This is my first time at the Rogers Media/Citytv 2012 upfronts. This year, they are held at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Historically, the Rogers upfronts don’t provide much in the way of Canadian scripted fare, or Canadian content. In fact, Murdoch Mysteries‘ Citytv run ends this summer. If viewers miss the fifth season, they can watch it on CBC this fall…or watch Citytv’s reruns of the fifth season, if they air as “encore presentations” this fall. Try to wrap your head around that one.
I go into the Rogers upfronts not expecting much – maybe a low-rated documentary series for Citytv, foreign reality-show formats with the word “Canada” flour-pasted onto the side, and American programming – the usual.
Citytv’s fall schedule is its usual heady mix of American shows, and “encore presentations” of Rogers “original series.” Saturday, by now, is Citytv’s Canadian cultural ghetto. Less Than Kind will even air 9:30 PM ET on Saturdays this fall, and it better not be four-year-old reruns of the first season.
More encouragingly, Citytv has two original comedies up for 2013, Seed and Package Deal. Seed is about a sperm bank donor, and how he deals with the byproducts of his white gold. Package Deal is “about three overly close brothers and the woman who comes between them,” which reads as generic. So did Shaw Media’s Continuum, when it was announced.
The Citytv press conferences are basic. There are the usual American stars to sell their wares – Katie Couric promoting her new talk show, Brandon Routh and Michael Urie promoting Partners, and Max Greenfield shilling New Girl. Dominic Monaghan beats the drum on Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, an OLN/Channel 5/BBC America nature show, while Tyler Harcott sells viewers on the merits of The Bachelor Canada.
Andrew Orenstein and Joseph Raso promote their respective shows, Package Deal and Seed. Citytv sells Package Deal as the first Canadian multi-camera sitcom in decades, which ignores YTV’s Mr. Young. Perhaps youth sitcoms aren’t as glamorous as adult sitcoms. Package Deal shoots in Vancouver, and has Mr. Young‘s production company, Thunderbird Films, behind it.
An interesting announcement concerns Citytv and Sportsnet sewing up rights to HBO’s 24/7 Maple Leafs/Red Wings: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. This isn’t a Canadian series, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are the first Canadian team with a 24/7 profile. Given that Rogers is set to own 37.5% of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, this is Canadian content, in a way. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment owns quite a few sports channels, so Rogers wants to feature a prospective acquisition.
Hopefully, Rogers and Citytv build on their commitments to homegrown programming. It’s nice to see Rogers and Citytv muster a little more effort than usual, even if the overall strategy is “let’s buy a lot of American programming, and here’s our version of a popular reality show format.” I didn’t expect Citytv to announce any new shows, beyond The Bachelor Canada.
One niggling issue: no announcements regarding G4 Canada, or bio? What did they do, break Rogers Media’s priceless Ming vase, or something?
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