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WGeh! – Why The Strike Is A Good Thing, Eh? (And Reasons Why Not To Kill Me)

In TV on February 1, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Let me start off by stating again that I support 100% the writers. Their demands are fair, etc., etc. But let me remind you that WGeh! is not being written simply from the point of view of a TV viewer but from the point of view of a Canadian TV viewer. And one thing Americans, for the most part, don’t have that Canadians do is Canadian Television. Not yet, anyway.
Home grown TV shows : They are rare in this vast wasteland we call Canadian TV but they are there. New shows such as MVP and jPod have appeared on the airways and joined veteran shows such as Corner Gas and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. They might not be the most watched shows on the block but they do attract a crowd. Looking at the BBN Canada ratings for January 21 to 27, CTV’s evening news was the only Canadian show in the top ten. But on a very positive note, Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes both made the top 30, in 13th and 30th place respectively. Why is this such good news? Beyond the fact they are both Canadian shows, they each went against a half-hour portion of the #1 show, the Tuesday broadcast of American Idol. Corner Gas also makes the list at #14. Why exactly am I talking about Canadian shows? Because they are one of the lucky who can benefit from the strike.

I’m certain that not only am I not alone in saying this but that I am also surrounded by people who don’t think what I’m about to say is true : I can’t stand reality shows. Sure I watched a bit of the oxymoronic programming before, but I just hate the damn things. I would stop watching TV before I start enduring them. And while LOST if finally back and the first season of Dexter, which I’d like to check out, will come to CBS, I’m a bit scared that all that’s left in the future for American Network TV is just more Survivor, Idol and American Gladiator. Where will we be able to turn for a drama fix?

The answer is homeward. Let’s talk about two shows I’ve watched recently. First off: The Border. The show follows the apparently fictional (Thanks Wikipedia) group ICS, as they protect the Canadian border from evildoers. There’s even Sofia Milos of CSI: Miami fame playing your stereotypical “I’m-more-important-than-you” US liaison. The series is drenched in Canadian references: Everything from CSIS to Native reserves to Quebec. From what I can tell from the previews for next week, there’s going to be some political scandal implicating strippers which might ring a bell since such an event actually happened, as you can see from this classic Air Farce clip. While some might say that injecting the show with so much Canadian-ness might make it less appealing to some, from what I saw, the effect was entirely the opposite: it made the whole thing not only seem more realistic but even make Canada seem – and don’t take this wrong but you know you thought of it too before – make Canada seem less boring. Terrorists roaming at large in the Quebec wilderness and mobsters loose in the Thousand Islands. That’s why the show is simply a must watch.

The other show is The Guard which, while not my cup of tea, does have a great theme song that I need to get my hands on. It follows the lives of members of the Canadian Coast Guard. It’s not my cup of tea because it’s a bit too much on the emotional, “I-have-problems-to-work-out” side but apparently many people found this tea to be just right.

I encourage you to check out episodes of The Border, The Guard and other Canadian shows online. It’s free and you can see for yourself if you like them.

Essentially, what I’m trying to show is that all us Canadians do have alternatives to either wasting a few neurones on Simon Cowell or worst yet, not watching TV at all. And fortunately, so will America.

CTV has sold two series to American networks : Flashpoint to CBS and The Listener to NBC. Apparently, according to this article, this will be the first time Canadian TV hits evening Canadian and American airways since Due South. The article goes on to prove that this isn’t an isolated incident : CBC’s Sophie could have been on ABC Family and The Border might follow Flashpoint and The Listener into American TV sets.

While, in CBS’s case, the show isn’t intended as strike backup, that doesn’t mean that the strike didn’t help in making the sale possible. And one has to wonder if any of the new or established Canadian shows would have done so well if the alternative wasn’t reruns or reality TV. It might be awful that American writers are out of work but it’s hard to say that this cloud doesn’t have a rather large silver lining.


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