Saturday, October 28, 2006


Read this Bill Brioux article in the Sun. He got wind of some big CBC TV directive saying that the network should dial back on the political satire shows that they show. You know, Rick Mercer, This Hour has 22 Minutes, the Air Farce, that sort of thing.

Brioux notes that these shows are doing pretty well by CBC standards, getting upwards of 600,000 viewers every week with Mercer pulling over 700,000. He thinks it's a bad idea to dial back on the satire shows and actually thinks these shows ought to be programmed on the CBC six days a week!

Hold on. I actually don't think this is such a good idea. I think the CBC has enough political satire shows as it is. If you put too many of these shows on you'll just turn off the people who don't like these shows in the first place, and then they'll go "click"! And it's not like these are huge hits. 700,000 is half-decent, but Corner Gas is doing a lot better than that. Most of CTV's lineup is doing a lot better than that. So this isn't such a good idea---- sounds like a quick-fix plan to me. Just like showing hockey games six nights a week would be a quick fix, too. It won't solve the CBC's problems in the long run.

If you wanted to put more political satire on the CBC, I suppose you could schedule a daily satire show that could be shown every night late at night, a la The Daily Show. That's something they could do. But there's too much political programming on the CBC as it is. One night of it is enough for most of us. What I will say, though, is that while programming more political satire isn't so great an idea, I do think more comedy is the way to go. The CBC, and this is beyond dispute, clearly has a rich history as a comedy network. This was the network that scheduled Wayne and Shuster, and SCTV, and Kids in the Hall! They should do more comedy shows in prime time, period. My contention is that these Friday satire shows are successful not because they are political satire shows, but because they are comedy. Period. So the CBC should play to their strength and schedule some more comedy, and get the hottest Canuck comedians on the schedule. Why should The Comedy Network have all the fun?

As for my previous rant that the CBC should get rid of the Air Farce, well, clearly the ratings say this show has an audience, so it may as well stay on the air. It's a lot more deserving of a place on the schedule than the rest of these CBC shows. Look at these figures: Intelligence: down now to 341,000. Jozi H: 233,000. October 1970: 105,000!!! I notice Rumours is over 200,000 now and the reality show Dragon's Den is getting upwards of 300,000. These numbers stink, folks, these are terrible! They have been running The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos every night after The National and it is just getting killed. It's losing something like 75-80% of the viewers from its lead-in, The National--- at least. I'm being awfully generous here. George just can't buy a hit show these days, his involvement in a show seems like the kiss of death.

I still think the big problem for the CBC is a lack of populist entertainment. They need more "cool" shows and more sci-fi, and more of this escapist stuff that the TV fans love to watch. Have you read these forums at places like Television Without Pity or at Ain't It Cool News? This is the hard-core, the people who can't live without their beloved television set!

These dedicated TV fans want to watch escapist stuff. No question about it. They want to watch HEROES! Or Battlestar Galactica! It should be no surprise that the most successful shows of the early TV season are escapist fare that attracts the younger viewers, like Ugly Betty or JERICHO. These are the types of shows that they do episode recaps for on these websites, and these boards are loaded with show gossip and rants. Those are the people you need to attract, these fanatics! These folks don't want to watch Dragon's Den, they don't want to see uptight middle-aged venture capitalists trashing struggling entrepreneurs every week! You know, it's a cheap show and it fills time, and it's a watchable show, I will grant them that. But what the CBC really needs to do is cater to hard-core TV fans and put on more shows like Doctor Who. They need to load up on escapist shows all over the schedule to reel in the hopeless TV addicts who frequent these message boards and create the buzz that every successful TV network needs. Because let's face it, without them the CBC is finished.

That's my CBC rant, now back to Hockey Night in Canada.

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