The days are getting short, the leaves have started to change, the kids are back in school (except here in BC). Calendar be damned, it’s fall, and with it comes the new television season.
For Canadian TV, this is also the damned if you do, damned if you don’t season.
Do you put your original programming into the mix with the American shows and their massive marketing machine, or do you test just how little scripted content is required by the CRTC anyway?
Do you even have a spot left in your schedule after buying from all the US networks and trying to maximize your purchases by airing shows on your channel at the same time as the US channel, therefore allowing you to put your own ads into the US feed as well?
If you’re Global this fall, you don’t. They have no original scripted series in primetime this season. That seems an extreme reaction to the problem to me. Boo, Global.
CTV has a prime spot left for their million-plus-viewers-club medical drama Saving Hope, premiering September 22 before settling into its regular Thursday timeslot at 9 pm — for the first five weeks, nestled after aging but compatible Grey’s Anatomy.
City brings back Package Deal on Friday nights starting September 12. Not exactly a plum timeslot but it does get it away from stiff American competition and gives City something other than The Bachelor Canada (premiering September 18) and a little series called Hockey Night in Canada to promote.
CBC, of course, is where the CanCon action is this fall. Unless you’re looking for hockey (though they get to air some games despite not earning revenue from them. Sweet deal, huh?).
Due to shorter seasons for many series and a lot of scheduling real estate to fill given budget cuts and hockey losses, their fall season mostly starts in October, and reruns and the odd non-Canadian show as usual supplement the originals.
Returning shows include Heartland and Canada’s Smartest Person on September 28, Murdoch Mysteries on October 6, Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes on October 7, and Dragons’ Den and Republic of Doyle on October 15.
The new shows are where it gets interesting. CBC is taking some risks with the dark serialized drama Strange Empire by the writer of the very dark Durham County and premiering October 6. What sounds like a cross between Heartland and The Week The Men Went very much isn’t — in an 1869 frontier town, women struggle to survive after most of the men are gone.
Sci-fi drama Ascension is another outlier, both in content and in its later premiere date of November 25. The six-episode series likely won’t be able to rely on a compatible lead-in but hopefully the sci-fi crowd finds it on this unexpected channel.
In scripted series beyond the major broadcast networks, Teletoon is airing new series Clarence and Total Drama: Pahkitew Island starting September 4, Haven returns to Showcase with a two-hour premiere on September 18, Transporter: The Series returns to The Movie Network/Movie Central on October 5, and APTN has Blackstone returning on November 11 and Mohawk Girls debuting on November 25.
An upside to Canadian TV is that none of these series will be cancelled before the end of their current seasons, even if some of them on the private broadcast networks might get shuffled around to make way for changing US network schedules. So go on, get hooked on Saving Hope or Strange Empire: they’re here for the season.