Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where are all the Canadian game shows?

Greetings everyone!

As you probably already know, I am indeed quite a geek. One of the many things I enjoy in my geeky livelihood is television -> usually science fiction and fantasy, but I also some comedy's, dramas, action stories, etc.

Another type of television program I am a fan of is game shows. I've been watching game shows for as long as I can remember, and although I don't like all game shows, I usually find them to be quite entertaining. Specifically ones that involve trivia, or other tests of skill.

But I also have a pretty big problem with game shows. I can't get on them! Why might you ask?

Most major game shows in the US are open to residents of the United States. Usually any resident of legal age can apply to be a contestant, and are allowed to participate if chosen. However, with some notable exceptions (e.g. The Price is Right, Jeopardy!), these shows restrict their contestants to residents of the United States. Thus, most other countries have adopted their own versions of various game shows for their own citizens. Survivor alone has over forty international versions.

But what about Canada? There is no Survivor: Canada that I'm aware, nor is there a Canadian Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, or Let's Make a Deal. Sure, as I mentioned a few US game shows do allow Canadian contestants, which is great, and although I don't think it's likely I'll ever make to Los Angeles, I'll be sure to apply for them if I do.

But what's the deal with Canada? Why won't Canadian networks create their own, big budget prime time game shows open to Canadian residents? We can't get on the US shows, and other countries have their own versions, but why not us? I call B.S. We're simply left in the dust when it comes to Canadian game show opportunities. Do Canadian networks simply think they wouldn't be profitable enough? I'd watch, and I'd bet you could find many others that would too.

Sure, on occasion a big US game show gets ported over to Canada such as Deal or No Deal, Are you smarter then a fifth grader?, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? But not permanently, instead we are left with only "five special episodes". Although I applied to be on these when they were offered, I was not selected nor do I have the chance to try again due to their short life spans. And although Toronto may be a bit easier to get to than L.A., wider spread adoption of such shows would promote more opportunities for Canadian contestants from various backgrounds and locations.

Interestingly, there have been permanent French Canadian versions of game shows such as "Big Brother", "Wipeout" and "Wheel of Fortune" on the major French networks. Although I applaud these efforts, they still have a way to go, and are not applicable to English speaking residents.

It wasn't always this way. In the past, Canadian networks used to indeed produce and develop their own game shows, such as "Definition" and "Acting Crazy". And even today, all hope is not lost. Some very cool Canadian game shows exist in (somewhat) regular production such as Cash Cab and Qubit. Although not quite as "big budget" as major US network shows, they are still well worth watching although getting on them (especially Cash Cab) may not be so easy.

So come on Canada. Let's get the major Canadian networks such as CTV, Global and CBC on board. We need more Canadian game shows! We don't need to just copy US game shows, we can develop our own innovative and exciting shows that other countries will try to copy. And we don't even need many, I'm not greedy, just a few that are consistent, i.e. don't go away so quickly. They don't even need to be the same all time, maybe a Canadian Survivor one season and a Canadian Big Brother (or my personal favorite, Canadian The Mole :) another season. However it's implemented though, I'm getting tired of seeing only American game shows with the odd Canadian contestant. I want to see a persistent prime time high-prize Canadian game show, made by Canadians and for Canadians that actually sticks around.

Well that's my dream anyway :), how about you?


  1. I suspect much of it has to do with licensing, if you want a canuk version of Wheel of Fortune, you have to pay $$ to the US guys who invented it, and the Candian networks spend all their money on other stuff, like Canadian Idol, and buying TV shows from the states etc.

    Truth is American shows won't let us in cuz they know we'd kick their butts and make them look bad :-)

  2. True, I suppose licensing costs are a barrier. Networks in other countries probably produce a lot more of their own programming in ratio to what they purchase.

    I still think it would be profitable for them though, if they did it well it would produce a lot of viewer ship. There's also coming up with more original shows so we don't need to pay licensing fees :)

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Yes I would love to see a canadian game show, we need one. I have always wanted to bw a contestant on a game show.
    Why should the americans have all the fun, canadian's lets get creative!!