gonna be the vinegar who brightens up the vegetables.”
Gorgeous Sophie star Natalie Brown (in a dress and second hand shoes she picked up 45 minutes before the CBC launch), dapper Carlo Rota and several Little Mosque mates and several Air Farcers, including Penelope Corrin (who will unveil her Sarah Pallin imitation on Friday’s debut) also mingled at the afternoon event. The whole thing was kicked off in style by network programming boss Kirstine Layfield, who looked pretty hot in her knee-high boots.
The boots were no accident. Layfield needs The Border to have legs this season. It should get a boost from the return of Dragons’ Den tonight at 8 p.m. The third season of this Apprentice-like reality series features a new dragon–W. Brett Wilson, the Saskatchewan-native and Calgary resident behind the energy industry’s leading investment bank. Among the people pitching to him and the other dragons this season are a father and son casket making team and an Ontario kid who thinks he has the next Segway.
Speaking of segway, a Dragons’ Den goodie bag was provided on the way out of the CBC fest, filled with kooky inventions being pitched this season, including a large plastic Mickey Mouse hand on a hooked handle called the “Back Buddie.” It’s for applying lotion in hard to reach spots, or, I guess, for patting yourself on the back. Imagine it being handed out at a CBC launch.

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