November 11, 2014

TV News | CITF 2014 schedule at a glance

I’ve covered the Canadian International Television Festival on Gloryosky before, so I won’t repeat old news. The main additions since Friday, October 31, 2014 are binge screenings of Remedy and 30 Vies (30 Lives), a Republic of Doyle fan event, panels and screenings of 19-2 and The Knick, and a Camp X panel/preview.

Tickets to all events are free, and are available here. As of November 11, 2014, this is not a complete list; this article will be updated as more of the schedule is announced. The Book of Negroes red carpet and screening is mentioned here as “sold out” (inasmuch as a free festival can sell out), so keep that in mind.

Currently, every event takes place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario.

November 14, 2014
TBD

November 15, 2014
Unité 9 (Radio-Canada): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET

November 16, 2014
Corner Gas (CTV): fan event, 7:00-8:30 PM ET
Remedy (Global): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET
Republic of Doyle (CBC): fan event, 5:00-6:30 PM ET

November 17, 2014
Blackstone (APTN): panel and episode screening, 8:00-10:30 PM ET
The Book of Negroes (CBC/BET): panel (no screening), 5:00-6:00 PM ET
19-2 (Bravo): panel and second-season premiere screening, 9:00-10:30 PM ET

November 18, 2014
The Book of Negroes (CBC/BET): red carpet and screening, 7:00-10:00 PM ET
CBC ComedyCoup (CBC): presentation, 5:00-6:30 PM ET

November 19, 2014
The Knick (Cinemax): panel and screening, 8:00-10:00 PM ET

November 20, 2014
Strange Empire (CBC): Writers Talking TV panel and screening, 6:30-9:30 PM ET

November 21, 2014
TBD

November 22, 2014
Camp X (CBC): panel and exclusive preview, 7:00-9:30 PM ET
Carmilla: fan event, 3:00-5:00 PM ET
Vikings (History): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET

November 23, 2014
30 Vies (30 Lives, Radio-Canada): binge screening, 7:00-11:00 PM ET
This Hour Has Seven Days (CBC)/Party Game (CHCH)/The Hart & Lorne Terrific Hour (CBC): heritage screening, 2:00-6:00 PM ET

Visit citf14.tv for more details.

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November 4, 2014

Social Media | Strange Empire 1.5 Live-Tweet

Strange Empire, ratings-wise, is a bit of a bust. There’s no way to get around it. Regardless of the quality of the show, the show received 283,000 viewers for its October 20 episode. The show hovers around 250,000 to 300,000 viewers, all told. For all the promotional ballyhoo before the show debuted, a relatively small percentage of Canadians are interested in a period drama based on municipal establishment, and the women who help establish it.

At least Strange Empire does better than City’s Package Deal, which recently moved to Monday nights in an attempt to increase its viewership. I don’t see either show earning another season, yet CBC failing at serious, cable-style drama holds a lot more weight than City failing at a sitcom that looks halfway compatible with 2 Broke Girls.


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November 1, 2014

Social Media | Gloryosky at the 2013 CITF

Gloryosky attended the first Canadian International Television Festival on Saturday, November 16, 2013, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario. Below is Gloryosky’s curated Twitter summary of the day. In my opinion, the best Saturday panels were from the Made in Canada and Royal Canadian Air Farce casts attending the festival.

I was a fan of Royal Canadian Air Farce in the early 1990s, and attended an Air Farce taping around December 1995. Despite this, I had low hopes for Air Farce’s panel, given what I feel was a decline of the show’s quality after the late 1990s. It was a surprisingly candid and informative panel, punctuated by the idea of CBC cutting Air Farce’s already-low budget. Air Farce’s panel might have been better attended had it not occupied the 2:00 PM-3:00 PM ET timeslot.

Given how 19-2, The Amazing Race Canada and Masterchef Canada are all hits for Bell Media, and Degrassi has an agreeable home on MTV Canada, I question why the four shows were bundled into a three-hour morning format, which relatively few people attended. When I can type that about The Amazing Race Canada and Degrassi, that says something. Binge-viewing of Sherlock turned out to be the better draw.

The Sunday Murdoch Mysteries screening and panel, which I didn’t attend as I went to my sister’s twenty-fifth anniversary party, was the clear audience draw of CITF 2013. Murdoch Mysteries has a loyal fanbase.

I was unimpressed by CITF’s promotion for its first year. Although the Murdoch Mysteries and Spun Out events were well-attended, most of CITF’s events were decided in the last two weeks before the festival, resulting in relatively sparse attendance for a free festival in downtown Toronto. The events themselves ran smoothly.

While I still think CITF cuts it relatively close with its promotion, 2013 felt like it was booked on the fly, which it might have been. Corner Gas is a main attraction this year; CITF can no longer afford to be sloppy.


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October 31, 2014

TV News | CITF announces Corner Gas, Blackstone, Strange Empire, other events for 2014 festival

On Friday, October 31, 2014, the Canadian International Television Festival announced several new planned events. The second annual CITF runs from November 14 to 23, 2014; unless otherwise mentioned, events take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario.

No set schedule currently exists for these events, apart from The Book of Negroes’ screening and panel session on November 18, 2014. More information, as well as ticket availability, will emerge on November 4, 2014.

Binge-Watching
Unité 9 (Radio-Canada; French-language)
Vikings (History)

Heritage Screening and Panel
“Cameras on the Hill and in the Halls: Canada’s Governments on Television”: panelists TBA
The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour (CBC, 1970-71): Hart Pomerantz; other panelists TBA

Preview and Panel
Corner Gas (CTV) tenth anniversary reunion and preview of Corner Gas: The Movie; panelists TBA

Screening and Panel
Blackstone (APTN): Ron E. Scott
The Book of Negroes (CBC): Cuba Gooding Jr., Aunjanue Ellis, Lyriq Bent, Allan Hawco, Louis Gossett Jr., Clement Virgo, Damon D’Oliveira, Lawrence Hill [previously announced]
Strange Empire (CBC): Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik [WGC Writers Talking Television event]

Script Read and Panel
Carmilla (online show produced by Smokebomb Entertainment/shift2/U By Kotex®)

Also announced is a CBC ComedyCoup spotlight, and a Bill Brioux screening of lost and historic TV programs.

Tickets to all events are free, and are available starting November 5, 2014, through eventbrite.ca. Visit citf14.tv for more details.

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October 27, 2014

Social Media | Strange Empire 1.4 Live-Tweet

I’ll be honest. Strange Empire is the hardest show for me to live-tweet this fall. The show was promoted by CBC as a female-oriented Western, which it is, yet the show is more about business establishment and corruption than anything else. I’m still not sure about Strange Empire’s pacing or dialogue.

Strange Empire doesn’t have Durham County’s sense of storytelling economy, which isn’t surprising when comparing a six-episode season to a thirteen-episode one. I like Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik, yet I wonder if Strange Empire’s ambition exceeds its reach. If viewers want a female version of Young Guns, this show isn’t it.


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October 23, 2014

TV News | CITF announces The Book of Negroes North American premiere for 2014 festival

The Canadian International Television Festival quietly announced (as in, first mentioned on Twitter) the North American premiere of CBC/BET event mini-series The Book of Negroes on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, following TBoN’s world premiere at MIPCOM in Cannes, France. Announced attendees include actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Aunjanue Ellis, Lyriq Bent, Allan Hawco, and Louis Gossett Jr., director Clement Virgo, executive producer Damon D’Oliveira, and The Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill. A panel discussion with aforementioned TBoN talents follows the screening.

The second Canadian International Television Festival runs from November 14 to 23, 2014, in a format change from the initial three-day festival. Although there is no mention of where The Book of Negroes screens, based on last year’s events and this press release, The Book of Negroes’ premiere likely screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Ticket information follows in the weeks leading up to CITF.

Shows previously screened at CITF before their Canadian television debuts include Bravo’s English adaptation of 19-2, and CTV sitcom Spun Out. This is the first CBC show to screen at the Canadian International Television Festival before its debut, although the 19-2 premiere was a reworked version of the original CBC pilot.


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October 15, 2014

Social Media | Gloryosky Live-Tweet Schedule – Fall 2014

Since the debut of Gotham on September 22, 2014, I have live-tweeted certain shows – the DC Entertainment network shows, and selected Canadian television dramas – to see if this will become a more established thing for Gloryosky. While the live-tweets are partially there to make up for Gloryosky’s spotty 2014 update schedule, I have never followed shows like this in the seven seasons URBMN/Gloryosky has covered television. I will review shows on Gloryosky itself, as work and/or time constraints permit.

The shows being live-tweeted for fall 2014 are:

Arrow (CTV/The CW): October 8, 2014- , 8:00 PM ET
Blackstone (APTN): November 11, 2014- , 10:00 PM ET
Constantine (Global/NBC): October 24, 2014- , 10:00 PM ET
The Flash (CTV/The CW): October 7, 2014- , 8:00 PM ET
Gotham (CTV/Fox): September 22, 2014- , 8:00 PM ET
Strange Empire (CBC): October 6, 2014- , 9:00 PM ET

Stay tuned to Gloryosky for further updates. Keep in mind, I will stop live-tweeting a show if I lose personal interest in it, the response to the live-tweets aren’t enough for me to think the show’s worth continued coverage, and/or (this is the most obvious one) the show is cancelled.

Update (October 17, 2014): Due to CBC moving Ascension to January 2015, Ascension is removed from the list. It will be live-tweeted if I decide to carry the live-tweets into 2015.

In its place is Blackstone, a show I’m surprised I forgot to list earlier. I’m not sure if I’ll include the fourth season of Cashing In; I’ve seen the show, but don’t follow Cashing In to the degree I do Blackstone.

As always, follow the Gloryosky Twitter account for television-related news, promotion, and/or other relevant transmissions. Consume. Watch TV. Don’t kick ass and chew bubblegum.

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Article | Why Strange Empire doesn’t need to “save the CBC”

With Strange Empire, Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik’s new CBC Television show, two narratives dominate the show’s current publicity – the woman-oriented western angle, and the drama that’s “more substantial” than CBC’s other homegrown dramatic fare. With this in mind, Strange Empire’s debut earned 319,000 viewers on October 6, 2014. Its second episode earned 312,000 viewers on October 13, 2014. That’s not a good start for the latest show that’s allegedly too “un-CBC” for CBC.

Even though I don’t pay attention to promotion as much as I used to, I do notice the lack of putting Finstad-Knizhnik’s name upfront in the promotion to Strange Empire, trailer-wise. CBC has other avenues in which to publicize Finstad-Knizhnik’s involvement with Strange Empire, but not in the commercials and trailers themselves. Durham County – which Finstad-Knizhnik co-created – is as much about suburban decay, and a character study about people trying to deal with their personal issues, as it is a crime drama. Similarly, Strange Empire is more complex than “women in a late-1860s Western Canada bordertown”, which at least this Dork Shelf piece understands. Perhaps CBC wants the television audience to focus on the show’s concept, and not the creator’s previous achievements. I don’t know.

If Durham County had a unique selling point in first run, it was Hugh Dillon’s role as homicide detective Mike Sweeney. Dillon is the lead singer for The Headstones, and a decent actor. He became a marketable name in Canadian television through Durham County and CTV’s Flashpoint. By comparison, CBC Revenue Group first sells Strange Empire on the merits of Cara Gee, Melissa Farman, and Tattiawna Jones, before mentioning Finstad-Knizhnik. While Jones is a familiar face on Canadian television, and Gee comes off a Canadian Screen Award nomination for 2013 film Empire of Dirt, it is Finstad-Knizhnik with the highest television profile, as Durham County lasted three seasons on The Movie Network and HBO Canada, and aired in a second window on Global. Durham County also had a United States run on minor program service Ion.

The media narrative of Strange Empire as the latest show too “un-CBC” for CBC baffles me. CBC Television sometimes has a show or two a season that doesn’t fit neatly with the majority of its schedule – jPod, Wild Roses, What It’s Like Being Alone, Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Being Erica. The main problem with the “un-CBC” narrative is that it reduces CBC programming to an us-vs.-them scenario, dovetailing into one of CBC’s persistent false binaries – either the CBC goes completely highbrow/news-oriented/niche etc. and stops competing with private program services like CTV, CTV Two, Global, and City, or it reaches for that mass audience and stops being “special”. In reality, the failure of one of CBC’s first-season shows is seldom anything more than that, whether the show is “edgy” or not. If anything is a punch in the face to CBC this season, it’s the loss of Hockey Night in Canada’s advertising revenue, which directly affects CBC long-term.

Strange Empire is an experiment for CBC in 2014-15. My worry with Strange Empire is that it wasn’t initially promoted well enough to the audience of Durham County fans that might appreciate it. Granted, Strange Empire is a much harder sell than new seasons of a proven commodity like Murdoch Mysteries and The Rick Mercer Report. In addition, Strange Empire competes against City’s Scorpion, CTV’s Forever, CTV Two’s The Voice, and Global’s Sleepy Hollow. Monday at 9:00 PM is a tough time-slot, with two new American imports, and two well-established American imports. One thing that might help Strange Empire, assuming CBC doesn’t move the show, is if ABC cancels Forever before it finishes its first season.

CBC Television is not so flimsy that the poor initial performance of one of its edgier dramas is enough to call CBC’s entire 2014-15 primetime schedule into question. It’s not like CBC hasn’t aired “non-CBC” shows before; aside from Being Erica (which enjoyed a respectable four-season run, despite perpetual on-the-bubble CBC ratings), the odder fits are forgotten about, along with “safer” bets like Men with Brooms and The Debaters. Broadcast television is its own strange empire.

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