SRC on La Job; TVA gets real » Media in Canada

SRC on La Job; TVA gets real

Montreal: As Quebec's networks roll out their winter schedules this month, Radio-Canada continues its fight to attract viewers with a host of new programs, while TVA takes few risks.

SRC has added two new series to Thursday nights, including La Job, its 12 x 30 version of The Office produced by veteran blue-movie maker Anne-Marie Losique (Sex Shop) and Les étoiles filantes (Shooting Stars), a 12 x 30 drama by Avanti Ciné Vidéo. Les étoiles, about two buddies, one dying of cancer, who reunite in their 40s, airs at 7:30 p.m., and La Job at 9 pm.

‘We’re very excited about Les étoiles filantes,’ says SRC spokesman Marc Pichette. ‘It’s about whether or not you can live out your dreams in your 40s. I think it will tug on people’s heartstrings.’

Les étoiles is one of a number of male-oriented dramas SRC has offered recently to attract a demographic that doesn’t tend to watch TV drama in this province: 25-45-year-old men.

Meanwhile, the final installment of the gritty 12 x 30 drama Minuit, le soir, about the friendship among three nightclub bouncers, returns Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. Les Invincibles, the 12 x 60 drama about four 30-year-old men afraid of commitment, is also back Mondays at 9 p.m.

SRC’s slate of guy-pleasing TV is part of its overall effort to attract the thirtysomething crowd with hip, edgy dramas that have higher budgets and a more cinematic look than family-oriented kitchen-sink soaps or téléromans.

‘We believe in taking risks with our programming. Part of our mandate is to push the envelope,’ says Pichette.

In February, the net will launch another drama, this one aimed at young working mothers. The 13 x 60 La Galère is about four women and their children, all of whom move in together to share resources. Its time slot has not been announced.

Despite SRC’s efforts to offer groundbreaking programming, the four slick dramas it launched last fall didn’t connect with viewers, with none placing among the province’s top 30 shows for any sustained period.

Over at TVA, however, the private caster’s slate of low-budget téléromans, including Annie et ses homes (Mondays at 8 pm), Les Poupées russes (Wednesdays at 8 p.m.) and La Promesse (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) are consistent hits, attracting one million viewers weekly on average, according to network spokeswoman Nicole Tardif.

‘We get criticized for not offering any new dramas, but the stuff we already make is doing really well, so why change things?’ she says.

On the drama front, TVA will air the third run of the big-budget historical series Nos étés on Mondays at 9 p.m. starting in February.

TVA also premieres its reality comedy Taxi 22 – starring Patrick Huard – on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 9 p.m. The show is based on Huard’s stand-up comedy bit about a taxi driver. The game show Le Banquier, a Quebec adaptation of Deal or No Deal, airs Wednesday at 9 p.m.

A version of this story appears in the Jan.22 issue of Playback.