Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meanderings And Mutterings


Meanderings and mutterings from the messy desk of your friendly neighborhood TV addict:
CBC News's horrible summer ratings have engendered near panic in the venerable Corp.
Sure, it's summer doldrums time. And yes veteran anchor Peter Mansbridge is on vacation.
But who can say the anemic ratings which translate to around 400,000 viewers at 10 p.m. some recent nights aren't just plain awful.
By contrast CTV an our later is notching more than respectable numbers of around 1.2 million viewers.
CBC is using these weeks to test market a whole list of possible candidates to replace Mansbridge who at 66 suddenly finds himself the oldest TV anchor standing.
Don't get me wrong I think Mansbridge does a very good job.
But I think he needs some help. And some CBC staffers are telling me the Corp is already deciding a sidekick is necessary to rev up the numbers.
Amanda Lang is currently the leading contender for that job.
But don't forget in eras past Mansbridge has survived such co-anchors as Pam Wallin and Hana Gartner.
He's a cagey survival of the CBC news wars, no doubt about it.
CBC insiders also acknowledge that the 10 p.m. time slot has been wrong from the get go.
When CBC went up against CTV at 11 it mostly won those long ago ratings wars.
At 10 the total TV audience is far larger than at 11 but there's great competition from all those slick and hugely popular American dramas.
Another CBC problem is the terrible current format that resembles a near empty wine bar or disco.
And cost cutting has resulted in recent years in the retirement of many of CBC News top reporters.
One result has been CBC has been consistently behind CTV's lead in reporting the on going Senate scandals.
CTV's Robert Fife just keeps getting those scoops which once were the hallmark of CBC reporting. But no more.
I usually look forward to Robert Osborne's introductions to the old classics on Turner Classic Movies.
But remember that seven per cent of the time TCM has to make a substitution on its Canadian feed because the cable weblet lacks Canadian rights.
So it made no sense for Osborne to go on and on about Claude Rains being cast in a scintillating Hitchcock mystery --obviously he was talking about Notorious(1946).
But our Canadian feed substituted Rains in Saturdaty's Children (1940).
And the other night Osborne raved about Charles Coburn starring opposite Lucy Ball and Boris Karloff in Lured (1947).
And the Canadian feed substituted Coburn in B.F.'s daughter (1948).
My obvious solution: why not drop Osborne's remarks altogether when a substitution is made so we poor Canadians can never know what we are missing?
Look, I rather enjoy BBC Canada even though I wish it could show more of those classy British serials we expect of the Beed.
But enough is enough. I've seen each and every episode of Top Gear a hundred times or so it seems to me. Ditto for Kitchen Nightmares and Graham Norton.
With the new fall season just around the corner here's hoping BBCC banishes those shows to the vaults forever.

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