By Diane Wild of TV, eh?
TV, eh? doesn’t usually post about Canadian shows airing outside this country — it’s beyond the mandate and manpower of the site, besides winding up being a meaningless list. There’s a difference between CBS picking up Flashpoint for primetime versus Intelligence airing on an obscure channel in the US in syndication on Saturday nights, for example.
But Syfy programming an entire night around the Canadian imports Continuum, Lost Girl and Being Human goes beyond the usual foreign acquisition news. An American channel is doing what no Canadian network has the will or guts to do: airing a full night of Canadian scripted drama.
That’s bad enough, but the real shame of the Canadian television industry is that no Canadian broadcast network apart from CBC has three homegrown scripted shows on their current schedule, period. Unless I’m missing some information, no Canadian network at all, broadcast or cable, has three scripted Canadian shows.
This winter, Global has Bomb Girls. CTV will have Motive. That’s it. Both networks are putting some serious marketing muscle behind those original shows, a strategy that paid off for the high-rated Bomb Girls’ first season, and if Motive tanks behind its Super Bowl premiere, CTV can’t be accused of hiding their one scripted drama behind a bushel.
Citytv has already moved the Seed premiere (to February 4) and hasn’t provided a premiere date for Package Deal, but it’s too soon to tell if they’ll do right by those shows promotionally and schedually (no it’s not a word) speaking.
Besides Bomb Girls, which has proven itself a winner, we can’t judge these shows on quality yet. But I’m not talking quality, I’m talking quantity — quantity that doesn’t include Littlest Hobo reruns or airing the same show across multiple channels. I’m talking networks who are barely, if at all, fulfilling their CanCon requirements. I’m talking networks who wouldn’t survive without the ability to substitute their commercials into a US network’s programs, who are screwed if they lose the protection of simultaneous substitution, or when the business model of television changes — as it already is — so that owning and selling content matters more.
The positive spin on the Syfy news is that it’s proof Canada is pumping out quality science fiction shows. The negative is that even Space, the equivalent Canadian channel, is only airing two new scripted series spread over their schedule now, Primeval: New World and Being Human … and in a bonus slap in the face to CanCon pride, refers in media releases to their Muse-produced version as Being Human (US) to distinguish it from the UK original.