Comments and queries for the week of Jan. 16

Readers were positively chatty this past week, with comments about Schitt’s Creek (an early ratings winner for CBC), the latest development news out of Canada that includes one TV series based on Pierre Berton’s The Last Spike and another on Nora Roberts’ book trilogy with former Lost Girl showrunner Emily Andras. Veteran TV writer Denis McGrath explained the nuances that go into what is considered a Canadian series when it comes to the Canadian Screen Awards nominations and some Bryan Baeumler fans voiced their opinions his latest show.

I loved that Schitt’s Creek didn’t feature an annoying laugh track. The giggles and belly laughs were coming out of me last night! Hilarious! Excellent! Love it! Hope they show two episodes in a row every week. Can’t get enough.—Karen

I like historical dramas, so The Last Spike sounds good to me. Also, Black Magick sounds good too. Pacific Spirit is something I’m really excited for.—Alicia

The determination was made that the Best Series category should be driven by and open to those shows where the primary creative personnel are Canadians. This would normally be the producer, the writer/showrunner, if there is a directing producer, i.e.: where was the show conceived and primarily developed? These shows would include made in Canada fare like 19-2, Flashpoint, Continuum, Motive, Orphan Black.

Series that have Canadian involvement at the industrial or craft level but whose writers, directors, and key decisionmaking come from elsewhere are eligible for the Best International Series Award, recognizing their unique position as pulling from labour and crews and artists from all over the world. In this way, the division is modeled after a similar split at the BAFTA Awards (the British Film & TV Awards). They basically do the same thing.

It’s easy to get confused because when people come in with money sometimes it’s said that they’re a “co-production.” That can mean maybe a U.S. or American channel gave money to the show, or bought presale or whatever.

But there’s a separate, legal defined term called a “treaty co-production” — which are governed by treaties Canada has with a number of countries. These treaty co-productions under the terms of the treaty count for 100% 10/10 content for the purposes of the Canadian broadcaster … but they might actually also include shows that are actually “Minority co-productions,” i.e.: where Canada as the partner has the lesser of the investment, and in these cases most often most of the primary creative decision making (showrunner, lead writer, directors, stars) is made outside of Canada.

So … sometimes a show like Orphan Black is called a “co-production” because it has a financial partner — but if you look at the production it’s actually legitimately 10/10 Canadian because the writing staff, the producers, etc., are Canadian.

And sometimes a show like The Borgias can be “deemed” under the international co-production treaty as being “10/10 Canadian” for the broadcaster, though when you look at it further, most of the creative decisionmaking isn’t made here. In cases like this, as per the way the BAFTAS do it, it can compete for International Series but not Best Series.

Once you get beyond the series level to the craft categories, none of that matters … and all craft categories are treated similarly. So you can have Costume Design or Sound or Editing on Orphan Black compete against the same artists working on The Borgias, so long as that work was done by a Canadian as the Canadian part of the international treaty co-production.—Denis

Glad someone posted something about Sarah Baeumler. I am finding it difficult to watch her. Perhaps it’s the editing, but she comes across as entitled. A $20,000 custom imported monster of a stove, and now she “will learn how to cook”? All we ever hear is how they need a big kitchen and space for all the family entertaining they do. I am more interested in the nuts and bolts of this construction, and the real obstacles people encounter in a major reno. That is why all his other programs have done so well. He’s funny and educational without being demeaning.—Mary

Sarah may be annoying, but she allows Bryan to shine and use his wit. Let’s worry about worse things.—Bob


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