|22 Minutes. The show’s back, but look for cast changes|
Shh–it’s Friday, a good day to slip the following release into mailboxes: “CBC Television announced 17 returning shows for the 2011-2012 season.”
Some are no brainers–Dragon’s Den, Battle of the Blades and The Rick Mercer Report are all hits, as is Sunday drama Heartland and Wednesday’s Republic of Doyle. 22 Minutes got a well deserved pickup after a shortened, rebounding season. Friday night comedy The Ron James Show is back.
Beyond that, there’s a bunch of shows any other network would probably consider to be “on the bubble”–close to renewal but too early to call. CBC are calling them renewals anyway. They include Being Erica (which has slid steadily in the ratings for three years), Little Mosque (down to a fifth of its original audience) and George Stoumboulopoulos Tonight, which was tweaked to little effect in the ratings this season.
Marketplace, which is a bigger hit this season than Republic of Doyle–on Fridays–is also back, as are long-running magazine shows the fifth estate and The Nature of Things.
Left off this renewal list are 18 to Life, Men with Brooms, Village on a Diet and that Debbie Travis Extreme Makeover makeover, as is Just Four Laughs. The public network did not have a very successful fall or winter in terms of launching new hits. CBC is showing patience with another newcomer, InSecurity, a January start that opened well but has tailed off in the ratings. Renewing it now seems odd given its on-the-bubble status, but nobody wants to go 0-for when it comes to development. The spy comedy drew an overnight, estimated 449,000 viewers this past Tuesday, down slightly from the week before.
Network media relations boss Jeff Keay says its too early to say if 22 Minutes is back for 12 or 18 episodes or similar such details.
Two other talked about shows that will be back next fall are Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. The network confirmed that both are under contract into 2012. Executive vice president Kirstine Stewart has said recently that both will go as the network sheds its few remaining imports. Shows are in development to replace the popular import gamers.
CBC has also ordered five new shows for 2011-2012. They include Mr. D, starring Toronto-based stand-up comedian Gerry Dee. Also new: Michael Tuesday and Thursdays, a comedy written by Bob Martin and directed by Don McKellar starring Martin, Martha Burns and Jennifer Irwin; the co-production Camelot, a sword and sandal epic starring Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green that premieres Stateside on Starz in April; a new show from cranky Dragon Kevin O’Leary titled Dealer to Leader and something called Cover Me Canada.