Draggin’ Economy Boosts Dragon’s Den

A week of high comedy in Ottawa continues to boost the fortunes of the Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes–just as a cratering Canadian economy has put an extra roar in Dragon’s Den. Whoa, Stephen Harper–who knew you’d go to such lengths to boost the CBC!
Mercer pulled 1,150,000 on Tuesday, the series’ third million-plus audience in a row. Viewers saw the comedian defy gravity as he bounced around a rapidly descending jet (It was sort of like watching that Skype-y Stephane Dion tape Wednesday night). It was the last new episode until the series returns in January. It’s all Grinch, Rudolph and Frosty for the next three weeks on CBC–and no, we don’t mean Mansbridge’s “At Issue” political panel.
While it must seem like shooting fish in a pork barrel, satirizing the knuckleheads in Ottawa helped This Hour Has 22 Minutes graze the 800,000 mark in their last show of 2008. Monday’s Dragon’s Den soared to 1,007,000 viewers as the series nears its third season finale. With unemployment on the rise, Canadians are tuning in en mass to see how to become entrepreneurs in their next careers. Next Monday’s show was supposed to be it but ratings are on such a roll CBC ordered a 12th episode, which will air Jan. 11. (Okay, but, like, Fox would have ordered 20 more.) Host Dianne Buckner says to expect some dish from the dragons as well as follow up stories from some of the budding entrepreneurs featured this season. For more on Dragon’s Den, see my story filed today for The Canadian Press here.
Even Wednesday night CBC comedies Little Mosque on the Prairie (633,000) and Sophie (438,000) were on the rebound this week, boosted no doubt by the comedy stylings of Stephen Harper and his “PM’s Address” as well as the follow up “Dion YouTube Blooper Reel” at 7 p.m., carried on all three networks (CTV: 1,044,000, CBC: 926,000, Global: 595,000. UPDATE: Another 338,000 caught the PM’s Wednesday address on CBC Newsworld, with even more–397,000–sticking around for Dion’s muddled message). It also helps that, with the November sweeps over, the U.S. networks are coasting toward Christmas, leaving CTV and Global with scheduled full of seen-it-already. It’s like they’ve been prorogued or something.
Other Canadian ratings numbers of note so far this week: Monday’s Jeopardy (1,012,000) continued that quiz evergreen’s strong showing at the supper hour. Wednesday’s So You Think You Can Dance Canada drew 1,439,000 as it dances down to the wire. Corner Gas pumped another steady 1,033,000. The Tudors was steady at 690,000. The Border sank to 546,000 against a stronger episode of Heroes on Global (913,000). The Fifth Estate did 447,000, with Global’s rescue series The Guard struggling at 306,000.
Friday night marks the 332nd and final regular season episode of the 16 year CBC sketch staple Air Farce (featuring Craig Lauzon as Stephen Harper, right). Producers Roger Abbott and Don Ferguson both told me this week that they’ve had to tear up and revise several scripts as the political story lurched from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Since the series is no longer shot live, but tapes Thursday night, they lucked out when Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean quickly pulled the plug on Parliament Thursday morning. The Farce is still with them! The final ever Farce broadcast will air on New Year’s Eve, when the troupe bows out with a last blast of the chicken cannon.

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