CBC has been in the news a lot lately, and not always for the right reasons. There was the whole Don Cherry dismissal, and this week the cancelation of three-year-old series Anne with an E. I had over 100 “ok boomer” tweets Wednesday from young fans of the series just for pointing out that Anne’s ratings were never all that great in Canada. I can only imagine the pounding the public broadcaster took from some of Anne’s many disappointed kindred spirits.
Beyond those recent headlines, it was a tough fall for CBC. Season to date ratings for some of its older shows suffered significant drops in terms of viewership. Numbers for The Great Canadian Baking Show have fallen like a bad souffle. The fifth estate and The Nature of Things seem like endangered species, with Dragon’s Den also down by double digits. Some new fall shows, such as the sketch comedy series Tallboys and the straight from Gem adventure drama Northern Rescue were basically D.O.A.
To be fair, just about every broadcaster in Canada has been struggling lately. The exception is Citytv, which has enjoyed a hefty bounce thanks mainly to the acquisition of the three strong “Chicago” dramas from NBC which have added rocket fuel to their schedule. CBC can’t export rocket fuel, and opening their Canada-first comedies and dramas on their digital platform hasn’t worked out too well so far. It’s tough trying to get folks to dial up Northern Rescue when Disney and Apple just dropped billions making and promoting digital blockbusters such as The Mandalorian and The Morning Show.
CBC hopefully has a better shot launching in January and into the winter months. The Jan. 7 return of Kim’s Convenience and Schitt’s Creek (for a sixth and final season) and last year’s hit Coroner (Jan. 6) should keep viewers engaged until the Stanley Cup playoffs begin in April. Burden of Truth (Jan. 8) and Workin’ Moms (Feb. 18) are more modest but steady draws. Also back is the Halifax-based legal drama Diggstown (March 4) and the true crime series The Detectives (Jan. 9).
New offerings include Fortunate Son, a drama set in the late ’60s and exploring the years when draft dodgers fled across the border and sought refuge in Canada. Saskatchewan native Kari Matchett (Covert Affairs) stars as an American activist who has set up a survival network for war deserters. Stephen Moyer (True Blood) is a tough CIA boss out to round up missing Yanks. The series was shot in Calgary. Begins Jan. 8.
High Arctic Haulers is a new reality series from the folks behind Ice Road Truckers as well as young First Nations writer-producer Kelvin Redvers. This series goes way the hell up to the farthest, most remote regions in Canada, including a town of 114 people, where food, clothing and all manner of sustainable goods are only provided by ships cracking through ice in the Northwest Passage. If you thought the characters in Northern Exposure were out there, you ain’t seen nothing yet, according to the producers. Starts Jan. 5.
The Oland Murder, a four-part documentary series, could be CBC’s answer to Netflix’s Making a Murderer. It looks at the 2013 murder of Richard Oland, the wealthy owner of Moosehead Brewery and the subsequent trial and re-trial of his son Dennis, accused of killing his father. Filmmakers Deborah Wainwright and Laurie Case spent three years, most days in courtrooms, chronicling the sensational trial. The series passes judgement not just on the accused and his Dynasty-like family but also on the New Brunswick justice system. Premieres in March.
Survey says that CBC also has Family Feud Canada. Based on the American original, the game show premieres Dec. 16 in prime time before moving to a four-nights-a-week rotation at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT. Gerry Dee provides the pained looks as families from across Canada compete.