What To Watch: CBC (Fall 2014)

CBC (logo via CBC)

CBC (logo via CBC)


The CBC made my life a bit difficult, as they don’t really have full trailers for most of their new series this fall. Some new shows were cobbled together into one trailer that consisted of the new CBC dramas, while Canada’s Smartest Person’s trailer was hiding on the Media Centre site.

Putting that aside, the new fall shows aren’t that hot or very Canadian for that matter. Ascension, The Honourable Woman and Janet King are imports or co-productions. Canada’s Smartest Person looks rather shabby around the edges, while Strange Empire is a mixture between The Week The Women Went and a western. At least the CBC’s old standbys Dragon’s Den, Republic of Doyle, 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer Report and Murdoch Mysteries are still on the schedule.

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
7 Murdoch Mysteries Hockey Night in Canada Heartland (Sept. 28)
8 Murdoch Mysteries (Oct. 6) Rick Mercer Report (Oct. 7) Dragon’s Den (Oct. 15) The Nature of Things (Oct. 9) Marketplace (Oct. 17) Hockey Night in Canada Canada’s Smartest Person (Sept. 28)
8:30 22 Minutes (Oct. 8) Rick Mercer Report (Encore)
9 Strange Empire (Oct. 6) The Honourable Woman (Sept 29)/Ascension (Nov. 25) Republic of Doyle (Oct. 15) Doc Zone (Oct. 9) the fifth estate (Oct. 24) CBC Selects: Janet King (Oct. 5)
10 The National The National

Note: New series are in bold. Ascension’s premiere has moved to January.

New Series:

Strange Empire

The first thing that struck me about Strange Empire is it’s yet another show playing off the trend of strong female leads that you keep coming across on TV these days.

The exact premise is kind of a reverse of the old CBC series The Week The Women Went, a reality show where the women of a random town in Alberta (Nova Scotia for the second season) took off leaving the men and children to deal with life on their own.

Strange Empire, on the other hand, is a drama and like the first season of The Week The Women Went it happens to take place in Alberta. Instead of the women going missing, it’s the men (for the most part) and the women are struggling to survive. Oh, did I mention Strange Empire takes place in 1869? Boy, those women are really up for a challenge.

The Honourable Woman

Remember what I said above about that TV trend of strong female leads, well here’s another show to add to the list. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in this spy thriller where she plays a woman who is key to achieving peace in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians even though her father was assassinated by Palestinians. If you’re wondering how the CBC scored a big name like Maggie Gyllenhaal, that’s because they didn’t—this series is an import from BBC Two.


Boy, there sure are a lot of imports/co-productions on the CBC’s schedule this year. In addition to the aforementioned The Honourable Woman and CBC Selects, which you’ll find below, we also have this show from the US network Syfy.

The CBC hasn’t provided much info on this series, but from what I’ve been able to make out from Syfy and other sources, it’s a mini-series that follows a bunch of people sent into space by the US government in 1963. Sounds veryCanadian?

Canada’s Smartest Person

This program is an interactive game show that appears to be a mix between things like an IQ test, Trivial Pursuit and The CubeCanada’s Smartest Person attempts to measure how “smart” eight contestants are by looking at an array of factors such as traditional math and logic skills but also kinesthetic and interpersonal intelligence.

You can also play along at home using an app and can compare how well you did with friends and other people across the country.

It’s actually a bit surprising to see Jessi Cruickshank hosting a show about smarts as she previously hosted things like The CW’s Oh Sit and The After Show on MTV.

Check out the original special online.

CBC Selects: Janet King

I’m pretty sure CBC Selects has something to do with those budget cuts we keep hearing about. Instead of making homegrown Canadian content as the CBC has done for years, CBC Selects takes a different approach by featuring series and movies from other public broadcasters around the world.

This fall we’re getting Janet King, a series looking at a Senior Crown Prosecutor who becomes the Director of Public Prosecution and now finds herself in the midst of a high-profile murder trial.

Janet King is from Australia’s ABC and judging from their trailer, which I’ve embedded above, it isn’t the most terribly interesting show, unless you’re particularly into legal dramas.

(Note: Updated November 3rd)