Wherein I’m as cranky as honorary Canadian Dr. House about mediocre TV reporting in Canada, using an example involving House

It’s been a crazy week thanks to the new job – I haven’t even had time to think about my whirlwind trip to San Francisco this weekend, when planning is usually part of the fun of travelling for me – so last night I was grateful to Playback Magazine for giving me easy fodder for a quick rant. Can’t let those rant muscles atrophy or you’ll never get them back. But damn it all if this morning, before I had time to write it up, they didn’t correct their original laughably wrong article and, in so doing, took the wind out of my sails. My ranting muscle sails. How mixed can I make this metaphor?

Anyway, last night, as I was doing the Google rounds for the TV, Eh? site, I came across an article that briefly mentioned Corner Gas‘s ratings. I decided not to post it because that information was already on the site, and the article in question was so egregiously ignorant otherwise that I would have had to go off on a non-Canadian TV tangent to mock it.

The headline was “Grey’s conquers House.” You can read it here, thanks to Google’s cache. Yes, you can correct your mistakes, but Google always remembers. It starts:

The surgeons and interns from Seattle Grace Hospital have turned the tables on Dr. Gregory House, as CTV’s drama Grey’s Anatomy became the most-watched show in primetime last week, hitting nearly 2.8 million (2+) viewers compared to 1.6 million for House on Global.

It marks a sharp contrast to premiere week last month, when House grabbed a series high 3.3 million viewers in its Tuesday 9 p.m. timeslot versus 2.5 million for Grey’s, which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m.

For a brief moment, it made me question the Honorary Canadian designation for my favourite fictional doctor. Were Canadians getting tired of the uncanny similarities between House and themselves? Would I have to write something about Dr. McDreamy being secretly Canadian?

It also made me question why CTV and Global hadn’t sent out their usual duelling media releases declaring that each had really won in the ratings, na na na na boo boo. Had CTV stopped the ratings pissing match? What would I read for entertainment now?

Turns out, Playback was doing CTV’s pissing for them (eww, I already regret that inelegant metaphor). I quickly remembered what you’d think a reporter and editor with a magazine devoted only to the Canadian TV and film industry would know: House didn’t air on FOX that week because of the baseball playoffs, so Global aired a rerun. A rerun of House got 1.6 million viewers, which should place it in or just barely out of the top 10 shows in Canada for that week.

I have to give them credit for correcting it, I guess, though that seems like a pretty low standard to hold them to. It’s as if a sports reporter wrote an article trumpeting the win of the wrong team.

The corrected version, “Grey’s number one,” is saddled with a lead that isn’t really news, now, given that Grey’s is often number two in Canada, so if the number one is a rerun, well, duh:

The surgeons and interns from Seattle Grace Hospital were a popular choice on the dial last week, as CTV’s drama Grey’s Anatomy was the most-watched show in primetime, hitting nearly 2.8 million (2+) viewers. Grey’s has the baseball playoffs to thank, since House, number one the previous week, was preempted by U.S. broadcaster Fox due to baseball pennant games, forcing Global to air a repeat episode. It nabbed 1.6 million viewers.

It marks a sharp contrast to premiere week last month, when House grabbed a series high 3.3 million viewers in its Tuesday 9 p.m. timeslot versus 2.5 million for Grey’s, which airs Thursdays at 9 p.m.

They’ve saddled this blog post with a point that isn’t really news by correcting their article, except, for one thing, this blog isn’t a news source, and for another, it’s not the first time Playback has run an article where they clearly didn’t realize they were comparing reruns to first-run shows. To be even pickier than I’m already being by posting this at all, they didn’t quite correct it enough to give it a point. It’s more newsworthy that Grey’s beat the other frequent number two show, CSI. And it’s hardly a “sharp contrast” to a week when both Grey’s Anatomy and House aired new episodes.

Just like Whistler is Canada’s version of The OC, only really, really not, and the Geminis are Canada’s version of the Emmys, only really, really not, Playback is Canada’s version of Variety, only really, really not.

“Settling for mediocrity” could sadly be a slogan for Canadian TV and film. I guess that’s one way Canadians are very different from Dr. House.

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6 Responses to Wherein I’m as cranky as honorary Canadian Dr. House about mediocre TV reporting in Canada, using an example involving House

  1. Teresa says:

    I didn’t need to get to the heart of your essay to know that House was a rerun last week. When House is a repeat I remember.
    ‘Reporting’ ain’t what it used to be. I wonder how many people pointed that out to them before they corected the error.

    House is to Grey’s as an apple is to an orange. Both emminently consumable but not much alike. I eat both.

  2. Diane Kristine says:

    And I don’t mean anything against Grey’s here. We did break up last season, but it was amicable. We say we’re friends, though we barely speak, but there’s no hard feelings.

    But it’s an embarrassment that our industry publication can’t keep track of the basics. House lost half its season premiere audience, and never mind that no one at a TV industry publication realized the top rated show in the country was on its usual October baseball hiatus, no one thought to question the why behind the drastic drop in ratings before publishing.

    Mistakes happen, but that’s pretty sad for this kind of specialized publication. And how we deal with mistakes is what shows what we’re made of – this is far from the only time they’ve done this, “let’s hope they didn’t notice how completely wrong our first article was.” It’s not even the first time they’ve done it with the House ratings. I actually did Google to see if Playback was part of the CTV/Rogers conglomerate (it’s not), as far as I can tell. Maybe they’re just Grey’s fans.

  3. wcdixon says:

    I’ve since come across the original story on various media sites (Media In Canada, etc.), uncorrected.

    What should I think about this? πŸ™‚

  4. RikerDonegal says:

    Yikes, that’s funny. And sad, too.

    As you say, nobody thought to wonder about the “why” of the supposed drop. Doesn’t anyone care about these facts/figures they are reporting?

  5. wcdixon says:

    Talk about not checking things out, this was a headline in todays “last week in review’ version of Media In Canada —

    Grey’s Anatomy topples House
    BBM/Nielsen Top 30 – Oct. 15-21, 2007

    CTV’s Grey’s Anatomy took the top spot, while the previous title-holder, Global’s House, fell almost halfway down this week’s chart.

  6. Diane Kristine says:

    Good grief. They obviously don’t read my blog. The nerve πŸ˜‰

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