Everything about The Ron James Show, eh?

Safe is the Word for CBC


If you were excited by this season’s lineup of shows on CBC, you’re bound to like next season. Safe is the word for our public broadcaster. All primetime scripted programs have been renewed, and no new ongoing series have been picked up. Further details will be provided at the upfront in May, so I’d still have hope that a new series or two is up their sleeve if I thought CBC could afford even the sleeve in this second year of imposed austerity.

Promising but short-lived additions are a television movie based on Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes – which, among other accolades, won CBC’s Canada Reads competition a few years ago — and the Best Laid Plans miniseries based on Terry Fallis’ political satire, adapted for television by Susan Coyne and Jason Sherman. Coyne’s association with Slings & Arrows means I already have impossible expectations for that miniseries, as well as the no-basis-in-fact expectation that, like Bomb Girls, if the ratings are decent it could become a maxi-series.

My reality-hating heart has to admit excitement about Battle of the Blades’ return after a season’s hiatus. I didn’t watch it regularly but it’s entertaining and a unique format amid all the [American Reality Show Title] Canada series out there, and it could only be a more quintessentially Canadian idea if they made the skaters ride moose covered in maple syrup. I mean that as a compliment.

The no-brainers for renewal included the resurrected Murdoch Mysteries, which gained even more of an audience in its City to CBC transition, Republic of Doyle, Rick Mercer, Dragons’ Den and Marketplace.

22 Minutes should be a sure thing based on ratings, but never quite seems to be based on network neglect. Slightly more surprising is the renewal of the under-the-radar and lukewarmly rated The Ron James Show, which nonetheless must be cheap to produce and James has earned his place with the network (but it’s not as though that always means much).

There were three titles I scanned for in the renewal list to see which one or ones caught the axe. Mr. D and Arctic Air have declined drastically in the ratings after great starts the previous year, and Cracked, while not completely DOA, never came close to cracking a million. But they were all there. Everything was there except The Big Decision.

Another kind of person would praise CBC for giving shows with middling ratings more than a season or two to find an audience. That kind of person would have thought all of them were shows deserving of a greater audience in the first place, would refrain from pointing out a couple of them found and then lost an audience, and would not have written this post after the 2012/13 season announcement.

The fact that everything was renewed to me doesn’t indicate CBC’s faith in all these shows – seriously, all of them? – but that they had no faith in any of their shows in development.

In sticking with a stable lineup, CBC is coming closer to fulfilling its impossible mission of having to be all things to all people and, in the process, making its schedule look a lot like a private broadcaster’s should, if Canadian private broadcasters didn’t look a lot like American broadcasters. CBC is staying the course with a staid lineup, and fewer people will note the loss of innovation than would have noted the loss of even a mediocre scripted show.

By Diane Wild


CBC announces 2013-14 season



CBC Television, currently in year two of a three-year plan to manage funding cuts, today confirmed a number of new and returning shows for 2013-14, including a brand new season of BATTLE OF THE BLADES, expanded (full) seasons of MURDOCH MYSTERIES and REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, a mini-series based on the award-winning Canadian novel THE BEST LAID PLANS (PDM Entertainment), and a television movie adaptation of THE BOOK OF NEGROES (Conquering Lion Pictures).

The following favorites have been renewed and will return to the programming schedule:

  • 22 Minutes
  • Arctic Air
  • Battle of the Blades
  • Best Recipes Ever
  • Cracked
  • Coronation Street
  • Doc Zone
  • Dragons’ Den
  • the fifth estate
  • George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight
  • Heartland
  • In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita
  • Just for Laughs
  • Mr. D
  • Marketplace
  • Murdoch Mysteries (full season – 18 episodes)
  • The Nature of Things
  • Republic of Doyle (full season – 16 episodes)
  • The Rick Mercer Report
  • The Ron James Show
  • Steven & Chris

Further information about the 2013-14 season will be announced at a later


Wednesday: Rogue, Mr. D, Ron James Show, Arctic Air


Rogue, The Movie Network/Movie Central
Grace Travis (Newton) is a wife, mother of two, and Oakland’s best undercover detective. She’s adept at transitioning between suburban life and the docks where she’s been embedded for months with a criminal enterprise run by James “Jimmy” Laszlo (Marton Csokas) and his sons, Max (Matthew Beard) and Alec (Joshua Sasse). When Grace is abruptly pulled out of the field when her son is killed in a drive by shooting, her life is shattered. Four months later, the investigation into the death has gone cold and Grace, guilt-ridden and unable to accept the loss, has begun to search for answers. With the help of her mentor, Mitch (Ian Tracey), a link is uncovered between the death and Laszlo’s organization. Unable to convince her superiors that she is fit for duty, Grace goes rogue slipping back undercover as “Jackie Hays” in Laszlo’s gang.

Mr. D, CBC – “Culture Day”
It’s Culture Day at Xavier and Gerry wants what Dwyer already has. Leung admits to loving Lisa. Callaghan and Trudy work out a system to avoid Callaghan’s ex wife.

The Ron James Show, CBC
Knowing that the world has changed by leaps and bounds, Ron questions if things really are better? Exhausted medieval peasants are appalled when the King announces he has raised the age of retirement… to 27. Early adopters of a new invention called ‘the telephone’ learn the convenient new gadget can also dial up a huge amount of hassle. Meanwhile, when a mining company coal hole appears in L’il Ronnie’s backyard, it seems everyone wants a piece of the rock. Plus, in this week’s ‘Ode to the Road’, Ron breaks away from his usual poutine and learns to experience Montreal, QC in a whole new way. Featuring special guest stars, Sean Cullen, Cliff Saunders, Allana Harkin and Darren Frost.

Arctic Air, CBC – “Blood is Thicker Than Water”
Krista’s mother pays a visit to Yellowknife and throws Krista’s life into turmoil; and Bobby gets his first real chance to play “family” with Connor and Petra.


Wednesday: Mr. D, Ron James Show, Arctic Air


Mr. D, CBC – “Staff Retreat”
The staff are involved in an elaborate trust game that accidently reveals some of their darkest secrets. Robert’s trust exercise with his students fails miserably when he accidently locks himself in the closet. Callaghan and Malik compete in a friendly game of “who is the better athlete”.

The Ron James Show, CBC
Ron tees off on the crazed culture of consumerism, and what he has to say is not available in stores! Desperate for the latest iPhone, a man agrees to sell his soul to get his hands on the coveted technology, but if Satan figures out what he’s up to, there’ll be more than hell to pay. When Aunt Vivien is told she’ll require a motorized scooter after hip surgery, she quickly realizes there’s some heavy competition on the waiting list. Meanwhile, on Li’l Ronnie’s class field trip to Louisbourg, a single car-sick kid makes the whole bus sicker than an Irish fever ship. Plus, controversial, conservative radio host Buell Crawford wants nothing to do with “Buy Nothing Day”, as he remains steadfastly dedicated to his capitalist lifestyle. Featuring special guest stars, Kevin McDonald, Linda Kash, Jonas Chernick and Sam Kalilieh.

Arctic Air, CBC – “Skeletons in the Closet”
Bobby and Mel are stranded in an isolated community after their DC-3 is shot up on the airstrip; and Krista helps Loreen arrange a traditional burial for the bones of her great-great-grandfather.


Wednesday: Mr. D, Ron James, Arctic Air


Mr. D, CBC – “Poker Night”
Gerry orchestrates a staff poker night. Robert’s mentor is brought in to substitute a class. While Dwyers’s music classroom is under renovation, he is forced to share Gerry’s classroom.

Ron James Show, CBC – “Consumerism”
Ron tees off on our culture of CONSUMERISM, and one thing’s for sure — what he has to say is not available in stores! Special Guests: Kevin McDonald, Linda Kash, Jonas Chernick, Sam Kalilieh.

Arctic Air, CBC – “Hell Hath No Fury”
Troubled rock star, Delilah Fury, embarks on the northern leg of her comeback tour, and Bobby must keep her – and the tour – from falling apart.