By Diane Wild of TV, eh?
Now that CBC has announced its winter season and other networks’ January premieres are starting to trickle in, it seems like a good time to look back at the hits and misses of Canadian television this fall. I’m picking three of each – feel free to add your own in the comments.
It’s rare for a show to end on its own terms before microscopic viewing levels force cancellation, but Flashpoint’s producers decided to walk away after a long, successful five-year run, and the final season has been its most successful yet in terms of ratings. CTV is giving the much-loved series a big send-off with a two-part finale December 6 and 13, a screening in Toronto, an online chat and live after-show, and the opportunity for fans to win memorabilia. (P.S. watch for a special Flashpoint fundraising auction by the creators coming soon here, too.)
One of the best feel-good news stories in Canadian TV this year – breaking a string of dismal news on cancellation after cancellation – was CBC reviving Murdoch Mysteries after its Citytv death. A surprising sequel to that happy news is the ratings season five has earned for CBC this fall – a season that had just completed a summer run on Citytv, yet in its replay is getting even more viewers. New episodes start on January 7, and my ratings expectations are high.
I know, I know, they cancelled Murdoch Mysteries while the ratings were still good, but they did give it a five-season run, and after parent company Rogers launched FX Canada, Murdoch didn’t fit the brand anymore (“brand” in this case meaning shows that can be rerun in perpetuity across all of a company’s channels to begrudgingly fulfill Canadian content requirements.) And yes, Citytv inflicted The Bachelor Canada on us this fall. But they deserve some credit for having more scripted shows in the works than we’ve seen in a long time — Seed and Package Deal — and keeping that news coming over the fall. Yes, I’m giving them kudos for having two scripted series coming up. At least two is more than one.
It’s hard to really argue with this strategy, but the network doesn’t even pretend it will send Canadian shows into battle with US fall premieres. Rookie Blue ended its season just in time to scoot out of the way. In this fall’s Friday Death Timeslots, with nothing else to simulcast, Global has been airing the scarcely promoted newsmagazine series 16×9 plus Bomb Girls reruns. Let’s hope in the future they will build on the success of Bomb Girls with more of their own content to spread thinly across all of parent company Shaw’s networks.
Strombo at 7
It seemed like a good idea at the time: move Canada’s Boyfriend earlier in the day where more viewers could date him. But 7 pm isn’t quite primetime either, and it turns out Strombo isn’t quite news-like or Coronation Street-like enough to thrive in that timeslot sandwich, and some of the show tweaks didn’t quite work for me, including the panel trying to be funny about random subjects. Ratings took a nosedive from the former Jeopardy/Wheel of Fortune heights … but at least Strombo is undeniably Canadian.
Over the Rainbow
Judging by my Twitter stream, the people who watched enjoyed the show. Judging by the ratings, not enough people watched. It’s the kind of show that shouldn’t be too expensive to produce so maybe it satisfied CBC’s expectations, but it was yet another reality show and no Battle of the Blades ratings-wise. Then again, how can you beat hockey players and figure skaters on Canadian television? The Dorothys didn’t do it.
So … what were your hits and misses in Canadian TV this fall?