Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Halt And Catch Fire

A few days ago, a guy at the Globe and Mail who thinks “Republic of Doyle” is an example of exceptional Canadian television pissed all over the way another television success, “Corner Gas” just financed its next incarnation as a feature film.

But this “critique” was less about how films and TV shows are funded in Canada and more about launching another campaign to throw more money at another local producing entity -- the CBC.

Sadly –- or Happily –- depending on how you look at it, the vast majority of Canadians, and certainly those who control our National purse-strings, appear tired of tossing money at an organization that doesn’t feel like it returns much value for the money anymore.

Oh, I know we all have a fave CBC TV show or rely on CBC Radio to encapsulate our world view. But overall, we only spend about 5% of our viewing time on CBC fare with most of that being taken up by news or hockey.

Therefore, something is necessary to re-invent, re-ignite and re-vitalize the National network when it comes to drama and comedy. And a lot of people are doubtful such a thing is possible.

But it could happen.

And perhaps CBC needs to look no further for an example of how to do that than the new AMC series “Halt And Catch Fire”.


AMC itself is a model of reinvention, moving as it has from its initial incarnation as a classic movie channel to creating a whole bunch of shows comprising what’s been called a new “Golden Age” of American television.

“Mad Men”

“Breaking Bad”

“The Walking Dead”

But rather than suggesting CBC follow the content lead of AMC, I think their survival and reinvention hinges on acquiring the qualities exhibited in “Halt And Catch Fire”.

“HACF” is set in 1983, following a group of “digital cowboys” working in the wild west “Silicone Prairie” of Texas as they try to reinvent the personal computer.

It’s a tale of taking risks and being passionate about what you do. It’s about understanding that to do something that truly matters in life you’ve got to put everything you have on the line.

The pilot episode is (as it also exemplifies) a treasure map to creating success.

In many ways, it’s the map AMC has followed to get where it is. Maybe CBC just needs to do the same.

“Halt And Catch Fire” debuts Sunday on AMC. But the pilot is now available free online.

Here’s a taste…


John McFetridge said...

Maybe CBC should try the AMC bake-off model. And televise it, or at least put up a livestream.

Anonymous said...

John Doyle? They guy who typed out a column slamming "Game of Thrones" for its lack of strong female characters (or something, hard to absorb all that beta male pandering)?

I sent in a comment that, when counted, GoT had more female producers and directors than the Globe and Mail had female editors.

Comment, for some reason, wasn't printed...