Been a monster week for Canadian TV, topped with news that The Rick Mercer Report hit its highest rating ever this Tuesday with an estimated 1,275,000 viewers. That puts it ahead of CTV’s perennial made in Canada ratings winner, Corner Gas, which drew 1,230,000 Monday. (All figures BBM Nielsen Media Research.)

Even red white and blue Global had reason to wave the Maple Leaf flag for a change, with their B.C.-based drama The Guard opening to 813,000 viewers Tuesday. With CBC’s The Border up in Week Three to 659,000 viewers, Canadian scripted series are having the kind of week not seen in years.

Things got off to a fast start Sunday, with CBC’s live Test The Nation broadcast pulling 858,000 viewers. Even CBC’s new reality show, The Week The Women Went did well, with 770,000 tuning in for the estrogen exodus. Just goes to show you just have to give the viewers what they want: men looking like hopeless boneheads!

Why the sudden interest in Canuck content? Three factors: the U.S. writers strike has bumped new episodes of shows like 24 and Desperate Housewives out of the race, opening the field for Canadian shows to get sampled. It has also allowed TV beat writers to swing their full attention toward the Canadian fare, meaning more magazine covers, newspaper features and just generally more buzz. Finally, and most important, these are all terrific shows, worthy of a mass audience. Go Canada, finally.


  1. fun blog Bill! So do you think some CanCon shows have a chance of getting picked up in the US, or would that be strikebreaking? (could be a nice break for our Canadian writers to get noticed) – Janet

  2. Thanks, Janet, glad you like the blog.
    NBC’s Ben Silverman has told me and other critics that he is taking a look at content from Canada, either to import shows directly or to version them for the U.S. market. His boss, Jeff Zucker, is slashing costs like crazy, ditching the pricey May upfronts and proclaiming no more pilots, among other things. So a deal across the border is possible because it would be a relatively cheap pickup.
    I have a feeling, however, that with the WGA and the producers back in talks, everyone is hoping that strike will soon end. Once that dust settles, NBC and others might still look to cherry pick Canadian shows. It will all become clearer–and more complicated–when a new deal is struck.

  3. That’s interesting! Pickups may be attractive no matter the strike status because of $. Hope you’re right about the strike being close to end though, cos fallout must be affecting so many people. Janet again

  4. the only people watching the CBC are unemployed liberals without cable – there is a severe cultural deficit in this country – how are these ratings determined ??? I do not believe that over a million people sat through an entire 30 minute episode of Mercer’s lame show – we don’t have that many mentally challenged people in Canada

  5. And the brave anonymous dittohead chimes in!

    Seriously, I wonder how these guys always manage to pop up and say the same thing. Did the entire Alberta Report mailing list get jackbooted into comment mode? Are their anti-CBC comment farms somewhere in a secret bunker under Preston Manning’s ranch, toiling away like telemarketers with a frayed script.

    I mean, the least these guys could do would be to vary their rhetoric a bit I mean Jesus. Tom Cruise has more alacrity with the language.

    Poor cow, though, it must smoke you hard to know, all pathetic attempts to question the data aside, that that’s right — at least a million two hundred thousand of your countrymen and woman are lovin Mercer. Gosh, I bet even a few are from Alberta. That must make you so mad. We should give Rick to come out there and give you a great big gay smooch.

    Bill, thanks for the angle. It’s indeed great news. I only hope some of your colleagues pick up the drumbeat. It’s time we put a stake in the canard that nobody wants to watch Canadian TV.

    Just make it good, son, and do more than a half assed job of telling them when it ‘s on.

    And as an added bonus, you get to piss off guys like Anonymous 5:02, who better get to bed and dream of Glenn Beck if he hopes to get up tomorrow and write the same tired crap on some other post.


  6. Giddyup, Denis! There’s the passion that will drag Canadian television out of the ditch. Watch The Border, Monday nights at 9 p.m. on CBC.
    Now, Mr. Anonymous: For years in the Sun I dumped on the CBC, frustrated by all the boneheaded scheduling and stone-handed programming calls. I wrote an obit, suggesting the corpse had died peacefully in its sleep. I called Slawko a very sloppy dresser.
    That was always because, as a taxpayer, I have a stake in that place, a vested interest. I wanted to be proud of it and I wanted it to be in the TV game, not above it and therefore out of it.
    So, yes, dammit, when they do something right, and they have done many things right this month, many diverse things as a true broadcaster should do, I will stand up and applaud.
    The thing that really makes me stand and cheer, however, is that all these different types of shows are connecting with Canadian TV audiences at a time when network shares are dwindling, not growing. That means the impossible is happening–networks smell money in Canadian storytelling. CTV just ordered two new dramas. Global has a show to rally around and be proud of. Even if you always thought there was creative hope, this is something new–business hope. That is good news for all of us.

  7. dmc 9:33
    “Tom Cruise has more alacrity with the language”

    “alacrity” – that’s a big word for a guy that writes for Rent a Goalie. And what are the ratings for Rent a Goalie? 20 maybe 25 thousand?

    And what were CTV’s ratings while it is alleged that over 800,000 Canadians were watching CBC’s quiz show on all things liberal? Do you think the NFL playoffs on CTV attracted over 4 million viewers? Or was it 6 million?

    Your writing was more interesting Bill when you told the truth about the CBC – but maybe that’s why you were fired. As for CTV “ordering” two more dramas” who is paying for them? Taxpayers. The state has no business in the cultural industries. Let the market determine what is produced for Canadian television.

    The truth is that Canadian TV shows just aren’t that great – which is why it is difficult to even give them away to foreign broadcasters. It’s just not possible to make liberal indoctrination entertaining.

    As for DMC – shouldn’t you be writing for CBC’s new gay talk show? As for Glen Beck, it’s nice to know that “An Inconvenient Book” is even outselling Mercer’s heavily discounted tome in Canada.

    Final point Bill, what do you think is going to happen to DMC’s gravy train once the cable companies pull out of the CTF?

  8. My favorite toy when I was a kid, anonymous…and by the way, that’s a very courageous skirt-hiding stance you have there…ooooh, nelly, bein all bad and bold on the internet where nobody knows who I am sure is exciting, like!! — anyway, it was one of those battery operated crazy monkeys, that clapped two cymbals together. Always the same motion, the same noise, the same action, over and over, never any difference, never any variation… that’s comforting when you’re a child.

    So since you’re clearly and definitively in the clapping monkey camp, let’s just switch it up a bit and I’ll grade you like I graded students. (Which is a failed fiat already, since of course, the students were ostensibly there to learn and you’re so clearly past that)

    “that’s so and so coming from the so and so that wrote so and so…” Oh dear. Not a strong start my friend. That’s roughly the oldest clam in internet jousting. I mean, seriously, that was old when it was physicists talkin Star Trek. That’s the argument that was used against a slumming Faulkner and Manky when they went out to write for “the talkies.” It’s been thrown against David Chase and Alan Ball and probably Carl Reiner too, back in the day.

    “Why should I listen to you, who wrote for Sid Caesar, that hack.”

    The funny thing, there, anon, is that there’s not a writer in the world that shit works against. Because every one of them knows that you fight for your credits, and you love em like you can, and you know, bud, if you could do it, you’d do it — and not fulminate impotently and anonymously on a better writer’s blog post, out there reporting the facts.

    If you want to throw down and jump the insult train, do, by all means. but don’t use that moldy clam…seriously…nobody cares. And here’s news for you, pal. You can take third or fourth rerun numbers of RAG all you want, but the show draws real people to hockey events and meets, and charity events — and you’re sitting there pounding one handed hiding behind your lack of accountability. Coward. F for originality, F for cogency of argument.

    And what were CTV’s ratings while it is alleged that over 800,000 Canadians were watching CBC’s quiz show on all things liberal?

    Gosh, I don’t know there Skippy. But capital use of the word “alleged.” Now, here’s a sartorial question…do you go for the straight tinfoil hat or do you like a nice houndstooth pattern? “Alleged.” Wow. Seriously, that’s gold.

    I’d explain the U.S simulcast numbers to you..but I’m afraid your head would explode. But let me see if I can get your crayon-scrawled thesis straight – are, um, you saying one of the most exciting playoff games in effin YEARS drew more viewers than a quiz show on CBC, and that somehow proves your point that…what? Oh right, CBC bad. Okay. Um. Great. Yeah.

    You know what? That Giants game was so sick I can’t believe they got 800 000 viewers. Who knew there were that many left? Seriously. That was some game.

    You’re still an anonymous coward by the way.

    Let’s see, oh yeah, then there’s the bit where you, anonymous, small penised little troll like beast makes your pathetic little ego beat by anonymously (ooh, there’s that courage again!) trying to score points off the guy who writes with a byline every day. Hmm. Yeah, another bad form, limp, look at me ma I can throw poo argument — F for lack of courage, F for discipline.

    Then, let’s see, Glenn Beck — such a fan you get his name wrong, minus two points for that — oh and there we go, finally a question. What happens when the Cable co’s pull out of the CTF?

    Well, I guess, Doris, that then they end cable sub and all the other protectionist rules that support the broadcasters and the cable companies, and JIm Shaw and his buddies give up the favored breaks they’ve gotten from the government too, because it’s all equal, right?

    And then I take my upholstered ass down to California, which will be easy with my shiny U.S. passport. That’s right, Derwood. I’ve actually got one. I don’t have to be a self-hating, Yankee wannabe. I can go anytime I want. I choose to stay here.

    Oh god, that must just really kill you, huh? Especially since — allegedly — I and my gay-positive, Trailer Park lovin, CBC watchin friends are allegedly now actually reaching alleged Canadians?

    God, it must be lonely having seen every single thing you guys supported for the last eight years turn to shit. Cancer has a higher approval rating than George W. right now. It’s as discredited as Marxism, and you’re the guy marching in the square. C’ept of course you don’t have the courage to actually march – why should you, when it’s sooo much easier to post anonymously?

    Bill, thanks for letting me sharpen my teeth. Anon, I wish I could say that I’ve enjoyed your end of our little joust, but since you’ve proved yourself utterly incapable of saying anything that hasn’t been chewed over twenty times by your intellectual betters from both sides of the spectrum, I’ll just leave you with this:

    Thanks. I’ll be sure to make great sport of this, and you, when I tell the tale this weekend when I”m out in big, bad, evil Toronto. That’s right. Toronto. Where we’re all laughing at you, and your small minded, pedantic, pathetic, warmed over, bullshit reflexive anti-CBC, self-hating Canadian guff.

    But while we’re at it, I suppose I should thank you for the tax dollars. I mean, they’re not all that great, since of course you tend to make way less than people who actually watch CBC and support the CBC — but, hey, It’s something. Thanks.

    You know, I’m as het a guy as I’m likely to know, but I feel like maybe I should just buy a bit o gay porn tomorrow and throw it away, just so you can know that THAT’S WHERE YOUR TAX DOLLARS WENT! HA HA AH HA!

    Bill, I’ll be sorry in the morning, but thanks for letting me have a bit of fun.

    Overall, I’ll throw you a D minus just cause I tended to always find the really unoriginal thinkers would cry and stamp their feet if you called them on their utter lack of intellectual rigor…and also because my enjoyment of this was, oh, a B.

    Over to you, you pathetic, unoriginal, impotent anonymous nothing. I have to go and marshall all of Toronto to laugh at you now.

    That’s right, Toronto!

    TORONTO!!! Gaaah!

  9. hey Bill
    your blog has been hijacked by a secular progressive anarchist mentally ill gay liberal unemployed Canadian TV writer – DMC epitomizes everything I dislike about Canadian television – his condescending smug arrogance and the tired old cliches which dominate his fragile mind – DMC’s postings perfectly illustrate why Canadian television will remain unpopular in Canada

  10. Amor de Cosmos Reply

    No, no, Bill your blog was just hijacked by the most amusing bit of namecalling and verbal wedgies since public school – thanks for making my day.

    It’s obvious anon doesn’t believe in “alleged” ratings, but his six million football fans was actually 1.78 million. I’d think Test the Nation would be thrilled to achieve half that, which it did.

  11. Oooh. i don’t feel too good.



    Now I’m going to see if I can go take some more of his tax dollars and give them to a lesbian and her life partner so that they may raise a sweet little Chinese baby who will one day be anon’s boss.

    Or, hell, maybe I’ll just go see a movie in the middle of the day. I wonder if I can find any piece of entertainment that will support my anti-corporate, condescending and smug liberal views?

    I mean, I’ve seen the one with the joyfully pregnant unwed Haligonian already. Imagine — her parents were supported and she wasn’t shamed and made to suffer. How disgusting!

  12. DMC 12:43 PM
    “I wonder if I can find any piece of entertainment that
    will support my anti-corporate, condescending and smug liberal views”

    Bill, you’ve gone over to the dark side. I used to look forward to your columns in the Sun. Are you sure you want to align yourself with these people?

    You’ll just end up to be another indignant penniless casualty of Canada’s TV industry – just like that “writer” for Rent a Goalie – and I don’t want to see that happen.

  13. dmc 1:07 AM
    “oh yeah, and then there’s the bit where you, small penised little troll like beast… F for lack of courage,
    F for discipline”

    The only explanation for the rant of celebrated TV writer Dennis McGrath is mental illness – or substance abuse (which is rampant in the Canadian TV industry as I understand).

    I’m not the only Canadian who is disappointed with the quality of state sponsored culture in this country – even the cable providers are livid and want to opt out of the CTF. As Shaw points out, $2.5billion per year to finance programs that nobody watches – he was referencing Rent a Goalie, Kink, Housecapades, Hockeyville – it’s impossible to sit through more than five minutes of our state sponsored culture.

    That DMC would level an insane attack against someone who dares criticize the crap on Canadian TV goes to show how freaked out he is about his own failed existence. Tell your students to look for another way to make a living DMC – I mean look at you. You know what they say, if you can’t do something well, you may as well teach.

    Your posting is the work of a supercilious twit, a wannabe, a hack scribe with credits which are embarrassing and meaningless – and don’t delude yourself into thinking that you are some kind of cultural matriarch who will edify the complexities of BBM’s ratings system which count channel surfers as viewers – you don’t have the perspicacity to recognize failure, you can’t even afford to go out for fucking lunch.

    Go to California and see how long you last. “Please look at my reel, this is Rent a Goalie.” You wouldn’t get a job parking cars. Maybe you can work on Hillary’s campaign handing out leaflets at the next May-Day Parade you insolent pitiful egocentric
    mendacious loser.

    As for my anonymous posting – this blog site provides the option of anonymity – consider me to be representative of the vast majority of Canadians who do not watch Rent a Goalie. That’s right, $2.5billion per year (quoted by Shaw Cable) for programming that is watched by less than 2% of the population – and those are the success stories of Canada’s failed TV business – if you had a nickel for each Rent a Goalie viewer you could pay your rent next month – loser.

  14. Ahhhhn, now I got it.

    Hi Jim. Shaw, that is.

    Millionaire monopolist, whose daddy bought him a cable empire on the backs of good old fashioned breaks and protectionism — the very stuff old Jimmy (now in his super secret identity as the anonymouse) now decries for others.

    I kid, of course, as I have through the thread. Jim Shaw at least has the ego to attach his name to his pique.

    But our anonymouse here, when he’s not spouting microwaved talking points, manages nothing approaching coherence; he can’t get simple facts right.

    He references shows that Jim Shaw was talking about, but sadly, none of them match up. In the aftermath of Shaw’s footstamping tantrum and the subsequent report, the CRTC was of course bowled over by a record number of submissions and interventions; the vast majority of which pointed out the distortions, lies, halftruths and phantasms that drove the Shaw side of the argument in the first place.

    None of the nitty gritty of any of that is worth going into here, because anonymouse can’t get level one facts right. It would be simply excruciating to see the Alberta Report talking points spin he put on the actual facts.

    So let’s just restrict it to this. Anonymouse, the shows you mention weren’t part of Shaw’s anti CTF ads. In fact, he bizarrely didn’t name many shows at all — just genres, one whose description has left everyone scratching heads for months now. Something about shapeshifting aliens with a grudge against the government. Roll over, poke Jimmy, and ask him what the fuck he was talking about, there, mouse — since a lot of us are curious.

    The one show that Shaw did mention by name, over and over, mouse, was a little thing called Trailer Park Boys.

    I was stunned to see, a couple years back, on a cold January night, over a thousand people pack a theater in Toronto for a chance to see the actors from TPB in person.

    I was less stunned when I worked in Vancouver and saw them do it again at the Commodore Ballroom.

    By the time I hung at the MMVA’s and watched Bubbles get mobbed while other stars went unmolested, I wasn’t stunned at all anymore.

    This is one of the shows that “nobody watches” that Shaw spoke about by name, Anonymouse. The show that Ivan Reitman (you should know him, look him up in your self-hating Canadian dictionary, he was successful in Amurrica) decided would make a good movie. The movie that’s still driving DVD sales in Canada.

    See, you can come here and deny the ratings data — they don’t support your fucked up, self-hating bias, so they have to be wrong. You can cast aspersions on those who stand by their work while you cower in the dark and don’t dare to use your name — seriously, fucker, I dare you — post your name and a valid email address here, right now. Be a man. Level the playing field.

    But what you can’t do is deny a packed house in Vancouver, or Toronto. Or Montreal. Joyous shouts from the stage of the East Coast Music Awards. Sold out Brent Butt shows; or Fred Ewanchuck being mobbed as he walks down Main in Vancouver. All things I’ve seen with my own eyes. All Canadian TV driven.

    All things that don’t fit with your provincial, blinkered, reactionary and impotent view of this fantastic and vibrant country. So of course you hate them. And you hate them in the worst, saddest way possible. From a dark room, alone, hoping desperately that your impotent, anonymous words, unoriginal, uninspired as they are — will prevail.

    Well, you provided amusement in the early going. but now it’s just the same sad old refrain. You’ve got nothing new to say, nothing valuable to say, so you can keep bleating your chickenheaded muddle aloud so long as you want. But should you bestir from your onanistic pursuits for a moment, maybe, just maybe in that dark heart of yours, there’s a moment that will take pause and realize this:

    This is the best you can do.

    The facts aren’t on your side. Humor’s not on your side. Grace isn’t on your side. All you have to offer is your anonymous, shriveled negativity.

    I guess being you’s punishment enough.

    But seriously dood, thanks for the tax money. I’ll think of you when I…um, give a whole bunch of it back to the government.

    In the words of the immortal Michael O’Donaghue, “Get cancer.”


    Now Bill, for the love of God, would you turn the idiot filter on?

  15. DMC 1:00 AM
    “thanks for the tax money”
    “get cancer”

    I will be contacting both the CTF and the Minister of Heritage to ask why a “writer” with an American passport has been previously retained on Canadian productions which are fostered to promote Canadian talent. I will further emphasize that Dennis McGrath has publicly boasted of using the proceeds of his efforts in this regard to purchase and consume narcotics which is a violation of the criminal code and his resident status. Your postings have been forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

    With respect to your somniferous and impudent personal attacks – which are amusing, because you don’t know who you are dealing with – I would only caution you to conduct yourself with some measure of dignity – puerile invectives are the domain of the political left who attempt to expurgate dissent through threats and intimidation – which coming from an irrational and mentally unsound lummox
    are pitiful and sophomoric at best.

    Although not directly involved, I am aware of the task force created by the CRTC which will conduct public hearings next month into a wide range of issues affecting the CTF. Change is imminent but it doesn’t always benefit those who most require it.
    Good luck in California Dennis.

    “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who Prays” Soren Kierkegaard

  16. YES! I KNEW we’d get there eventually. There it is! the Anonymouse troll triple crown:

    1) express warmed over, utterly unoriginal “opinion” based on distortion. (extra points if it’s done utterly without humour)
    2) misinterpret or ignore any and all facts; question empirical proof. (“alleged” as in, “New Brunswick, an alleged province of Canada.”)
    3) move from ad hominem attack to idle threats, thereby cementing the troll’s true impotence.

    I call bingo! You know what that means, Bill? You have to send me a ham. I’ll take honey glazed, please.

    Mmm. I loves me the ham.

    Thanks for the fun, buddy. Now get writing those letters. Be sure to use the good crayon.

  17. DMC 1:58 PM
    “now get writing those letters”

    I would expect that a Ryerson professor would be required to exhibit conduct and character which is beyond reproach – I will suggest that your postings on this thread violate moral and ethical standards in that regard. Accordingly, with regret and in good conscience, I am required to bring them to the attention of the registrar. It is also appropriate that the Ryerson faculty reflect the social diversity of this great country – an American political anarchist, who is consumed with pathological tendencies, would be an unfortunate candidate for a position which requires sensitivity, astute awareness and a professional reputation. The postings of DMC speak for themselves.

  18. the two new ctv dramas are “sniper” about a crack team of police officers who comprise a “swat” type squad. the second is “the listener’ which is about a guy who can hear people’s thoughts.

    i know return you to your unscheduled, but entertaining, program

  19. Wait, Denis McGrath, the guy who posted anonymous rumors about Chris Haddock, is objecting to someone posting anonymously? Yah, you’ve got integrity, man.

  20. Uh, no. That’s not what happened. In the post you refer to, here

    I repeated a rumor that I had heard from several different sources. I posted it on a named and attributed entry.

    Subsequently, Chris Haddock himself came on and said that what I’d heard was not, in fact, true.

    I do what I can when I can to take people at their word. So I took the comment, which was left as a comment, and integrated it into my piece. What’s more, I extended an apology to Chris.

    I’ve done plenty in the past to try and promote Chris’ show. I’ve interviewed him about it, and written about it in effusive terms many times. I continue to be a fan of both Haddock, his writing, and his show.

    I got something wrong. I showed poor judgement. I didn’t erase the post. I owned my mistake and apologized. Because that’s part of having integrity, too.

    Rather than, you know, leaving anonymous ey, bitchy smear messages. Idiot.

    BTW, a little mint: Episode 4 of THE BORDER, 760 000. Highest rating yet. In the words of Nelson: “Ha Ha!”

  21. I could give a flying fig if those lousy cbc shows had 6 or 6 million viewers. A state funded broadcaster is about as relevant as hair on Mansbridge’s melon.

    The ol’Mothercorp has been hijacked and infested by lazy communists who use it to spread their message…neocons bad, neocons bad…Trudeau good, Suzuki great, Tommy D. the greatest(you get the idea). The cbc is beyond recovery, the only cure is to implode the whole kit and kaboodle and bury it with yesterday’s garbage.

    Bwahahaaa…Hey Dmc, Jed and Granny are awaiting on you…”Canadian Taxpayer’s said, move away from here, Kalifornie is the place you ought to be so we helped pack you up”…Bwahaahaa…
    sing with me son, it’s more fun that way.

    And from what I’ve seen here, this DMC(piece of work) would last about as long as Strombooloopuss did…I think, if memory serves me correctly, that it was about 72 hours and Strombo was back on his hog, with his tail between his legs, headed to Hogtown and the warm embrace of the Front St. cadre.


  22. Dittohead Dumbasses Reply

    When you say CBC sells the concept “neocons bad” it should probably read —

    “public opinion”

    Nobody needs the CBC to sell that idea anymore. You discredited yourselves.

    I know the reality based community really annoys you, but it’s Canadians who voted Tommy Douglas the Greatest Canadian. But that’s the whole problem with you guys! You have a hard time accepting the will of the people.

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