In Canada: Mondays, 9pm, CBC
Not so long ago, there was a writers’ strike in the US. Faced with the unthinkable prospect of watching British television, I decided to have a look at some of the programmes available from other countries – in particular, Canada. CBC’s The Border was one such programme and to my incredible surprise, it turned out not just to be a good programme “by Canadian standards”* but a good programme, full stop.
Seemingly intended not just to demonstrate that Canadians easily have what it takes to make good TV but to show that they’re not all the liberals stereotypes would have us believe, The Border is a cross between Spooks and 24, right down to the shaky cam, with Canada’s heroic Immigration and Customs Service (ICS) defending the country against all kinds of threats – all of which seem to be American or Muslim.
Although by no means the best action-thriller series ever made, it was reasonably clever, albeit a touch low budget, and didn’t dumb itself down like Flashpoint did to attract an international audience. The inter-departmental conflict with Canada’s CSIS – the country’s equivalent of MI6 and the CIA – was interesting, even if it was cast in strictly black and white terms, with CSIS boss John Bennett (Forever Knight) almost twirling a moustache during every appearance. And the usual conclusions to stories were a touch, ahem, Canadian, with the villains either misunderstood or American.
But now it’s back after just six month’s absence – it was that popular – and changes are afoot.