Boy, CBC continues to schedule in a vacuum.
The public network seems clueless when it comes to launching TV shows in the competitive buzz saw that is today’s broadcast environment. How else to explain the kamikaze scheduling of smart new comedy Michael Tuesdays & Thursdays last Wednesday opposite the season premiere of one of Global’s heavyweights, Survivor? The result: Survivor 2,142,000 overnight, estimated viewers (1,065,000 in the 25-54 demo), Michael Tuesday Thursdays 321,000 (120,000).
That’s like a nine or 10-to-one Survivor demo slap.
Tonight is shaping up to be another throw-it-away night for CBC. While popular Heartland should return unscathed at 7 p.m. ET, the third season launch of Battle of the Blades at 8 (featuring the first female hockey player ever in the competition, Team Canada Olympic gold medalist Tessa Bonhomme, above right) is booked directly opposite The Emmy Awards, hosted by Jane Lynch. That’s so offside it’s icing. CBC’s Cover Me Canada is also likely to be drowned out in the Emmy noise.
Sometimes CBC gets lucky. Certainly the Rick Mercer Report and 22 Minutes benefited from getting a one week jump on the major U.S. competition last week. (Mercer opened Tuesday with his usual 1.2 million viewers with 22 Minutes–featuring Mark Critch and retiring Loyd Robertson, left) scoring an impressive 981,000).
Tonight’s Battle of the Blades will be an emotional episode, with the competitors still reeling from the sudden death of former NHLer Wade Belak. The 35-year-old was found dead in a Toronto hotel room Aug. 31, just two weeks into preparations for the rigorous TV competition.
I spoke with executive producers Sandra Bezic and Kevin Albrecht for The Canadian Press about how Belak’s death affected everyone associated with the series. Both told me this will be a different season of Blades, with the tight-knit group of skaters pulling for each other like never before. There will also be an announcement on tonight’s show regarding whether or not a new eighth skater has stepped up at the last minute to fill in for Belak. You can read the entire story here.
The show had already faced some adversity leading up to this season, although it now seems trivial by comparison. “Battle of the Blades” has had to move its production base three times in three years. First it was kicked out of original venue—Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, after Ryerson University and other new tenants proceeded with planned and major renovations to the historic hockey shrine. The series moved into a mammoth sound stage on the edge of the Toronto waterfront for Season Two, only to be bumped out of that facility this year by the remake of the feature film “Total Recall.”
“Battle of the Blades is now iced at the Mastercard Centre, the Toronto Maple Leafs practice facility in Toronto’s west end. That’s turned out to be a positive change, say the producers. Finally, dressing rooms right there on the site. Tickets are available to attend future tapings; you can find a link to them here.