Last week, CBC aired a biography about the critical, pre-confederation period in the life of John A. Macdonald.
This was the kind of thing CBC used to do all the time, before they started focusing on the more populist stuff. It was a good, but not perfect, film and Shawn Doyle just owned it as Macdonald. I think he’s going to go far as an actor. This was also the first film I’ve seen in a while where I’ve looked up the name of the costume designer: Mary Partridge. Seriously, look at that swelegant ass Father of Confederation right up there. She needs an award for these threads. I think I’ve seen my costume for Montreal Comic-Con next year.
I’d like to see CBC mine our history for TV projects more often. Despite what some may think, there’s a lot to work with there but I wonder if there’s a reluctance to do this stuff because of a perception that it would be cost-prohibitive. Or because they think people would rather watch Battle of the Blades. And perhaps they would but it just seems that if we’re to have a public broadcaster then this just might be the type of thing we’d want them to produce more often.
Understandably, Canadian TV and film have limited budgets to work with and yet, other countries manage to do brilliant stuff on a shoe-string. The South African District 9 was made for peanuts and yet it was better than most of the science fiction that came out of Hollywood that year. So budget isn’t always the obstacle. John A: Birth of a Country reminded me in a sense of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing which relied primarily on intelligent dialogue in which two characters discussed not just passing a new law but the real world consequences of that law. I think that’s a starting point. Canada is as much about ideas as it is action.
I’ve also recently started watching Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Ottawa-based sit-com, about a therapy patient and the slightly unethical therapist who’s writing a book about him, is smart, well-written and acted, and getting abysmal ratings which the show’s star cunningly describes as “intimate.” But surely if the 28th season (or whatever it is) of Two and a Half Men deserves a spot on the dial, then Micheal… has earned its place as well. And if anyone should be running it, it’s CBC, “intimate” audiences or not.