‘Programming Reality’

I have here an academic book about Canadian TV, Programming Reality: Perspectives on English-Canadian Television (hyphen sic; Zoë Druick and Aspa Kotsopoulos, eds.). It’s a bit dry, sort of like Canadian Television Today. Needless to say, the Corpse comes up a lot.

  • Glen Lowry writes about Da Vinci (and of course I would lead off with that topic):

    Shifting focus away from the [downtown east side] and onto Da Vinci’s political career, it moves from an unfolding social imaginary and onto the psychological struggles of a powerful individual.

    The cancellation of Da Vinci’s City Hall, ultimately the demise of Da Vinci, was the product of more than simple ill will at the CBC…. Figuratively and literally, the [downtown east side] that Da Vinci grew to represent has begun to disappear under the forces of gentrification.

    Yeah, you knew that word was gonna be in there.

    The historical situations that gave the show its edge were no longer current: The “missing women” were found to have been murdered, and the murderer was in police custody; Larry Campbell had left civic politics…. Neither Vancouver nor the [downtown east side] are what they were when Da Vinci entered the scene in 1998.

    By the way, if you rewatch early episodes of Da Vinci’s Inquest, it’s shocking how quiet, hemmed-in, and conventional they are, with everything taking place on studio sets. Later episodes literally opened everything up – suddenly you saw through the baby-blue walls implied by the opening credits into the cold grey light of Vancouver. (And they got rid of the opening credits. In fact, now I can’t find the article where Haddock talks about doing exactly that.)

  • Derek Foster has a solid chapter on Making the Cut. Remember Making the Cut? The reality show we ran just as Stursberg was telling Parliament we didn’t do reality shows?

    With Making the Cut, the spectacle of hockey competition was intended to be drama enough… without the casting of the slacker, the redneck, the introvert, or other such stereotypes upon which “reality” shows frequently depend. Yet NHL games, the standard of real hockey…, do not feature microphones attached to players or handheld camera operators on the ice who become part of the action. Making the Cut, through the use of such technologies, created on-ice spectacle quite distinct from “real” hockey.

  • A piece about The Greatest Canadian by Julie Rak (emphasis added):

    At the opening of the Tommy Douglas program, Douglas’s advocate, George Stroumboulopoulos, at the time a good-looking host for a MuchMusic alternative music show, is sitting in a ’50s-era convertible at a drive-in…. [Strombo] says that James Dean just looks like a rebel, but Tommy Douglas really was one…. American rebels are part of Hollywood, but “we” Canadians have political rebels…. [Strombo] establishes a nexus between Douglas as an individual and Douglas as representative of Canadian values in its implicit rejection of celebrity as un-Canadian.

    “The Hour: Where the A-list talks.”


  • Dwight Williams says:

    It is indeed a shame to not have Da Vinci as an ongoing critique of this situation, whatever it’s becoming. I’d consider it worth whatever portion of my taxes going to CBC operations being at least in part directed to a revival.

  • Anonymous says:

    Fake Ouimet, I like the threads you're weaving. Programming Reality, Boner Watch, Battle of the Network Ice Blondes?! Love it!

    @Dwight Williams & Sgt. Tumeric, it ain't Yaletown…..yet, but the forces of gentrification are indeed working on the DTES. It's a shame Da Vinci's not around anymore to reflect/critique this new reality.

  • Anonymous says:

    Title Programming Reality: Perspectives on English-Canadian Television (Film and Media Studies)
    Author Druick, Zoë
    Publication Wilfrid Laurier University Press (2008), Paperback, 383 pages
    Publication date 2008
    ISBN 1554580102 / 9781554580101
    Dewey 791

    Other books in the series

    Books in the Film and Media Studies Series

    * Harmony and Dissent: Film and Avant-garde Art Movements in the Early Twentieth Century, R. Bruce Elder
    * The Young, the Restless, and the Dead: Interviews with Canadian Filmmakers, George Melnyk
    * He Was Some Kind of Man: Masculinities in the B Western, Roderick McGillis
    * Programming Reality: Perspectives on English-Canadian Television, Zoë Druick, editor, and Aspa Kotsopoulos, editor

    Founded in 1974, Wilfrid Laurier University Press has established a reputation for excellence in scholarly publishing in the areas of history, literature, sociology, social work, life writing, film and media studies, aboriginal studies, women’s studies, philosophy, and religious studies. We publish 28‒30 titles a year and have over 220 titles in print.

    The two editors are Wet Coasters from the metro Vancouver area, so you would expect them to warm? to Da Vinci when it is hometown boosterism, though Druick is one of those dull drones from York U.

    See the tendentious Intro at

  • Dwight Williams says:


    I know from checking everything from Radio One to Canadian Architect Magazine that various projects for that neck of the woods have been in the works for a while now, but I wasn’t able to go see the truth on the ground with my own eyes during my most recent trip down to Vancouver for various reasons. Which bothers me more than a little.

    I’d like to learn more about the present situation. Fifth Estate and Current investigators, please take note.

    Also, can we get back to more Da Vinci shows soon, please?

  • sgt.turmeric says:

    Yeah, it’s true. The Downtown East-Side is just like Yaletown now.

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