TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television | Page 30
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

He Said/She Said: Is Canada ready for another late-night talk show?

Join Greg and Diane every Monday as we debate what’s on our minds. This week: Is Canada ready for another late-night talk show?

He Said:

The late-night world is changing south of the border. Jon Stewart exits The Daily Show in a few months, David Letterman stepped down from The Late Show after decades on the air and Craig Ferguson has exited his gig too. The result is a late-night landscape very different from just a few years ago.

Is this the time that a Canadian network gives a late-night talk show another shot? Through Strombo has headed up The Hour and Tonight for several years, we haven’t had a late-night show with a monologue and guest since Ed’s Night Party from 1995 to 2008. The Mike Bullard Show signed off in 2004 after one year on Global; Bullard preceded that gig with Open Mike with Mike Bullard on CTV from 1997 to 2003. From what I recall at the time, the biggest complaint about Bullard’s program was a failure to score enough big names to sit on the couch next to him. (Not everyone got his sense of humour either; his best-ever guest was Tom Green, who came out and tossed a dead raccoon on Bullard’s desk.)

But times have changed, and unless networks ban each other’s stars from appearing on a rival’s program, there’s enough talent—homegrown and international—to fill seats whether a late-night program is based out of Toronto or Vancouver and broadcast on The Comedy Network. (Can you imagine the A-listers they could book during TIFF!?) The challenge, of course, is finding the right person for the job and what style the show might take. Rather than modelling the show after a traditional U.S. program, why not take the blueprint of someone like Graham Norton and mix comedy bits and musical acts in with interviews with up to three or four guests?

As for who might host it, there’s no lack of Canadian talent to do that. Norm Sousa, Gavin Crawford, Seán Cullen, Jon Dore, Debra DiGiovanni, Elvira Kurt, Norm Macdonald, Candy Palmater or Claire Brosseau would all be great choices.

I think it could be done; what do you think?

She Said:


My most vivid memory of a Canadian late-night talk show was Friday Night! with Ralph Benmergui. The exclamation mark was of course to indicate the great excitement we should feel about having a Canadian late-night talk show. Just maybe not that particular show, as the dismal ratings indicated.

I was a huge Letterman fan back in the day, and while a day job means I don’t watch a lot of late night television anymore, I like what Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert did in a different version of the genre. Stroumboulopoulos seemed to do something in between the two, minus the comedic host. But I’ve always been puzzled by the late-night format and how rigid it is even with all its variations. Monologue, fluffy guest interviews, comedic bits. Do we need this many of that kind of show? Do we need a Canadian version to compete with the plethora of US versions in the same timeslots? I’d rather see the limited Canadian TV budgets put into primetime.

I feel like the Rick Mercer Report could easily slide into that late night timeslot, except it would lose a considerable amount of its audience in the move. In primetime, celebrity interviews are covered with the likes of Entertainment Tonight Canada and eTalk, and political satire in their own unique ways by Mercer and 22 Minutes.

So what I’d love to see, more than a late night talk show, is a year-round primetime Rick Mercer Report, so his commentary isn’t limited to the 18 weeks a year or so that his show is in production. Given that the number of Mercer episodes has shrunk in recent years, that doesn’t seem likely without some budget miracles happening. But I’d rather that miracle than the miracle of a successful Canadian late-night talk show.

Murdoch Mysteries star celebrates small-town Canada with laughter

On Murdoch Mysteries, Jonny Harris plays Constable George Crabtree, tasked with aiding Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) in the solving of crimes in and around turn-of-the-century Toronto. But in his newest series, Harris does some investigating of his own.

The veteran Newfoundland comedian swaps his scratchy police wardrobe for regular duds in Still Standing. Debuting Tuesday on CBC, the series finds the energetic lad discovering small communities across Canada and spotlighting the citizens who call the areas home. As Harris told me at CBC’s upfront announcement, he spends five days in each community, getting to know those who live and work there and doing various chores (like milking goats or lassoing a calf). At the end of it, Harris hosts a small comedy show where he tells jokes based on his experiences, a tough task for a guy who prefers to wait until the last minute to write, even if he does have a couple of guys helping him.

“We write jokes while we’re on the road,” he explains. “We’ll meet someone in the morning and then we’ll furiously write on our laptops. Then we’ll go and meet the next guy or I’ll do the next activity and then over dinner we’ll write. Then we have to out together the set itself in a way that flows and makes sense to people.   At the end of four days I have to try and cram it all into my brain.”

Thirteen episodes comprise Season 1 of Still Standing and among the communities featured are Rowley, Alberta—population eight—a virtual ghost town neighbouring communities support with a monthly pizza night; Berwick, Nova Scotia, a.k.a. the Apple Capital of Canada; Souris, Prince Edward Island; Oil Springs, Ontario, the birthplace of the modern oil industry in North America; and Coleman, Alberta (population just over 1,000), a location fraught with tragedy. Mining disasters, including the Frank Slide of 1903 that wiped half the town of neighbouring Frank off the map.

“They have a very on-their-sleeve attitude about the slide, which made it very interesting for me comedically,” Harris admitts.

Locations were chosen because they were struggling to survive as towns, were locations not on major highways and places most people had ever heard of. The communities may be far-flung, but they all shared the same passion for the land they and past generations call home.

“The goal of the show is to celebrate the towns,” Harris notes. “And if somewhere down the line someone decides to stop in there because they saw it on Still Standing then it’s even better.”

Still Standing airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.


Will you be watching Jonny Harris in his new role? Let me know in the comments below! Follow Greg on Twitter.

Tonight: Much Music Video Awards, Defiance


From the network description:

2015 Much Music Video Awards, CTV or Much/CTV Two
Broadcasting from Much HQ in Toronto, the 2015 MUCH MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS celebrates the past year in music, with A-list presenters, performers, and special appearances. Co-hosted by internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, ETALK Reporter and Much VJ Liz Trinnear, and Much and E! Host Tyrone Edwards, the 2015 MUCH MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS features appearances by presenters GRAMMY-nominated rocker Adam Lambert, OSCAR® nominee Hailee Steinfeld, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS actress Ashley Benson, International supermodel Gigi Hadid, and performances by Carly Rae Jepsen, co-host Ed Sheeran, Fall Out Boy, Jason Derulo, Mia Martina featuring Waka Flocka, Nick Jonas, Scott Helman, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd, Tori Kelly, and viral musical phenomenon Walk Off The Earth.

Defiance, Showcase – The Broken Bough
Nolan & Irisa encounter a survivor of Votanis Collective atrocities that can aid their first strike against General Rahm Tak’s oncoming army; Amanda negotiates with the Omec, a new alien race, for the future of Defiance; The Tarrs return to find much changed, and their loyalties tested between the humans, the Omec, and the Votanis Collective. Guest starring Linda Hamilton as “Pilar”

Link: Smart TV: Rise Of The Machines

From Jim Bawden:

Smart TV: Rise Of The Machines
“I wasn’t so sure this series could ever be made,” chuckles executive producer Carlo Massarella who helped create the gigantic Rise Of The Machines. Part One of this seven part hour series revs up on Discovery Monday June 22 at 7 p.m.

That’s right — while other networks go to sleep for the summer with reruns Discovery is premiering one of its most ambitious and I should say costly TV shows of the year. Continue reading.