As you’ve probably heard by now, the CBC has commissioned a biopic (well, actually, more of a docudrama) about the late Jack Layton.
Granted, it’s a bit much to classify this news item under “Crime and punishment” as neo has done; after all, this likely-to-be-a-shallow-botchup-mess can easily be avoided simply by watching another channel, or not buying it on iTunes or Blu-Ray.
But what disturbs me about this is that it’s yet another symptom of the CBC English TV network’s biggest ailment, an explanation of why it will never get the funding its advocates want.
What am I talking about? Creative output driven mainly by a “news / current affairs” mindset.
Movie projects like Mulroney: The Opera. Society-critical sitcoms like Little Mosque on the Prairie. Sketch-standup shows that depend on news stories like The Rick Mercer Report and 22 Minutes. (And the fact that Olivia Chow is played by Sook-Yin Lee of CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera does not exactly help the CBC’s defence.)
When was the last time the CBC produced a gen-you-wine soap opera like Coronation Street? Or a children’s show like Reading Rainbow? Or science fiction like Doctor Who or Sliders? Shows that focused on the human condition, instead of hunting for Canadian context for justifying its existence?
The actor Paul Gross once said, “Making a TV show is easy. Making a popular TV show is tough.” The Jack Layton Story, by virtue of its subject matter, only seems like a good idea because the CBC brass are a part of that small proportion of the viewing public that’s politically engaged. I seriously doubt that, unless they take a satirical twist to the story, it’ll attract the ratings that its time slot needs to break even.