A Lament For ET Canada

I usually don’t talk about this sort of thing within URBMN’s confines, but considering I tend to be interested in television and its trends I couldn’t resist making a minor topic about ET Canada.  Lately there’s been a trend in Canadian television, sad and lamentable though it is, towards “celebrity dish” type shows.  eTalk Daily initiated the trend a few years ago.  CHUM Television’s CityTV/A-Channel mini-networks recently decided to do some cross-promotion with their E! Network-baiting cable sibling Star! (Canadian cable channels are so original) for Star! Daily.  Now Canadians have ET Canada, a Global co-production with CBS Paramount International Television.  There’s also Sun TV’s retooling of what was called The A List when the channel was known as Toronto 1.  For the requisite paper/TV cross-promotion, the channel calls the show Inside Jam now.  Not that I regularly watch any of these shows, considering there are better choices to spend thirty minutes in Jeopardy!, Seinfeld reruns, the improving OLN, reading, belching, talking politics and studying stool samples.  For one thing, even Seinfeld is more informative than eTalk Daily.  It’s more educational, too.

Yes, there are four “homegrown” celeb gossip half-hours to choose from in Canada (five if you count The Comedy Network’s frankly horrid Popcultured, and why would you.)  Honestly, though, there should be none as gossip shows are the bane of syndicated television.  Why am I even paying attention?  It’s the Canadian television industry.  I want to see how frankly bad Canadian television can sometimes get.  I can’t say I’m disappointed here.

I saw about ten minutes or so of ET Canada.  The sad thing about the show isn’t that it exists – it’s too easy to condemn ET for what it is.  What is sad about ET Canada is the fact that it strives to look and feel like Entertainment Tonight to the absolute utmost, which is frankly bothersome.  With something like, say, Wheel of Fortune, different countries try to make their version of the show their own at times.  Not here, of course – everything needs to be backwards compatible with ET protocol.  That means a lot of distracting transitions (LIGHT!  STRETCHY BLUR!  SPARKLY TRANSITION!), Cheryl Hickey imitating a Mary Hart-like inflection and at least one halfway respectable news figure (Kim D’Eon) selling herself short to possibly pay the down payment on a house or something.  So Train 48 was the abortion of the Canadian television industry?  Why do I have trouble believing that now?  Thanks, Zev Shalev.

To be fair, ET Canada is technically a well-produced show, and though I might not like ET the gossip shows are what they are and make no bones about what they want to accomplish.  Still, a counterprogramming strategy against these shows could see a rogue Canadian network (and it won’t be the CBC, trust me) really clean up here.  Personally, the Canadian television industry didn’t need to go the Access Hollywood route.  There’s no need for gossip shows in this country.  Canada’s entertainment industry isn’t Hollywood’s, and no amount of Toronto International Film Festival coverage and “PAUL GROSS PAINTS!” is going to change that.  Whether ET Canada becomes successful is up for debate, but everyone acting like Leeza Gibbons and Shalev imitating the audience-insulting tactics of ET is not a good place to start.  At least the show’s not cross-promoting Canadian Idol every five minutes, although that’s damning with the faintest praise possible.

C. Archer
Le Social