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April 20, 2014

Great Moments in Canadian TV 2000-2009

by Stephanie Earp, posted Dec 22nd 2009 11:14AM


10. CBC Gives 'The Tudors' Royal Treatment
By 2007, long-form historical dramas like 'Rome' and 'Elizabeth I' were established award winners, but incredibly expensive to produce. By joining a multi-national production alliance that includes Showtime in the US, CBC managed to get its claws into a Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning show, which in the US, has set some ratings records. Granted, 'The Tudors' has had a mixed critical reception, but it continues to do well with viewers.

9. Ron Rescued
In 2001, Ron MacLean was ready to leave his job at 'Hockey Night in Canada' and the CBC. When word leaked that the Ceeb wasn't willing to fulfill Ron's contract demands, Canadians revolted. Who else, they figured, would be able to contain Don Cherry to his allotted minutes on 'HNIC'? Public pressure resulted in a quick about-face from the broadcaster, and Ron is still safely ensconced to this day. And really, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

10. CBC Gives 'The Tudors' Royal Treatment
By 2007, long-form historical dramas like 'Rome' and 'Elizabeth I' were established award winners, but incredibly expensive to produce. By joining a multi-national production alliance that includes Showtime in the US, CBC managed to get its claws into a Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning show, which in the US, has set some ratings records. Granted, 'The Tudors' has had a mixed critical reception, but it continues to do well with viewers.

9. Ron Rescued
In 2001, Ron MacLean was ready to leave his job at 'Hockey Night in Canada' and the CBC. When word leaked that the Ceeb wasn't willing to fulfill Ron's contract demands, Canadians revolted. Who else, they figured, would be able to contain Don Cherry to his allotted minutes on 'HNIC'? Public pressure resulted in a quick about-face from the broadcaster, and Ron is still safely ensconced to this day. And really, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.



8. The Rise of the Franchise

As American reality shows came to dominate the airwaves over the last ten years, the franchise show was born - and Canadian editions of popular US shows started popping up as fast as Tim Horton's shops. While some may argue that this shows a lack of originality in programming, you can't deny the experiment has been massively successful, with ratings hits like 'Canadian Idol' (well, the ratings were good for a while) and 'So You Think You Can Dance Canada' and critical hits like 'Project Runway Canada'. In fact, the Canuck edition of 'Runway' outshines the original. The best part of this success? Jobs and exposure for Canadians behind and in front of the camera, plus Canadian talents like Evan Biddell, Jacob Hoggard and Tara-Jean Popowich get the recognition they deserve.

7. Trailer Park Chic

By 2006, most Canadians knew that 'Trailer Park Boys', which had debuted on Showcase in 2001, was a national hit. A cult show, to be sure, it wasn't for everybody, but by mid-decade almost everyone had heard of it. Still, it came as a surprise when the 'Trailer Park Boys' expanded into a feature film, which was actually released in the US. And placed 11th at the box office the first week of its release. Think about that for second - a Canadian movie based on a Canadian cable show made $1.3 million in the USA in its first week. And despite the show's end in 2008, it's still a viable franchise, with a second feature film released only a few months ago.

6. Mike Makes It Right
An unlikely television star even by Canadian standards, Mike Holmes has become an international brand. His first show 'Holmes on Homes' airs in the US, New Zealand, the UK, Germany and South Africa. He is probably the only man to receive a marriage proposal from Ellen DeGeneres. The wave of popular home decor shows has brought fame to many - including fellow Canadian Debbie Travis - but Holmes stands out as the most sincere. How could he be anything but in those overalls? Holmes has been credited with raising the profile of the skilled trades, and is a tireless fundraiser.

5. Anthem Wars

Over the last decade, many sports events we're used to seeing on CBC have hopped the fence to private broadcaster CTV. The Olympics are obviously the biggest example. But perhaps the greatest blow came after the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, when the iconic 'Hockey Theme' changed hands, becoming a CTV property. CBC says the price for the music (over $2 million) was too high for a crown corporation, and when they announced they would seek a new theme, CTV ponied up the dough. For a few weeks, Canadians were either angry or triumphant about the political boondoggle - and then we all went back to just watching the game.

4. Butt Gets Gas

In 2004, comedian Brent Butt debuted his show based on a simple question: what would his life be like if he had never become a comedian and had stayed in his home town, pumping gas? The result, 'Corner Gas', is one of Canada's greatest TV success stories. It had critical acclaim, it made money, it was popular in other countries including the USA, and most of all it was actually funny. Like all the great sitcoms, it generated catchphrases and terms still in use in pop culture. For example, local tourism watchword 'staycation' was a Butt original.



3. Serious George

Is there anything more humiliating than finding out your Mom has the same boy-crush as you? If so, then we were a nation united in embarrassment when MuchMusic's George Stroumboulopoulos jumped ship to CBC and debuted with 'The Hour' in 2005. He used to be a private pleasure, now he's "Canada's boyfriend." George has a gift for finding the meat in the most frivolous of stories, and making the most serious stories personal. Anyone who can handle Larry King, Adrien Brody and Sean Avery with equal aplomb clearly deserves his own show. George's excellent reputation makes it possible for him to book guests that usually shun Canadian promotional appearances. But his rise to fame is bittersweet, for some. My generation misses having him all to ourselves.


2. To Boldy Go Back to School
They say Hollywood is out of ideas - apparently the disease is catching. 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' is now the fourth series to come from the Degrassi universe, which made its first appearance back in ancient times - 1980. In all its incarnations, 'Degrassi' has managed to walk a fine line, delighting its teen viewers with controversial and truthful storylines, and keeping its Canadian cred with unvarnished production techniques. For my generation, its hard to imagine a Canada without a version of 'Degrassi' on the air.


1. Here Comes the Gravy
For a few days in 2009, we as nation were proud call Jian Ghomeshi one of our own. While interviewing the notoriously taciturn Billy Bob Thornton on his radio/TV show 'Q', Ghomeshi ran into every interviewer's nightmare. Thornton alternately refused to answer questions, answered them in nonsensical tirades and topped it all off by insulting Canadian crowds. Ghomeshi didn't rise to the bait, and acquitted himself with all the grace and good manners we Canadians pride ourselves on. Thanks to a YouTube clip of the incident, Billy Bob faced an angry crowd the following night at Massey Hall in Toronto, who chanted 'Here comes the gravy' in response to his comment that Canadian audiences were like potatoes without the meaty sauce. Thornton's band mysteriously dropped off the tour (opening for Willie Nelson) soon after.

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