I know what you’re thinking. Another bloody singing talent show. Canada Sings (premiering tonight on Global) is that but it is also more Undercover Boss than The Sing Off. The premise pits two teams of 12 office workers against each other to see if they can learn a Glee-level song and dance routine. In tonight’s pilot, a gang from the Toronto Zoo go against a group of people who work in Vancouver for 1-800-GOT-JUNK. We see them sweat through rehearsals and a few individuals start to emerge. Eventually they have to perform for a panel of three judges (Vanilla Ice, aka Rob Van Winkle, Jann Arden and Simple Plan’s Pierre Bouvier, who all bend over backwards not to sound like Simon Cowell). That’s where it veers into more typical TV talent show territory.
The show is produced by Toronto’s Insight Productions and all that experience cranking out Canadian Idol and Battle of the Blades brings great polish and storytelling to this series.
When I ran the concept by some American reporters here at the TCA press tour they seemed intrigued until I told them the grand prize one team gets to donate to the charity of their choice: TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Cash. This had Yankee scribes in stitches. So Canadian.
Global needs to pony up and deliver a better pot if this show is to thrive past this initial six episode order. Given the myriad marketing opportunities built into this series (beyond the subtle plugs for the companies involved, they all arrive at the final sing-off in a lingering sequence that could pass for a car ad), there should be five to 10 times the money at stake.
Ignore all that tonight and enjoy what I found to be a positive, uplifting and friendly competition involving everyday Canadians who are easy to cheer for. For more on Canada Sings, follow this link to a feature I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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