STRUCK DUMB: THE INVASION BEGINS: Hopeful voices have been
suggesting since before the Hollywood writers’ strike began that the U.S.
networks would be looking northward to fill gaping holes in primetime schedules,
but those brief but fervent fantasies of seeing shows like Intelligence, Corner
Gas, Whistler, Da Kink In My Hair or Air Farce on U.S. big four network prime
time have been dashed cruelly.
So far, the only Canadian show that’s actually found a place on U.S.
airwaves since the strike began has been Kenny Vs. Spenny, which made its debut
on the cable Comedy Central network mostly because South Park’s Trey Parker and
Matt Stone were fed a big turkey dinner and lots of wine and cocoa and given a
“full service” massage before being wrapped in comfy bearskins and shown an
episode of the Showcase show, after which they were hypnotized and told to
dictate a nice e-mail to their friends at Comedy Central.
In this context, I can confidently proclaim that the “floodgates” have
“opened,” and we’re about to inundate U.S. airwaves with Canadian programming.
Well, it’s just one show, actually – a co-production between CTV and CBS that
was announced this week with a story in Variety.
Flashpoint is – surprise, surprise – a police drama, which will feature
both Canadian writers and actors, including Enrico Colantoni, formerly of
Veronica Mars. Scheduled to debut in early summer, the series is “believed to be
the first scripted project developed and ordered to series by a broadcast
network since the WGA walkout in November,” according to the Variety story.
CBS says that they’re looking to do more deals like this, as a way of
cutting down the development cost of pilots, and have been negotiating with
producers in the U.K., Australia and Israel.
"It just worked," an unnamed CBS exec 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."
Production will also happen up here, though it seems that the American
partners had to be reassured that production values “will be as good as any
American production,” according to “a person familiar with the project.”
Which means that we’ll have to hold off for a few episodes before the
main character starts talking to his faithful police dog, or takes long,
ruminative walks in the snow, or storylines shift to the rural Maritimes, where
the business of police work takes a back seat to the coming of age story of a
young girl with ambitions larger than gutting cod on her father’s boat, dreaming
all the time about becoming a singing star in Toronto.
These are our stories people, and they have to be told.