Thursday, July 5, 2012

Canadian TV Finds Its New Haven

An old and respected Canadian TV producer was going on and on about the state of our TV recently.
And he stopped and said "But what Canadian TV really needs is a New Haven."
And I instantly knew what he meant.
Here, let me explain.
New Haven is the small city where Broadway plays get tried out before hitting the Great White Way.
Nothing like that happens on TV. On American TV it's all in the pilot.
But Canadian networks say they can't afford to make pilots. So what would pass as a pilot in the U.S. becomes the first episode on a new Canadian series.
And most pilots are pretty terrible, it's the place where mistakes are made and corrections can be made.
What my friend was saying is there isn't any place to try out new Canadian TV material.
It's especially clear on Canadian TV comedy where such vaulted bombs as Mosquito Lake or Material World might have succeeded if only there had been an initial pilot where everything could get tinkered and reset.
So what fledgling Canadian series need is really a "New Haven" where material can get tested, modified and honed into shape before actually jumping to a safe TV berth.
Which is my long winded way of asking you to take a look Friday June 6 at 9 p.m. on a new "series" called Comedy Bar on Bite TV.
Actually it's the start of  the second season but it only ran on so far.
Friday's sneak preview on Bite TV looks at comedy club owner Gary (Gary Rideout Jr.) and the crazies who frequent his bar.
Let's see --one buddy (Tal Zimerman) is directing a documentary about comic Pat (Pat Thornton) and his desperate search for love.
And I saw cameos from such Canadian comedians as Peter Kelleghan , Colin Mochrie and Scott Thompson.
Only Comedy Bar is not really on tv yet as a series.
It already had a full first season run on and the second season is up and running on Friday. It could certainly wind up full blown on TV if continued progress is made.
There are also contributions from Natalie Brown, Norm Sousa and the executive producer is RCAF veteran Don Ferguson.
Some of the bits I watched were funny, other places a certain meandering was evident.
But it struck me that Ferguson should know all about providing a "New Haven" for up and coming comedy talents --if the series had jumped directly to Bite TV then it probably wouldn't be back for a second round.
Ferguson needed such a route when he created and starred in two episodes of a proposed CBC comedy series Ex-PM all about a fumbling ex-prime minister.
But it needed careful nurturing and CBC ran the two episodes to disappointing and then forgot about it.
Technical aspects of Comedy Bar are polished. Let's see how it does on and if it gets better and better it just might be ready for prime time Canadian TV.

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