CBC Pilot Burn-Off Time | B Team

In the year and change I’ve written about television for URBMN, CBC has never aired a standalone pilot that has gone on to become a series…until now.  B Team (CBC: Buffalo Gal Pictures/Company Name Here Productions/Vérité Films, 2009) has made series, as InSecurity.

I’m not sure if B Team is a preview of what will air on CBC in 2010-11.  If it is, then I don’t have hope for InSecurity.  B Team is an unfunny execution of a surprisingly good concept.

B Team is set at the Canadian Intelligence and Security Establishment, the fictitious government organization du jour.  CISE has functions similar to other spy agencies.  Alex Taylor (Natalie Lisinska) leads her team into mediocrity, though no fault of her own.

Alex is too nice, allowing herself to be pushed around by boss Janet Brown (Veena Sood.)  The pilot helpfully points out every character’s role and/or personality traits.  Karl Lesage (Rémy Girard) is The Civil Servant.  Burt Lancaster (Matthew MacFadzean) is The Wiener.  JoJo Lum (Jeananne Goossen) is The Translator.  Lisa Hampton (Carolyne Maraghi) is The Friend, and so on.

In B Team‘s pilot, Alex is stuck monitoring a Chechen shoe salesman.  Her job isn’t glamourous, as Alex’s ex-husband Peter McNeil (David Jones) leads the respected, well-funded team.  Alex’s team mistakes yellow plasticine used on the Chechen’s model train set as C4 explosives.

Peter’s team somehow interprets the model as prelude to a real attack, and the situation devolves from there.  The espionage part of B Team isn’t that strong, the show relying on an ensemble cast to carry it.  For an action-comedy, B Team contains very little action and tons of desk jockeying.

I respect B Team for its intricate plotting, but the pilot is just not funny.  It’s the typical CBC sitcom – predictable, no laugh track, underacted in places.  B Team‘s underlying concept is solid, yet there’s little in the way of satire.  Espionage should be rife with satire.  B Team has no excuse for being as weak as it is.

I want to like B Team, but I can’t.  It’s safe, bland and almost stereotypically “Canadian.”  It’s as if B Team wants to talk about surveillance, and yet avoid the issue altogether.  That’s like Pure Pwnage not showing Jeremy pwn n00bs.  I sincerely hope InSecurity isn’t as bad as B Team, as the pilot doesn’t afford me much hope.

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer