June 12, 2010

TV Review | Carlawood 2.1, 2.2

Carlawood (TVtropolis: second season premiered Monday, May 31, 11:00 PM ET) is one of those shows that still exists, for some as-yet-unexplained reason.  The show must have its fans, yet a 1.3/10 on IMDb tells me a different story.  Carla-centric shows get the worst ratings on IMDb.  I’m not surprised.

The first episode of Carlawood‘s second season has Carla look for a new assistant.  Helpfully, there’s a graphic on-screen that says “Carla’s New Bitch.”  She goes through an aggressive trainer, a party animal and other people Carlawood tries to sell as eccentric.  Seriously, why is this so important to the show?  So she’s getting a new assistant?  Who gives a shit?

Carlawood tries to imbue the most mundane situations with high drama.  Carla has complications regarding her green card.  Carla trains for a five-kilometre run.  Carla needs a new publicist.  I know it’s a reality show, but nothing happens on Carlawood.  I said this when the show debuted, and it’s just as true now.

I don’t pick on Carlawood for easy page views.  I am genuinely baffled as to why Collins deserves a reality show, and why Carlawood demands a second season.  Collins comes across as self-absorbed and a bad shill.  Carlawood is trying to mimic Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List, except that Kathy Griffin is a genuinely caustic, interesting personality.  Collins just wants to play Ron James and sell a book.

I’d be fairer to Carlawood if it wasn’t such an infomercial for Collins’ interests.  I only watch shows like this when I plan on reviewing them, and Carlawood angers me every time I see it.  The woman comes across as superficial as Hollywood itself.  Is she fronting for the camera?  I don’t know, and I don’t care.

In the end, I don’t blame Carla Collins for Carlawood‘s faults.  She has to earn a living.  No, I blame Canadian television for being so conservative.  Canadian television is much, much more likely to buoy established talents than take chances on the unknown.  King Kaboom dies while Carlawood eats up screen time.  It’s as much a fact of life as breathing and nocturnal emissions.


June 1, 2010

Upfronts: Canwest sets debuts for Shattered, Haven and Lost Girl

As announced today at a Canwest press conference, Shattered will debut on Global as part of the 2010-11 fall season lineup.  It will be one of seven new shows in Global’s lineup, and the only Canadian show to make its fall schedule.  Hi, ACTRA!

Shattered is a cop drama starring Callum Keith Rennie as a homicide detective with multiple personality disorder.  It will air Fridays at 9:00 PM ET/PT.  The show was originally meant for Showcase’s 2009-10 season.  Canwest must have faith in the show, even considering the Friday timeslot.

As for cable fall debuts, Haven will air on Showcase Diva starting September 2, since a female-oriented digital cable channel is the best place for a show based on a Stephen King novel.  Lost Girl will debut on Showcase three days later, at 9:00 PM ET/PT.

I’m just going to link to the specialty debuts as regards reality fare.  It’s not that I’m lazy, but the two most hyped reality shows (Wipeout Canada and Top Chef Canada) air in the spring of 2011.

Canwest’s lineup has a few holes in it.  Where the hell are The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour and Producing Parker?  I’ll find out tomorrow, as I will attend the Canwest upfront video presentation.

Also…Cra$h & Burn on Showcase Diva?!  That makes as much sense for Showcase Diva as Haven.  Canwest just slays me at times.


February 27, 2010

News: Canwest, Lone Eagle Entertainment bring Wipeout to English Canada

Canwest Broadcasting and Lone Eagle Entertainment have announced an English-Canadian version of Wipeout.  The Endemol Group format has contestants run obstacle courses that aren’t cribbed from Takeshi’s Castle and Sasuke, oh no.  No further details about Wipeout Canada have been announced, aside from a 2011 airdate.

This isn’t the first version of Wipeout to hit Canadian shores.  Wipeout Québec, which debuted in 2009, currently airs thrice-weekly on V.  This has previously been mentioned by Steve Faguy, who points out the basic flaw in the Wipeout Canada press release.

I have a feeling Wipeout Canada will be cut-rate, given Lone Eagle Entertainment’s game show past.  The company is going from You Bet Your Ass, Inside the Box and Game On to Wipeout Canada.  Wipeout is a far cry from dinky podiums and a slumming Stewart Francis.

Wipeout Canada is a better fit for GameTV, which needs higher-profile shows than Love Handles and, uh, Supermarket Sweep.  GameTV is such a quaint channel.  Reruns of The Mad Dash and Just Like Mom sound far more appealing than a second season of Carlawood.  Maybe it’s just me.


November 27, 2009

News: Possible second season for Producing Parker

A second season of Producing Parker is in the pipeline.  This item was mentioned by the Channel 56 blog, and confirmed on Breakthrough Films & Television’s website.

The show, originally set to debut on Canwest’s now-defunct E! network, debuted on TVtropolis this May.  Reruns currently air on Global and TVtropolis.  This entry will be updated as more information becomes available.  As of this writing, news is limited to “Producing Parker 2: until 2011.”

I assume this item has been up since October, as this Google cache mentions Breakthrough’s non-broadcast Gemini Award wins.  Producing Parker 2 was then in production “until 2010.”  I guess no one bothered to notice until this week.  I don’t know.

I’m not sure what to think of this.  Producing Parker is aired on TVtropolis far too much, sometimes in odd timeslots.  “Twat” references and bare breasts at 6:00 PM on Sundays?  I understand cable channels are lax on censorship, but that’s bizarre scheduling.

The only Canwest specialty channel appropriate enough for Producing Parker is Showcase Diva.  While I’m not a big fan of Producing Parker, it deserves a better home than TVtropolis.  The show’s better than Bob & Doug, but so is colonic irrigation.

I’m surprised Producing Parker is a more-than-single-season wonder.  Are CanCon regulations keeping this show alive, or is there something to Producing Parker that I’m missing?


October 20, 2009

TV Review | TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens 1.1, 1.2 – “Reality Shows,” “Crime Shows”

I’m not sure where TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens (TVtropolis: premiered Friday, October 9, 9:30 PM ET/PT; also Saturdays, 11:00 PM ET/PT) fits into TVtropolis’ grand scheme.  TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens is one of TVtropolis’ many shows “about TV,” which either means a celebrity-profile show or…uh…Producing Parker?  What is TVtropolis’ main theme, anyway, other than “rerun dump?”

TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens needs clips to break the monotony of minutes-long Torrens monologues, of which there are many, so it opts for a sketch comedy wraparound and/or man-on-the-street segment.  That’s fine, except for the vast amount of Torrens the show offers.  Jonathan Torrens is fine in smaller doses.  Basing an entire show around him?  Even Jonovision had Torrens interview guests.  TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens screams “VANITY PROJECT” in neon letters.

I can see this show’s strengths, which do exist.  The streeter segments for “Reality Shows” have Torrens read from what he claims are actual reality show application forms, which contain terms like “hippo sebum” and “rats have babies in your open mouth.”  Maybe the show’s making those terms up, although the television industry does get more depraved than hippo sebum.  Less excitingly, the streeter segments are titled “Let Me Axe You Something.”  You’d think J-Roc would appear in these segments, but no.

The second episode, “Crime Shows,” is a bit better than “Reality Shows.”  The long-form Law and Order parody is well-executed – proper show logo, accurate picking-apart of Law and Order‘s overall presentation, the caption “An Ocean of Emotion.”

I will admit that TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens does its research.  For example, “Crime Shows” points out Dennis Franz’s and David Caruso’s turns on William Shatner-fest T.J. Hooker, as well as Franz’s Shakespearean acting roots.  The jokes attached to said facts don’t work, but there are no misspellings of Maude or poorly-reasoned assumptions.  On TVtropolis, this makes you King Everything.

TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens is a filler show, which TVtropolis has a million of.  The show is reasonably intelligent, which for TVtropolis is a rarity, but it’s a vanity project.  This doesn’t discourage TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens from being the best new show of TVtropolis’ 2009-10 season…not that anything substantial was competing against it.


September 1, 2009

TV Review | Killer Comebacks 1.1

I taped Killer Comebacks (TVtropolis: premiered August 31, 9:30 PM ET/PT) out of habit – it’s a premiere, and it kicks off TVtropolis’ 2009-10 fall season.  As it turns out, the show is so bad I have to talk about it.  Killer Comebacks may not be a good show, but it makes for one hell of an article.

Killer Comebacks‘ debut covers Neil Patrick Harris’ career.  The show starts to go south almost immediately, as narrator Glenn Kay mouths lines like this:

“Neil Patrick Harris – so good, he influenced popular culture!”

No fucking shit, Killer Comebacks!  You can say the same thing about Bill Cosby, Ted Danson, Tony Shalhoub and John Kricfalusi.  You can say the same thing about any key figure working in the television industry.  I don’t think Nardwuar the Human Serviette could read that line convincingly.

The show can’t even get basic facts right at times.  Here’s a screenshot that really bothers me:

Seriously.  Maud.  This isn’t obscure television knowledge, Killer Comebacks.  Bea Arthur’s arguably more famous as Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls, and this graphic appears for three seconds of Killer Comebacks‘ 22-minute airtime, but come on.

Do you like inaccuracies?  Killer Comebacks does!

Doogie Howser, M.D. was a genuine, but short-lived, television phenomenon.  Cancelled after its third season…”

The show lasted four seasons.  It was hardly short-lived.  Breaking the Neilsen top thirty twice in four seasons does not equate to “television phenomenon.”  In two sentences, Killer Comebacks has become unintentional comedy gold.  I’m sure Killer Comebacks won’t make a similar mistake.

“Out of work after just three seasons of Doogie Howser, M.D.…”

Good job, Killer Comebacks.  Say, you want more funny lines?

“…like Paul Verhoeven’s 1988 cult hit, Starship Troopers.”

Wow.  Just…wow.  I don’t expect much from a TVtropolis filler show, and Killer Comebacks manages not to meet my limbo-low expectations for it.  I wonder how Glenn Kay felt reading that line.

Killer Comebacks commits the grand crime of not having anything to say, whatsoever.  Make or Break TV at least gave the viewers a few name actors and a working knowledge of how television is sold.  This show is just bread for the celebrity worship gravy train.

The level of failure in Killer Comebacks‘ debut is amazing.  Even the final closing credit reads “Executive in Charge of Production for Canwest Broadcasting;”  If Canwest doesn’t care about the quality of its shows, neither should I.


June 25, 2009

Picking Apart the Fall Schedules: Selected Canadian Cable Part 1

I don’t plan to do posts for each Canadian cable channel.  It isn’t worth it and there are a handful of channels I actually watch.  Some channels, like Teletoon, haven’t finalized their fall schedules.  Since I’m not of the target market for HGTV Canada or the Food Network, those channels will not be talked about.

If the show’s on a Canwest property, it will be rerun on seven different channels within three months regardless of the channel’s target market.  Expect to see Beastmaster on History Television within a year.

I will mainly focus on channels I have an interest in which contain adult-oriented programming.  It’s a bonus if the channels show more than one new Canadian series a year.  I refuse to believe anyone actually watches MovieTime.

The Movie Network/Movie Central | The Movie Network/Movie Central’s 2009-10 original show slate doesn’t read as good as 2008-09’s.  An announced third season of Durham County is a little weird given that the second season debuts July 13.  As for The Phantom, it doesn’t seem TMN/MC quality somehow.  It’s a four-hour miniseries featuring an underrated comics character, but I doubt The Phantom would be on TMN/MC if the company producing it (Muse Entertainment) hadn’t produced Durham County.

The show that appeals to me the most is Living in Your Car.  A former corporate executive/ex-con teaches ethics courses under a court order.  It’s the sort of show that, with good writing, should allow for great comedy.  Meet Phil Fitz reads like a belated Canadian version of Minder.  Bloodletting and The Pillars of the Earth do nothing for me.

Mind you, I’m talking about shows that don’t air until later this year or in 2010.  I can see TMN/MC continuing its quality streak, as it has a history of successful launches and shows with strong fanbases.  TMN/MC’s premium cable duopoly helps.  Super Channel’s flailing in the wind right now, so the duopoly isn’t much threatened.

Showcase | The Foundation was meant to debut in 2008-09 but was pushed back.  This show is the brainchild of FUBAR and It’s All Gone Pete Tong director Michael Dowse.  FUBAR/It’s All Gone Pete Tong‘s Mike Wilmot is Michael Valmont-Selkirk, the corrupt “Executive Director for Life” of a charitable organization.

The Foundation reads like an interesting show.  It has the talent, a solid premise and a…five-episode first season.  Ah well, at least it’s out, provided Canwest executives don’t see a bunny hop along a coffee table and decide to give it a development deal.

I’m not too worked up about Crash & Burn and Shattered.  Crash & Burn (formerly Lawyers, Guns and Money) has ZOS: Zone of Separation showrunner Malcolm MacRury behind it and Shattered stars Callum Keith Rennie, but I’m reserving judgment on the three shows until they debut.  I’m baffled by Showcase’s heavier dramatic focus this year.

I’m also not fond of Showcase’s new logo and mission statement.  The Canwest press bumf says “an unprecedented number of off-pay movie premieres, the best collection of popular network series and breakout cable dramas.”  I hope that doesn’t mean Showcase will become TVtropolis’ dramatic big sister, full of Bones, House M.D. and assorted CanCon filler.

Showcase has its share of CanCon filler nowBeastmaster reruns, oh boy! – but it has served Canadian comedy relatively well.  Showcase has always been one of Alliance Atlantis’/Canwest’s better cable channels.  I hope the channel doesn’t turn crap due to the rebranding, but I’m unconvinced based on Canwest’s track record.

TVtropolis | Jonathan Torrens’ show, TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens, could be good – he’s had success with Trailer Park Boys and Jonovision, so his ultra-generic “make fun of television for 22 minutes” show concept could amount to something.  E! managed to make a brand out of The Soup, so precedent is on Torrens’ side.

As for Switch (a pop culture panel show) and Killer Comebacks (Hollywood stars making comebacks), TVtropolis’ filler show traditions are maintained.  Mind you, shows like Once a Thief are creeping into TVtropolis’ schedules, so TVtropolis is becoming more watchable.

It’s a far cry from the days when TVtropolis was called Prime and appealed to seniors, but North of 60 reruns > Naked Fashion.  Remember the days when MovieTime was called Lonestar and aired westerns?  Those wacky Canwest properties, you never know what they’ll become next.  They’re like Pokémon.  Gotta rebrand’em all!


May 3, 2009

TV Review | Producing Parker

Producing Parker (TVtropolis: starts May 4, 8:30 PM ET/PT) was one of two shows originally scheduled to debut on E! this spring.  It and Carlawood later moved to TVtropolis, as E! will no longer be a network in the near future.

Producing Parker could actually succeed for TVtropolis.  Unlike Carlawood, Producing Parker has a few things going for it – a point, comedy, Kim Cattrall, one of the stars of Young People Fucking and Peter Keleghan.

The show is almost too good for TVtropolis, unless Canwest is making an effort to build the channel up.  Of course, TVtropolis added Bob & Doug to its lineup recently.  I expect both Bob & Doug and Producing Parker to be rerun seven times a week.  It’s the TVtropolis way.

I’m not sold on Kristin Booth as Parker Kovak, the producer of The Dee Show (although she isn’t credited as such until the end of the first episode.)  It’s not that Booth’s voice is bad, it’s just that Kovak as a character is generic – she wants a man, is career-oriented and keeps the show from going pear-shaped.  Booth imitates Tina Fey, but Fey is more multifaceted and has Alec Baldwin to bounce jokes off.

In fact, almost all of Producing Parker‘s characters are generic.  Simon (Aaron Abrams) is the wannabe reporter slumming on daytime television.  Blake Bellamy (Peter Keleghan) is the good-looking yet oblivious head of Bellamy Broadcasting.  Chicago (Sarah Cornell) is the ditzy, unqualified intern.  Massimo (Jamie Watson) is the talking dog/stand-in for the man Kovak wants.  Producing Parker does try to make its characters three-dimensional, but they’re placeholders for gags at this point.

Kim Cattrall is Dee, the superego of a talk show host.  She’s bitchy, temperamental and trend-conscious.  Cattrall sells Dee, displaying quite a bit of emotional range.  Considering how one-dimensional Dee could have been, Cattrall manages to make her more than an over-the-hill celebrity figure.  It’s really because of Cattrall, Cornell and Keleghan that Producing Parker works as well as it does.

The main problem with Producing Parker is that it’s shrill and a bit shallow.  The Newsroom and Made in Canada were more biting looks at television behind the scenes.  Producing Parker‘s traditional Simpsons-style gags work only some of the time, but at least they work.  Producing Parker isn’t nearly as unfunny as Punch! and The Wrong Coast, but that should be a given.

Producing Parker‘s animation is fairly well done.  While I’d like to see more traditionally animated Canadian cartoons, PP is a much better Flash effort than shows like Total Drama Action and Bob & Doug.  There’s a concerted effort to pace and animate the show so that the tweening is less noticeable, although Producing Parker still looks like a Flash cartoon.

Producing Parker isn’t on the level of 30 Rock or The Larry Sanders Show, but it’s a modest success.  I can see Breakthrough Films and Television selling this to America on the strength of Cattrall’s name, which makes me wonder why Producing Parker didn’t debut on Global.  Compared to Bob & Doug, Producing Parker has a much better sense of what it is and isn’t trading on familiarity.  Bob & Doug is dredging 200,000+ viewers a week, so I can see the two shows flip within two to three weeks.

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