Despite the recent dip in homegrown TV production in the Lower Mainland, B.C. talent has found its way into many of these upcoming autumn programs. Notable is the relaunch of Knowledge Network as a digital service, rebranded simply as Knowledge, on September 28.
Here are some Canadian highlights to keep tabs on.
Make or Break TV (Mondays at 6 p.m. starting September 7, TVTropolis) The struggle to get a show on the air and keep it there still proves to be filled with great stories. “It’s not just a show about TV, it’s a show about interesting people who work in TV,” says story producer-director Larry Raskin on the line with the Straight. Raskin’s team sat down with the crews behind short-lived programs like Max Headroom, Grosse Pointe, and Lonesome Dove: The Series to examine how they got their creative visions broadcast across the continent.
Test the Nation: Canada Eh? (September 7 at 8 p.m., CBC) Brent Bambury and Wendy Mesley return to host another installment of CBC’s national trivia game, testing participants on their knowledge of Canada. Seven B.C. residents will compete against others, with help from celebrity coaches like Tommy Chong and the Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson.
The Berkeley Sessions (Wednesdays at 5 p.m. starting September 10, Bravo!) Set inside Toronto’s Berkeley Church, this six-part series features performances by Canadian indie rockers like Joel Plaskett with his dad, Bill (September 10); Sarah Slean (September 24); and Pete Elkas (October 15).
Corporations in the Classroom (September 22 at 10 p.m., Knowledge) In light of M&M–sponsored math books and gym-floor naming rights up for grabs, B.C. filmmaker Jill Sharpe (Culture Jam: Hijacking Commercial Culture) questions how covering public funding gaps with corporate coffers affects schoolchildren and communities.
So You Think You Can Dance Canada (September 11, 14, and 17 at 5 p.m., Wednesdays at 5 p.m. starting September 17, CTV) Canada’s version of the hit U.S. series begins its inaugural season with three two-hour audition episodes that chart 2,500 dancers from five cities. Vancouver is featured on September 14.
That’s My Time (September 28 at 5 p.m., Bravo!) Former Vancouverite, award-winning writer, and comic one-liner extraordinaire Irwin Barker gives candid interviews one year after his diagnosis of terminal cancer as he embarks on a cross-country standup tour.
Dragons’ Den (Mondays at 8 p.m. starting September 29, CBC) Hopeful entrepreneurs seem to be learning from previous Dragons’ Den failures, notes Vancouverite Jim Treliving, one of the five investors, or “dragons”, on CBC’s reality series. “We’ve spent more money this year than in the last two,” he says in a phone interview with the Straight. “We had some really reasonable pitches that were not just good television, but they were also good deals.” Even with the low success rate of pitches, Treliving remains hopeful the “ultimate pin in the haystack” is out there.
The Border (Mondays at 9 p.m. starting September 29, CBC) One of the few surviving CBC one-hour dramas returns for a second season to tackle recent U.S.–Canada border issues like stop-loss war resisters, pharmaceutical trafficking, and Arctic sovereignty.
Growing Up Online (September 29 at 10 p.m., September 30 at 2 a.m., Knowledge) This one-hour documentary examines how the advent of on-line communities is altering childhood as previous generations knew it.
Hockey Night in Canada (October 4 at 9 a.m., October 9 at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. starting October 11, CBC) NHL hockey returns to CBC with the New York Rangers meeting Tampa Bay in Prague’s O2 arena. The Vancouver Canucks’ first game will air on October 9, when Calgary comes to town.
Death in the Forest (October 14 at 10 p.m., Knowledge) This 60-minute doc looks at how dangerous the B.C. logging industry has become due to deregulation, cutbacks, and contracting out, with work-related deaths reaching all-time highs.