April 15, 2014

Upfronts 2014 | Gloryosky’s Guide to the 2014-15 Canadian Television Upfronts

It’s almost Canadian television upfront time again, where major Canadian media conglomerates sell advertisers on the merits of their programming. This article will be updated as dates, venues, and times for the upfronts are finalized.

Bell Media (CTV): Thursday, June 5, 2014
CBC Television (English): date and venue TBA
Channel Zero (CHCH): Thursday, June 12, 2014; venue TBA; early morning
Rogers Media (City): likely Tuesday, June 3, 2014; time and venue TBA
Shaw Media (Global): likely Wednesday, June 4, 2014; time and venue TBA

Unless otherwise noted, all English-language Canadian television upfronts are held in Toronto, Ontario. Upfront events are not public events; they are by invitation only.

Usually, CBC Television is first with its mid-May media day. CBC Television tends to release its fall schedule ahead of time; this year, CBC Television released the fall 2014-15 schedule (and the 2013-14 cancellations – blame CBC’s recent budgetary cutbacks for that one) earlier than usual, so CBC Television lays practically all its cards on the table weeks ahead of its media day. I don’t understand why CBC Television does this, but that’s its usual strategy.

Rogers Media, Shaw Media, and Bell Media focus most on their terrestrial program services. That reads as obvious, but having attended all three upfronts (Rogers Media in 2012 and 2013; Canwest/Shaw Media from 2010-12; Bell Media in 2012 and 2013), City, Global, and CTV are the top priorities. In particular, Rogers Media, Shaw Media, and Bell Media focus on their terrestrial program services’ prime-time schedules. Bell Media sets the majority of its time aside for CTV’s offerings, whereas Rogers Media and Shaw Media spread attention between their terrestrial and specialty offerings.

Bell Media actually tweeted CTV’s upfront date on Monday, April 14, 2014. Unless I’m bad at paying attention to other online marketing efforts, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a major Canadian media company promote an upfront save-the-date on Twitter. It’s a welcome trend; I hope it spreads.

CHCH’s 2014 upfront will feature the Tiny Talent Time revival in some way. That’s not much of a spoiler, as both the date and Tiny Talent Time‘s involvement were confirmed to me by CHCH marketing manager Rhonda Messieh on March 12, 2014. The Tiny Talent Time revival was announced during CHCH’s 2013 upfront, so the TTT revival has been a while in coming.

Corus Entertainment, Stornoway Communications, ZoomerMedia and Blue Ant Media do not participate in the annual upfront season, as far as I know.

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July 25, 2011

TV Review | The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour 1.1, 1.2

The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour (Action: Pope Productions/Happy Funtime Productions, 2011) is a case study in Canadian television not meeting its potential.  Drunk and on Drugs stars actors from Trailer Park Boys, one of the rare Canadian television phenomena of the past decade.  Amy Sedaris and Jay Baruchel, two reasonably popular celebrities, appear in small roles.  In addition, Drunk and on Drugs is the late Maury Chaykin’s episodic television swan song.

Where does Shaw Media air Drunk and on Drugs, then?  The channel it was originally slotted for, Showcase?  No, Shaw Media burns it off on an obscure Showcase spinoff channel, in the middle of July, two episodes at a time.  That’s a shame, as The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is the best Canadian television I’ve seen so far this summer.

Robb Wells, Mike Smith and John Paul Tremblay play themselves, as they try to figure out why they’re in random predicaments (in a trashed motel room, inside a giant wooden penis) at the beginning of each episode.  Dr. Funtime (Maury Chaykin), who may or may not be a real scientist and/or Maury Chaykin, has created a blueberry-based hallucinogen that keeps the residents of Port Cockerton in line.

Wells, Smith and Tremblay are also kept in Port Cockerton, for reasons as yet unexplained.  Meanwhile, television executive K. Money (Amy Sedaris) is pissed off, as she tries to assemble hours of show footage into something remotely coherent.  I’m not sure what any of this means, if anything.

Wells, Smith and Tremblay play multiple characters throughout the show.  In lesser hands, Drunk and on Drugs would be a vanity project in the tradition of Single White Spenny and Good Dog.  Thankfully, The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is an ambitious attempt at weaving multiple narratives into a cohesive whole.  Based on the first two episodes, it actually succeeds on this level.

Even given the show’s more outlandish elements (the armless Papa Karlson’s Feetza Pizza, the DJs of all-gay radio station CGAY, the geriatric mob family, Dr. Funtime), Drunk and on Drugs is fairly tightly plotted.  If Trailer Park Boys is Danger Man/Secret Agent, The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is The Prisoner.  That’s not to say Drunk and on Drugs is as good as The Prisoner, just that the two shows inhabit the same plane of weirdness.  I’m interested to see how the remainder of Drunk and on Drugs pans out.

If you’re curious, the first two episodes of The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour are online at drunkandondrugs.com.  The episodes aren’t viewable outside Canada, but one can get around the geoblocking.  See?  Canadian television not meeting its potential.  I hope The Comedy Network doesn’t wrap a similar geofence around Picnicface.

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July 16, 2011

Interview | Kenny Hotz, Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will

This is another first for URBMN: YOUTUBE!  Granted, this is due to Posterous not liking big MP3 files, but what can you do.  Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will debuts Friday, July 22, 2011 at 10:00 PM ET, on Action.  I think I like my interviewing skills in this piece even less than the Yannick Bisson interview.


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May 31, 2011

Upfront Week: Murdoch Mysteries to earn 5th season; Shaw Media upfront news

Long day for me.  Let’s get right to what you love: highlights.

Murdoch Mysteries; Shaw fun inside

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January 30, 2011

News: Pure Pwnage cancelled by Showcase

I am late to this news, as I haven’t seen mention of it at TV, Eh? or other Canadian television sites, but Pure Pwnage has been officially cancelled by Showcase.  Pure Pwnage co-creator/pwnerer Jarett Cale first broke the news with this January 19, 2011 posting.  On January 25, the Showcase Facebook wall confirmed the show’s cancellation.

Reasons given by Cale for the show’s cancellation include “poorer-than-expected ratings, a new direction for [Showcase]…and poorer-than-expected web traffic.”  Pure Pwnage‘s web series is also on hold, perhaps indefinitely.

The most interesting thing about Cale’s post is the announcement of a Pure Pwnage first-TV-season DVD set, due March 2011.  Unfortunately, the set is for Australia, on the ABC DVD label.  It will contain the as-aired shows, as well as supplemental web material.

The Pure Pwnage fans are fairly active in defending the TV show.  There are pro-Pwnage, anti-everything-else ravings on the Showcase Facebook wall, which is to be expected for any cancelled show with a vocal fanbase.  More encouragingly, the fans are actively campaigning for the show to find a new network.

The most logical prospective network for Pure Pwnage is G4 Canada, which hardly produces anything aside from Reviews on the Run and EP Daily.  Pure Pwnage is most likely dead, in both television and webseries forms.  Then again, Kenny vs. Spenny moved from CBC to Showcase.  Paradise Falls managed to drag on until 2008.  Carla Collins still manages to find work.  Hardly anything works the way it should in Canadian television.

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December 17, 2010

News: Midseason 2010-11 schedules, the CanCon edition

I realize the first two pieces are from last week, but news has been slow lately.  CTV announced two pilots and a series order on Thursday, December 9.  The two hour-long CTV pilots are Saving Hope, a medical drama set in Toronto, and Stay with Me, about a lawyer/stay-at-home mother.  Ilana Frank’s Thump Inc. is behind Saving Hope, while Sarrazin Couture Entertainment is behind Stay with Me.

In addition, CTV and MuchMusic have ordered six one-hour episodes of Epitome Pictures’ Highland Gardens, a show about young Canadians trying to make it in Hollywood.  Epitome Pictures is best known for Degrassi: the Next Generation/Degrassi and Instant Star.  The showrunner is Martin Gero, a man best known for Stargate Atlantis, Young People Fucking and HBO’s Bored to Death.

I can safely say I am not interested in the two CTV pilots.  As someone commented at TV, Eh?, they read like St. Elsewhere and The Good Wife.

Highland Gardens sounds similarly generic, but Gero could make something out of the premise.  Likewise, Malcolm MacRury’s attached to Saving Hope, which probably means Cra$h & Burn is dead in the water.

I’m not going to complain about the three new projects, given that they won’t make air until at least the 2011-12 season, but CTV isn’t much for originality.  At least CTV’s not ripping off $#*! My Dad Says yet.


CityTV’s midseason slate includes the second season of My RONA Home (Sunday, April 3, 2011: 9:00 PM ET) and the fourth season of Murdoch Mysteries (Wednesday, March 16, 2011: 10:00 PM ET.)  Airdates and times are, of course, subject to change.

CityTV’s midseason is stuffed full of American shows and Law & Order: UK.  I don’t want to dog CityTV, but when did it become the most conservative networklet in Canadian television?  Most of the prime-time schedule consists of NBC and ABC shows not nailed down by Shaw Media or CTV.  Murdoch Mysteries is being rerun in two different timeslots.

I’m not going to blame Rogers entirely for the channel rot, as CityTV has been on a slow, steady decline since the tail end of the CHUM Television era.  At the same time…My RONA Home and Out There with Melissa DiMarco reruns?!  I honestly can’t believe we’ve come to this point.


CTV will debut one show in the beginning of January.  The Marilyn Denis Show‘s first episode will air Monday, January 10, 2011, at 10:00 AM ET/PT.  In addition, The Listener‘s second season will premiere Friday, January 28, 2011, at 8:00 PM ET/PT.

Flashpoint has a “mid-season premiere,” which is a fancy way of saying holiday specials are over for another year.  The show returns Tuesday, January 4, 2011, at 10:00 PM ET/PT.

Not to be outdone in the CanCon department, Global has…given a second window to Haven.  The first-season premiere airs Friday, January 21, 2011, at 9:00 PM ET/PT.  Yes.  One show, and it’s imported from Showcase.

Seriously, news like this makes me wonder why the hell I do URBMN.  I understand the limitations of Canadian television, but Canadian content laws need to be tightened up when networks like Global and CityTV whittle the CanCon stick down to a shiv.  This country is just now inching to the point where our shows are becoming Americanized.

Meanwhile, Shaw Media is continuing the Canwest practice of slapping a show across five or six channels.  It boggles the mind.  Oh, well.  Enjoy Bob’s Burgers and Winter Wipeout.

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November 13, 2010

Liveblog | The 25th Annual Gemini Awards

As an experiment this year, I thought I’d liveblog the 25th Annual Gemini Awards.  I livetweeted the 24th Gemini Awards Broadcast Gala last year.  I’m one of the few Canadians to give a flying poop about this sort of thing.  It’s an illness.  I need a woman.  Barring that, I need an excuse to give a flying fig about the Toronto Maple Laughs.

What I’m really looking forward to tonight is Ed the Sock’s This Movie Sucks!, since it promises to be new, but the Geminis make for fun viewing.  The Geminis really are the Bizarro Emmys.  Also, the Broadcast Gala’s 90 minutes long.  Unlike the Emmys, the Geminis don’t fuck around.

I have a personal interest in the Gemini Awards this year, since I’m following two shows in two categories: Pure Pwnage for Best Comedy Program or Series, and Durham County for Best Dramatic Series.

Also, the Broadcast Gala realized it can’t subsist on a diet of Mike Reno and Theo Tams, so this year features Elvis Costello, Feist and some off-key hobo.  Cory Monteith is the host.  Monteith promises to be funnier than Ron James, and Cory Monteith isn’t a comedian.

Granted, the Gemini Awards won’t be cool this year.  The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television would have to stop giving out 100 awards a year for that to happen.  At least I’m not liveblogging the Genie Awards.  That’s the real dead zone when it comes to Canadian awards shows.

Click Here for the Liveblogging – begins 8:00 PM EST

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August 23, 2010

News: The Legend of White Fang complete series set out September 14, 2010

On September 14, 2010, Mill Creek Entertainment and Cookie Jar Group will release a complete series set of The Legend of White Fang.  This story has previously been mentioned by TVShowsonDVD.com.

The Legend of White Fang originally aired in Canada on Family Channel, while HBO aired the series in the US.  The Legend of White Fang was produced when Cookie Jar was known as CINAR.

I remember The Legend of White Fang from its Global run, sometime in the mid-1990s.  For a show mainly aired as CanCon-mandated filler, the series was surprisingly decent.  Pierre Berton was even The Legend of White Fang‘s historical consultant.

Truth be known, The Legend of White Fang was a bit boring at times, a problem CINAR shows often had in the 1990s.  I’d still take The Legend of White Fang over Sharky & George, The Smoggies and…ugh…C.L.Y.D.E.

What gets me is how Mill Creek Entertainment and Cookie Jar Group sell this set.  The box set front cover image is of a generic posterized husky.  The cartoon did not look that good.

Also, Mill Creek and Cookie Jar have this habit of passing off unrelated items from the Cookie Jar archives as “extras.”  Seriously, what do Busytown Mysteries, Flight Squad and The Country Mouse and the City Mouse Adventures have to do with a loose Jack London book adaptation?

This isn’t even a new phenomenon.  Mill Creek and Cookie Jar pulled this stunt with the Dark Oracle series set.  It’s annoying.

Here are the opening credits to The Legend of White Fang.  You can see YTV logos and a horrible Canadian flag animation circa 2000 plastered over the credits.  The show got around.

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