Yuks from Canucks
“Working the Engels,” a Canadian-American co-production that started on NBC on July 10 (new episodes air at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays), is light summer fare whose best feature is its “SCTV” veterans. It stars the very funny Andrea Martin (she’s Armenian Canadian but often plays Jews) as Ceil Engel. Ceil’s lawyer husband suddenly dies, leaving her family in deep debt. She and her three adult children go to work at her husband’s storefront law firm. The problem is that only one family member, daughter Jenna, a newly minted lawyer, is qualified to practice law.
Eugene Levy, 67, a Canadian landsman and former “SCTV” star, appears in a recurring role as Arthur Horowitz, a prominent nice-guy (Jewish) attorney who is secretly a bit sweet on Ceil and is hoping to retire and give a few good clients to Jenna. Levy’s daughter Sarah, 27, plays his daughter on the show.
“Seed” is a Canadian TV comedy that was just renewed for its second season. The American CW network picked up the first season for broadcast; it will premiere at 9:30 p.m. Monday, July 14. It stars Adam Korson, 32, who grew up in a Toronto suburb, as a likeable bartender who discovers he has offspring from his sperm donations. The series focuses on his relationship with his biological kids and their families.
Holocaust vs. vampires
“The Strain,” a horror-detective drama, begins on FX at 10 p.m. Sunday, July 11. The series stars Corey Stoll, 38, known for his Oscar-nominated role in “Midnight in Paris” (playing Hemingway) and his Golden Globe–nominated role in “House of Cards” (as Peter Russo). The premiere episode begins with a plane landing at JFK Airport in New York with the lights off and doors sealed.
Epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (played by Stoll) and his team are sent to investigate. On board they find 200 corpses and four survivors. The situation deteriorates when the bodies begin disappearing from morgues and, shortly thereafter, there’s a mysterious viral outbreak that has the hallmarks of vampirism. Enter Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor who owns a pawn shop. His backstory: A Romanian Jew, he escaped as a young man from a Nazi death camp (there are some flashback scenes), where he met and battled vampires. Now elderly, he can still swing a sword and kill them. He knows the habits and biology of vampires and wants to pass on his knowledge to Goodweather. (Not your average zaide typecasting!)
Movies, in short
“Venus in Fur,” which opens in San Francisco and Berkeley on Friday, July 11, is Roman Polanski’s film adaptation of a Tony Award–winning play of the same name (which is based on a 19th-century novel). It was staged at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater this spring. Mathieu Amalric, 48, stars as a contemporary New York theater director who is casting a new play. He reluctantly agrees to audition an actress (played by Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife) whose crude style initially repels him. Eventually, the dynamic shifts and she becomes the dominant one.
Sex of a funnier kind hits the screen on July 18 with “Sex Tape,” a farce that reunites “Bad Teacher” director Jake Kasdan, 39, with “Teacher” star Cameron Diaz. Jason Segel, 34, and Diaz star as a married couple who are horrified to find out a sex tape they made is missing. Opening the same day is “And So It Goes,” directed by Rob Reiner, 67. Michael Douglas, 69, who toured Israel last month with his newly bar mitzvahed son Dylan, stars as Oren Little, a self-centered businessman whose estranged son leaves a granddaughter he never knew existed on his doorstep. Little enlists his neighbor (Diane Keaton) to help care for her.
Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.