TV, eh? podcast episode 48 – Almost Checkmate

Episode 48: Listen or download here or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed

smallOur guests this week are Ryan and Jason Belleville, the brothers who co-created Almost Heroes, in which Ryan costars with Paul Campbell. Diane chats with them about her surprising love of the show, what it’s like to work with your brother and not want to kill him, their sitcom world and characters, and promoting a series with this newfangled Internet thing.

But first, Anthony and Diane react to the reaction to our discussion about the Save Endgame petition, and let’s just say that those who were angry with us last week would be livid this week.

We also talk about this week’s premieres of Combat Hospital (aka Sexy Doctor War Time) and Rookie Blue, plus Bell’s announcement that they’ve optioned the works of three Canadian authors we’ve never heard of.

We end, as always, it seems, with a discussion of the CRTC hearings, where they seek to tame vertical integration and figure out what to do about those scary smart phones and tablets. Or something.

Your hosts


11 thoughts on “TV, eh? podcast episode 48 – Almost Checkmate”

  1. So, imagine that you can’t watch this TV unless you are a Bell ExpressVu subscriber, and you can’t get it over the Internet, unless you are on Sympatico.

    Is that really Canadian Content?
    What do you think Bell tells shareholders when they buy up content? What is the reason they use?

  2. Michael,

    I can’t stand the idea of silo-ing by Bell, Rogers, QMI or Shaw.

    Is it Canadian content? According to the only definition that counts as authorized by the CRTC, probably yes. If The Tudors is Canadian, Bell-owned content is probably Canadian as well. I don’t like it, but it’s not against any regs I’m aware of.

    If I can’t access it unless I’m a Bell subscriber, I probably don’t even know I’m missing it, but I could probably get it on Bit Torrent if I really wanted it.

    Bell doesn’t tell their shareholders anything other than they think it will make profit or expand marketshare. They have a fiduciary responsibility to make profit and ethics or what’s good for the country can be damned.

  3. So… based on the interview I checked out the three episodes of Almost Heroes that are on the Showcase website (Using my Boxee Box, which organises better than the site).

    I agree that it is a pretty good sitcom — oddball characters in almost realistic but definitely not heroic situations.

    Watching via the website still makes me wonder how this all gets paid for. The only advertisement that was put where commercials would normally be was for the Global website itself. Really? Nobody wants to pay for that market? I’m far less likely to skip the ads watching on the website than the other most likely scenario which is to record the broadcast signal.

    A lost opportunity for the networks — no surprise there…

    My preference would be to see these on Netflix — I prefer the interface/etc. Yup, at the price/convenience they offer it is better than free. Heck, I’d pay extra to get to direct “bonus” money directly at shows I like to encourage them to keep the episodes coming. Give me the $20/month package where I vote for 10 shows a month that get an extra dollar/month.

    iTunes? Not relevant to me — will never be an Apple customer (Or vote for or donate money to the Christian Heritage Party :-). Unfortunate that this is the only offer-them-some-money digital option for these shows.

    As to the continued snide comments about those trying to save Endgame. For the networks, this is just product to convince people to watch ads or pay for content. For the creators and fans these characters become part of our lives, and we miss them like we’d miss a friend that moved away. I don’t think you should be so dismissive of those of us who get attached. I agree that it won’t get the show back onto the networks, but is that really the point? Ensuring that the artists know about the fans — and eventually give them the guts to bypass the networks — is possible as well.

    It may at least give the creators more leverage when negotiating the deal, and possibly allowing the shows to be on more platforms where real stats are possible.

    When the legacy BDU’s and broadcast networks inevitably fade into nothingness, I’ll be cheering — and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Agreed Russell, I prefer Netflix to iTunes and would pay more if they had more to offer (plus $2.99 for a 1/2 hour show is a lot, never mind that it’s not my preferred format.) I really hope Netflix can beef up their catalogue. Right now it’s funny to hear them cast as broadcast killers when that’s unrealized potential at the moment.

    And as for save our show campaigns, I find them incredibly annoying – squeaky wheels getting and feeling entitled to attention when more deserving go without – so I will be even more dismissive in the future and not post about them at all. There are other ways for creators and fans to bond.

  5. I’m starting to see more and more information suggesting that Netflix will never dislodge cable in its current form. Part of the reason its able to offer all-you-can view shows is because they’ve been paid for (often many times over) in first runs and DVD sales. Netflix revenue is just gravy.

    The only way I can see Netflix actually taking a good chunk of cable is to actually get a critical mass of first-run shows. That will mean it will either have to a) produce them (which they are dabbling in) or b) increase their prices. I think the price increases would be significant too. And unlike the cable, you have to pay for bandwidth on top the service.

    Like’em or hate’m, I actually think Apple is in a better position to outright replace cable in the short term because of how they price and license their content. I still think it has its flaws, but it has less obstacles than Netflix going forward.

  6. Craig, that makes sense to me – I think something like Hulu is more of a threat to networks (even though Hulu’s owned by networks) since it’s more a direct TV replacement. Wish we had a Hulu here.

    In my own limited experience, I cut cable and while I have Netflix, it’s not a TV alternative for me. Network websites/apps and downloads are the only way to keep up with current shows. Netflix is more a Blockbuster replacement.

    1. There are only so many hours in the day. Like audio blogs (like this one) and audio books replacing my previous listening to radio, the various alternative video will eventually replace my previous television watching. It may not be first-run, but I find a show that is new to me is new to me — whether it is first run or not. There are some shows like news and political humour that have to be timely to have value, but most scripted shows aren’t like that.

      I still have cable, but there are very few shows I still watch that way. And with the help of VPN to get around some silly region restrictions, I’ll gain access to them in alternative forms later anyway.

  7. I have to say that I was passing on Almost Heroes, but Diane’s comments about it, and the interview got me to check it out.

    I confess that I’m not generally a sitcom fan, though I’ve liked a couple of the recent (US) “geek chic” sitcoms, The Big Bang Theory and Better Off Ted. I’m not completely sold on Almost Heroes yet, but I like it just enough to keep watching for now to see if it will click for me. (I wasn’t that taken with CBC’s InSecurity at first, but it started to grow on me after a handful of episodes.)

  8. I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I hope you’re joking about never having heard of the three Canadian novelists whose work was optioned by CTV, er, BellMedia.

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