CBC taking risks, experimenting with new TV lineup

TORONTO — Crime and the law are among the big themes in the CBC’s upcoming fall-winter lineup that includes several female protagonists, some big names — from Kristin Kreuk to Allan Hawco and Paul Gross — and some cancellations.

Highlights of the public broadcaster’s 2017-18 slate, unveiled Wednesday, include “Burden of Proof,” which stars Kreuk — a Vancouver native known for her role in “Smallville” — as a big-city lawyer who takes on a case for a group of sick girls in her hometown.

Meanwhile, “Caught” is set in 1978 and stars Hawco of “Republic of Doyle” fame as an escaped New Brunswick prisoner who attempts a drug deal with his former partner, played by Eric Johnson (also of “Smallville”). Gross plays a police officer in the series, which is adapted from Lisa Moore’s acclaimed novel “Caught.”

True crime is the focus of “The Detectives,” about real cases handled by Canadian authorities.

“We don’t approach our content in terms of, ’We want this kind of genre, that kind of genre,’” said Sally Catto, general manager of programming at CBC Television, noting the network hasn’t had a legal drama in a long time.

“It’s really always more about, ‘What’s the writing, who are the characters and what’s the world that we’re going to be engaging in?’”

Missing from the schedule are the short-lived series “Pure,” “Four in the Morning,” “This Life” and “The Romeo Section,” which aren’t being renewed.

Catto said the CBC continues to experiment and take more risks in a fractured media landscape.

“I think that you have to be prepared to take risks to find greatness, I believe that, and to be a truly creative environment,” she said.

A total of 17 new series and 25 returning titles are in the lineup.

Other new shows include the comedy “Little Dog,” about a lightweight Newfoundland boxer who searches for redemption after quitting his life in the ring. It’s from author, musician and actor Joel Thomas Hynes (“Mary Kills People,” “Orphan Black”) and showrunner Sherry White (“Rookie Blue, Saving Hope”).

And “The Stats of Life” uses recent population statistics to reveal how Canadians live today.

Peter Mansbridge, CBC’s chief correspondent and outgoing anchor of “The National,” spoke onstage at the programming announcement but did not reveal his replacement for when he leaves his post after July 1.

He did say he plans to do a documentary series for the CBC about issues he cares about and will still be involved in programming “from time to time.”

Previously announced new series include “21 Thunder,” about an elite under-21 Montreal soccer team. It’s set to premiere July 31. Set for a Sept. 25 premiere is “Alias Grace,” the highly anticipated miniseries written and produced by Sarah Polley based on the award-winning Margaret Atwood novel.

In ”Crawford,” from “Trailer Park Boys” creator Mike Clattenburg, a young man becomes a “raccoon whisperer.” Jill Hennessy, John Carroll Lynch and Kyle Mac are among the stars.

“Taken” is a true crime documentary series about Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women.

In “Frankie Drake Mysteries,” from the producers of “Murdoch Mysteries,” Lauren Lee Smith stars as Toronto’s only female private detective in the 1920s.

And “The Great Canadian Baking Show” is based on the hit British format.

This fall, the CBC will also broadcast the Canadian premiere of season 2 of Oscar-winning filmmaker Jane Campion’s acclaimed crime series “Top of the Lake: China Girl,” starring Elisabeth Moss as a detective specializing in sexual assault.

Returning series include: “Kim’s Convenience,” “Mr. D,” ”Schitt’s Creek,” “Rick Mercer Report,” “Still Standing,” “Baroness Von Sketch Show,” “Workin’ Moms,” ”The Goods,” “Coronation Street,” “Dragons’ Den,” “Heartland” and “Murdoch Mysteries.”

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