Sunday, February 25, 2007

Strong and Free

I've managed to get my hands, finally, on a copy of TV North by Peter Kenter, the only comprehensive popular guide to Canadian television that I'm aware of. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I'm having a very happy time dipping in and out, alternately informing myself, scoffing affectionately, and indulging in nostalgia.

Good points:

  • I'm amazed by how much of what I grew up with was, actually, Canadian content. Here I was convinced I was having my culture sapped on a diet of American imports, and yet just about every single Saturday morning cartoon I watched was homegrown. Or a coproduction.
  • I was also interested to learn that there's a pretty sizeable subcategory of Canadian TV which is actually American TV, which was premiered in Canada, and just carried on that way because it didn't fly in the US.
  • Big props to that huge subcategory of Canadian television, the local programme made with no references to Canadian placenames so it'll sell in the States. Canadian TV makes golden-age ITV look positively nationalistic.


  • For a guide which opens by remarking that most people's image of Canadian television is of worthy nature documentaries, how has the author managed to omit Hinterland Who's Who, the worthiest, creepiest and most surreal nature documentary ever, which the CBC continually reran and reran between educational programmes?
  • No French programmes = none of the lovely Franco-Ontarien offerings I wasted hours of my childhood on, like Passe-Partout, Les Bouccaniers D'eau Douce, the live-action costume version of Babar, and that weird thing with the live duckling that was sort of like a more surreal Tales of the Riverbank. As a member of the French Immersion Programme, I must protest.
  • Wot-- no Owl TV? No Eureka? Nothing featuring Peter and/or Omar Stringer? Actually, the whole thing's pretty deficient on the TVO front generally.

More later, as I keep on working my way through it. Otherwise-- somebody please, please, release Seeing Things on DVD before some idiot at the CBC throws out the archive. And if anyone out there is remotely interested in CanuckTV, buy this book-- it's out of print, but I got a copy for £10 through AbeBooks.