I would be so much cooler if I wasn’t so hugely thrilled at this kind of thing, but John Doyle, TV critic for the Globe and Mail — premier TV critic in Canada, in my and many others' opinions — gave a wonderful shout-out to the TV, Eh site in his column today. Cool is overrated.
His point is that there is a shameful dearth of intelligent discussion about Canadian TV both in the mainstream media and online, and it’s hard to dispute that. Even those journalists who do publish the odd article featuring Canadian TV tend to ghettoize it. There’s TV, then there’s Canadian TV. In all the entertainment year-in-review articles written by Canadian journalists, there were very, very few that seemed to have even considered anything that happened within our borders, or if they did, it was separated out from the main story. Lee-Anne Goodman, the Canadian Press reporter Doyle refers to (and the one who's interviewed me) was a notable exception.
I have no illusions that even by making Canadian TV the star my site is redressing that imbalance in any significant way, but it’s a start, and maybe will help insert these shows into the discussion more by giving them a little more visibility.
I held off when Will made his nice post about the site, but I guess I’ll go into Oscar acceptance speech mode now. The site is actually not that difficult to maintain and I have fun with it. The thanks are really owed to the people who do the actual work, many of whom have expressed gratitude to me - but what I'm doing is really a small part of what the corporations who profit from their work should be doing far, far better themselves.
I’m sincerely touched at the support I’ve gotten. I have to say, though, almost none of that support – or information – comes directly from the networks. They’ve added me to their media release lists, but most don’t send me scheduling information and exactly none target what they send, so 99.9% doesn’t apply to the site (In my day job, I work in communications, aka The Profession Formerly Known As Public Relations, and sending untargeted communications to the media is a cardinal sin.) Global, for example, has sent me a media release trumpeting the fact that House squashed Intelligence in the ratings. I love House, but TV, Eh isn't quite the site for that kind of thing, don't you think, Global?
So most of the information I glean myself, plus some individual producers and show publicists have been valuable sources of information and occasionally screeners. But just the e-mailed and blogged encouragement from producers and writers and actors and others in the industry has honestly meant a lot to me, made me enjoy crashing their weird world of Canadian TV, and ensured I’m not going to back out any time soon … even if I do decide to start that site I’ve been contemplating to help promote Peruvian lawn bowling.
I keep musing over whether there’s a way I can help facilitate more bloggers to start reviewing and writing about Canadian shows, and while I think the answer is basically “no, I can’t, and don’t go there, girl,” Doyle’s article prompted me to do what I’ve been meaning to for a while – with the permission of the site owner, I sent an e-mail to the Blogcritics writers group to see if I can harness some of the Canadian ones who might be interested. I don’t expect much take up, but it’s a start, at least getting them thinking about the possibility.
I’ve said that a lot: it’s a start. It’d be nice to see the networks and production companies step up to make more of an effort to promote their own product. To further mangle the phrase I keep trying to use: a grassroots movement is hard to start when the grass doesn’t know about the roots. Or the roots don’t know about the grass. Whatever.