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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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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June 2, 2009

TV Review | The Listener 1.1, 1.2 – “I’m An Adult Now,” “Emotional Rescue”

The Listener (CTV/SPACE/NBC: premieres June 3, 10:00 PM ET on CTV, 7:00 PM ET on SPACE; in regular timeslot starting June 4, 10:00 PM ET on CTV, 7:00 PM ET on SPACE; two-hour premiere June 4, 9:00 PM ET/8:00 CT on NBC) is the type of filler CTV used to air quite a bit of in the 1990s.  It fits right in with FX: The Series, La Femme Nikita and John Woo’s Once a Thief – watchable enough that it should acquire a fan following, but lightweight.

What amazes me is that NBC bought the show for its summer schedule.  I’m not saying Canadian television is superior to American television – for every Slings and Arrows there are five to ten Gutter Ball Alleys.  The Listener was bought by NBC due both to the WGA writer’s strike and its abandonment of the traditional development process.

The Canadian shows floated on American networks aren’t the best, either – Flashpoint is workmanlike and entertaining, but it’s a cop procedural in a sea of cop procedurals.  The Listener seems more suited for a SciFi (I’m sorry, SyFy) airing than a summer slot on NBC.  Of course, NBC’s prime-time ratings are almost the lowest they’ve ever been, so any edge, I guess.

Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) is the central protagonist of the series.  The first episode sets up Logan’s world – his coming to terms with his mind-reading, his relationship with mentor Dr. Ray Mercer (Colm Feore), his personal life and day job as a paramedic.  The Listener establishes its premise, gives the viewer a few characters to love/hate and fucks around for an hour.

It’s standard dramatic sci-fi television, Early Edition with mindreading taking the place of a magic newspaper.  I also get a Millennium vibe from Logan’s mind-pictures.  The Listener could have easily debuted in 1996, so well-worn is its premise.

The second episode, which NBC decided to pair with the first on the same night, strengthens Logan’s relationship with Detective Charlene “Charlie” Marks (Lisa Marcos), a tough cop who can’t discern how someone like Logan is able to anticipate events better than she can.  Small spoiler: someone falls from a large height in both episodes.  The Listener is the very definition of cookie cutter.

Aside from Dr. Mercer and fellow paramedic Osman Bey (Ennis Esmer), The Listener‘s characters aren’t very interesting.  Feore and Esmer do what they can with their material, as they are the only two convincing actors on the show.  Olejnik isn’t horrible as the lead character, but he’s too slight to focus on week after week.  He’s only there as The Listener‘s main himbo.

NBC is placing a lot of faith in The Listener since it recently gave the show a two-hour block to debut in.  Despite this, I wonder about The Listener‘s success.  Either NBC’s hoping for The Listener to become a summer hit or it’s burning the show off like flash paper.

CTV has joined in the rescheduling madness, so I’m leaning towards the former scenario.  Hell, I’m hoping The Listener hits big.  I just wish The Listener was a less generic, more interesting show, but that’s the American prime-time bran tub for you.

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