June 3, 2011

Upfront Week: Lloyd Robertson’s final newscast; Corus, Channel Zero and CTV news

The most major news first: Lloyd Robertson’s last-ever newscast will be September 1, 2011.  Nothing’s going to top that, so here’s some news from the past two days that I haven’t covered yet.

News NOT about Lloyd Robertson

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May 9, 2011

News: New seasons for five CTV programs; The Borgias debuts on CTV

It’s almost time for summer season, the period in television where reruns abound, and Canadian filler peeks its weird little head.  Among the highlights relevant to CTV’s CanCon:

  • Flashpoint returns for a fourth season on Friday, June 17, at 8:00 PM ET.  CTV claims a date-and-time simulcast with CBS.  “Encore” episodes currently air Fridays at 9:00 PM ET.
  • Comedy Now! will begin its thirteenth season Saturday, June 4, at 10:00 PM ET.  No further information has been given; I am presently looking into that.
  • Dan for Mayor‘s second season premieres Sunday, June 5 at 7:30 PM ET.
  • Hiccups‘ second season will have its first three episodes air Monday at 8:00 PM ET, starting May 30.  The show will then move to Sundays at 8:30 PM ET, starting June 19.
  • The Borgias will make its CTV broadcast debut Tuesday, June 21, at 10:00 PM ET.
  • So You Think You Can Dance Canada‘s fourth season returns Monday, June 20 at 8:00 PM ET.  The results shows begin Tuesday at 8:00 PM ET, starting July 5.

Other thoughts after the jump

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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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April 26, 2010

News: Being Erica, Flashpoint in production for third season

Being Erica and Flashpoint are currently in production on their third seasons.  Flashpoint currently airs on CTV and CBS, while Being Erica airs on CBC and SOAPnet.

CTV has not officially renewed Flashpoint for a third season, but it’s obvious the show will be back.  Its Canadian ratings are strong, so a third season is assured.

CBC won’t announce the bulk of its show renewals until May, although Bill Brioux has hinted at renewals for 18 to Life and Being Erica.  Being Erica‘s second season was watched by an average of 582,000 Canadian viewers.

The Cultural Post first mentioned production on Flashpoint‘s third season, while TCP and Mike’s Bloggity Blog have hinted at a renewal order for Being Erica.  The Cultural Post has Ontario Media Development Corporation’s ‘In Production’ page to back its claims up.  Mike’s Bloggity Blog has…”a very reliable email.”  Can you guess which site I actually respect?  Go on.  Guess.

As an aside, does CBC Television know how to cancel a show?  Despite poor-to-fair ratings, I doubt CBC will touch its comedy festivals, 18 to Life or Little Mosque on the Prairie.  When Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town can’t do better than The Rick Mercer Report‘s Friday rerun, something’s terribly wrong with the network.

EDIT (April 27, 2010) | Being Erica doesn’t start shooting its third season until May 17, while Flashpoint has been shooting since January 13, 2010.  I apologize for not clarifying this detail.

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August 25, 2009

Picking Apart the 2009 Geminis Part One: Program Awards Nominations

I know “no one cares” about the Gemini Awards.  Every year, there will be an article about the lack of credibility Canada’s television awards have, yet there is momentum for the 24th Annual Gemini Awards that previous years have lacked.  For one thing, Canadians are selling more to American networks.  It would help if the shows sold to said networks were of better quality than The Listener, but money is money.

The Geminis have embraced Flashpoint.  The show has picked up a ridiculous 19 nominations, the most ever for a Canadian television show.  That sounds impressive, except that four nominations are in Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series.  Three nominations lard Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series.  Flashpoint even has a Gemini nod for Best Achievement in Main Title Design.

Categories like Best Achievement in Main Title Design are why the Geminis have a credibility problem.  An award needs to be given out for opening credits?  Have a look at the Gemini nominations (caution: PDF), there are a few categories that need to be discontinued.

For those wondering, Keys to the VIP and Reality Obsessed are nominated for one Gemini each this year, for Best Direction in a Reality Program or Series.  Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie aren’t nominated for anything, but Keys to the VIP gets a nod.  Weird.

I also hate when a category is dominated by a single show – Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series is two-thirds Less Than Kind.  Murdoch Mysteries benefitted from this domination last year.  There should be a rule limiting how many times one show can dot a category.  I’m not saying the Gemini Awards should be more diverse, I just hate seeing stacked decks.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going through selected categories.  I’m sure Best Cross Platform Project and Best Science, Technology, Nature, Environment or Adventure Documentary Program (whew) are the bee’s tits, but I’ve selected the categories of most interest to me.  If I missed a half-decent category, I apologize.

Fun fact: this year Survivorman is up for Best Documentary Series.  Survivorman‘s a reality show in a category it barely belongs in.  Canadian television, gotta love it.


Best TV Movie
Celine (CBC)
Elijah (CTV)
In a World Created By a Drunken God (APTN)
Of Murder and Memory (CTV)
The Secret of the Nutcracker (CBC)
The Terrorist Next Door (CTV)

You know, I have not seen one TV movie on this list.  I don’t know the first thing about any of these made-for-TV films, so I can’t comment on them.  I will say that In a World Created By a Drunken God is an awesome film title.  It’s also APTN’s lone wolf against the CBC/CTV juggernauts.  Yeah, I want APTN to win this one.


Best Dramatic Mini-Series
Burn Up (Global)
Diamonds (CBC)
The Last Templar (Global)
XIII (Canwest)

I’m confused as to which network/cable channel I should list XIII under.  Showcase airs XIII a lot, but Canwest has also foisted the miniseries on Mystery TV.  Showcase can’t get enough of XIII and The Last Templar.

All four nominations for Best Dramatic Mini-Series are co-productions.  Two of the noms, The Last Templar and XIII, aired on NBC, while ABC picked up Diamonds.  Burn Up is the dark horse, as it aired on BBC Two and isn’t as high-profile.

The entire Best Dramatic Mini-Series category is junky.  Let’s move on.


Best Dramatic Series
Being Erica (CBC)
The Border (CBC)
Flashpoint (CTV)
The Tudors (CBC)
ZOS: Zone of Separation (The Movie Network/Movie Central)

No big surprise Flashpoint is there.  I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win a Gemini for Best Dramatic Series.  I would swap The Tudors with Rabbit Fall, which gets little Gemini love this year.

My personal choice to win, even though I haven’t seen the show, is ZOS: Zone of Separation.  I have seen the other four shows, and they don’t stand out to me as the best Canada has to offer.  It doesn’t matter what I say, since Flashpoint is the commercial favourite and has the American fanbase.  Having typed that, watch Being Erica win.


Best Comedy Program or Series
Less Than Kind (CityTV)
The Rick Mercer Report (CBC)
Testees (Showcase)
This Hour Has 22 Minutes Series XVI (CBC)
Three Chords from the Truth (CMT)

I am fucking stunned Testees is nominated for this category.  Less Than Kind, yes, but Testees?  I’m not complaining about the nomination, I’m just surprised the show’s in a high-profile category.  Testees won’t win, as the Gemini Awards hate Kenny Hotz.

I’d rather see The Jon Dore Television Show nominated in this category than The Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.  I know I gave a good review to one 2008-09 22 Minutes episode, but the show’s weak at this point in its life.  ‘da Kink in My Hair is more worthy of a Best Comedy nomination than 22 Minutes, and ‘da Kink is shit.

As for Three Chords from the Truth, where did that nomination come from?  Maybe I need to start watching CMT.  Every year I think I know a lot about Canadian television.  Nominations like this remind me that no, I don’t.


Best Reality Program or Series
disBAND: The Homecoming (MuchMusic)
Dragons’ Den (CBC)
GoldMind (TVtropolis)
Project Runway Canada (Global)
The Week the Women Went (CBC)

I want so bad for Dragons’ Den to win.  It’s the only show of the five I can get behind.  I admit to not watching GoldMind, since the show is on the sludge factory known as TVtropolis.  GoldMind must air eighteen times a week there, so it has to have entered the Gemini Awards’ subconscious in some way.

What a shitty set of nominees this year.  I’m not a reality show fan by any means, but I’m sure Canadian television aired a reality show of higher merit than disBAND: The Homecoming.  One of these years, the Gemini Awards are going to have to get to Mantracker.  You can’t hide from him forever.


Best Animated Program or Series
Jibber Jabber (YTV)
Life’s a Zoo.tv (Teletoon)
Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (Teletoon)
Rollbots (YTV)

Wow, two kids’ shows against two adult cartoons.  It’s a weak field this year.  I’m partial to Life’s a Zoo.tv for obvious reasons, since it’s a very well-written show.  Rollbots‘ nomination makes me wonder why Kid vs. Kat didn’t earn a Gemini nod.  Swap one generic Canadian cartoon for another, who’s going to notice?

Rick and Steve, though…the show’s not funny.  I know it’s a gay-oriented cartoon, I just can’t see how the show is good enough to earn a Gemini nomination.  I will say that Rick and Steve deserves a nomination more than friggin’ Rollbots.  If nothing else, Cuppa Coffee Studios has two chances to win a Gemini, so good on Cuppa Coffee for that.


Stay tuned for part two of this article series, as I cross over into the Craft and Performance categories.  Now with more Amy Jo Johnson!

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August 14, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (August 14, 2009)

Recently I’ve been re-evaluating what gets included in these Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundups.  I removed all mention of Iron Man: Armored Adventures from the Roundups, as the only sign that the show was Canadian came from Wikipedia, not the world’s most accurate information source.  IM:AA is properly a French/Isle of Man show.  I apologize for the error.

I will still include industrials like Highlander: The Series, Inspector Gadget and Just For Laughs.  Highlander and Gadget were co-productions, while Just For Laughs is a Montreal-based festival with tendrils in Chicago.  I hate including them, but I do include as much proper CanCon as I can.  I’m even wondering whether Fear Itself qualifies for the DVD Roundups.


Little Mosque on the Prairie‘s second season on DVD September 15, 2009 through Paradox Entertainment Group/E1 Entertainment.  I guess Morningstar Entertainment lost DVD rights for the show.  E1 is a better label, anyway.  The set includes a Dan Redican commentary track, among other random extras.


Fraggle Rock‘s final season, as well as A Merry Fraggle Holiday (i.e., a Christmas compilation), coming out November 3, 2009 through Lionsgate.  The complete series is being reissued the same day, in proper bookcase format.

Lionsgate is now working directly with The Jim Henson Company.  HIT Entertainment has been freezed out of the picture, and I couldn’t be happier.  Fraggle Rock was treated shabbily by HIT Entertainment at the end, while the Lionsgate/Henson arrangement takes the fans’ complaints into account – better packaging, a stand-alone fourth season set, cheaper prices.  How can you not like that?

I think the Lionsgate/Henson arrangement is going to bear fruit.  Is a Dog City DVD set on the horizon?  Such a thing looks far more likely than it did a year ago.  Make it happen, JHC.


Gord Lacey reviews Total Drama Island‘s season set.  This is a review of the American DVD set, obnoxious Cartoon Network logo adorning the box art.

Lacey quite likes the show, which I’m surprised by.  Then again, Total Drama Island/Action is one of Cartoon Network’s juggernauts, as well as being omnipresent on Teletoon.  If Fresh TV doesn’t subsume CN within a few years, I’ll be surprised.


Reviewersblog.com “reviews” of Blood Ties: “The Complete Season One.”  As for the blog, it’s blatant content scraping from Amazon.com, just so you know.

I’m quite surprised this release is selling well, as it currently ranks #1,055 in Amazon.com Movies & TV sales.  It’s not a blockbuster ranking, but the set’s been out for a month and a half.  People are buying Blood Ties.


Highlander: The Series‘ first-season Blu-ray set pushed back to September 22, 2009…possibly.  The only place to buy it right now is LegendaryHeroes.com.  Hell, buy a sword for yourself while you’re at it.  THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!  MOO! and stimulate your need for crap.


Oh, I almost forgot, Flashpoint‘s first season on Canadian DVD and Blu-ray October 13, 2009 through Phase 4 Films.  That isn’t important, is it?

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July 24, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (July 25, 2009)

The Gemini Award®-winning (it pains me to write that) Chop Socky Chooks debuts on DVD October 6, 2009.  It’s a volume set, since kids’ shows are released that way.

The show’s minor Aardman at best, and it isn’t very funny or engaging.  It won a Gemini Award®, though.  A show about martial-arts film archetypes in vaguely avian form?  I’m sure Chop Socky Chooks was better than Total Drama Island in 2008.  I also think a weak season of This Hour Has 22 Minutes outranked Kenny vs. Spenny.  The Gemini Award jurors just know quality.


Monster Warriors: War of the Water World out August 25, 2009 through Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada.  Monster Warriors vs. Creepy Crawlers came out June 30, 2009.  Ah, the volume set, every kids’ show loves that format.

The show’s premise – 1950s movie monsters come to life via mad scientist – sounds fun.  Sadly, the show is poorly realized and Seán Cullen plays the mad scientist.  Cullen doesn’t go into stream-of-consciousness rants about his penis on Monster Warriors, but that’s hardly a small mercy.


Show Me Yours: The Complete Series out November 10, 2009 through E1 Entertainment.

This is one of the more esoteric announcements I’ve seen in some time, as Show Me Yours is a sex-oriented Showcase dramedy from five years ago.  It’s nice to see more Showcase product out there, but where are Billable Hours and Testees‘ sets?  I haven’t seen Show Me Yours, but I’m sure it’s better than Monster Warriors.


The rest of Heartland‘s first season out November 10, 2009 through E1 Entertainment.  That’s a speedy turnover in sets.  It makes me wonder why E1 bothered to split the first season.  Not that it matters, since I’m sure the two volume sets will be bundled a year from now.


Flashpoint first-season box art.  The Flashpoint release is American-only, not that parallel releases are illegal to own in Canada.

At this point I’m supposed to point out Flashpoint star Amy Jo Johnson’s role on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  The Pink Ranger is her most notable role, after all.

There, I’ve made the reference.  Let me never speak of it again.


Blood Ties “second”-season box art.  I could have knocked that “art” out in an hour via Photoshop.  It won’t stop the fans from buying this set, but everything about Blood Ties‘ “second” season screams quickie release.


No Stargate news this week?  Good.

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July 13, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (July 13, 2009)

Flashpoint‘s first season out October 13, 2009 through CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment.  This comes on the heels of CBS’ not knowing what the hell to do with the “third season” of the show, but hey, Canadian television on a top-flight home video label.  I just know this will sell well.


Can’t I go through ONE Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup without a Stargate update?  Damn, so close this time.

Anyway, MGM Home Entertainment confirms that its Stargate Atlantis: Fans’ Choice disc will be Stargate Atlantis‘ only Blu-ray release.  Boy, that’ll please the fans!  Watch MGM catch shit for this within a day.


Box art for Life with Derek‘s second season and Inspector Gadget: The Go Go Gadget Collection.  Nothing to see here, let’s move on.


Brutal As Hell review of Forever Knight Volumes One through Three.  Oh wait, it’s Forever Knight: The Trilogy Parts 1 through 3, like naming the seasons that way matters.  Forever Knight gets a good review, though Sam Hawken is fairly harsh on the series.  I like that in a review.  I wonder how BAH feels about Blood Ties.


Vampire Wire has a Blood Ties “Season One” contest up.  It’s ongoing until July 15, 2009, so you still have a few days to enter.

The link also has news about Warehouse 13 and Dark Shadows, and I could give less than 1/50th of a shit about Dark Shadows.  If over-marketed supernatural soap operas are your thing, dive right in.


Jim Bawden talks The Starlost.  I didn’t like Jim Bawden’s Starweek articles back in the 1980s and 1990s, but damn do I miss him now.  That man wrote good, well-reasoned columns in his day.

His blog has a surprising number of typos considering his former profession, but he is still passionate about television and its potential.  I prefer him to reheated blog articles about video games and whatever gimmicks the Toronto Star uses to pretend it’s still relevant.  Malene Arpe the best thing in the whole paper?  I fear for the future of newspapers.

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