Every Canadian knows it's true: our homegrown TV has a horrible reputation, both here and abroad. The first things that pop into people's minds are snow, period pieces, and low production values -- hardly the stuff of legendary entertainment.
But something has been happening over the past few years. Slowly, steadily, Canadian TV shows are getting better. (That's not to say there haven't always been gems coming out of Canada.) As a collective, our offerings on the small screen are getting gutsier, and rather than a show about life on the prairies in the 1800s, we're getting a modern-day, gritty police drama ("19-2"), or we have a sci-fi show about cloning, and science vs. religion ("Orphan Black"); even our reality shows are getting edgier -- "Amazing Race Canada" ventured beyond our borders into the international realm for their sophomore season.
Yes, things are looking up. Here are some of my favourite moments from the year in Canadian TV. (If I've missed any, please feel free to let me know in the comments.)
"Orphan Black" already takes many chances and manages to succeed internationally despite a complex, convoluted storyline. "OB" fans are rabid, and if you don't believe me, check out the #CloneClub on Twitter. Canadian-born Tatiana Maslany is a revelation on-screen, playing most of the characters on the show. That's probably why it was so satisfying to see all of the clones dance together in the Season 2 finale. From what I understand, the scene took a lot of time and coordination to shoot, so kudos to all involved.
"19-2" Is Going To Achieve A First In Canadian Television
OK, so this will technically happen in 2015, but when the show returns in January, it will bring a famed scene from the original Quebec series to the rest of Canada: a storyline based on the 2006 Dawson College school shooting in Montreal that resulted in one death and 19 wounded. The scene took 13 takes, and it's a continuous shot that lasts just under 14 minutes. It's a feat that's never been done on Canadian TV before, and It's as spellbinding as it sounds. Check out a clip, provided to HuffPost Canada TV by Bravo:
"Amazing Race Canada" Went International
No more schlepping around our own backwoods (solely). Yep, "Amazing Race Canada" went international, jet-setting to Macau and Hong Kong, among other places. Definitely a step in the right direction, it helped the reality show get into the ballpark to play with the big boys.
"Big Brother Canada" Broke The Bank
Coming off an exceptionally successful premiere season, "BBCan" Season 2 came back strong, and then some. It had it all: an attempted clandestine showmance (which eventually turned into the real-life romance of Jon and Neda), a pair of women who named themselves The Gremlins, and insane drama about racism and bigotry right out of the gate. There really wasn't a dull moment on the show, except for the announcement of the winner, which was obvious. Nothing could ever repeat the chaos of that Season 1 finale. Oh, Topaz, will you ever be able to live that one down?
We Said Goodbye To "Republic Of Doyle"
This beloved Newfoundland-shot show took its final bow at the beginning of December. Widely respected and watched from coast to coast, "ROD" managed to bring both the funny and the drama. Leading man Allan Hawco became an instant heartthrob, and not to worry, he'll be returning to TV with an adaptation of Lisa Moore's "Caught." So it's "see you later" rather than "goodbye."
"Strange Empire" Took Us By Surprise
One of the most buzzed-about Canadian shows of the year is CBC's "Strange Empire." The Western drama is based in the 1860s and takes place on the Montana-Alberta border, when three women (Cara Gee, Melissa Farman and Tattiawna Jones) band together after all the men in their frontier town are killed. Sounds like a weird cross between "The Week The Women Went" and a Clint Eastwood joint, doesn't it? It has been a lovely surprise to see CBC (of all networks) taking such bold chances with dark material, again venturing into territory Canadian TV usually shies away from. Same subject matter, sure, but a helluva different approach. We love the sounds of it: a feminist Western. CBC's other bold move comes in 2015, when we get irreverent comedy "Schitt's Creek."
Murdoch Got Married
Over on the 100th episode of "Murdoch Mysteries" (which is a feat in itself for a Canadian TV show), Murdoch and Julia finally got hitched -- in typical "Murdoch" fashion. Of course something, or some things, go awry. Regardless, it was a landmark moment for the much-beloved show, and dedicated fans finally got to see the pair make things official.
Kim Cattrall is one of the most beloved Canadian actors out there. Her time as Samantha on "Sex In The City" is long past, and she wanted to do something personally relevant. "Sensitive Skin" is a project she's been working on for some time (with fellow Canadian Don McKellar), and it's very close to her heart. Hilarious and right on the money (Baby Boomers can attest to this), "Sensitive Skin" is another example of Canadian TV breaking the traditional expectations. It's been renewed for a Season 2 on HBO Canada, so we haven't seen the last of Davina.
We've come a long way with Bo, Kenzi and the rest of this supernatural crew. From succubi to Valkyries to shapeshifters, the "Lost Girl" universe has expanded over the course of the last several years, drawing one of the most dedicated fanbases to ever support Canadian TV. So now we're gearing up to say goodbye, and it'll be a tough one to part with. The creators and producers are going all-out for fans, so expect some real doozies over the course of Season 5.
"Bitten" Charmed Us, And Took Up The Canadian Sci-Fi Mantle
Some easily dismissed Canadian Laura Vandervoort's latest project as yet another supernatural/werewolf/vampire show, but it has proven to be more than that. Yes, it's about werewolves (Vandervoort herself is one of the first female werewolves on TV), but there's also drama, sexuality, and action around every turn. Like "Sensitive Skin," "Bitten" has also been renewed for a Season 2. May we recommend you sink your teeth into this one. C'mon, check this out:
Did we miss any of your favourite Canadian TV moments? If so, let us know in the comments!