Friday, June 18, 2010

The Idiot File: Lindsay Blackett - Television Critic

After hearing Blackett's statements about the quality of Canadian television productions for the last couple of days - and his flaccid attempts to defend the "rightness" of what he says, I finally have a few things to add.

First, let me put my own cards on the table with respect to television. I don't watch it - period. Quite frankly, I got turned off network television in the 1990s - the era of such innovative tripe as "Friends", "Beverly Hills 90210", "Frasier" and "Seinfeld" - and the first generations of so-called "reality" shows, a genre that I thought was awful then and I have yet to see anything to change my opinion. I simply decided that there were better places to spend my money than pouring hundreds of dollars into cable to get access to the handful of channels that I might enjoy.

Which leads to my point. Minister Blackett is busy whinging about how "poor" the quality of Canadian-made television is. A sentiment I find ironic in an era when shows like "Little Mosque on the Prairie" and "Corner Gas" have been garnering awards and audience share like wildfire.

However, if Minister Blackett wishes to whinge about "how bad" Canadian TV is, I invite him to think about it a little differently. He should be asking himself how it is with the millions of dollars that American productions sink into actors, advertising and so on for their shows why there's such a dearth of material that is actually worth the time to watch it?

Quite frankly, the most enjoyable TV series I've seen anything of (usually on DVD's borrowed from friends) have had precious little money sunk into them compared to the extravagant expenditures made by American networks on their "top prime time" material.

Are the big American productions profitable? Undoubtedly. On the other hand, are they high quality? Not necessarily. A glossy finish, perhaps - which is what I suspect Blackett is really attracted to.

It reminds me of a co-worker years ago getting a "great deal" on what was then a fairly new Camaro. When he pulled into the parking lot, we all admired the shiny, obviously fresh paint. On closer inspection though, one of us noticed that his car was sitting a lot lower on the left hand side than the right. The proud new owner told us "it was just that the springs needed to be replaced - besides, listen to how solid this thing is ..." followed by slamming the door shut so we could hear the solid "thunk" of a good car door closing. Well ... there was a thunk alright - it was the sound of half the door falling onto the pavement, revealing a travesty of automotive handiwork. An enormous lump of Bondo and fibreglass fell off the door, revealing a door which had been caved in by another vehicle.

The shiny paint was there as bait. The car itself was worse than a beater - it was beaten. I won't bore you with the litany of problems he had after that trying to rehabilitate the vehicle - the point is this - Television shows are a bit like that car these days. They are often very slick and glossy, but underneath it all, there often isn't much to recommend them.

Minister Blackett might want to consider that the next time he decides to make "off the cuff" remarks about the quality of Canadian productions.

Some friends have pointed me to shows I have actually enjoyed in recent years - Firefly, Dark Angel and Pushing Daisies among them - but there's not enough to make me want to do more than borrow the DVDs once in a while - I'd much rather be outside on my bicycle, walking in the mountains or have a good book to read.

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