Is Flashpoint the Turning Point for Canadian TV?

Since we're talking about Canadian TV here lately…
During the writer's strike, CBS and NBC looked the the Great White North for replacement programming. CBS snagged the Canadian series FLASHPOINT and NBC grabbed THE LISTENER. 

FLASHPOINT did modestly well and is coming back for more episodes next month, THE LISTENER hasn't aired yet. But Globe & Mail TV critic John Doyle seems to think FLASHPOINT already marks a significant turning point for Canadian TV: 

FLASHPOINT changed everything. It benefited from the paucity of new shows available in the United States, thanks to the Writers Guild of America strike, but as soon as it became a hit, it brought the Canadian TV industry alive with hope and ideas. It also got better, episode by episode. And it showcased great Canadian actors to Hollywood and the world.

I think it may be too soon for the Canadians to assume FLASHPOINT is a major game-changer for their industry (or a certified hit on American TV).

It's certainly not the first time a Canadian show has been tried on U.S. primetime. CBS has toyed with Canadian content many times over the years…first with their "Crimetime After Primetime" latenight  schedule of Canadian shows (NIGHT HEAT, ADDERLY, DIAMONDS, etc) in the 1980s. They occasionally tried out the shows in primetime without success. And in 1994, CBS carried DUE SOUTH in primetime for a couple of seasons but it failed to spark a wave of home-grown Canadian programs on American airwaves (to be fair, it wasn't a true Canadian series, though. FLASHPOINT is set in Toronto….DUE SOUTH was a twist on McCLOUD, bringing a Canadian Mountie to Chicago).

Five or six years ago, UPN aired the popular Canadian series POWERPLAY…and cancelled it after just one disasterously low-rated airing. And, more recently, Lifetime briefly aired the Canadian vampire series BLOOD TIES to little notice.

It will be interesting to see if FLASHPOINT can hold its own now in a much more competitive environment than it faced during its initial airing…and if lives up to all the hopes the Canadian TV industry seems to be pinning on it

10 thoughts on “Is Flashpoint the Turning Point for Canadian TV?”

  1. One thing about the Canadian industry is the government funding that sometimes falls behind it to sustain it. At a time when industry people, like yourself, have expressed some concern about the plans to add Leno to an earlier slot and give more comedy and less drama in the programming, Canadian shows will still get made. It may become an inexpensive alternative (as opposed to producing a brand new show) for other networks to try implementing. Personally, I don’t watch much late night tv and the idea of watching comedy earlier doesn’t appeal to me, so I’m going to hunt for drama if I’m going to watch anything. I think it will depend on how the other networks respond.
    (And did US networks try Corner Gas?)

  2. I’ve liked the Canadian series I’ve seen, “Da Vinci’s Inquest” and “North of 60” quite a lot and would buy the complete set of these shows when availible.
    I know you don’t share the same feelings for them. I am one who goes overboard in praising these series, and haven’t seen “Flashpoint,” so can’t rave about it yet.
    Still think your site is great, easy to rave about.

  3. Corner Gas didn’t get to the broadcast networks. It has, however, gotten a strong push from cable network WGN, who were running it in multiple slots in primetime for months there. Alas, it looks like it’s now slotted for 1:30 AM and 4 AM slots, so I guess it either didn’t take or it burned through its welcome after a few months of heavy circulation… but it was good to have such a full run of an enjoyable show to discover.

  4. I stand corrected…but it’s no wonder I didn’t know that Corner Gas was being broadcast here. WGN isn’t a network, it’s a Chicago television station that is also carried on satellite and cable services outside of their area. WGN broadcasts mostly old reruns (I DREAM OF JEANNIE, THE HONEYMOONERS, MATLOCK, etc.) and Chicago sporting events.

  5. Great topic, Lee! I’m glad that Pete Medina mentioned “Da Vinci’s Inquest.” I love that show, and I saw it only because I had read about it in a history of Canadian TV entitled “TV North: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Canadian Television.” I set my VCR timer to catch Vancouver’s complex coroner when NBC New York (nice alliteration, eh?)showed it at about 1:35 a.m. on Sundays.
    That well-written show employed decent production values and quite a good cast. I much prefer it over the CSI shows (although I do watch the Miami version from time to time–great setting, interesting crimes from the scribes.
    I read the other comments with interest because I have always felt that the canadians haven’t taken their best shows seriously. For example, America’s “Hee Haw” is being sold on DVD but not “The Tommy Hunter Show.” Instead of silly sketches just twenty-five years of the best music that Nashville and Canadian country musicians had to offer. The CBC doesn’t think enough of it to release it in spite of the huge ratings that Tommy won when they produced a retrospective special back in 2002. Even that is not on DVD.
    I will be looking forward to “Flashpoint.”
    Lee, have you ever seen “Wojeck?” I didn’t watch it as a child even though I grew up next to the border.
    It is even harder to watch canadian broadcast channels in Northern New York now. The signal isn’t as strong as it used to be. I wonder what the FCC is up to? I believe it was the History channel that broadcast Michael Maclear’s “Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War.” Our neighbors have valuable perspectives on things. Some people may not want us to hear them.
    Keep up the great discussions!


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