TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television | Page 2
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “Toronto the Bad”

I loved last week’s episode for a couple of reasons. The first was some quality emotional roller coasters regarding William and Julia. I know it’s not a very popular opinion among some fans, but I enjoy it when a wrench is thrown into their lives. Relationships aren’t easy in real life and there’s no reason they should be on television either.

The second reason I enjoyed “The Philately Fatality” was the revelation that Watts may be gay. Whether he turns out to be or not—yes, he entered the butcher’s apartment, but that’s all we saw, other than a curious and excited look on Watts’ face—I love the journey this character has gone on and the way Daniel Maslany has played it. The writers and actors have created some truly memorable characters over the last 13 seasons and Watts is one of them.

Now, on to Monday’s new episode, “Toronto the Bad,”  written by Dan Trotta and directed by Sherren Lee. Here’s what the CBC has revealed about it.

While moonlighting as a cab driver, Higgins finds a dead passenger in the backseat.  

And here are more details from me after watching a screener.

Higgins takes on a second job
It’s been hinted at before; now Higgins has jumped into a side career as a cab driver to make economical ends meet. Higgins is known more for comic relief, but you can feel the lack of sleep he’s feeling as he drives around Toronto in the dead of night. It’s also an opportunity for viewers to see the seedier side of the city, something we don’t see on the show often. Kudos to director Sherren Lee and director of photography Yuri Yakubiw for making Toronto look so sleazy.

Brackenreid and Murdoch on the case
I always enjoy it when Thomas puts on a hat and hits the street with William. The old-school versus new-school take on investigating is fun to observe.

Mrs. Huckabee drops by
William and Julia’s neighbour, Goldie Huckabee (Jonelle Gunderson) swings by for a snoop, er, visit. It gives Julia the opportunity to show off some of their home’s decorations. Also, look for Annie Briggs (CLAIREvoyant) as Lucille Anderson, the owner of MacRury’s Billiard Hall; Erik Knudsen (Continuum) as Frank Rizzo; Ethan Burnett as Tim Little, and veteran thespian Jason Blicker (Jann, What Would Sal Do?) as David Dillinger.

A nod to Hill Street Blues?
Something Murdoch says to Higgins has me convinced Dan Trotta is giving a salute to the classic cop drama.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.


Link: Carter star Jerry O’Connell enjoying his moment in the spotlight

From Melissa Hank of Postmedia:

Link: Carter star Jerry O’Connell enjoying his moment in the spotlight
“I read this comedy about a guy who’s a cheesy procedural actor, and he moves to this small town and tells the cops how a cheesy procedural actor would solve crimes. It really made me laugh. Also, I didn’t have to do any research because I knew exactly who the guy was.” Continue reading. 


Comments and queries for the week of November 8

Love Watts, glad he hasn’t been written out of Murdoch Mysteries. —Patricia

Must writers screw up Murdoch Mysteries constantly, or maybe, it’s time to hire new ones? Yes to adding comedy, but stick to solving murders. Yes to Julia and William working together, not writers creating personal problems again. Crabtree’s new relationship is good until the writers destroy it. Watts is a Sherlock Holmes type crime solver until the writer’s agenda takes over. The new detective is a good addition, but will he around long? Sorry to be grumpy, but Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian TV treasure, to hopefully carry forever, eh? —Nolan

Writers do their own thing regardless of what fans want. Hélène Joy certainly has light duties for whatever reasons, but it makes me lose interest. Watts sounds like he wants to burp most of the time. I don’t care for the character but whoever is in charge of storylines are not consistent. First, he was in love with that world travelling girl, now he is interested in boys. Brackenreid once defended and protected an homosexual lodge fellow (as Murdoch pointed out), now he seems hell bent against them. Writers should know that fans remember these inconsistencies but they do not seem to care. As far as I am concerned, if they do not reunite William and Julia as crime-solving partners, if their relationship is just ‘Hi dear, bye dear,’ not even discussing William’s cases together, the showrunners might as well pack it in after this season. —Noele

Dixon is obsessed with Julia, this isn’t going to end well this season. Believe me! —August

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email or via Twitter @tv_eh.


Why popular TV shows are turning to mobile games

For the networks that broadcast them, television shows can be incredibly lucrative. The biggest TV shows make hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue. This article reveals that a 30-second commercial in Sunday Night Football will cost more than $600,000 and a 30-second commercial in the science comedy show The Big Bang Theory would cost advertisers more than a quarter of a million dollars.

However, the money-making potential of these shows doesn’t just end at advertising revenue. Many networks are turning to mobile games as a way to make more money and find new fans for some of their most popular series.

Reach the Audience Wherever They Are
The number of people who own TV sets or pay for cable subscriptions is dropping, and in 2018, revenue from pay-TV was just $4.4 billion. This means that broadcasting a show on TV is no longer the best way to reach the audience, and to get in front of fans, networks are having to come up with new ideas.

One of these ideas is to be available on streaming services as these are often available on computers, mobile devices, and games consoles. Indeed, mobile offerings have proven to be a great way to drive interest to different shows and products, with online slot games based on TV shows being just one of many examples of this in practice, as reported in this source. For example, the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire slot game is one of the many slots offered by LeoVegas, and PartyCasino, another online casino with a mobile app, has eight different casino games about British game show Deal or No Deal.

Reach a Younger Audience
Many of those choosing to go without a pay-TV subscription are those in younger demographics. This study reveals that the average age of someone who watches live TV is 56, as young people pay for subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu, and premium subscriptions from sites like YouTube. It’s great that older people are enjoying shows, but it means that TV networks may not be reaching everyone who may enjoy the show.

In comparison, the average age of a mobile gamer is 36.3 years old, making them nearly 20 years younger than the average live TV viewer. By releasing a mobile game, networks can reach this much younger audience, showing them why the characters, music, and story are so enjoyable.

Make Money When the Show Isn’t Being Made


Seinfeld went off the air in 1998 and yet the sitcom still makes millions of dollars. It was announced that Netflix had paid $100 million for the rights to show all 151 episodes. Not every show will be able to make that much money from streaming deals years after they stopped making new episodes, but mobile games can help networks make money when a show isn’t being made.

Fans of a show who would like to keep hearing the music and seeing the character may start playing mobile games to keep being entertained by the series. They may be happy to spend too, allowing the shows to make money when ads can’t be sold and streaming deals can’t be made.

The way that people watch TV shows may have changed, but releasing mobile game versions of these shows has kept on being popular. Fans don’t have to watch reruns just to enjoy their favourite series.


Why is gambling such a common theme for TV?

Gambling is one of the most popular pastimes in Canada, and it has been found that nearly 70 percent of the population has participated in some form of gambling in the past. Gambling games are characterized by being generally exciting yet simple to understand. With such a high number of Canadians being familiar with gambling, it has often been used as a theme within TV shows. Certain series have had gambling-specific episodes, while game shows have taken the concept of gambling and made it into a reality competition.

Thrilling and Relatable
One of the major reasons that gambling is often depicted on screen is down to the fact that it is strongly associated with excitement. A common trick to upping the thrill levels in a TV series is to include some elements of chance and gambling, in which the fate of the characters could go either way.

One recurring theme from works of fiction is to give the protagonist a tough ultimatum to deliberate. This dilemma, the result of which could go either way, is often used as a way to form a cliffhanger at the end of the episode. It isn’t always explicitly linked to chance or gambling, but the character’s choice can have dramatic consequences down the line. Jesse Pinkman opting to kill Gale at the end of Breaking Bad Season 3 is an example of this. The character had to wrestle the emotions of murdering an innocent man in order to save his own skin.

There have been some Memorable Gambling Scenes in TV Series
When TV writers want to up the ante in a more obvious way, they often send their characters to the casino. Here, they tend to play well-known games that viewers can relate to. With the rise of online gambling, more people are familiar with the rules of table games like roulette and blackjack, along with slot machines. When it comes to thinking of the most memorable gambling scenes that have been in a fictional TV series, there are quite a few strong moments to choose from.

Fans of Friends will fondly remember “The One in Vegas,” which was the double-length finale to Season 5. There were a lot of gambling scenes throughout the episode, but the most iconic was when Monica was on a run of good fortune at the craps table. Chandler joins her at the table and shouts out various promises to the crowd if she wins, such as that they will buy everyone a round of drinks. He eventually says they’ll get married if she rolls a hard eight, and she does.

Another hilarious gambling scene featured in the British sitcom, Peep Show. The protagonists decide to host a poker night because Mark believes that it is a manly pastime, and he wants to impress Sophie’s new boyfriend, Jeff. Mark doesn’t want to take any risks so folds at every opportunity, while Jez doesn’t know how to play the game but manages to bluff his way through.

Along with fictional series, many viewers will look back with delight on occasions in reality TV shows when people have gambled. There have been a few times in Deal or No Deal when players have been left with a choice between gambling the Banker’s deal to see if they can win the jackpot. Who Wants to be a Millionaire is also renowned for putting players in some tough spots as they aim to take down the ultimate prize.

Gambling is a Great Format for Game Shows
The developers of some of the most popular game shows ever invented have taken elements from gambling in order to create an exciting experience for viewers. Deal or No Deal, mentioned above, is one of the prime examples of a format in which players are constantly required to gamble. The original show was a Dutch offering called Miljoenenjacht, which means Hunt for Money. The 26 box format with regular monetary offers from a banker went on to be used in over forty different countries, including Canada in 2007.

The thrilling aspect of Deal or No Deal is the fact that players are constantly put into a position in which they could potentially lose or gain a lot money. In Canada, Cash Cab is one of the longest-running and most popular game shows. The Discovery Channel show presented by Adam Growe has been on air since 2008 and gives players the chance to gamble frequently with double or nothing questions. It seems that the easy to understand concept of gambling is one that translates perfectly to game show audiences.

Gambling is a common theme for TV series and game shows because it’s something that most viewers can relate to. While not everyone likes to gamble, they may enjoy the thrill of living these tough decisions vicariously through characters or contestants.