Comedy blocks face off on Mondays » Media in Canada

Comedy blocks face off on Mondays

CBC is putting a lot of stock in its new show Being Erica.

CBC’s midseason schedule got off to what looked like a promising start on Monday, with critics united in their praise of Being Erica, the first of two new series set to debut this week amid varied competition from the commercial networks.

The new series from Temple Street Productions, starring The L Word‘s Erin Karpluk as an time-traveling 30-something who gets a chance to correct past mistakes, drew cheers from the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Canadian Press, among others.

Ratings for the debut were not available by press time, however. The oddball hour-long has the 9 pm slot on Mondays, following Little Mosque on the Prairie and Sophie, which were shifted over from Wednesdays to build a new comedy block and fill in for Dragon’s Den. Michael Riley (This is Wonderland) also stars.

CBC clearly has high hopes for Erica, placing ads in major dailies including the Toronto Star and Metro newspapers in advance of its premiere, while promotional pins were handed out at busy downtown spots.

CTV, however, has also gathered its comedies on Monday – where until recently Dancing with the Stars ruled the roost – pitting Erica and its lead-ins up against The Big Bang Theory, a double shot of Two and a Half Men and Corner Gas. Global sat out the series competition on Monday, airing Brangelina movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Erica and Wild Roses are the only new picks on CBC’s winter schedule; last year, by contrast, the pubcaster rolled out jPod, The Border, Sophie and MVP.

The Alberta-set soap Roses premieres Tuesday at 9 pm. The copro by Toronto’s Northwood Productions and Alberta’s Seven24 Films (Heartland) will face stiff competition from CTV heavy hitter American Idol, which returns next week for its eighth season.

CBC’s premiere week will also see new episodes from newsmagazine the fifth estate, while George Stroumboulopoulos hosts a Just For Laughs special on Wednesday at 8 pm.

Meanwhile, CTV ratings darling Flashpoint returns this week with new episodes, though it has been bumped back to the Friday 9 pm slot, where it will air in simulcast with CBS. CTV has also promoted the J.J. Abrams drama Fringe from A to the main network, where it will air Tuesdays at 9 pm opposite new episodes of 90210 on Global.

Flashpoint precedes the US pickup Raising the Bar, the new Steven Bochco drama starring Mark Paul Gosselaar (NYPD Blue) and Canuck Gloria Reuben (ER). Also on Friday, Global rolls out the Canadian comedy series Howie Do It at 8 pm, in simulcast with NBC. The show follows comedian Howie Mandel as he performs hoaxes and tricks on unsuspecting targets.