While APTN is ushering in the New Year with a number of great new shows, perhaps the biggest buzz will come from the premiere of the long-awaited, controversial dramatic series based on a pilot of the same name that debuted on APTN in the fall of 2009.

Blackstone, the series, promises to give viewers more than they bargained for. Years in the making, this raw, authentic look at life on the fictitious Blackstone Indian Reserve has the potential to hit a nerve, or two.

It tells the story of “a community suffering disintegration by its own hand – a result of the corruption, mismanagement and nepotism of its Chief and Councillors, and the parallel complicity of the silent band members.”

Add in issues of drug abuse, violence, poverty, isolation and an unapologetic, hard-hitting, uncensored script. Whoa.

The series stars a who’s-who of Aboriginal film and television stars, including Carmen Moore (Flash Gordon, Andromeda), Eric Schweig (Last of the Mohicans, Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale, The Scarlet Letter), Michelle Thrush (Moccasin Flats, Mixed Blessings) and Nathaniel Arcand (North of 60, Due South, Smallville), among others.

Each one-hour episode delves into the tumultuous lives of residents on the reserve as they struggle to create lasting change from within the community.

Recognizing many of the realities of reserve life in such dramatic fashion will likely raise the hackles of some. Others living in our communities might applaud the efforts by the show’s producers to portray the fictional Blackstone Reserve with a fair bit of authenticity.

Indeed, many of the issues tackled in this series mimic what is too often reported in newspapers across the country. Controversial? Absolutely.

Needless to say, parental discretion is advised. Intense, compelling and confrontational, Blackstone the series has very adult content and may offend some viewers. And some viewers will love it. Either way, it’s guaranteed; there is no other show on Canadian airwaves like Blackstone.

Other APTN premieres for January you don’t want to miss include the Canadian premieres of The Hook Up, Planet Echo, One with Natureand Animism.

Airing on New Year’s Day itself, Animism is a modern urban fantasy that mixes traditional First Nations mythology with the recently released interactive game. It’s a must-see for gamers on New Year’s Day.

Moving into the month, in each episode of The Hook Up, a ‘Fish Magnet’ (Aboriginal fishing guide) encounters a well-known, city-dwelling, personality (artist, actor, entertainer, politician) and spends a day with him/her in the aquatic hot spots of Canada to fish, cook and share never-told-before stories.

The fun continues with Planet Echo, a family-oriented action series that explores the infinite possibilities of our world.

Then the documentary series One With Nature profiles existing environmental initiatives and explores the issues currently affecting Aboriginal communities.

In February, we’ll start gearing up for March madness.

Make sure to log on to www.aptn.ca for our full schedule and more information on current programming and initiatives, contests and memberships.