Where There's Not a Lot Goin' On

It may seem that that Iraq is spiraling into civil war, with an increasing death toll and factions fighting each other in the streets. But democracy is breaking out all over – you can tell because Iraqis can now watch Canadian TV!

One of our most popular homegrown shows, Corner Gas, is now being broadcast in Iraq, along with 25 other nations worldwide. It’s great to see the genial comedy, which is often described as Seinfeld on the Prairies, get international recognition – especially in the U.S. where we have a definite cultural trade deficit.

But I keep wondering about Iraq. I honestly didn’t even know many people had enough electricity to run a TV, let alone spend some of that time watching the exploits of small town Saskatchewan folks. Perhaps, in an effort to bridge what I can only imagine is a cavernous cultural gap, Brett Butt and the gang will relocate to Baghdad for a few episodes…
Hank: Uh, I just tripped an IED and blew up The Ruby again.

Brett: IED, IED, IED. That’s fun to say.

Oscar: You’re both jackasses!
OK, maybe that’s not as good of an idea as it seemed. Best of luck to the denizens of Dog River, it’s nice to see some good news about Canadian TV once and awhile. And to CTV, don’t rest on your laurels. You’ve proved you can recognize and nurture a hit show – now do it again.

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  1. You know, it is strange thinking of any TV show, even a homegrown, Iraqi TV show being a hit there. Like you, I didn't think there was enough people with electricity to run TV sets! Maybe that means we'll finally get to see a lot of Canadian TV shows here in the States. You know, the only time I think there was a substantial number of Canadian TV shows on American television was back in the pre-Letterman days when CBS showed some on CBS Late Night.

  2. When I heard about this Iraq tv thing I was soooo confused. I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. Someone had to explain it to me like I was a three year old. If nothing else this is a great tribute to the advancement of technology and the closing in of the universal gap. Yup. The world is getting smaller.

  3. Mercurie - I can't imagine you'll see many Canadian shows on American television for the simple reason that their aren't many Canadian shows on Canadian TV either.

    Marina - for all the excitment we have when we see one of out show exported, we really don't see much of other nation's shows (beyond the U.S.) except for endless runs of Coronation Street.

  4. Though the way I see it is that money may go into other productions, though admittedly Corner Gas is the best long-run series we've had in a while.

  5. I hate to be contrarian, but not really. If you limit your viewing to the major networks then US shows dominate(although I prefer Doctor Who over Coronation Street as an example of quality British television exports on the CBC).

    But if you go a little further up the dial or even check out the Omni stations, you'll find lots of programming from all over the place. Cheesy Italian game shows, Indian movies, Asian soaps, and loads of other British and Irish fare.

    Canada has roughly half the population of the UK, but I'd be happy if our networks produced a quarter of Britain's content.

    We don't because our broadcasters are lazy and can make hefty profits by simulcasting US shows rather than competing against them.

    Here's a revolutionary thought. Let's not let Canadian broadcasters simulcast at all. Force them to compete. And if they can't, the market will take care of them soon enough.

  6. Ah Aiadan, of course you don't mind being contrarian. I am not a fan of simulcasting, but to remove it and leave our channels to the mercy of the market would mean watching them be crushed by that same market. We don't have the same economies of scale.

    I'd like to see a larger, set percentage of the money gained from simulcasting be pit aside to fund Canadian productions. Cormer Gas, Rick Mercer and the Trailer Park Boys prove Canadian will watch homegrown shows. Let's see some more of them.