Perhaps you're distraught and on the verge of depression since the end of Friends and Frasier? Cheer up.
The 12-month TV season, that often promised and much prattled-about phenomenon, is here.
Well, it's here, kind of. In a Canadian context, summer TV means airing all those Canadian productions that have been on the shelf since last year. They weren't aired because the almost-all-American programming was so popular and making so much money for the broadcasters, there was little room for Canadian productions.
On the Canadian front, one of the first summer sizzlers is, wait for it, The Maurice "Rocket" Richard Story, a four-part docudrama starting June 4 on Global. Now this production may ring a bell for you. The series, made in 1999, appears to be that series which was one of the lightning rods in the federal government's sponsorship scandal.
In Auditor-General Sheila Fraser's report, she was dismayed to find that there was no reason to funnel government money to the TV series through ad agencies that simply passed on the money to the producers.
Maybe all of this peculiar background will lend some frisson to a series about the Rocket, which features Roy Dupuis as the great man, and also features Celine Dion as narrator and Wayne Gretzky as himself. On the other hand, it could turn out to be hooey.
CTV unleashes a plethora of Canadian TV movies this summer. CTV's slogan is, "Escape from Reality With a Powerful Roster of Original Movies." The thing is, most of these movies are based on real, true Canadian stories.
First up is Burn: The Robert Wraught Story (May 25), which features Jonathan Scarfe as Wraught, a man who finds himself trapped between a powerful oil company and extremist, anti-oil Wiebo Ludwig. Prom Queen (June 1) is about gay teenager Marc Hall, who challenged his Catholic school for the right to bring his boyfriend to the school prom. Scott Thompson plays his lawyer.
Also in CTV's lineup is the thriller Sleep Murder (June 13), which stars Jason Priestley as a Toronto lawyer sent north to defend a young man in a bizarre murder case. The CTV movie I'm looking forward to is The Death and Life of Nancy Eaton (June 27), which stars Jessica Paré and Brendan Fletcher in the story of Eaton and the childhood friend who brutally murdered her. It's directed by Jerry Ciccoritti, whose work is always interesting.
On other fronts, CBC will air the terrific BBC miniseries Cambridge Spies next week, on May 23 and 24. The two-parter dramatizes, with a dose of skeptical comedy, the careers of notorious spies Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt. This isn't John Le Carré territory. Writer Peter Moffat, who also write the great North Square series (seen here on TVOntario), delivers these characters as fools, as confused about sex as about the class war they thought they were fighting in.
Oh yes, Six Feet Under returns to The Movie Network in June and Curb Your Enthusiasm comes back to Showcase in June.
And finally, in case you think all that wacky reality TV is taking the summer off, think again. Canadian Idol is back on CTV in June, The Casino -- that show about life at a Vegas casino from Mark Burnett -- also airs on CTV, and The Simple Life, featuring super-twerps Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, is also back.
In fact the list of dippy summer reality-TV shows is too long for this space today. But please note Fox's upcoming special, Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay, airing on June 7. Fox sent out an announcement that began: "It's a heterosexual male's worst nightmare: turning gay overnight." Hours later, it retracted the announcement and apologized. The show is still going to air -- about two straight guys who are trained for a week to act gay and then try to convince people they are. I can hear the hilarity already.
That's a taste of the summer for you. The grass will grow and be left uncut, the dishes will sit and grow fungi in the sink, you'll be sending out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'll never leave the house. You're trapped. You've been warned.
There are conniptions happening on the Most Irritating Canadian (television-related) front. Let me summarize a long week.
1. The brother is furious. He told his latest squeeze, Veronica, that such was the power of his name in this column that soon he would be "swimming in Twizzlers." No such thing has happened. The princely sum of one packet of Twizzlers has arrived for him. He's mortified. What he said to me was this, in his usual, windy way, "I rely upon the People's Republic of Globe Readers (PROGR's) to respond to a reasonable and a mildly humorous request. Are they that tight with pennies? Are there no Twizzlers for this poor man? Will I always be embarrassed?"
2. The brother and lads in his digs want clarification on the Mansbridge question. While Pastor Mansbridge of the CBC has not appeared on the MIC (Television-related) list for ages, now a number of people want him on, merely for those occasions when he's not in the studio, but reporting or anchoring from the field. Is this a legitimate entry, the brother asks? Or is it obtuse? ("Obtuse" is his new favourite word.) I leave it to him. Also, there appears to be a woman named Mansbridge who is irritating the hell out of people who watch TV in Edmonton. The brother wants to know if they're related.
3. The current MIC (television-related) list is a follows: 1) The Canadian Tire Guy, 2) David Suzuki, 3) Ben Mulroney, 4) Gordon Pape, 5) Everybody involved in that commercial about "the mortgage is connected to the thingamajig . . ." David Frum is off the list. There is a large pool of "floaters" just under the Top Five. Get your entries in. I'm asking for official guidance on the Twizzler question.
Dates and times may vary across the country. Please check listings or visit http://www.globeandmail.com/tv