Thursday, November 14, 2013

More Stuff You Can’t See In Canada

In the Somalian city of Barawe this week, the terrorist group Al’Shabaab sent trucks with loudspeakers into the streets ordering people to turn in their televisions and satellite dishes, deeming that watching TV shows harmed their spiritual lives.

Halfway around the world in North Korea, 80 people in 7 cities were rounded up and executed by firing squads. They had been found guilty of watching TV shows beamed from South Korea, such programming having been determined to “cause changes to people’s mindsets” by the government.

One of the programs designated as most harmful in this regard was “Desperate Housewives”.

Luckily, nobody’s confiscating flat screens or frog marching audiences into soccer stadiums in Canada for public dispatch –- at least not yet. But everywhere you look, somebody here is throwing up even more barriers to prevent you from seeing all kinds of new programming.

Last Friday, Amazon, purveyors of books, DVDs, music and just about anything else you might want to buy online, debuted two new sitcom series for those who subscribe to their “Amazon Prime” delivery service.

Two things before we go any further:

One –- we need to come up with another term to describe TV series that you don’t necessarily have to own a television to watch.

In the same way that you can’t call Netflix a broadcaster because they don’t program or schedule anything, just letting you initiate the process and get what you want when you want it like any video store or Vegas hooker; we need a term for shows never intended to run first on Global and then on every fricken Shaw owned channel forever or until people stop believing everybody still drives a 1989 Ford Focus and has never heard of a cellphone.

And Two –- somebody needs to explain to me how “Amazon Prime” in the US gets you same day free shipping plus monthly free downloads of movies and music as well as specially produced “shows” –- while “Amazon Prime” in Canada gets you same day shipping if your entire order is in stock and it isn’t a statutory holiday.


Friday, Amazon debuted “Alpha House” written by Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau, which stars John Goodman and (Canada’s own) Clark Johnson and “Betas” featuring Joe Dinicol (also Canadian) and some guy in the writers room with a wonderfully twisted string of dark one-liners.

But you can’t see them in Canada.

Amend that. You can see the pilots by going to (not .ca) and clicking Amazon Prime. But if you want to follow where those shows go from there –- well, you’re outta luck.

And you’ll be further out of the pop culture loop a few months from now when Amazon debuts the first of its dramas –- “The After” the latest creation from Chris “X-Files” Carter.

And there will be many more since a company that’s basically a big mail order warehouse currently has more original drama and comedy pilots either shot, shooting or about to go into production than all of Canada’s broadcasters put together.

Almost daily now, I get email reminders from the CRTC (Canada’s Al Sha’baab and Kim Jong-un wannabees) that they need to hear what I think about the state of Canadian television. Well, how about this…


And not only has the industry been smothered to death because our over-protected broadcasters never felt the need to actually make very much content, let alone content desperate to attract an audience; but it’s going to have a tough time reviving because we can’t even watch what other countries are making that we have to compete with.

It won’t be too long before we’re as behind the times and out of touch as Somalia and North Korea.

Check out “Alpha House” here. And watch “Betas” here. And do it before they come for your screens or suggest something’s been done to alter your mindset and you’d best hurry over to the soccer stadium.


Cunningham said...

And as a publisher, I find it really hard to work with Amazon.CA since they don't carry all of my books, and make me go though special flaming hoops of crap in order to ship books to my customers up there.

Oh, funny thing - my books are printed by an Amazon Corp. subsidiary, and are sold print-on-demand throughout Europe. Soon Asia.

And I can't get my next door neighbor country to work with me?

rick mcginnis said...

Of course you WILL be able to watch further episodes of those shows - just not by downloading them from Amazon. I'm not going to say where, but we all know where, and we all know that there will be plenty of versions in different shades of HD and file format, ready for you within minutes or hours of Amazon releasing them. Which is the elephant in the room NOBODY is willing to talk about.

John McFetridge said...

The phrase you're looking for is "regulatory capture." The CRTC is a mouthpiece for a couple of huge corporations.

It's not just the TV business, look into the "privatized" energy industry and you'll see plenty of regulators that once did their jobs fairly well are now simply finding ways to do what the huge corps that run the industry want.

Oh, and Cunningham, I think you have to sign up for the hugher level Amazon distribution. It used to be twenty-five bucks but I think it's free now. Amazon Prime gets you e-books, too.