Wednesday, May 22, 2013
CBC Has Much To Celebrate
Suppose CBC threw a big celebratory party and the guest of honor was a no show?
That's exactly what happened yesterday at CBC's Toronto headquarters as CBC rolled out the red carpet for its fall season of shows.
But the person directly responsible for all this hoopla went missing.
That would be ace programmer Kirstine Stewart who just jumped ship to become president of Google Canada.
But Stewart's fingerprints are all over the fall schedule.
For one thing CBC is building on success not failure for the first time in years.
A number of its hour long dramas are returning amid a higher ratings boom.
Let me start with the now venerable family series Heartland back for a near record seventh season.
I spoke to the two personable stars at the launch --Amber Marshall and Graham Wardle --who look remarkably young for such seasoned veterans.
But they're also facing the problem of success in being closely identified with such a huge TV hit.
Marshall told me she now has her own magazine and doesn't at all resent such a close identification with the character of Amy.
Wardle says he's guested on an episode of Supernatural for some contrast and just hopes the series continues delivering solid family entertainment.
"About being type cast I'll deal with that in the future."
Then it was onto Murdoch Mysteries which is also in Season Seven --not bad for a period drama that got dumped a year ago by Citytv.
In an unusual move CBC picked the series up and it now is recording record high ratings.
"Even the City reruns are way up in the ratings," jokes star Yannick Bison.
I recall I first interviewed Bisson on the set of the 1984 TV flick Hockey Night when he was 17.
"Actually I was 15," Bisson interjects.
He took over the role when it switched from TV movies (starring Peter Outerbridge) to the hour long drama format.
"This season we hit 1901," Bisson says meaning the death of Queen Victoria must be dramatized.
The set of Murdoch has had to be cut up and shipped to another film site twice and Bisson jokes "each time when it is reassembled it looks better with the additions."
And, yes, Murdoch does have a U.S. audience."We're on Netflicks already --I know from the fan mail."
Next up I'm chatting with Allan Hawco who is celebrating the fact "We survived on Sunday nights, the most competitive night of the week, yeah I know."
As a reward CBC is plopping ROD into the Wednesdays at 9 time slot.
"Ratings should pick up," Hawco is saying. optimistically. And he promises that Gordon Pinsent will be back "and maybe also Paul Gross if he can fit it into his schedule."
Hawco says the show is well received abroad "even in Britain where they wonder if my accent is Irish. It certainly is not."
ROD, he believes, succeeds because of its characterizations. "It's solidly Newfoundlander material. Selling it abroad is the icing on the cake."
And now over to Cracked which is the baby of the series bunch moving into its second season.
The first season was "hectic" allows star David Sutcliffe who returned to Canada for the role of Detective Aidan Black.
He started his acting career in T.O., moved to L.A. 14 years ago and has worked consistently (his U.S. last series was Private Practice).
"I'd agree the first few episodes were somewhat disjointed," Sutcliffe allows. But the show grew cohesive by the week.
Shouldn't Cracked really be a 10 p.m. show? I ask and Sutcliffe nods. But, of course, CBC News reigns supreme at 10.
"I'm amazed at the amount of violence we dramatized given it was on at 9 p.m. and on the CBC."
Cracked gets a new lady lady in Brooke Nevin who is best known as Ted Danson's daughter on CSI.
And just to point out not everything on CBC is a returning favorite.
New series include the comedy The Best Laid Plans, the crime drama Crossing Lines starring William Fichtner (Prison Break), a show about antiques titled Four Rooms and the reality series Recipe To Riches.