Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another New Canadian TV Network Arrives

One of CTV's best and most profitable networks is The Comedy Network.
So why did it take all this time for CTV to figure out the sequel titled Comedy Gold?
The Comedy Rerun Network should be the real title.
Such cable nets as TVTropolis and TVLand specialize in bringing back the big hit TV series of the past.
Comedy Gold does the same with TV comedy, mainly TV sitcoms.
The new network revs up Monday August 2 at 2 by presenting the very first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show which ran from 1970 to 1977 on CBS.
At 5 p.m.Comedy Gold switches to episodes of Murphy Brown, another CBC sitcom which ran on CBS from 1988 to 1998.
And at 7p.m. its the first episodes of Designing Women which also ran on CBS from 1986 to 1993.
Perhaps the network should be renamed CBS Comedy Gold?Comedy Gold sent over a disc of the first episodes of Mary and Bob Newhart and Newhart and all really stand the test of time.
Why can't anybody make such classy sitcoms these days?
I was in the audience in 1972 to watch MTM go through her paces during show taping night. And she and her cast were amazing for the support they gave each other.
I always thought Newhart's first sitcom the better one but on this disc the first episode of Newhart in 1982 certainly is pure gold. It made me wonder what happened to the gifted (Canadian) actor Steven Kampmann who only lasted the first season as the ibcredibly egotistical Kirk.
And why the character of Leslie Vanderkellen (Jennifer Holmes) morphed into Stephanie Vanderkellen (Julia Duffy) the next year?
I interviewed Duffy on that set and really liked her --she later went on to join Designing Women.
And I must admit to being on the set of Full House twice, the first was to catch the demure Bob Saget who played the very nice father before he came an incredibly funny R-rated stand up comic.
And I came back years later to interview co-star Dave Coulier who hasn't done much since then.
Other sitcoms being revived from the dead include The fresh Prince Of Bel Air Night Court and two U.S. shows I'd hardly consider comedic: Fantasy Island and Hart To Hart.
Since CTV runs this network it's hardly surprising there are so few Canadian comedies present. CTV shows in that era included Littlest Hobo and Police Surgeon.
And some CTV comedic efforts that I covered are not present including Half The George Kirby Comedy Hour and Pat Paulsen's show which was taped at CFTO.
But CTV has resuscitated Check It Out with Don Adams, and Bizarre also made at CTV.
Kids In The Hall which originally ran on CBC is here along with Red Green and SCTV both of which ran on CBC.
But some CBC jewels are not --the biggest loss is Wayne And Shuster. For decades they were Canadian comedy at its best.
Other CBC "treasures" including Material World, Delilah and Not My Department remain missing.
I can think of one series that should be included but can't be simply because the tapes no longer exist. Of course I refer to CHCH's Party Game --the producer would wipe clean the videos at the end of each season to save on storage.
I'm wondering if the CRTC has made any requirement about new productions to be started up in the future.
However if it's a choice between watching a classic episode of Mary Tyler Moore or something current like Entourage I might be half pressed for a few seconds.
But I'd still go with Mary.

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