By Diane Wild of TV, eh?
I am neither arrogant enough to declare the best of Canadian TV nor modest enough to keep my opinions about shows to myself. Here, then, is my idiosyncratic list of the noteworthy in Canadian TV this year.
Some readers seem to believe I love every show posted here. Take a look at the sidebar category list (keeping in mind that’s a fraction of all shows) and tell me what sane person would watch them all, never mind enjoy them. But HBO Canada’s Call Me Fitz, CBC’s Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays and Showcase’s now-cancelled Almost Heroes were the series that made me grateful I run this website and therefore knew of their existence.
Most unwatched but glad it exists
Blame the fact that I have no inner 14 year old boy, but Todd and the Book of Pure Evil on Space does not speak to me. The humour, the gore and the music could be marketed as Diane repellant. It does, however, know and love its audience, and I love that it exists for them.
Most to blame for a future vacation
Republic of Doyle isn’t one of my favourite shows, but it’s a fun show starring that interview-friendly charmer Allan Hawco, and it showcases the rugged beauty and charm of Newfoundland. I bet even more viewers will be enchanted by the scenery – and the series – when Russell Crowe guest stars in January 11’s third season premiere.
Most frustrating cancellation
Combat Hospital was the success story of the year: a decently reviewed show that often beat ratings champs Flashpoint and Rookie Blue … in Canada. ABC pulled out after dismal ratings in the US, and Global couldn’t find a way to finance the expensive series without them. Call it a casualty of the co-production model where Canadian content relies on foreign financing.
Most encouraging un-cancellation
Murdoch Mysteries would have been a contender for the previous category if CBC hadn’t come along and saved it. Citytv announced season five would be its last, even while it remained a fan favourite and ratings stalwart; it didn’t fit the Rogers family brand after the birth of FX Canada. On the public broadcaster, with more compatible programming and greater market penetration than Citytv, even an aging Murdoch should thrive for season six.
Most puzzling non-cancellation
I’m not surprised Showcase cancelled Endgame. I’m surprised Showcase cancelled Endgame and renewed the similarly low-rated King. If Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays is a cable show floundering on network TV, then Endgame and King are network shows floundering on cable: competent crime procedurals with, in Endgame‘s case, at least an attempt at style and substance. One of the side effects of networks’ penchant for using Canadian content as filler across multiple channels is the loss of brand identity for cable channels. If I had to guess at the mission statement for Showcase after seeing their recent renewals (including Lost Girl and Haven), it would be Home For Shows We Don’t Want To Make Room For On GlobalTM.
Most confusing cancellation-renewal-cancellation
After horrid scheduling and ratings in the US, CTV announced The Bridge‘s renewal in 2010. Yay, another Canadian production, like Due South and The Listener, that would survive after the American network pulled out. By January, though, a “look over there!” media release announced its un-renewal while pointing to CTV’s new shows in development. Word on the street is that CTV wanted the show to come back but the deal fell apart with the producers.
Most heartbreaking and heartwarming
Maury Chaykin’s 2010 death occurred during the writing of Less Than Kind season three. The writers, producers and actors regrouped and channeled their real-life grief into a touching tribute for the actor and the character. Though it doesn’t premiere until January 15 on HBO Canada, the first two episodes are currently available online.