April is the new September
It used to be that a TV season started in September and ended in May. Nowadays, however, network shows seem to come and go every week.
“April is the new September,” is how one Canadian publicist puts it.
Besides making room for new mid-season imports from the States, several domestic shows are ready to test the market.
Two big Canadian premieres are set for the same day, April 3: The Borgias, an epic, 10-part historical drama stars Jeremy Irons as a ruthless and conniving 15th century pontiff. Shot in Hungary and written and produced by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), the CTV-Showtime co-production features Canadian actors Colm Feore as Cardinal della Rovere as well as Quebec newcomer Francois Arnaud as the Pope’s randy son Cesare Borgia.
Called “the original crime family,” the real-life Borgias were apparently an inspiration for Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.
A half a world away near Buenos Aires, Canuck thrill seekers were flown down to participate in Wipeout Canada (launching April 3 on TVTropolis). The popular stunt/reality show finally lets Canadians feel the smack of landing face first in the muck after bouncing off giant red balls, thrusting boxing gloves, and other wacky hazards.
Subscribers to premium cable have two big shows to look forward to. Oscar-winner Kate Winslet steps into Joan Crawford’s pumps in HBO’s remake of Mildred Pierce. The five-hour miniseries, which also stars Evan Rachel Wood as Pierce’s demanding daughter, will premiere over three nights starting Sunday on HBO Canada.
The pay-TV network has another big-budget epic slated for April: Game of Thrones stars Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage in a 10-part adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s sweeping fantasy novel. It premieres on HBO Canada on April 17.
Spring really is the new fall on specialty.
The Kennedys, an epic, eight hour, shot-in-Toronto miniseries starring Greg Kinnear as the president, Katie Holmes as Jackie and Tom Wilkinson as domineering patriarch Joe Kennedy, begins April 10 on History. It was deemed too controversial for the U.S. History channel, which commissioned then abandoned it.
Showcase has several new dramas including one that has already started: Endgame (Mondays at 10 p.m.) stars Shawn Doyle as a Russian chess grandmaster-turned-detective who can’t bring himself to leave his luxurious Vancouver hotel.
Coming up on Showcase: King (April 17) stars Amy Price-Francis as the tough, quick-thinking head of Toronto’s Major Crimes Task Force. And XIII takes up where the earlier TV-movie (and original graphic novel) left off, following a dangerous secret agent (Stuart Townsend) as he seeks his true identity. The shot-in-Toronto conspiracy thriller begins April 20.
Shot in Vancouver, Chaos (April 1 on CBS) is a bit like CBC’s InSecurity in that it follows the misadventures of a homeland security team. Eric Close and Freddy Rodriguez star.
Canadian Elisha Cuthbert is part of the comedy ensemble on Happy Endings (premiering Wednesday April 13 on City and ABC). The rom-com finds Cuthbert’s character ditching her fiance on the altar. Can she still hang out with the dude and their friends?
Hockey playoffs bring a major April adjustment. CBC, which has four TV seasons — fall, Christmas, winter and Hockey — is about to bench its usual schedule as it heads into three months of playoffs.
As a result, get set for season finales of The Rick Mercer Report, Republic of Doyle, Little Mosque on the Prairie and other CBC shows next week. For low-rated comedy 18 to Life, it will be a series finale.
April 1 marks the season finale of Marketplace, where ratings have spiked. A season of “busting scams” on things like Canada’s worst cellphone bills and strings-attached gym memberships have made Marketplace must-see viewing on Fridays.
The finale features a twist — hosts Tom Harrington and Erica Johnson will be running the scams and then asking their “victims” why they fell for it.
Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist.