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Canada’s 2006 Fall TV Season

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This year’s television season is barely a few weeks old, but one can already discern certain patterns emerging.

The biggest faux pas to date was probably CTV’s showing of the second episode of Grey’s Anatomy, rather than the season premiere. A typical mistake for a typically dilettantish Canadian network. As in seasons past, the number-one commercial TV network in Canada has bought more shows from the U.S. than it can accommodate, which is why such new shows as Justice have been left off the Canadian broadcast schedule for several weeks. One can only hope now that they have acquired CHUM and the various CityTV stations across the country, they will be able to split their inventory between two outlets the same way Global has done for years with its Global TV/CH network.

Some of the new shows had been announced to the viewing public with much hype and advance praise, particularly Studio 60. Aaron Sorkin, however, made a fatal mistake. His West Wing was dropped like a hot potato, even by diehard fans during the show’s final two seasons, yet he felt it necessary to turn Studio 60 into a carbon copy of his previous failed show. Even the text inserts use the same font as West Wing. Reproducing the long-winded, nonsensical conversations involving Bradley Whitford walking and talking along long corridors that became the trademark of West Wing is not helping either.

Shaun Cassidy fell flat on his face with his show Invasion last year. It boggles the mind, therefore, why anyone would attempt a similar type show this season – yes, this is in reference to Jericho, which undoubtedly will last about as long as Invasion.

After the Seinfeld curse, some actors may now be in for the Everybody Loves Raymond curse: Brad Garrett, trying hard to land himself another hit sitcom, is likely to lose his new show, Til’ Death. Rumour has it FOX will not return the show after baseball goes off the air.

Vanished turned out to be a total flop for FOX (and Global in Canada). Despite some attractive “Canadian content” (Joanne Kelly), this show has had it, having failed to replicate the success of 24. At least, the show had an apt title.

The procedurals CSI and Law & Order are still around. The three Law & Order shows have undergone a number of cast changes, but overall, they are holding their own about as well as before.

Canadian export Howie Mandel is still giving NBC good ratings with his game show Deal or No Deal. But that success could soon be dampened by a new overabundance of game shows (1 vs. 100 and Show Me The Money).

ABC is about to make a colossal mistake. This fall, ABC is showing only six new episodes of its hit show Lost and then putting it on hiatus until February. This sort of programming style could prove fatal even for the most successful show. Instead, ABC should have followed FOX’s lead and returned the series in early January, followed by an uninterrupted run until mid-May.

But there are some bright spots this season too – at least in Canada: CBC has launched a smorgasbord of new shows, such as Intelligence, Rumours and Dragon’s Den. The latter is said to have had only about 250,000 viewers last week, but the show is truly refreshing. And what could be more fascinating than watching some Canadian bright minds trying to pitch their product ideas (and getting smoked by the Dragons in the process)?

Finally, if you are capable of handling British accents and live in Canada, you should definitely check out some of the fare on BBC Canada, such as Gil Mayo Mysteries and Hotel Babylon.

Thanks to British and Canadian content, not all hope is lost.

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