Just a quick post (which is part of the point of a blog — not everything has to be an essay)!
A few weeks back there were some shocked industry tongues wagging over the announcement that the Victorian-era crime/mystery series, Murdoch Mysteries, starring Yannick Bisson, was being cancelled by its Canadian channel, CITY-TV — despite apparently solid ratings and good international sales. It didn’t bode well as an example of the private networks and their commitment to Canadian programming — particularly as it’s not like CITY has a bunch of Canadian series on its schedule.
Anyway, in an essay I was writing (and is still a draft or two away from being posted — and might not get posted at all) I made a passing, off the cuff observation that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation should really give the producers of Murdoch Mysteries a call about giving it a new home on the CBC. After all, the CBC is still a bit shy in the successful series department…and the Murdoch Mysteries is a moderately successful (if not quite hit) Canadian series in need of a broadcaster with a greater commitment to Canadiana than, apparently, CITY has. It seemed like a not unreasonable alliance (Canadian TV has had past series that have jumped from one broadcaster to another…as has American TV). If Murdoch Mysteries can bring its audience to the CBC, it won’t be the network’s most watched drama (Republic of Doyle and Heartland have better numbers) but, assuming it can retain its existing audience (let alone build upon it), it would certainly be a respectable player for team CBC . (That’s an if, of course — TV series can lose viewers just by being switched to a different time slot, let alone a whole other network! At the same time, the CBC is available in more homes than CITY-TV, meaning there’s an equal possibility Murdoch Mysteries could see its numbers rise with the switch).
And I’ve just read that — that’s exactly what is being proposed, and the CBC is apparently going to pick up the Murdoch Mysteries!
Of course, I know some will see this as an opportunity to knock the CBC, blasting it as a failed network picking through the discards of other networks. Let’s face it, the CBC can’t so much as sneeze without someone (such as the Sun Media) claiming it’s spreading a plague. If you aren’t a fan of the Murdoch Mysteries and its decidedly old school, Agatha Christie vibe, you might see this as an example of the CBC’s stodgy, old fashionedness. But, first off, as I say: series moving from one network to another have happened before — yes, even in the United States, and is a perfectly acceptable programming gamble. More to the point, if a Canadian series, set in Canada, is winning respectable audience numbers…then I say more power to it and to any programmer who’s willing to support it. In a showdown between “edgy” and “populist” I’ll side with populist (though, ideally, there should be room on the dial for both).
So why is this significant?
Okay, it’s not that significant — except to me, for having idyly mused the CBC should look into picking up Murdoch Mysteries and, lo and behold, the CBC has. It’s like hearing a movie is going to be adapted from a novel, whimsically thinking about what actors would be good in the central roles…and then discovering those are the very actors the producers actually chose. It makes me feel a little better about myself, about my ability to read the industry tea leaves — which, as someone who writes a lot about Canadian film and TV, y’know, is kind of nice.
I may not have my finger on the industry’s pulse all the time, but at least I can sometimes read the ECG blips with some authority. So I shall indulge in a bit of smugness for a day or two.