What To Watch: CBC (Fall 2015)


Okay Canada, you better buckle up because CBC’s throwing some wild and crazy stuff your way: a knockoff of a Showtime series, an edgy Channel 4 import, a bunch of blood, guts and sick people and whatever the hell The Romeo Project is supposed to be. Keep your fingers crossed and hope to God these new shows work because the CBC might be in a lot of trouble if they don’t.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
7 Marketplace Just for Laughs Gags Young Drunk Punk 22 Minutes Rick Mercer Report Hockey Night in Canada* Heartland (Oct. 4)
7:30 Coronation Street
8 Murdoch Mysteries (Oct. 5) Rick Mercer Report (Oct. 6) Dragons’ Den (Oct. 7) The Nature of Things (Oct. 1) Marketplace (Oct. 23) Canada’s Smartest Person (Oct. 4)
8:30 22 Minutes (Oct. 6) Crash Gallery (Oct. 2)/Interrupt This Program (Nov. 2)
9 This Life (Oct. 5) Young Drunk Punk (Oct. 6) The Romeo Section (Oct. 14) Firsthand (Oct. 15) the fifth estate (Oct. 23) Keeping Canada Alive (Oct. 4)
9:30 Raised By Wolves (Oct. 6)
10 The National The National

Note: There was good reason why the CBC didn’t list Doc Zone or the Rick Mercer Report Friday encore as part of their returning programs: They’re not part of the CBC’s fall schedule! I’ve updated the schedule above to include their replacements, and I’ll try to provide more information on them below once I find out more about them.

Note: I added info on Firsthand and Crash Gallery below and Monday-Friday’s 7 p.m. programs above on October 18

New Series:

This Life — Mondays at 9 p.m.

Upon reading the CBC’s description of This Life, I couldn’t help but see a lot of similarities between it and the Showtime series The Big C. Both shows are dramedies that focus on middle-aged women who have cancer pushed into their lives and have to deal with the fact that they might not be long for this world.

Admittedly I didn’t watch much of The Big C because Showtime’s other show Dexter was already plenty morbid for me. Also, I couldn’t bother with it because SuperChannel aired it initially in Canada, and who has the cash to plunk down for HBO/The Movie Network and SuperChannel, let alone cable these days?

But I’ll be damned if This Life isn’t essentially the same freakin’ show as The Big C but just set in Montreal. The funny thing is that This Life is apparently a remake of a Radio-Canada series called Nouvelle Address. That would make This Life a knockoff of a knockoff, right?

Raised by Wolves — Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

Yes, yet another import has made it onto the CBC’s airwaves. This one is from Channel 4 out in the UK, and unfortunately, it’s far from the most original series on TV.

Raised by Wolves is based on the childhood experiences of the creators of the show, Caitlin and Caroline Moran, but of course there were a few changes made to make the show palatable for TV audiences. Does that sound familiar? Think ABC’s The Goldbergs and Fresh Off the Boat if you’re stumped. (There are a hell of a lot of other shows that come to mind, too.) While The Goldbergs and Fresh Off the Boat take place in the eras when the creators grew up (the ‘80s and ‘90s, respectively), Raised by Wolves takes place in the present day. So … that’s something.

The Romeo Section — Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

If you were guessing that this show was about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet just by looking at the title, you’re wrong … well, you’re wrong for the most part. The Romeo Section is an espionage drama set in Vancouver. The only relation to Romeo and Juliet, as far as I can tell, is that the spies on the show are referred to as “Romeo and Juliet spies,” and that’s about it. Apparently the spies get in intimate relationships with their intelligence targets, which is where they got that silly Romeo and Juliet moniker from. So, naturally, the show will also spend a lot of time examining the concept that you can’t really trust people and we don’t really know anyone.

The CBC posted a summary of the show’s premise online, and I had to give up a few lines in because I just couldn’t. You know when you JUST CAN’T EVEN with something? That’s how the CBC’s summary of The Romeo Section made me feel.

From what I read and what the show’s creator rambles about in the video above, The Romeo Section seems like it’s going to fall into that weird, overly ambitious, really out there premise hole that a few CBC shows have stumbled into. You know, those shows that you can tell there’s not much of an audience for, but the CBC is going to try to swing for anyway even though they can’t afford to screw up with budget cuts, fierce competition from the private networks and this little thing called the internet nibbling away at them. (I’m looking at you Strange Empire and Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.)

If I have to spend any more time thinking about The Romeo Section, I might just break my laptop in half, but God help this little show. The Romeo Section should be thankful that it has the cushy time-slot (at least by CBC standards) after Dragons’ Den, but do time-slots even matter in this age of PVRs and on-demand video? Hell, do ratings even matter to the CBC anymore?

Firsthand — Thursdays at 9 p.m.

CBC’s new documentary series looks absolutely intense. We’re getting docs on a woman who joined the Taliban, police killing the mentally ill, pot entrepreneurs and other captivating topics tackled only the way the CBC can.

Crash Gallery — Fridays at 8:30 p.m. (Oct. 2)

This new show is all about putting artists under pressure — think of it like MasterChef but with art instead of food. Three artists have a set amount of time to piece together works of art in front of art enthusiasts. After two rounds, the audience chooses the winner, and that champ gets absolutely nothing but “bragging rights.” What? The CBC is so cash strapped that they’re considering selling their buildings, you didn’t expect an elaborate prize of a million dollars and a two-week Caribbean vacation, did you?

Interrupt This Program — Fridays at 8:30 p.m. (Nov. 6)

More info coming soon.

Keeping Canada Alive — Sundays at 9 p.m.

This six-part series takes a sweeping look at the Canadian healthcare system. Sixty cameras take to some of the health care providers that Canadians have turned to for urgent care. Here’s the twist: all the footage was filmed in a single day. So it’s all there: births, deaths, surgeries, incurable illnesses and all the gruesome footage you can take on a Sunday night with the family. (That was supposed to be a joke, but The Walking Dead and Family Guy are Sunday night staples, aren’t they?) Anyway, if the premise for Keeping Canada Alive sounds familiar, that might be because it is. BBC Two aired a similar series in the UK.