With Love, U.S. Network TV

Ever since the writers guild went on strike south of the border people have been anticipating the arrival of U.S. networks, come calling for our home-grown productions. It now appears that time has come.

CBS has picked up 13 episodes of Flashpoint, a new CTV police drama that is expected to air in May or June, giving some indication of how long the strike (or at least its fallout ) is expected to last.

Flashpoint is breathlessly described as "an emotional journey into the tough, risk-filled lives of a group of cops in the SRU (Strategic Response Unit). They're unique cops that can do what ordinary cops can't: rescue hostages, bust gangs, defuse bombs, climb the sides of buildings and talk down suicidal teens. Members of a highly-skilled tactical team, they're also trained in negotiating, profiling and getting inside the suspect's head at the very emotional breaking point (the "flashpoint") that triggered the crisis. They'll do whatever it takes to diffuse the situation to try to save lives — all in a day's work."

This is the first new scripted series to be ordered by a U.S. network since the WGA walked out last November. The show will get around picket lines by using Canadian writers and actors, including Enrico Colantoni (the father on Veronica Mars) and Hugh Dillon. The Writers Guild of Canada is affiliated with the WGA and has stated that "their fight is our fight," but this show likely falls outside of any strike mandate.

In any case, CBS seems pleased: "It just worked," a CBS executive told Variety. "It hit all the right buttons for us. And we had a great meeting with the producers, who already had story ideas for another four or five episodes."

Flashpoint has also overcome the perceived shortcomings of Canadian projects, with one insider assuring that the show's production values "will be as good as any American production." Nice.

Other productions could follow. Peter Raymont, a co-founder, producer and writer at White Pine Pictures, an independent Toronto-based production company, told the Financial Post that he is "optimistic" his CBC drama The Border — about an elite border security unit confronting international crime, terrorists and trafficking — will be sold to a U.S. network after a series of meetings this week in Las Vegas.

I wouldn't be surprised to see jPod snapped up too — perhaps not by a major network, but I could see it working on one of the specialty stations.

So the writer's strike giveth and taketh away. Hopefully the success of Canadian productions won't be used as a reason to keep U.S. writers out on the picket line and when it all gets settled Canada won't return to its second-class status.

(Originally posted on The Ampersand.)


  1. I'll have to keep an eye out for it. Maybe the strike will actually be the chance for Americans to see shows made elsewhere than the Unite States!

  2. I could have sworn I read a report that one of the big 3 networks was looking at bringing Corner Gas to weekly television down south.

  3. Mercurie - well, I can't vouch for the show as it hasn't been made yet, but hopefully it manages to be something worth watching.

    MC - I know Corner Gas has been sold to U.S. cable Superstation WGN but I hadn't seen anything about the Big Three. If any show could do OK, that one could.

  4. If the US networks get really desperate we can always repackage the Littlest Hobo with some new graphics and get the theme song covered by some new country star.

  5. Until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on...