Friday, June 03, 2005

GLOBAL TV IN THE RATINGS TANK, ENDS "TRAIN 48"

Global TV has a lot of work to do with its lineup.

Read an item in one of the papers (I think it was the Globe) that said they used to dominate Thursday nights with Friends and Survivor, and the Apprentice, but now they are getting killed by CSI, Law and Order and American/Canadian Idol over on CTV. Even The Amazing Race is a runaway hit in Canada- it's a bigger hit in Canada than in the United States. Meanwhile CTV has also picked up Lost and Desperate Housewives, and those look like genius decisions today, even though in the entertainment business, as William Goldman once pointed out, "nobody knows anything."

Over at Global, it's a mess, largely because all their hit shows have been cancelled in the 'States. Friends and X-Files are gone now, and so are the ratings. The Globe says 18 of the 20 hit shows in Canada are CTV shows, which I found a little hard to believe. Until I looked at the ratings. And yes, the only two shows on Global that get any ratings these days are Survivor and the Apprentice. The rest of their lineup has just tanked. It's actually pretty shocking how bad it is over there. But what do you expect when you put on junk like those Fab Five guys and Last Chance for Romance, and all those crappy FOX shows? Their lineup of FOX "Animation Domination" cartoons is being creamed by Teri Hatcher and those housewives on Sundays, and their lineup of FOX shows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays must contend with everyone flipping the dial to CTV to watch Idol on the same nights. They might as well put up a test pattern against Idol.

They also had on Last Comic Standing which was a big help to the ratings, eh? Sadly, Global got what they deserved in the ratings department, folks.

The other problem is that they aren't doing too well in developing Canadian shows; again, CTV has Ben Mulroney and Canadian Idol to thank, plus they have a hit in Corner Gas and lure the young viewers in with Degrassi. And the CBC has every Canadian show under the sun. Global has Canadian shows, too, but nobody watches them. They tried late night TV with Mike Bullard, but that did so well that Bullard had to be yanked from the air. And Global has a lot of co-productions going with the States so you get a lot of shows on Global that are made in Canada but have nothing to do with the country, set in the USA or in the tropics or somewhere. So in the end nobody in Canada cares about them. Even CityTV has more identifiable Canadian shows, like Ed the Sock (!). Global did have Traders for a long time, but that show is long gone.

Now they've cleaned house and are trying to make some changes so they can get back on a winning streak. One of the first to go is Train 48, that absolute no-budget waste of time with a bunch of people riding a GO Train on a commute home and making up their lines as they go along. It was on pretty much every day at 7PM on Global, occasionally pre-empted by Entertainment Tonight and Must-See-TV on Thursdays. I know people are moaning about its cancellation already, but personally I will NOT miss that show AT ALL.

In a way getting rid of this show is good news and bad news for Global at the same time. On the one hand they got rid of a boring, waste-of-time show that ranks with the truly terrible productions of Canadian TV history... like Ed the Sock, for example. (I was going to mention it in the same breath as The Trouble with Tracy, but decided not to- no show could be as bad as Tracy.) So getting rid of Train 48 frees up some real estate on TV for something better- which, quite simply, ought to be easy to find. That's the good news.

The bad news is this was a show everyone could point to and say "oh yeah, Train 48! That's that Canadian show on Global!" So it was something Global could point to and everyone could say nice things about how Global is putting money back into Canadian production and into Canadians' pockets. Personally, I don't care if a show's Canadian; if people watch the thing, then good, it should stay on the air. But like every other show, if it's a piece of nonsense that gets bad ratings, you have to get rid of it. The problem with too many Canadian productions is that they stay on the air because they're Canadian, not because they're any good. They're using the CRTC Canadian content rules as an excuse to keep their lousy production going. As a result, these shows give all Canadian content a bad name and make all Canadian productions out to be mediocre, second-rate trash, even when they aren't. But people whine and yell whenever someone tries to pull one of these crappy Canadian shows off the air, and they use the excuse that the Canadian networks aren't promoting Canadian productions, etcetera, to account for their show's rock-bottom ratings. Train 48 has no such excuse, though: Global TV promoted the heck out of it and gave it a prominent time slot. Now it's over.

So Train 48 is gone, and I say that's good. Maybe I'll have a choice on the dial at 7PM for a change, and I won't have to tune in to Wheel of Fortune.

Anyway, we'll see what Global has up its sleeve. They need to do something, fast.

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