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CRTC clears U.S. Super Bowl ads in Canada; Bell Media “extremely disappointed”

- January 29th, 2015

Canada_and_USA_Flag

Oh say, can you see the U.S. Super Bowl ads?

As of 2017, Canadians can answer, “Yes.”

That’s the year Canadians will be able to watch the American slate of Super Bowl commercials, live on their televisions during the game, rather than having to seek them out online.

So what will Canadians whine about now?

Kidding aside, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) issued the following release on Thursday:

“Ads during the Super Bowl get a lot of hype. They are an important part of the overall spectacle … For Canadian viewers this has been a problem. They don’t see the same ads as those seen in the U.S. because they are replaced with Canadian ads … The CRTC has taken action to resolve the issue. Beginning at the end of the 2016 NFL season (i.e., the Super Bowl in 2017), simultaneous substitution will no longer be allowed during the Super Bowl. Canadian viewers will see the same ads as American viewers. Until then, you can watch the American ads broadcast during the Super Bowl on YouTube’s AdBlitz channel.”

I have to admit, I got sick of Canadians complaining about this through the years, and ultimately it sounds as if the CRTC did, too.

Hey, I always would have preferred to watch the U.S. commercials as well. It’s the repetition that drives me crazy with the Canadian ads during the Super Bowl, seeing the same irritating spots over and over and over again.

But having watched numerous Super Bowls in the States, Canadians shouldn’t be fooled into thinking every American ad that airs during the game is a gem. For some Canadians, after years of pining for the U.S. ads, come 2017 the reaction may be, “Hmmm … that was much ado about nothing.”

Be that as it may, this obviously impacts Bell Media, which is the Canadian rights-holder for the NFL.

“We are extremely disappointed of course,” Bell Media vice-president of communications Scott Henderson said in a statement. “The government is damaging the future of local television in Canada while rewarding U.S. corporations over home-grown companies.

“Sure viewers will get to watch Wells Fargo ads in the Super Bowl instead of RBC, or Target and Wal-Mart instead of Canadian Tire. But those advertising dollars will go directly to American companies instead of Canadian content creators and broadcasters.

“Canadian companies will also have a diminished opportunity to market their products to Canadians watching U.S. ads for products they probably can’t buy. It’s a troubling approach for a Canadian regulator to take.”

AS FOR THIS YEAR …

With the game airing Sunday, Feb. 1 on NBC and CTV, it’s true that not many other networks offer new episodes of anything, in the knowledge that the Super Bowl is a ratings vampire, sucking the life out of innocent bystanders.

Full speed ahead to PBS, though, which is airing a new (well, new to North America, anyway) episode of Downton Abbey on Sunday night. Let’s just say there could be a fight involved that might rival anything going on between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

But if you’re not into Downton Abbey or football, there’s really only one logical thing to do.

Endure those around you screaming at the TV and wait for the halftime show, which this year features Katy Perry (pictured below). I can’t remember where I read this – probably it was on Twitter – but some clever person pointed out that with Frozen star Idina Menzel singing the national anthem and then with Perry at halftime, this is the first Super Bowl directed specifically at seven-year-old girls.

Then you endure more screaming as people get more drunk, and wait for the primo post-Super Bowl shows: The Blacklist on NBC (as well as Global); and the season-two debut of MasterChef Canada on CTV. MasterChef Canada was pushed up a week after CTV had to yank the sitcom Spun Out from the coveted post-Super Bowl slot, in response to the voyeurism charge against one of the actors, J.P. Manoux.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv​

Capture KP

Cuthbert playing pregnant lesbian; says Phaneuf “excited” about her new role

- January 16th, 2015

Capture one big happy

PASADENA, Calif. – So what does Elisha Cuthbert’s husband – Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf – think about this?

Cuthbert (above left), a well-known Canadian actress, is playing a lesbian in her new NBC series One Big Happy, which debuts March 17. A pregnant lesbian, no less.

“My husband was really excited,” Cuthbert said when I asked her about it. “I had taken some time off (following the cancellation of her previous sitcom Happy Endings) and we got married and I enjoyed the year with him together before taking on anything new.

“And then this (One Big Happy, executive-produced by Ellen DeGeneres) came my way. I was so excited about it, and therefore he (Phaneuf) was excited about it.

“Without his support, it would be nothing.”

Does this role present any specific challenges for Cuthbert?

“No, it’s like playing a human being,” Cuthbert said. “(The character) is a little dorky at times and has a great collection of blazers. I love the wardrobe, let me say that.”

With Cuthbert’s acting schedule and Phaneuf’s playing schedule, the couple must be the world leader in frequent-flyer miles.

“We see other actually a lot, I make sure that we do,” Cuthbert said. “I make sure that I take time off. I focus on the show but once the show is over I don’t do very much else, because it’s family time. So we do, we make a lot of time for each other.

“I’m livin’ the dream, I get to be home in Canada and be here (in Los Angeles) and have a career and it’s wonderful. But I am on a plane a lot.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Jayma Mays understands parental discretion is advised when watching The Millers

- October 17th, 2014

Nelson Franklin, Lulu Wilson, Sean Hayes, Margo Martindale, Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Jayma Mays and J

According to recent studies, more than half the adult population in North America is dealing with, or supporting, or in some way taking care of aging parents.

Maybe you’re just worrying about your parents as they get older and a bit goofier, which can be a burden on its own.

I would wager this is one of the reasons The Millers connects with TV audiences.

“Yes, well, my parents started going goofy at a very young age, so I was ahead of the curve on that, I have a really kooky mother,” said Jayma Mays, who plays Debbie on The Millers (pictured above on the far right of the couch, and below).

“I didn’t know there were that many people dealing with aging parents, it seems incredibly high. But on the flip side, with the economy, a lot of (adult) kids are having to live with their parents, too. So these multi-generational homes are becoming more common, I think.”

The multi-generational homes on The Millers are in flux as season two begins, Monday, Oct. 20 on CBS and then Thursday, Oct. 23 on CTV.

Will Arnett stars as Nathan, and Mays plays Nathan’s sister Debbie. Season one saw Nathan and Debbie’s parents – Carol, played by Margo Martindale, and Tom, played by Beau Bridges – split up, with mom moving in with the recently divorced Nathan and dad moving in with Debbie and her husband Adam, played by Nelson Franklin.

“In season two, mom decides to move out, so that’s a big plot change for us,” said Mays, who also is well-known to TV audiences for her roles on Glee and Heroes. “Mom is exploring her independence and freedom. And also, Sean Hayes has joined our cast as her new kind of best friend, and also Nathan’s nemesis. Sean has a two-parter there.

“For Debbie, what they’re doing this season that I love so much, they’re exploring the relationship between Debbie and Adam a little bit more. That’s great, because they’re kind of a buddy-buddy misfit couple. We’re learning more about him, like he was raised in a commune, there’s a whole episode about that.

“Despite being the weirdest ones on the show, Debbie and Adam have the most functional relationship. We’re the only ones still married, so we must be doing something right. We’re two weirdos who found each other.”

Now there’s something fit for a romantic-movie poster: Two weirdos who found each other.

“You can quote me on that,” Mays said with a laugh.

Coincidentally, some critical evaluations of The Millers have accused the characters of being too nasty. Sure, they can be nasty, in a comic sense. But given the wide scope of what’s on TV these days, I find it hard to accept that The Millers is the poster child for nastiness, if you know what I mean.

“Like, what are people comparing it to, exactly?” Mays agreed. “That does surprise me. But maybe it’s because, I like to describe the characters on our show as saying things to each other that you might think but might not actually say out loud. That’s why it’s funny, because you’re thinking it anyway.

“Personally I feel our show has a lot of heart. It reminds me of some of the sitcoms I grew up watching and loved, in that the family ultimately loves each other. And when you think about it, we actually put each other first in everything. That often is the message at the end of almost every episode.

“So maybe the people who are saying we’re nasty are only watching the middle bits and not watching the end?”

Fortunately for Jayma Mays and her cast-mates, the end is nowhere near for The Millers. Allow it to age gracefully, like fine wine and goofy parents.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv
Jayma Mays as Debbie

 

The Flash feels The Strain as a Million Dollar Critic of American Horror Story; television this week

- October 5th, 2014

Grant Gustin as The Flash, two

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 5

1 The Flash
Debut
Yup, more superheroes on TV. Barry Allen (Grant Gustin, pictured above) gains powers when lightning strikes him during a freak storm. Almost immediately, those raw new powers are needed.
When: Tuesday on CW, CTV

2 American Horror Story
Fourth-season debut
A “freak show” struggles to stay in business as TV conquers showbiz in the early 1950s. The likes of Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Evan Peters are back again, in new roles.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

3 Homeland
Fourth-season debut, back-to-back episodes
Carrie (Claire Danes) makes a critical decision, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) struggles with his new role in the private sector and Quinn (Rupert Friend) spirals out of control.
When: Sunday on Super Channel

4 The Strain
First-season finale
Eph (Corey Stoll) and Fet (Kevin Durand) prepare an assault that Setrakian (David Bradley) assures them will kill the Master. Um, what’s the betting line on that one?
When: Sunday on FX Canada

5 Murdoch Mysteries
Eighth-season debut
While investigating the murder of a merchant, Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) uncovers possible connections to the assault on Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig).
When: Monday on CBC

6 Arrow
Third-season debut
With crime at an all-time low, Oliver (Stephen Amell) lets his guard down. You know, given all of my TV-watching experience, I’d wager that turns out to be a really bad idea.
When: Wednesday on CW, CTV

7 Strange Empire
Debut
A fateful convergence of lost souls near the Alberta-Montana border in 1869 leads to tragedy and a struggle for survival. Cara Gee, Melissa Farman and Tattiawna Jones star.
When: Monday on CBC

8 Million Dollar Critic
Debut
Giles Coren reviews food hot spots across North America, but in the first episode he meets Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to discuss where the city’s best hot dog can be found.
When: Tuesday on W

9 Cristela
Debut
Sitcom stars standup Cristela Alonzo. In the pilot, she gets an offer for an internship at a law firm, but her traditional Mexican-American family doesn’t quite understand.
When: Friday on ABC, CHCH

10 Mulaney
Debut
Sitcom stars former SNL staffer John Mulaney. In the pilot, he gets a writing job that turns out to be less glamorous than he expected. That sounds preposterous to me, boss.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Saturday morning cartoons have officially died

- October 4th, 2014

Saturday morning cartoons are officially dead.

October 4 marked the death of a beloved past time almost everyone can relate to: waking up super early Saturday morning, dumping some kind of sugary concoction marked cereal into a bowl, overloading it with milk, and settling in front of a television set to watch cartoons.

The CW, the last remaining network who dedicated a block of programming on Saturday to children’s cartoons or animation, switched out their “Vortexx” portal in exchange for more live-action shows.

All of which resulted in the figurative death of cartoons, and the literal death of cartoon programming on any kind of network station, including CBS, NBC, and ABC.

Although they weren’t the first network to scrap their animated programs (Fox in 2008 and ABC in 2012), they were one of the last available options for families who didn’t purchase packages that included Nickelodeon or additional Disney channels.

The CW pointed to a multitude of reasons for the decision to scrap cartoons, from modern day DVR capabilities to animated shows becoming too niche for their overall market.

Whatever the reason network executives served reporters, the fact remains that cartoons have become as difficult to watch as ever.

The death of the children’s cartoon has been imminent for years, as more and more creators move toward making cartoons geared toward teenagers and adults.

From the obviously meant for adult programming like Archer or South Park to the questionable Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers, the idea of a safe haven for children to watch cartoons without worrying about the content has slowly been eroding.

Even shows like Adventure Time and The Regular show that appear on Adult Swim are far more lewd with innuendo than Scooby Doo ever was.

Long gone are the days of Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning treasures. There haven’t been any adventures in Bedrock or any slip ups from George Jetson in quite some time.

Long gone are the days of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting crime (that didn’t include a perverse amount of violence, etched in the mind of Michael Bay). Scooby Doo and the gang aren’t solving crimes anymore, Rocky and Bullwinkle aren’t heading out into the world to see all that they can, and even Yogi Bear is resting peacefully in Jellystone Park.

This generation of kids won’t have jovial theme songs to sing with their friends as adults, reminiscing over nostalgic Saturday mornings, hunched in front of the idiot box for hours.

Nor, as the networks don’t seem to comprehend, will they wake up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning to make sure Wolverine and Scott were doing okay in whatever X-Men series was playing that year.

Live action television is great, but it doesn’t replace the fantastical worlds only cartoons can conjure up.

Instead, kids will pick up a Playstation or Xbox controller and have to find their Saturday morning entertainment inside of a console, exploring new worlds with their friends over a microphone.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the same as sitting with a brother or sister, or even sitting by yourself with a bowl of cereal, and tuning in week after week to watch your favourite cartoon characters.

It was a different kind of immersive experience altogether. It was feeling like you could be one of Batman’s sidekicks, or feeling like you had become friends with different Pokemon masters on their journeys, because of how invested you were allowed to become in them.

It was a time honoured tradition, passed down from parent to child with each generation. It was discovering cartoons of years past during a repeat your mother or father sat down to relive excitedly, or embracing in the feeling of accomplishment when your parents discovered they enjoyed Sailor Moon just as much as you did.

Saturday morning cartoons were the last innocent world of adventure available to kids on television, and now that coveted time of week has been ripped from their grasps and replaced with mediocre live action shows geared toward families.

The world has become a little less Tigger and a little more Eeyore.

I hope children will understand what that means in twenty years time.​