Not to be construed as a real review

I’d missed the first season of Robson Arms, because it was swept into the “never heard of it” vortex before I started paying attention to Canadian TV. I tried to watch the episodes CTV helpfully put online recently, but couldn’t get them to play smoothly so gave up trying to catch up.

Anyway, season two premiered tonight, and I really enjoyed it. It was more of a straight comedy than I was expecting, given the fact that it’s been called a dramedy, and yet with a bit more depth than I was expecting, given John Doyle’s comments. Based on those, it might be a good thing that I started season two with no way of comparing it to season one.

Jeff Ltd. made me want to poke my eyes out.

Both shows, however, reminded me of the jarring reality of paying attention to Canadian TV: there’s, like, five actors who play all the roles.

No, not really, but among other familiar faces, John Cassini plays major roles in both Robson Arms and Intelligence, and I’m pretty sure I spotted at least one other Intelligence face in the show tonight (the big guy who served Leslie Nielsen with papers for running over the dog I think was Bill the snitch, who Mike Reardon had killed). Jeff Ltd. features one of the main women from Rent-a-Goalie prominently.

I can’t begrudge the actors for making a living, but it definitely makes it seem like a small, small world. And with the close proximity of the shows, I half expected Yuri the superintendent to make arrangements to whack the guy in the wheelchair and then retire to his strip club office. Disconcerting.

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4 Responses to Not to be construed as a real review

  1. DMc says:

    hee hee, “made me want to poke my eyes out.”
    hee hee.

  2. jimhenshaw says:

    John Cassini also had a substantial role in CBC’s “Dragon Boys”. And you’re right, the impression you get is that there are only five or six actors in Canada. I truly believe that impression goes a long way to undermining the audience reaction to a show.

    One of the problems with Canadian television is that actors don’t earn enough money and producers don’t take enough chances with talent.

    A few years back I was involved in a pilot that was casting about a week after ENG ended its lengthy run. I walked into the session to meet literally every single male actor who had been a regular on the show.

    The experience angered me for three reasons.

    First and foremost, these actors had just been on a successful series that ran multiple seasons, but hadn’t earned enough money to take time off to recharge or retool their acting chops. They simply had no choice but to take the next job that came along.

    Second, it’s always an uphill battle to make your show stand out from the other program choices and this would make us look like an episode of ENG.

    Third, it proved that casting directors know there’s job security in providing producers and networks with “cover your ass” choices instead of talent that might bring something “fresh”.

    How many times have we seen Sonya Smits or Wendy Crewson or John Cassini in a show promo and just rolled our eyes and said, “Oh, not again.” And there’s nothing wrong with any of those actors. They’re all enormously talented.

    But in addition to creating a character, they’re now saddled with a familiarity that breeds apathy in the audience.

    And isn’t that Apathy what we’re all really fighting in this country?

  3. DMc says:

    Yup. I said pretty much the same thing awhile back.

    But the whole cast of a show just as it ended? Priceless.

  4. Chet says:

    I’m beginning to feel the same way about American TV. Every year there are new shows featuring stars that used to be on other shows. Then those shows get cancelled and the actors turn up a few months later on some other show. Of course they aren’t usually doing two shows at the same time, but it still leaves the same impression — that the producers aren’t willing to take a chance on an actor who has never starred on a previous show.

    Some shows, like Numbers, Brothers and Sisters, and Criminal Minds seem to have been expressly created as make-work projects for laid-off stars from other shows.

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