If you've been watching the Olympics (and you have) you can't help but notice promos for upcoming shows on CTV and NBC. And, no, CTV doesn't have a new sitcom about a couple of talking cars. Don't even joke.
(By the way--those GM talking cars ads could have been far less annoying and way more effective if the creative folks behind them had hired a couple of improv comedians and kept updating the dialogue on a daily basis. They wouldn't have had to re-shoot anything, just put new words in their grills. "Hey, I just gave a ride to a couple of those Canadian women's team hockey champions," sez the Camero. "Boy, those gals can sock it away. My trunk is loaded with empties!" "Yeah," sez the Malibu, "I'm still getting the cigar smoke shampooed out of my back seat.")
But I digress. The Peacock network is using the Games to platform all the new 10 o'clock shows they're rushing into the void left by the Leno at 10 fiasco. Promos for the ensemble dramedy Parenthood (featuring Peter Krause, Lauren Graham and Craig T. Nelson, among others, above) Law & Order SVU and The Ref are in high rotation, with Jerry Seinfeld's new relationship-reality series The Ref getting a sneak peak right after the conclusion of the closing ceremonies Sunday night. (Most of NBC's new 10 p.m. lineup is being imported in Canada by Citytv.)
Beyond touting next week's Oscar telecast, the CTV hype machine is all about three new made-in Canada shows, Hiccups, Dan For Mayor and The Bridge. The first two, comedies from several of the people behind Corner Gas, begin Monday at 8 p.m. CTV figured they'd make a nice one-two heading into their blockbuster comedy import Two and a Half Men. Then Charlie Sheen became Bad Charlie again and now nobody knows if it'll soon be One and a Half Men, or if Emilio Estavez will soon step in, or maybe one of the Baldwins.
The Bridge sounds like it's about seniors and dental work but it actually another cop show. The promos look scary, with burly Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica) doing a lot of yelling as cranky beat cop Frank Leo, a character based on real life Toronto police union boss Craig Bromell.
The series launches with a two hour debut March 5 at 9 p.m. This is one of those cross border shows that has an American network as a partner. CBS--which already has a billion cop shows and is doing just fine this year, thank you--keeps dithering on a start date, so CTV decided to get to air with it first. They've placed it in a Friday timeslot where they had a lot of success earlier this season going solo with another CTV/CBS series, Flashpoint.
I've seen a couple of episodes of both Hiccups, which stars Nancy Robertson as a cranky children's author, and Dan For Mayor, headlined by Gas goofball Fred Ewanuick. CTV sent a thick dossier on The Bridge complete with phony press clippings and a screener and confidential memos. I thought it was about seniors and dental work but I'll screen it this weekend and get reviews up on all three shows soon.
In the meantime, for more info on Dan For Mayor, check out the feature I wrote this week for The Canadian Press which is posted here. It is mainly a profile of Ewanuick, a very likable dude surrounded by three of Canada's top TV comedy writers, Mark Farrell (back helming This Hour Has 22 Minutes), Paul Mather and Kevin White. I hung out with all of them several weeks ago on the Toronto set of the series (exteriors are shot in Kitchener/Waterloo). While Ewanuick is the Dan that is running for mayor, the series features a whole new ensemble (including Mary Ashton and Paul Bates) and the episodes I've watched reminded me more of How I Met Your Mother than Corner Gas. More on all this later.