After months of uncertainty and posturing in Canadian media circles, CBC finally announced Tuesday morning their pickups for the 2009-10 season. Among the new orders is one that sounds like an old SCTV sketch: BATTLE OF THE BLADES, according to the release, "is an elimination-style challenge that teams up Canada ’s top figure skaters with this country’s most daring and versatile hockey stars to compete against one another each week in a glitzy pairs figure skating performance." Think Dancing With The Stars meets Slap Shot. Who are the judges, Don Cherry and Toller Cranston? They'll have to bring in Tonya Harding to skate with Todd Bertuzzi!
Also on order for fall: THE RON JAMES SHOW, a long rumoured sketch/sitcom showcase for the talented comedian who is currently in the middle of a cross Canada tour. Headed for Friday night, we're thinkin'. Then there's the reality/game cheapie CANADA’S SUPER SPELLER, hosted by Evan Solomon. Twelve young finalists vie for the crown of Canada ’s Super Speller; first to spell "Stroumboulopolous" right wins.
Two more new shows are ordered for January starts: 18 TO LIFE is apparently not about two stupid kids (as posted here earlier and corrected in the comments section) but about two smart kids (including Life with Derek's Michael Seater) who make a stupid decision to get married at 18. Peter Keleghan (Made in Canada) also stars as the Seater character's father. The Montreal-based comedy was supposed to air a year ago in partnership with ABC but the Disney network has since backed out of the project so CBC has gamely decided to go it alone.
The new January drama, THE REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, has nothing to do with Globe and Mail TV writer John Doyle, although I'd watch that. Set in St. John's, Newfoundland, it is described as a "comedic drama about a father-son team of private investigators." Former Border scribe Denis McGrath is in on the typing. The father-son team was played in the pilot by New Brunswick-native Peter MacNeill and Newfoundland's Allan Hawco.
Back for another season, according to the release, are the following CBC shows: RICK MERCER REPORT, BEING ERICA, THE BORDER, LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE, THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES, HEARTLAND, THE TUDORS, DRAGONS’ DEN and THE HOUR with George Stroumboulopoulos. There was no mention in the release about the fate of long-running CBC current affairs shows The Fifth Estate or Marketplace; details pertaining to CBC's News division are expected in the coming weeks. Also missing was any word on how drastically the announced cutbacks at CBC will shorten the run of many shows, although CBC's top-rated entertainment show Mercer will be back with the same 18 episodes he had last season. As for the rest, one source told TVFMF that "12 is the new 13" next season at CBC.
Gone for good are Sophie and Wild Roses, the Calgary-based oater epic launched just last January that slipped below the More-People-Live-in-Brampton sustainability threshold.
Also missing from today's list was any mention of more installments of The Week The Women Went, the reality series which kinda fizzled in its second outing this past winter. A few other rumoured CBC projects, including a Canadian version of The Apprentice, were also MIA.