US TV

Review: Flashpoint 1×1

Flashpoint

In the US/Canada: Fridays, 10pm ET/PT, CBS/CTV

Remember the writers’ strike in the US? It seems so long ago now, yet it really did happen, honest. While curtailing the runs of many existing shows was its most obvious side-effect, it also killed off more than a few pilots, and stopped shows that were going to kick off in the Summer season.

While most US networks responded by commissioning easy-to-make reality TV shows to fill the gaps, some chose to think the unthinkable. CBS, as well as re-purposing Dexter for mainstream audiences, decided to look to other countries for some primetime programming.

Canada was the main port of call. That shouldn’t be surprising as Canadian TV has come on in leaps and bounds of late. The Border might have been a natural choice as an import, given it’s 24-esque qualities, and indeed some cable channels did look at it for a while. But the fact all Canada’s ills turned out to be caused by Americans (and Muslims) put them off.

Now comes something more surprising: Flashpoint. It’s set in Toronto, features Canadian actors playing Canadians and it’s a co-production between CBS and Canada’s CTV that’s simulcast on both sides of the border – the first such show since Due South in 1994.

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Canadian TV

Adventures in Canadian TV

A while ago, I wondered what I’d be watching if the US writers’ strike were to continue much longer. British TV? Don’t be daft. How self-loathing do you think I am?

The obvious answer was to give Canadian TV a try. Okay, not necessarily the most obvious, but far less painful than Australian TV, even if you occasionally do get a reasonable show like The Surgeon.

Now Canadian TV had something of a bad rep for a while. After messing up shows like Airwolf during the 80s, most of its original output hasn’t got any further than Canada’s borders, unless it’s been about vampires (cf Forever Knight, Blood Ties) for some reason. Yes, Canada has pretty much been the shooting location for every low budget US TV show of the last two decades, but shows made by Canadian networks with Canadians not pretending to be Americans? Less common.

That has been changing over the last couple of years, though. As well as co-financing shows such as Doctor Who, Canada has also started to make shows intended to appeal to the rest of the world as well as Canada, that have high production values and quality scripts.

The first real hint of this was Intelligence, which came out in 2006. A sort of Canadian Miami Vice about an undercover cop, it had moody lighting, decent direction and some good scripts. Unfortunately, in common with most Canadian TV, it also starred that bloke who played Huck Finn back in the 80s so I didn’t watch much.

Now though, there’s a bumper crop of world-worthy Canadian shows, some of them good, some of them… not so good. For your consideration: JPod, The Border, The Guard and Sophie.

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