Sunday, June 04, 2006



Here, I give you a link to this article in The Tyee, entitled Canada's Next Top Mishap, trashing the new Citytv production Canada's Next Top Model.

The jist of it is that this article trashes Canadian TV for not even being able to get a ripoff of an American reality TV show right. The show is excoriated for being dirt cheap (set in Victoria, B.C., yawn), and the article ripped the models who appeared as contestants. Supposedly they did a "Canada-wide" search for models to appear as contestants on this show, yet half the models are from BC and three are from Ontario. It's obvious all they did was put want-ads in the paper.

They also trashed Tricia Helfer. Having watched the show- well, part of it, I didn't really tune into all of it- I could tell right away that Tricia Helfer is no good as host of the show. It's so obvious that these folks at Citytv wanted to do a show, and the only person they could find to host the show was Tricia Helfer. She is definitely no Tyra Banks! Tricia doesn't have the 'tude, just doesn't have the bee-yatch qualities that Tyra brings to the job. Instead, she's just this nice Canadian girl, hosting this show! It's refreshing, I guess, to see that it's possible for someone who's so geniune and, dare I say it, normal, to make it in the modeling industry. If you've seen the American version of the show, and seen these judges (ie. Janice Dickinson), you get the impression that to make it as a supermodel that you must leave normality at the door and take on diva qualities, pretty much out of necessity. Anyway, bottom line is the hosts and the judges are no good on Canada's Next Top Model, they aren't weird enough.

Canadian Idol is inflicted with the same problem: you're sitting there watching, and you're basically going: "where's Simon Cowell?" Of course, if Simon Cowell were on that show, boy, it would ramp up the entertainment level of that series. He'd trash the singers, trash the outfits, probably insult people and claim these singers would fit in singing in some saloon up in the Yukon or somewhere. Really, many of these singers in the Canadian music industry look like they all camp out in the outdoors and drink beer all the time and wrestle with bears, and their singing sure reflects it. Simon Cowell would have a field day chewing out Melissa O'Neil and all the rest of these singers, definitely.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I agree with this Tyee article. Canadians do a terrible job ripping off American productions, and ought to forget it. It's not just reality shows they rip off, either- have you seen Entertainment Tonight Canada? With Cheryl Hickey?! I dunno how many more stories about Mary Jo Eustace I can take. (Her husband ran off with Tori Spelling or something like that.)


The big question I have is: why the heck isn't Canadian TV any better? I know a lot of Canadians say we can't compete with the United States, but that is utter bull. The truth is that the Americans are having trouble competing with Europe right now. Look at all the recent big reality shows and games shows on American TV that got their start in Europe: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Survivor, Big Brother, The Weakest Link, Deal or No Deal. Look at shows like The Office on NBC, which was the American adaptation of the successful British show. I watch a lot of these streaming TV channels from around the world and most of the shows that are the biggest hits internationally are these hit shows that got their start in Europe. I tuned into a station from Venezuela, and they had on Millionaire. So the Americans are basically getting all their ideas from the Europeans.

The other thing is that the Americans are now starting to rip off the Mexicans. My Network TV, this new venture from Rupert Murdoch that is supposed to replace UPN and the WB, is planning to rip off all these "telenovelas" that are a staple of Spanish-language TV.

Bottom line is that the rest of the world seems capable of producing trend-setting, huge hit shows that get bought or are outright-ripped-off by the Americans. My question is: why can't we do the same?! It is not as if Canadians have no talent, it's not as if Canadians don't watch TVs! Maybe it's because Canadians waste their efforts on producing (a) news shows, and (b) hockey games! Those are the most memorable shows this country has ever produced! As for entertainment, the only Canadian shows I can think of that were huge hits in the USA were these comedy shows like SCTV, Kids In the Hall, The Red Green Show and the Tom Green Show. Mr. Rogers got his start in Canada, too. But that was years ago. These days, we don't seem capable of producing a Big Brother or a Deal or No Deal type of hit show, something that sweeps the world! There's no reason why not, surely these networks can afford to produce an effort like that!

Instead, Canadians get stuck with junk ripoffs of American reality TV shows. They figure they'll reel in the same viewers if they do that. We also get stuck with all the junk home-renovation shows and other trash that seems to be a staple of reality TV in this country. Global TV shows a ton of these, like Diva on a Dime and all these other efforts. I've already mentioned Mike Holmes, Debbie Travis, and Dr. Marla Shapiro and all these other boring shows they host. No one I know of wants to see their shows on TV. Yet they litter the air in this country, for no reason!

You can't blame the CRTC for this: in fact, if it wasn't for all the CRTC requirements, forcing these stations to spend money to produce original Canadian programming, we wouldn't have any Canadian shows on TV at all. These networks would just show reruns from the USA, and Dr. Marla Shapiro could just go back to being a doctor.

No, the reason we have such lousy TV shows is because this industry is CHEAP! This whole industry in Canada is deficit-financed, so in order to get a show off the ground, you have to go to the bank and beg for tax breaks and various other funds from people-- all because the networks are too cheap to invest in any productions. They're cheap, so instead of bankrolling on an original show like Corner Gas that might actually make it big some day, too often they will go for the "sure thing" and rip off some American production, or do some cheap home-renovation show. They don't want to spend money, they don't want to take their chances on a show that might be innovative or groundbreaking. Even when they do dramas they don't seem to want to take chances on rising young talent; instead, they just bring back the same hacks who produced stuff before. The recent trend is toward making their hour-long dramas look like ripoffs of the American shows; then maybe Canadians will be fooled into thinking it's American so maybe they might watch! It's PATHETIC.

The whole Canadian TV industry is too conservative! No one is prepared to roll the dice on new ideas! You need to have people willing to roll the dice on a good idea because that's what you need to do to get a hit show off the ground. This is where the CBC is particularly out of luck: they need to invest in Canadian productions, but they are always second-guessed by all these political people and other interest groups who will complain if they bankroll a show that ends up being a flop. So what ends up happening is that they pass on Corner Gas, a show that would have paid for that entire network's entertainment budget had they bought it, and instead put on "safe" shows that ridicule Canadian politicians and newsmakers. Fat hope that people around the world will care about a show like that, there's no chance people in Australia or New Zealand will watch! Not even the American networks will care. The CBC is straitjacketed by these interest groups.

Bottom line is there is no reason why this Canadian TV industry cannot produce a huge, freaking, stinking worldwide hit show. It's simply that no one in Canada has the guts to put one on. It's pretty sad when the biggest hit Canadian show in this country is a ripoff of American Idol, which itself is a ripoff of a British show. We deserve better than to watch cheap, ripoff reality shows all the time.

1 comment:

karen said...

Watched CBC's new show 11 Cameras last night and I gotta say it was pretty good especially for the CBC of all places. It takes a while for you to get used to the webcam thing but it's strangely compelling -- kind of like when you're listening to some lame-ass yakking on their mobile on the bus. You want to ignore him, but you can't help eavesdropping. Most of the people on the show are fairly regular looking so it makes it feel fairly real. I know, I know, who needs more reality?!?! Still, it's pretty addictive except for the one Indian guy (Rog?) who keeps dropping his accent.