In the news: Canadian shows in syndication

From John Doyle of the Globe and Mail:

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Diane Wild

Diane is the founder of TV, eh? She loves books, movies, TV, science, space, traveling, theatre, art, cats, and drinking multiple beverages at the same time.
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12 thoughts on “In the news: Canadian shows in syndication”

  1. Hi Diane:

    You are not even close to being a dictator.

    Wow, the above article written by Mr Doyle is absolutely correct. Instead of underscoring the negatives regarding Canadian television Mr. Doyle states, “Ah, for goodness sake, can’t we just report on achievement and triumph without noting that some Canadians don’t care about Canadian T.V.

    I strongly believe Mr. Doyle represents the views of the majority of Canadians including this Canadian.

    Mr. Doyle also states, in effect, that some Canadians should get over their “self-loathing.” All I can say to this sentiment is, THANK YOU Mr. Doyle!!!

    Regarding Canadian television, Mr. Doyle correctly (in my opinion) points out, “And it’s no longer a matter of generic.” Indeed, Canadian shows can do well domestically and internationally because they are Canadian specific. Some Canadians may not want to appreciate this fact but Canadians are well liked globally and foreigners want to learn more about Canada. As a result,, our cultural exports are well received in many foreign markets.

    Further to Mr. Doyle’s correct and timely statement that Canadian shows do not have to be generic in order to be successful at home or abroad. The recent Canadian movie, “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” is Canadian specific (Canadian locations, Canadian characters and a Canadian story) and did very well at the box office in Canada.This movie has been sold to many markets internationally as well. In my opinion the, so called, Canaian feature film Porky’s was classified as a Canadian movie because it received Canadian funding ( sadly, some tax funding too –I think), employed Canadian actors etc., but essentially told an American story. Porky’s was set in the United Stated, and told an American story about American characters. Unless the credits at the end of the movie were scrutinized the average movie-goer would never suspect that “Porky’s was even remotely Canadian.

    For those who have a fixation with ratings and numbers I will let them determine which Canadian movie, Porky’s or “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” is the highest grossing Canadian film. However, I’ll place my bets on “Bon Cop, Bad Cop.”

    Finally, John Doyle speaks for many Canadians when he correctly chooses to view the Canadian cultural product with optimism, willing to point out the success stories rather than underscoring the negative (s) at every opportunity.

    Great work and a great column Mr. Doyle!!!

  2. If you factor in inflation, Porky’s would still beat Bon Cop quite handily. But there’s no question that Bon Cop is a tremendous achievement, but again, most of its box office was in Quebec and not the rest of Canada.

  3. Hello:

    Yes, but Quebec is still a major part of Canada and their audience numbers matter in the broader Canadian context. As well, when the producers and stars of “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” were asked to address the box office acceptance, in English Canada of their movie, positive remarks were made. Mr. Huard wanted to make a movie that all Canadians could enjoy ( in big cities and small towns) and he succeeded big time. As well, the “stars” and producers of “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” wanted to chip away at the “Two Solitudes” psychological barrier that some believe exists. However, that is a whole other topic for discussion.

    The talent in Quebec, in all cultural spheres, is amazing and the same goes for English Canada as well.

    However, in terms of the numbers game, I’ll let you play with the figures.

    Personally, I cannot wait for “Bon Cop, Bad Cop two. ”

    Please Mr. Doyle, attend CRTC hearing and have your say, if possible, and thank you for looking at the “big picture” regarding Canadian culture in all areas both English and French.

  4. I feel a little bad about calling our friend here out on being a troll in the last thread. But not too bad.

    Hal, you are being disingenuous — in the last thread your argument was that this “inferiority complex” does not exist, or was the product of only journalists and people like me who can’t look in the mirror or whatever twaddle it was that you said.

    Doyle does not dispute that the complex exists, and the relevant line in his article:

    “Ah, for goodness sake, can’t we just report on achievement and triumph without noting that some Canadians don’t care about Canadian T.V.

    So he concedes as fact that the complex exists. He just objects to it being the lede in a story about the success of shows abroad. Now, Lee Anne explained handily in the other thread why she chose to go with that lede, and I think that Doyle, who you admire so much, is a bit off mark in his criticism. But what I know is, were he to read your comments, he’d probably make one of his patented head-slapping gestures. Because you’re regularly making generalizations here about the Canadian public that just aren’t true.

    Also, as Diane pointed out — the subject here, at hand, is TV. Film is irrelevant to the argument. It is a different medium altogether. We are discussing hammers. You want to keep bringing in examples of wrenches to support whatever your point is about hammers. It doesn’t work that way.

    You also want to frame yourself on the optimistic side of the argument here, and the rest of us — the people with the facts and experience — on the other side. But that’s a straw man argument. Diane runs a website about promoting Canadian TV. Lee-Anne regularly covers TV for Canada’s largest wire service agency. I make my living making Canadian TV, and spend my off time defending and working toward how to make it better.

    You insist that the bias that Lee Anne led her article with does not exist. But this article, the one you like, did not claim that. It said we shouldn’t talk about it “all the time.” It takes the premise as read, which you don’t. You’ve seized on one part that you like, and ignored the whole. Which isn’t the first time you’ve done that.

    The point isn’t that any of the other people in this thread with you think Canadian TV is necessarily bad. We all think that there are problems promoting it and driving the audience toward it, and that one part of that very complicated problem is overcoming a built in audience bias against it. The bias that Doyle admits exists. The bias that you insist doesn’t, and no matter of data or experience can convince you of, because your personal experience and point of view tells you that you’re right about this. That’s the definition, the very essence, of truthiness.

    Finally, after insisting that Canadians don’t think the way that Lee Anne wrote they do, you go and…… about how the people around the world feel about Canada.

    “Some Canadians may not want to appreciate this fact but Canadians are well liked globally and foreigners want to learn more about Canada. As a result,, our cultural exports are well received in many foreign markets.”

    It’s truly amazing that you talked about reading comprehension, because, in fact, the fact that Canadian shows do well abroad was the POINT of Lee Anne’s article.

    YOU were the one arguing that validation from abroad, or the U.S. didn’t matter – because Canadians appreciated Canadian shows. You’re now making a point that is 180 degrees from what you were making in the last thread. You’ve contradicted yourself completely.

    Finally, the fact that “Canadians are well liked globally and foreigners want to learn more about Canada” is not a fact; it’s a well-held cultural belief in this country. It also happens to be about as true as the Americans well-held cultural belief that “they are number one — in everything.”

    Having traveled and worked abroad on co-production and treaty shows, and observed the sellling of Canadian product there, the reality is this: Canadian shows sell, when they sell, because they are close enough to the American product that they seem like good filler, and they are way, way cheaper than American shows.” Furthermore, from the U.K. to Italy to South Africa, foreigners, if they think of Canada at all, think of us as basically Americans. Maybe nicer. But the reality is that they don’t think much of us at all.

    At a press conference in Sweden to promote Mission Impossible 3, Tom Cruise was asked last year “What do you think of Sweden?” He said something nice, but a lot of people reported, “why should he think anything of Sweden at all? It’s not on the radar.”

    It’s comforting to think that Canada is on everyone’s radar as this great place everyone admires and loves. It’s not true. That’s sentimental and wishful thinking, same as the rest of your contentions about how Canadians feel about their homegrown TV.

    Ironically, the one place a show like Degrassi actually does sell because it’s different…is the USA.

    Diane, don’t worry about shutting this comment thread down. Hal’s going to come back with some…thing. And he’s gonna get the last word, because as my friend Alex (who actually was one of the writers on Bon Cop, Bad Cop) just asked me: “why are you arguing about this with some guy named Hal?”

    Why indeed. Damn procrastination!

  5. Yeah, see, the thing about the Porky’s comment … it was a dig at how irrelevant the Bon Cop argument was to this topic, Hal.

    I’m going to excerpt and rework something I wrote elsewhere about this article, just because I think Doyle is being disingenuous, too. Though I have nothing but respect for him usually, I think he’s wrong on this one. (I think he’s also got a factual error – he says Intelligence is doing well abroad but the series hasn’t yet been sold abroad, though it’s being shopped.)

    He objects here not to the opinions expressed in the Canadian Press article, but the fact that the opinions were expressed. The CP dutifully reported the happy sale of Corner Gas to international markets earlier. This was a feature piece about the larger issue that had a slant designed to provoke. Unlike calling CBC’s military coverage “creepy.”

    I don’t like the idea of treating Canadian TV like a poor sad puppy being kicked. That’s condescending and not helpful to anyone’s cause. I understand the exasperation with the scrutiny from people who hear about the issues all the time, but I wish that article had provoked more, not less, outrage, from readers – from people with better logic than Hal – to show that there are people out there who care about the industry.

    From a 2004 article on the season opener of Da Vinci’s Inquest by John Doyle, who would never give good news with one hand and bad with the other:

    “An angry man was calling to ask me why Canadian television programs existed at all. They are, said the man, supported by taxpayer dollars, they’re not very good and nobody watches them. He pursued his theme for some minutes. When there was an opening, following another exclamation that Canadian TV programs are inferior, I interjected with a few words – ‘Da Vinci’s Inquest’ This halted his gallop. ‘That’s the exception, it’s very good, it’s world class.’ he said. So I said to him, ‘well there you go.'”

    Me again. Canadians will and do watch Canadian television programs, though there’s still an attitude of “Canadian TV sucks, but Da Vinci’s Inquest/Corner Gas/Mercer/Slings and Arrows/name-your-exception-here is great.” Of course that’s not an absolute – we’re all talking generalities, or it’s hard to make any sense at all.

    Corner Gas’s distribution deal gets people excited and proud – as they should be – but where’s the excitement over the CRTC hearings that have the potential to help or harm the industry? If we know about a show, and like a show, and it happens to be Canadian, we’ll watch it, sure. But we don’t take pride in our industry as a whole until it makes waves outside our country.

  6. Another point about how Canada compares in terms of favouring domestic programming:

    “In a study of 18 Western countries plus Canada conducted by Nordicity for Canadian Heritage in 2003 but using 2001 data, it found that in all cases except Canada, indigenous programming dominated the top-rated programming.”

    From the green paper The Future of Television in Canada.

  7. Hello Diane and Denis:

    First and foremost, I should commend you both for what has to be a mutual admiration society. “Birds of a feather truly do stick together.”

    John Doyle (Globe and Mail) is capable of viewing the Canadian cultural scene in an objective manner and with an adult mentality.

    As well, I doubt if you would understand logic (in print or otherwise) if it stared you in the face in bold letters.

    Perhaps you should reread Mr. Doyle’s letter and actually learn something that most Canadians already appreciate. That something is, concentrating on the negative regarding cultural institutions/programming in Canada is essentially self-defeating and ultimately serves no purpose.

    Diane, you stated, “But we don’t take pride in our industry as a whole until it makes waves outside our country.” This poor opinion of Canadians is baseless and couterproductive. Get over your apparent inferiority complex both of you.

    Finally, I will not disappoint Denis and I promise not to respond to your tired, sad, and outdated arguments.

    I hope you both enjoy repeating your old cliches but I think I’ll buy a subscription to “The Globe and Mail” and read Mr. Doyle’s column, an “insider” who has something of value to offer readers with regards to the Canadian cultural scene and that includes constructive critisism.

    Denis you have a nice chat now with your writer “friend” being the “insider” that you are. Who are you anyway!!!

  8. A cog in the wheel, bub. I’m a cog in the wheel. Enjoy that Globe subscription. Doyle’s gonna surprise you. Specially when he writes with irony. That’s gonna make your head essplode.

    Diane, thanks for that data — I’ve been looking for that, and the source for a while. Awesome.

  9. An email from Hugh in Calgary, who apparently doesn’t want to comment but doesn’t know I don’t have the power to make anyone do anything:

    “If you want Canadian viewers to want to watch ‘Canadian Content’ , then rather than asking the Canadian Tax Payer to throw more wasted money at show like ‘Air Farce’ and The Trailer Park Boys and give us something worth watching. Humour rather than sarcasm would be very welcome. Maybe if the CBC should stop trying to copy CNN with their anti anything that is not liberal or nbc,and most canadians would be interested. What kind of programming would the CBC promote if they had to survive with out the tax payer dollar.”

    I hear that argument a lot, but just to be clear, Trailer Park Boys is not a CBC show. At the recent CRTC hearings, the Canadian creative groups weren’t asking for more taxpayer money, they were asking for 7% of broadcasters’ ad revenues be spent on Canadian programming. That’s not money coming out of anyone’s pockets – it’s money the broadcasters are already making being allocated to boost our homegrown industry.

  10. If this is in any way relevant, Mr. Doyle actually apologized to me for the shot. So there you go.

    And just a footnote: I just hung up the phone from an actor on Falcon Beach. Unprompted, again, he mentioned to me that he gets tired of having to explain to friends and colleagues that Falcon Beach is not merely an O.C. ripoff and that they should actually watch it before they decide it’s not worth watching.

  11. That’s good to hear Lee-Anne (about Doyle). And sad to hear (about the Falcon Beach actor). My own exasperation comes from the fact that I get tired of justifying spending my free time on this site to so many people who don’t see the value in trying to promote Canadian TV. I can’t imagine if it were my chosen career how frustrating it would be to encounter that attitude everywhere you go.

  12. It doesn’t have to be frustrating at all. Like any gig, you do it, you get paid for it and you move on. it’s great when someone likes your stuff but I don’t waste too much energy apologizing for it. To me it is akin to being a mystery writer or something like that and if folks say” I don’t like mystery novels” well, they aren’t your audience. Obviously some people watch the stuff that I write and even the lowerst audience any of the shows i have worked on is much much larger than the biggest Canadian bestseller ever. Add to that the fact that for the last three or four years with the outbreak of specialty channels something I wrote, story edited or produced is on TV every single night. I think I am amazingly fortunate and if the chattering classes want to complain about Canadian TV let them, people have been complaining about TV in general ever since it wa invented “the boob tube” “the idiot box” it never stopped any of the world’s best storytellers from embracing it.

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