When it comes to U.S. cable series making their way to Canadian airwaves, there’s always a problem. For the most part, Showtime and HBO (and even FX, AMC, etc.) don’t tend to follow a traditional schedule. They debut shows when they want to, often “out of season” in an effort to draw viewers from the main networks. They’re some of the few channels to run shows during the summer, which the networks shy away from, which means that Canadian networks airing the shows in simulcast would need to disrupt their schedules and promote the shows independently to be able to deliver strong numbers (by comparison, Showtime and HBO tend to lump their premieres together to launch a particular slate).
This reality is why Weeds, for example, is airing its fifth season on Showcase in Canada while American viewers have seen the entire season, and why CBC is starting its airing of the third season of their (and Showtime’s) The Tudors (starting tonight at 9pm) six months after its April debut in the States. It’s an awkward position for the network to be in, as hardcore fans of the series have likely done their best to seek out the episodes already, and even if they aren’t the type to take part in such illegal activities there are reviews and episode summaries available for one and all. Plus, the Season 3 DVDs (distributed by separate companies in the U.S. and Canada) will actually release in this country a week ahead of the finale’s airing on CBC, which makes the show seem that much more “late” in internet terms.
However, there is logic in keeping all of the fall debuts together for the network, and it’s not as if The Tudors has become any less interesting as an historical soap opera in the last six months. While the show isn’t quite my cup of tea, delving too far into that soap opera element and relying too heavily on its costumed, it is unquestionably well-made, and undoubtedly a boon for CBC. While there’s a place for schlocky fare like The Border, the network has always felt most prestigious with something of this calibre, and their co-production with Showtime (the show is co-produced by a Canadian company) has earned them 11 Gemini nominations.