“I will pay you to stay away from any business I’m invested in. And if you come near it, I’ll set that teddy bear on fire.”

A few days ago the producers of the new CBC show The Dragon’s Den emailed me the address of a secret website so I could preview the first episode online.

This is a milestone for me. Of what, I’m not sure.

I realize that some people question whether the CBC should be doing reality programs at all. It’s a silly discussion. For some reason, reality TV and bug eating get a bad rap these days. Am I the only one who has read Everything Bad Is Good for You and who enjoys a quality Bogong moth every now and then?

The CBC has been doing reality programs for years. When Rabinovitch told the standing committee on Canadian Heritage a year ago that “we don’t do reality programming” he was just plain wrong.

And let’s face it. If The One were the number one show on TV last summer we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

Doyle calls the Dragon’s Den Apprentice-style reality TV” but it’s more like American Inventor meets Antiques Roadshow. Where most reality shows are constructed over weeks towards a finale, Dragon’s Den is made up of Roadshow-esque vignettes of sweaty, nervous entrepreneurs looking for dollars.

Some get some, some don’t. There’s no finale. Very British.

And where American Inventor indulged the audience with maudlin backstories on the inventors, these dragons are dealing with their own cash and cut the emotional stuff to a minimum.

The audience may not like that too much.

It’s all right. If this show had come out 2 or 3 years ago, it would have been well ahead of the curve. As it stands now, it just seems a little late out of the gate.

Which is not to say it can’t find an audience, if the CBC gives it a chance to find one.


  • Allan says:

    a matter of time ….

    Ottawa Sun, Canada – Oct 16, 2006
    … CBC’s new reality series Dragon’s Den (9 pm) premiered to just 219,000 viewers last Wednesday. Gulp!

    CBC heads back to Dragons’ Den
    Waterloo Record, Canada – Nov 9, 2006

    … Dragon’s Den is already the fastest-growing program in the CBC’s schedule, getting a total of 657,000 viewers when the show aired last Wednesday

  • groucho says:

    I too watched a preview version of the show. It depresses me that CBC is doing this for a number of reasons, mainly how they fumbled the execution.

    1) Feels behind the times, 2003 retro, like someone else said, leading, not following. The opening credits are very flashy but we couldn’t even find an edgy song by some Canadians. Instead it’s Oasis.

    2) Then, the celebration of wealth in first 5 minutes, look at how much money he has. Look at his huge bridal path house. Her beautiful ranch. Great now I hate them. When did the CBC become bootlickers to billionaires?

    3) The show itself, too much of it seems to get off on the uncomfortable moments as the Dragon’s flay the pitchers. I know it’s not quite Fear Factor but I just don’t like the atmosphere, the pulsing music while we zoom on the face of a demoralized business person.

    4) The show has NO ARC! No second act. Person comes in. Pitches product. Panel talks. Person does post-pitch interview. Repeat…5 times! That’s it? Couldn’t the producers think of somewhere else to take it? Follow a successful entrepreneur? Any kind of follow up? Sure American Idol does try outs/auditions for a little while, but then the show evolves. Is this the whole season of DD? A long line of humiliated pitches broken up by the occasion success? Bah.
    If you want to do reality-based TV fine..do it right. How about getting out of your faux dungeon studio every now and then.


  • Allan says:

    Tell us what you think “our real mandate” is, and I will tell you if any of your suggestions bring “DD” any closer to it, Neutron.
    And, quite obviously, any show is a success if it garners a sufficiently large enough audience regardless of how it got there. I think the CBC would be happy with any hit show, mandate or not.
    Like, how was the “The One” a fulfillment of “the mandate”???

  • Anonymous says:

    Viewed it for the 1st time last nite. I am confused as to which audience market the CBC is aiming for on this one for the ratings. If it`s looking to grab the REAL entrepreneur/investor world then then show is a flawed with the industry method called the “ELEVATOR PITCH“ demonstration. In the real world of VC panel pitches you have to demonstrate the research market numbers, the $$$ revenue & sales projection numbers and finally the EXIT strategy (VC`s cashing in method). In my opinion the show fails at grabbing the real entrepreneur & investment world audience (which is small anyways).
    Now if the intent is to make it an entertaining show then the insults and sarcasym found on the 1st episode will have to be more dramatic in order to grab the reality TV crowd (which is presently saturated with reality shows).
    Right now I find the show sitting on a fence not knowing which side to lean on in order to grab its audience and thus will fail if it does not satisfy either.
    My opinion: Grab both possible audience markets mentioned above by adding new random surprise elements into the show: 1) Occasionnally bring in simultaneously 2 similar products at the same time in order to create instant entrepreneural competition as the VC panel debates which one has more potential.
    2) Occasionnally bring in a surprise added VC investor who is already interested in the product and thus creates competition and bidding within the VC panel.
    3) Occasionnally bring in a product/ entrepreneur that has secretly already gotten 1st round and possibly 2nd round financing and sales behind the product – this being declared after all VC panelist have turned down the product. The VC panel has now been the target under the gun.
    Now that`s showbusiness with education and Cdn entrepreneural development. Gee did I just create entertainment that fits our real mandate !!!!! (this one is free)


  • Allan says:

    Credits just finished.
    Really good show. I loved the panel of “dragons”. They alone were worth the price of admission. Fascinating and delightful. A very strong element.The best by far of any panel used in competition TV. (Over at Canadian Idol – I ask every time “who the hell are these people???)

    The camera angles are so … CBC.
    Shouldn’t the stairs be leading … up?

    Not since Front Page Challenge have we had so many good looking, bright people in a studio.
    This was really good stuff, on so many levels. A very potent mix.
    So much so that I kinda of yearn to see it all unfold in the raw unedited version because there’s so much going on with these dynamic personalities.
    And that was a dynamite moment with Jennifer scoring, and rightly so.
    I’d love to see this show as it evolves. Funny. Entertaining. Suspenseful.
    Canada looks less dull tonight.

  • fuzzybabel says:

    It won’t find an audience. I don’t say that because it isn’t good, though I haven’t seen it, or because reality shows are part of the past, though they are. I say that because the CBC is not good at letting people know about what’s on their air. Entire shows have come and gone without my ever hearing anything about them. Never saw an ad, heard anything from other people, saw it written up anywhere – nothing.

    One way, imho, that the CBC might build up their audience numbers is to let people know that
    A) CBC television is still around
    B) That they have programs on the air
    C) Not all of these are news and documentary
    D) What those programs might be about.

    Seriously, Rogers public access channel does a better job of promoting their offerings than the CBC.

  • Ouimet says:

    Funny you should ask that, Allen, as that’s the part I forgot to write about.

    It was, of course, great. And if they did it for me, I wonder why they can’t do it for everybody?

  • Allan says:

    your description is more finely tuned than Dork’s.
    If you’d care to answer this:
    So how did you find the experience of having the show delivered to you via computer, on demand?

  • green says:

    ” … As it stands now, it just seems a little late out of the gate. …”

    Exactly! Now, programs with the word ‘reality’ linked to them leave me cold. Won’t be watching that one.

  • Anonymous says:

    You’re not the only one who read Everything Bad is Good for You, but let’s not forget that the only kind of reality TV that the author lauded was big social experiments like Survivor, where the audience deciphers who’s winning by watching a myriad of small human interactions. A real test of emotional intelligence.
    Dragon’s Den doesn’t qualify. It’s just a structured series of Venture “features”. Why the need to separate it from Venture? Couldn’t they just run it as a Venture series like Back to the Floor or The Big Switcheroo. I don’t think Dragon’s Den will fly as prime time entertainment.

  • Anonymous says:

    CBC’s programmers always chase, never lead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Upload Files

You can include images or files in your comment by selecting them below. Once you select a file, it will be uploaded and a link to it added to your comment. You can upload as many images or files as you like and they will all be added to your comment.