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CBC Television Series, 1952-1982

by Blaine Allan

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SCTV NETWORK
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SCTV Network

Fri 11:45-12:45 a.m., 19 Sep 1980-10 Sep 1981

One of the most brilliantly self-aware comedy series on television since the innovations of Ernie Kovacs, SCTV evolved from the stage work of the Toronto company of Second City, and followed the lead of NBC's Saturday Night Live, which had attracted talent, such as Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner, from the Canadian Second City troupe. The program had been produced by Andrew Alexander and Old Firehall Productions (named after the Toronto theatre that is Second City's home) since 1977 under contract to Global Television, and was originally taped in the splendid, though ultimately stifling, isolation of Edmonton. As the show syndicated widely in Canada and the U.S.A., and earned money, it could afford to return to Toronto and its more expensive production facilities.

Television was undoubtedly the principal source for both Saturday Night Live and SCTV. Where the former was both liberated and bound by its live-to-air format and its status as hip vaudeville, SCTV was shaped as a studio production and, for the most part, as the signal of an actual television network in a town called Melonville. The owner of the station was a cheap, unscrupulous, sneering bastard, Guy Caballero, played by Joe Flaherty. He typically wore white suits and hats and, although he was perfectly ambulatory, masqueraded as a paraplegic in a wheelchair in order to gain respect he did not otherwise deserve. In other words, he accurately mimicked the men in the higher echelons of private television in Canada. The station manager was Mrs. Edith Prickley, a hyperactive libidinous being whose typical dress would have given Bob Dylan pause for creating the image of a "leopard skin pillbox hat." In fact, her entire outfit was a leopard-skin print, except for her spectacles, which were studded with sequins and fins to make a '56 Cadillac weep. Both the money-grubbing Caballero and terminally aggressive Prickley had the morals of a wolverine when it came to competing against the major networks. When the series moved from Global to the national network, the transposition was written into the script as Caballero had to seek the help of the CBC in creating new program ideas.

The regular features of the SCTV Network are now legend among television viewers. The Sammy Maudlin Show was an especially painful parody of talk shows with obsequious hosts in general, and of Sammy Davis, Jr.'s syndicated variety show, Sammy And Company, in particular. Flaherty played the unctuous Sammy Maudlin, who regularly welcomed as his guest the incredibly sleazy standup comic Bobby Bittman, played by Eugene Levy. Maudlin and Bittman, both with process hairstyles, bedecked with gold chains and dressed in too much polyester, looked like mirror images, and found each other funnier and more moving than anyone in the audience. Another regular guest on The Sammy Maudlin Show was airheaded singer and dancer Lola Hetherton, played with frightening brilliance by Catherine O'Hara.

SCTV newscasts were anchored by a pair of announcers, Floyd Robertson and Earl Camembert, played by Flaherty and Levy, respectively. While Robertson seemed conservative and sedate, Camembert, dressed in bow tie and loud, checked jacket, frequently lamented the bush league status of the station and his job, and aspired to bigger and better things than reading the Melonville headlines. Flaherty also played Count Floyd; although heavily made-up as a vampire, the Count was clearly only Floyd Robertson doing double duty as host of Monster Chiller Horror Theatre, SCTV's late show. From time to time, he introduced a production such as Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Horrors, with John Candy as the infamous mad scientist Dr. Tongue, who lifted scissors, knives, and other objects directly to the camera and retracted them to produced the full 3-D effect. The movies were generally anything but frightening. Yet the Count howled at the moon and gave a generation a catchphrase that could serve as a response to almost any untoward situation when voiced in a fake Transylvanian accent: "Oooh. . . Pretty scary, eh kids?" (In perhaps the ultimate Monster Chiller Horror Theatre, Dr. Tongue's House of Pancakes, the mad doctor menacingly asked, "Would you like some. . . syrup?" and proffered the dreaded pitcher of maple syrup. Now that was "really scary, eh kids?")

The regular soap opera was Days Of The Week, although on at least on occasion, it was Heys Of Our Lives, a show in which every line of dialogue started with "Hey." The show also included musical guests and, to accommodate them, the SCTV network also included in its broadcast schedule The Fishin' Musician, in which John Candy took visiting bands on trips to the fishing lodge--probably the most memorable of these sequences was the visit of the Plasmatics to the Scuttlebutt Lodge, which ended in wholesale destruction of television sets and just about everything else. Candy also played Johnny LaRue, a lounge lizard who was sometimes a director (on a Christmas broadcast, he practically died in quest of a crane shot, which Caballero was too cheap to provide), and sometimes the host of the station's exercise show, though the overweight LaRue looked like a lost cause whose only exercise involved lighting another Export "A" or pouring another Scotch.

By far the most popular segment and probably the most sublime achievement of SCTV resulted directly from its origins as a Canadian television show, subject to Canadian broadcasting regulations. Faced with having to fill an extra minute of time and a request for something distinctly Canadian, Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis dressed themselves in hunting jackets, toques, and Kodiak boots, surrounded themselves with cases of beer, sat themselves in front of a map of Canada, and, with a theme song, voiced by Thomas, that sounded like the call of a demented bird ("Kooo-roo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo"), and Moranis's introduction, "Hi, I'm Bob McKenzie, 'n' this is my brother Doug," welcomed viewers to The Great White North. If Canadians are actually a self-effacing, modest people, this was the most modest production they could have devised for foreign consumption. Bob and Doug generally spent their allotted minute or two in search of a "topic," like junior high school students faced with a public speaking assignment. They bickered and put each other down like brothers who obviously shared the same bedroom. And they provided U.S. viewers with a vocabulary we Canadians recognized, probably more readily than we really wanted, as our own. Clear statements of derision ("Hoser") and dismissal ("Take off, eh?") shaped our powers of self-expression. When the McKenzies told us that a brewery would give you a free case to keep you quiet if you found a mouse in a bottle of beer, and then showed us how you could put a baby mouse in a bottle and grow it there to get yourself a free case, they told us what we knew and showed us ourselves. The Great White North caught on among U.S. viewers, but for a short while in Canada it became a passion that climaxed with the release of an LP and a promotional parade up Toronto's Yonge Street, with hundreds of people dressed in lumber jackets and toques. With the success of the McKenzies, Thomas and Moranis left the television show in 1982 to make the feature film Strange Brew.

In addition to the characters they created for the show, the cast (which in the l980-8l season also included Tony Rosato and Robin Duke, and in 1982 Martin Short joined the troupe; all later moved to Saturday Night Live) had a wide repertoire of impersonations that were often phenomenally accurate in capturing the quality of a public figure: Rick Moranis as Woody Allen, Andrea Martin as Indira Gandhi (in a parody of Evita). Particularly adept were Dave Thomas, as Walter Cronkite and, especially, Bob Hope, and the chameleonic Catherine O'Hara.

Written principally by the cast members, SCTV Network's executive producer was Andrew Alexander, and the producers were Joe Flaherty and Dave Thomas (l980-8l) and Patrick Whitley (l98l-82), and the director John Blanchard. During the time it aired on CBC, SCTV also appeared on NBC late on Friday nights. It wa generally thought to be in direct competition for the ll:30 Saturday night slot occupied by the flagging Saturday Night Live, but lost out when NBC decided to renew and try to revive its own production. Afterwards, Martin, Flaherty, Levy, and Short moved the show to the pay-cable network Cinemax.

Although very successful among U.S. audiences, and presumably very funny to them, SCTV offered Canadian audiences the privilege of jokes at our own expense and, because it was modelled so much on Canadian television, jokes that we knew we could get better than them. Although Floyd Robertson and Earl Camembert resembled no specific person, we knew that their names derived from CBC announcers Lloyd Robertson and Earl Cameron. The high school television quiz with the overeager participants that SCTV parodied resembled G.E. College Bowl and many similar secondary school-level productions throughout the States, but the set and Eugene Levy's visual impression of Alex Trebek rooted the sketch as a parody of Reach For The Top. We can be thankful to claim that overdetermined humour as ours.


St. Lawrence North

Sat 5:00-5:30 p.m., 2 Jul-24 Sep 1960

Wed 10:00-10:30 p.m., 14 Jun-28 Jun 1961

Mon 10:30-11:00 p.m., 28 Aug 1961

Sun 4:30-5:00 p.m., 16 Sep-16 Dec 1962

Sun 12:30-1:00 p.m., 5 Apr-28 Jun 1964

Mon-Fri 11:25-11:55 a.m., 27 Jan-14 Feb 1967

Crawley Films produced this series of documentaries on the geography and people of the area north of the St. Lawrence River from an idea by filmmaker and writer Pierre Perrault. The programs themselves were directed and edited by Rene Bonniere. Underlying the series were the effects of industry and mining on the lives of the people from Tadoussac to the Strait of Belle Isle. The initial broadcast, Land of Cartier, described fishing and sealing along the route taken by explorer Jacques Cartier. Subsequent programs explored the lives of the Montagnais in northern Quebec, the ceremonies of the native caribou hunt, the whale hunters of L'Anse aux Basques, and winter sealing in Labrador.

Already extremely successful in selling its dramatic series, R.C.M.P. to foreign broadcast markets, by 1962 Crawley also sold St. Lawrence North to Italian, Australian, and West German television.


Saturday Date With Billy O'Connor

Sat 7:30-8:00 p.m., 4 Oct 1958-27 Jun 1959

Billy O'Connor had established himself as a television star in 1954, and had launched the television career of Juliette, who succeeded him in the post-hockey time slot and reigned over late Saturday night for many years. O'Connor returned with a pre-hockey musical variety show, which also featured another blonde, big-voiced vocalist, Vanda King, as well as Allan Blye and m.c. Don Parrish. O'Connor was supported by a quartet that consisted of Jackie Richardson on bass, Vic Centro on accordion, Kenny Gill on guitar, and Doug McLeod on drums, and his repertoire consisted mainly of standards and older tunes. His guests on the show included younger Canadian performers, such as Joey Hollingsworth, Janet Stewart, Annie Brook, Patti Lewis, and Lorraine Foreman, and a frequent guest was Cliff McKay, of Holiday Ranch.

The series was written by Pat Patterson and produced by Drew Crossan, who had produced O'Connor's first radio show, Sunshine Society, and his earlier television series.


Saturday Morning

Sat 11:00-11:30 a.m., 2 Apr-24 Sep 1977


Saturday Morning Adventure

Sat 11:00-11:30 a.m., 1 Apr-30 Sep 1978


Saturday Night Movies

Sat 8:30-10:30 p.m., 28 May-1 Oct 1977

This summer series of feature films included, amid current and classic British and Hollywood pictures, several recent Canadian productions: Goldenrod, produced by Lionel Chetwynd and directed by Harvey Hart; The Man Inside, written by Tony Sheer and directed by Gerald Mayer; Wings In The Wilderness, produced by Ralph C. Ellis and directed by Robert Ryan; Lies My Father Told Me, directed by Jan Kadar from Ted Allan's script; Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, directed by Ted Kotcheff; and Fighting Men, also written by Tony Sheer, directed by Don Shebib and produced by John Trent.


Saturday Night Wrestling

Sat 11:10-11:30 p.m.,

Wrestling--a sport with high entertainment value, colourful participants, and a restricted playing area--was a favourite for television from the start. Early in its schedule, the CBC featured wrestling from a variety of Toronto locations, including the network's own Studio One or Four, the Palace Pier on the shore of Lake Ontario, the Masonic Auditorium at Yonge and Davenport, or, on Saturday nights during the summer, Maple Leaf Gardens. The broadcasts usually included three matches--the final one the main event--with interviews, challenges, and assorted yelling and threats in between. In the early 1950s, it was produced by Wilf Hayden and George Retzlaff, with commentary by sportscasters Dave Price, Fred Sgambati, and Patrick Flanagan.


Saturday Sports Special

Sat Times Vary, 25 Mar-31 Mar 1979

CBC Sports covered a wide variety of events and competitions for its Saturday afternoon overviews. Often, the broadcast was divided into two major segments, such as highlights of water polo from the Edmonton Commonwealth Games and the Canadian Winter National Diving Championships, from New Westminster, on the broadcast of 22 April 1978.

After a year's run under this title, the program adopted a different format and title, Sportsweekend.


Scan

The CBC examined itself in this early broadcast, sometimes a quarter-hour, sometimes a half-hour. Hosts Bruce Marsh (l957- 58), Rex Loring (l958), and Frank Stalley (l958-59) introduced interviews with figures behind the scenes in programming and production at the corporation, such as Eugene Hallman, director of radio programming, Frederick Rainsberry, supervising producer of children's television programming, and Peter Meggs, of the CBC's information service. The series also showed the viewers how remote telecasts were produced, how a television studio operated, the work of the film department, and were introduced to the CBC International Service. The producer of the series was Norm Catton.


Scarlett Hill

Mon-Fri 4:00-4:30 p.m., 17 Oct 1962-

Mon-Fri 2:30-3:00 p.m., 16 Oct 1963-26 Jun 1964

With scripts originally written for U.S. radio, and characters created by Robert Lindsay and Kathleen Lindsay, the CBC made an attempt at a domestically produced daytime drama, a form that has never fared well on English language television in Canada. The series was produced by George McCowan for Taylor Television at Robert Lawrence Studios in Toronto, and starred John Drainie and Ronald Cahoon.

The characters' stories intermingled, but, deviating somewhat from the conventions of the soap opera, the continuing story of Scarlett Hill was structured in blocks of five episodes. Stories that started on a Monday strove toward culmination on the Friday to make way for a new family in town and a new narrative block the next week. Nevertheless, as Antony Ferry indicated in a Maclean's review (9 February 1963) the banality of the writing forced the actors to rise to the occasion: "Faced with a heap of scripts of incurable dramatic slackness, the actors have become virtuosos of the pregnant pause, the portentous faraway look, and such grandiloquent bits of business as weaving around a stuffed sofa to pat down a rumpled antimacassar. By dextrous use of stopwatch, i've been able to devise a word-output time equation upon which the Scarlett Hill technique is based: l5 minutes of script plus new style pregnant pauses = one 30-minute episode."

The first year's production schedule was slated to result in 195 half-hour episodes, which ran over thirty-nine weeks, at a cost of $780,000. The series was sold to ATV in the U.K., where it was planned to be shown in one hour blocks on a weekly basis.


Science All Around Us

Tue 4:45-5:00 p.m., 6 Jan-31 Mar 1959

Mon 4:45-5:00 p.m., 19 Oct 1959-28 Mar 1960

On Science All Around Us, a quarter-hour afternoon broadcast for school age viewers, Lorne McLaughlin, of Ottawa Teachers' College, discussed subjects in natural science, such as turtles and reptiles or the sun as a source of energy, and mechanical science, such as motors, how they function and how one can be built with nails, paper clips, and wood. Some of the programs fit the occasion: the Hallowe'en broadcast about owls or the Christmas show on different types of Christmas trees. The program was produced by Marion Dunn.


Science And Conscience

Thu 10:30-11:00 p.m., 23 May-11 Jul 1968

Patrick Watson hosted Science And Conscience, an eight week series of half-hour programs on scientific and technological changes and the moral and ethical issues they raise. Executive producer Lister Sinclair and producer James Murray assembled panels drawn from a wide range of authorities and commentators, including writers Malcolm Muggeridge and Pierre Berton, Dr. Jacob Bronowski, James Eayrs of the department of political science at the University of Toronto, anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, research engineer Norman Alcock, sociologist Walter Goldschmidt, geneticist Margaret Thompson, physicist Ralph Lapp, chemist John Polanyi, philosopher A.J. Ayer, and Dr. Donald Ivey, already known to CBC television viewers for his appearances on The Nature Of Things and other science programs. The director of the series was Jack Sampson.

In the opening program, Turn A Blind Eye, Bronowski, Eayrs, and Muggeridge discussed the interrelations of the scientist and society, and the responsibilities of the scientist with respect to government and industry. Subsequent broadcasts included Building Better Babies, on eugenics; Color Me Different, about cultural, inherited, national, social, and racial differences among people; Kill And Overkill, on nuclear energy; Man On The Moon, on the space program; Learn, Baby, Learn, which concerned education; and Should They Or Shouldn't They?, a program on euthanasia and resuscitation. The panelists who opened the series returned for a final broadcast, Bend, Staple, And Mutilate, on the State's use of technology to monitor private existence and behaviour.


Science Magazine

Mon 10:00-10:30 p.m., 13 Jan-10 Mar 1975

Sun 5:00-5:30 p.m., 1 Feb-9 May 1976

Wed 8:00-8:30 p.m., 4 May-25 May 1977

Tue 5:00-5:30 p.m., 20 Sep-31 Jan 1978 (R)

Wed 8:00-8:30 p.m., 15 Mar-13 Jun 1978

Sun 7:30-8:00 p.m., 14 Jan-15 Apr 1979

Tue 4:30-5:00 p.m., 3 Apr-12 Jun 1979

Mon-Fri 1:30-2:00 p.m., 21 Jul-5 Sep 1980 (R)

Geneticist David Suzuki, who had gained popularity for his afternoon broadcast aimed at a young audience, Suzuki On Science, moved to prime time as host of Science Magazine, which was designed more for an adult viewer. The program presented features on current research by Canadian and international scientists. As the program title indicates, each show included several features, and regular spots, such as How Things Work, on the mechanics of common objects, and Science Update, Suzuki's report and commentary on recent breakthroughs and developments. The commentary for film features was spoken by CBC staff announcers Jan Tennant and Cy Strange.

Producers for the show included John Bassett, Milan Chvostek, Heather Cook, and Diederik d'Ailly, and the executive producer was James Murray.

After the cancellation of Science Magazine, Suzuki assumed the job of host for the network's flagship science show, The Nature Of Things.


Scope

Sun 10:00-10:30 p.m., 19 Dec 1954-1 May 1955

The half-hour, Sunday night program Scope modelled itself somewhat on the CBC radio series Wednesday Night, and presented a range of drama, music, reportage, and essay-style material. It opened with Mavor Moore's musical adaptation of Stephen Leacock, Sunshine Town, followed the next week by a seasonal favourite, a segment of the Nutcracker Suite performed by the National Ballet. The first show of the new year looked back at 1954 in a broadcast written by Eric Nicol, and subsequent programs included Lister Sinclair's documentary, Sea Of Troubles; a feature on communications, with a performance from Menotti's opera, The Telephone; and a show on marriage, with dramatic pieces by Garcia Lorca and Chekhov.

Producers for this Toronto broadcast were Norman Campbell and Harvey Hart, and the supervising producer was Franz Kraemer.


Sea Songs And Indian Legends

Little information is available about the afternoon program in which a character called "Old Tom," a retired sailor, tells maritime stories and teaches sailing skills.


Sea Songs and Stories

Wed 4:45-5:00 p.m., 5 Apr-28 Jun 1961

Included as a part of Junior Roundup (q.v.), this series of fifteen minute broadcasts originated in Halifax, and was produced by Sandy Lumsden. Jim Bennett wrote the show, which included stories told by Dave Murray, and music by Len Mayoh and the Shantymen.


Seafarers

Mon 5:30-6:00 p.m., 14/21 Aug 1967

A series of half-hour programs produced by John McKay in Halifax, and written and hosted by Paddy Gregg and Jim Bennet, Seafarers used interviews, narrative, and other devices to explore the maritime tradition of Atlantic Canada. Individual programs were to examine such subjects as shipwrecks off the Nova Scotia shores, ghost ships, fishing, clipper ships, inshore fishing, convoys during the two world wars, and shipbuilding in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. According to records, only two programs aired on the network.


Search For Stars

Fri 9:00-10:00 p.m., 13/27 Apr 1979

Fri 9:00-10:00 p.m., 4 May 1979

Fri 9:00-10:00 p.m., 18/23 Apr 1980

Fri 9:00-10:00 p.m., 2/30 May 1980

Wed 10:00-11:00 p.m., 1/15/29 Apr 1981

Wed 9:00-10:00 p.m., 20 May 1981

Various Days and Times, 11/18/25 Mar 1982

Various Days and Times, 28 Apr 1982

Sponsored by du Maurier cigarettes and produced at Toronto's Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Search For Stars was an annual, national talent competition, broadcast in series of four, hourlong programs. Several hundred auditions produced eighteen semifinalists, who appeared on the first three shows, and six finalists, who competed on the fourth and final show, which was broadcast live. Each semifinalist received $2000, and each of the finalists was awarded $5000 more from the du Maurier Council for the Performing Arts. Musical styles ranged from classical to country and western, and performers included instrumentalists, singers, actors, and dancers. The host was Fred Davis, and the programs were written by David Warrack, the musical director was Bob McMullin, and the producer and director was Ray McConnell.


Seaway

Thu 8:00-9:00 p.m., 16 Sep 1965-8 Sep 1966

Sun 3:00-4:00 p.m., 2 Jul 1966-20 Aug 1967 (R)

Maxine Samuels followed the success of her juvenile adventure series, The Forest Rangers, with another filmed drama, to that date the most costly television series produced in Canada. Budgeted at three million dollars for the first season of hourlong shows, or about $l00,000 per episode, Seaway was bought by the CBC for $850,000 and by ATV in the U.K. for $l.5 million, with the balance of investments raised by Samuels.

Although distinctively Canadian in approach and setting, Seaway was aimed for an audience beyond the nation's boundaries, and corresponded to trends in U.S. television programming. Susan Dexter remarked that it resembled a "waterbound Route 66" ("How Maxine Samuels Built Her Own Seaway," Maclean's [2 October 1965]), and Mary Lowrey Ross noted that its protagonists--an older, wiser authority figure and a younger, more headstrong and impulsive fellow--followed the pattern of Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, and Mr. Novak. The series was eventually syndicated to U.S. stations.

Austin Willis played Admiral Henry Victor Leslie Fox, trained in the Canadian services and a World War II veteran, now an official of the Department of Transport and in charge of the operations of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Stephen Young played the U.S. born Nick King, formerly a U.S. Air Force pilot, convinced by Fox to resign his commission and work as a troubleshooter for the Associated Owners and Shippers. Together they worked to safeguard the interests of the shippers, to forestall irregularities and investigate crime, and to keep craft and cargo moving up and down the seaway.

The narrative situation for the series was devised by Abraham Polonsky, writer and director of the 1948 feature Force Of Evil. Polonsky also wrote and directed some episodes, notably one titled Medal For Mirko, while he was still blacklisted and unable to sign Hollywood films. Other writers for the series included Charles Israel, Alvin Goldman, Norman Klenman, Ian McLellan Hunter, and Lindsay Galloway. The script supervisor was Ed Moser, previously with the CBC's drama department. Programs were shot on location from Toronto to Halifax, and in studios in Montreal, and the directors also included George McCowan and Daniel Petrie. The producer of the series was Michael Sadlier, who had also recently worked with the CBC, as English language program director.

A two part story, called Don't Forget To Wipe The Blood Off, written by Galloway and directed by McCowan, was later released to television as a feature film and continues to show up in afternoon movie slots and on late shows.

Photo (courtesy of CBC) shows Stephen Young.


A Second Look

Sun 10:00-10:30 p.m., 26 Jan-9 Aug 1964

A Second Look, half-hour public affairs roundup, replaced Let's Face It, and ran every other week, alternating with Horizon. The host for the show was Gary Lautens, a columnist for the Toronto Daily Star, best known for his light humour. However, the show attempted to provide insight into serious, newsworthy and controversial subjects, usually in two or three stories per broadcast. The discrepancy of the host and the subject matter indicated the problems with the production.

The opening show featured an interview with British M.P. Anthony Wedgewood-Benn of the Labour Party, who discussed his attempts to discard his title of Lord Stansgate, as well as the elevation to the peerage of Canadian media magnate Roy Thomson; an examination of anti-semitism in Canada; and an interview with U.S. writer Richard Rovere, who talked about Lyndon Johnson. Writers Robert Fulford and Rita Greer Allen contributed interviews to subsequent broadcasts.

According to Nathan Cohen, Lautens had very little input into the program--very little was solicited from him--and was severely tested as an onscreen personality by the experience of the series ("In View," Saturday Night [October 1964]). Cohen laid the blame on producer Barry Harris.


A Second Look

Sun 2:00-2:30 p.m., 5 Jan-16 Mar 1969

Modelled on The Frost Report, David Frost's British program of blackout sketches and comic commentary, A Second Look concentrated each week of its regrettably short, six week run on a specific subject. The first show, for example, had the theme, "Man and the Machine," and subsequent programs lampooned doctors, communications, transportation, and modern women.

Situated behind a desk, the hosts of the half-hour show from Vancouver were Terry David Mulligan and Bill Reiter, both well- known to west coast radio listeners as disk jockeys. Lantern- jawed, good-looking, and hip, Mulligan was the straight man, while the bespectacled and rotund Reiter tended to go straight to the funnybone. They were reunited on Hey, Taxi, and Reiter later helped found Dr. Bundolo's Pandemonium Medicine Show on CBC radio and television.

An extremely able repertory company of west coast actors played the sketches: Mickie Maunsell, Graham Teear, Allan Anderson, Diane Grant, Roxanne Erwin, Graeme Campbell, and Len Doncheff. The writers included Eric Nicol, Bill Hartley, Tony Hudz, and David Kendall, and the show's producer and director was Al Vitols. The executive producer was Neil Sutherland.


See For Yourself

Thu 4:30-5:00 p.m., 15 Oct 1959-31 Mar 1960

Ross Snetsinger and his puppet Foster, who appeared regularly on CBC shows for children in the 1950s, starred in this show on arts and crafts, which included play, art, and songs. Ross and Foster worked with children in the studio to show them how to make things like Christmas decorations, and talked about other subjects of interest, such as fish and aquariums, railroads, and even television itself and how the camera works.


Seeing Things

Tue 8:00-9:00 p.m., 15 Sep-6 Oct 1981

Tue 8:00-9:00 p.m.,

Bald, nearsighted, fortyish Louie Ciccone was the hero of this comedy/mystery series. A loud and pushy motormouth, he was like a guy from Union City, New Jersey who took a wrong exit on the turnpike and found himself among the quiet, sweet Canadians. U.S.-born actor Louis Del Grande used the cultural difference to good advantage to create the character of Louie. Del Grande and David Barlow, who had worked together previously on King Of Kensington, created and produced the show and wrote the first few episodes, which ran as a pilot series of three, hourlong stories before the CBC ordered more for subsequent seasons.

The premise of the show was deliberately preposterous. Louie, a reporter for the Gazette, a Toronto tabloid, habitually stumbles on murders and solves them thanks to clairvoyant visions of the killings. The crimes, however, were just the motor that kept the story idling. When the series started, Louie had been thrown out of the house by his wife, Marge, played by Martha Gibson, and he continually tried to get back in her good graces and get back into the house. No wonder; during their separation Louie moved in with his parents--Al Bernardo and Lynne Gordon played Al and Anna Ciccone--and had to sleep on a cot in the storeroom of the family bakery. He prevailed on Marge to drive him around town (Louie, like Del Grande, was hyperactive enough that he dared not drive a car), and usually got her involved in his investigations. After a couple of seasons, Marge took him back into the house, where they lived with their son Jason, played by Ivan Beaulieu, but their marriage never lost the friction of their estrangement. Del Grande's and Gibson's own marriage provided extra tension, humour, and warmth to their characters' on-again, off-again romance.

Marge's imagined nemesis was Heather Redfern, the assistant Crown Attorney Louie regularly inveigled into helping him. Redfern, played by Janet-Laine Green, was often hauled out of a courtroom, away from a social engagement, or out of bed late at night by Louie (who she always called "Mr. Ciccone"), and usually found herself deeper and deeper in the plot. Louie's reliance on her in her professional capacity and the fact that they were sometimes found in misunderstandable situations fed Marge's jealousy of Redfern. After her initial dislike for the the younger, wealthier lawyer, Marge later grew friendlier with her, especially after Louie drew them into a couple of dangerous spots together.

The supporting cast also included the taciturn Detective Sergeant Brown, who was invariably assigned to the homicides that Louie (or "Chi-cone, as Brown pronounced it) discovered, and Murray Westgate as Max Perkins, Louie's editor at the Gazette. Louis Negin appeared frequently as Marlon Bede, the paper's food reporter, Cec Linder as Robert Spenser, Redfern's superior, and Ratch Wallace as Kenny Volker, a slab of beef of a hockey player who was Redfern's love interest for a while. Many of the country's well-known actors played guest roles: Gordon Pinsent, Kenneth Welsh, Barbara Hamilton, Rita Tushingham, Barry Morse, Bruno Gerussi, Kate Reid, Saul Rubinek, Don Francks, Ross Petty, ballerina Karen Kain, Maury Chaykin (who repeated his role as U.S. Federal Marshal Randall Jackson in stories with an international angle), and Booth Savage (husband of Janet-Laine Green; he played a kidnapper with whom Redfern suffered a case of the Stockholm syndrome).

Writers for the show, aside from Del Grande and Barlow, included Sheldon Chad, Bill Gough and Anna Sandor, Larry Gaynor, and David Cole. The breezy scripts and freewheeling performances, directed by George McCowan, made the show refreshingly different from the studied, conservatively high-quality drama characteristic of CBC television in the 1980s or from the committee-made drama or comedy of the U.S.A. The dramatic premise, Louie's clairvoyance, was practically a parody of television gimmicks as he flashed back to the moment of the killing, seen through brilliant but softly filtered light, then returned to consciousness. The scripts deftly combined the requisite mystery story and the continuing story of Louie's marriage and family, the realm of situation comedy. After three or four seasons, however, the scripts lost some steam. The first things to go were those valuable character and story nuances, which gave way to more broad humour and jokes. Although the characters continued to be winning, they seemed to strain more for the big laughs.

After its initial success at home Seeing Things sold to both individual stations and through PBS in the U.S.A. Although critically it was very well received, it did not make enough of a splash in the States. The series also sold well in many other markets, including Australia, West Germany, Italy, Ireland, South Africa, Singapore, and, perhaps most successfully, Spain. It has also run on Radio-Canada, under the title Un journaliste un peu trop clairvoyant, though not before the show sold to France's FR3. Unfortunately, the CBC has typically been able to produce only eight new programs per year, which meant that it could sell a full, half-year season only after more than three full years of production.

The executive producer of Seeing Things was Robert Allen.


A Sense Of Place

Tue 10:30-11:00 p.m., 4 Oct-25 Oct 1966

Vincent Tovell produced this series of four half-hour broadcasts on new architecture, which examined three main examples in Canada, all different and all serving people in very different settings: Arthur Erickson's design for Vancouver's Simon Fraser University on Burnaby Mountain; John Andrews's plans for Scarborough College in Toronto; and Moshe Safdie's Habitat, on the Expo 67 site. James Acland of the University of Toronto wrote and narrated the series, which started with an introduction to contemporary problems and issues in architecture.


Serenade For Strings

Thu 10:30-11:00 p.m., 3 May-27 Sep 1956

Thu 10:30-11:00 p.m., 25 Apr-18 Jul 1957

A radio show for seventeen years, Serenade For Strings moved its mixture of show tunes and ballads to television in 1956. Jean Deslauriers conducted the orchestra and directed the sixteen voice women's choral group. He also wrote musical arrangements, with Maurice Dela and Johnny Burt. The regular soloists were soprano Claire Gagnier and bass Denis Harbour. The program also featured regular guest performers. Guy Parent produced the live broadcast in Montreal.


The Serial

Thu 8:30-9:00 p.m., 26 Sep 1963-18 Jun 1964

Thu 8:30-9:00 p.m., 1 Oct 1964-24 Jun 1965

Thu 10:30-11:00 p.m., 7 Oct 1965-18 Jun 1966

Guided by executive producer Ronald Weyman, the CBC pioneered the format of the mini-series and the limited dramatic series under the very generic, omnibus title, The Serial. Moreover, Weyman's productions for the series ushered in the network's commitment to filmed dramatic production, which permitted them greater mobility and more extensive use of locations. (Previously, the CBC had conceded the National Film Board's exclusivity in film production, except for newsfilm.)

The Serial also revived Canadian stories in a consistent half-hour television slot in its presentation of serialized dramas and episodic series. It permitted sustained stories, frequently adapted from novels, to unfold over an extended period of real and screen time, and it provided a regular, national venue for domestic dramatic production, even though the story might change from month to month.

The Serial opened with a ten week version of The Son Of A Hundred Kings, by popular historical novelist Thomas B. Costain, adapted by Leslie McFarlane and produced by Weyman, Melwyn Breen, and Basil Coleman. The first television adaptation of a Costain novel, it starred Martin Norton as a poor immigrant related to royalty. It was followed with The Wings Of Night, by Thomas Raddall, another well-established writer of historical fiction. Hugh Webster wrote the TV adaptation, which was produced by David Gardner and starred James Doohan. These two series, which lasted until the end of January, gained appreciative audiences. Strangers In Ste Angele featured a cast of Anglophone and Francophone actors, including Sharon Acker, Bruno Gerussi, Graydon Gould, Antoinette Giroux, and Juliette Bessette, in a script by Phyllis Lee Peterson.

In March 1964, The Serial showed the first of several runs of Cariboo Country (q.v.), which had previously aired locally in Vancouver. Two films from the series, How To Break A Quarter Horse and The Education Of Phyllistine, had also been broadcast on Festival (q.v.). Produced by Philip Keatley and written by Paul St. Pierre, the shows starred David Hughes as Smith, the rancher, Lillian Carlson as Norah, his wife, and Chief Dan George as Ol' Antoine. The Cariboo Country series ran to the end of the first season, with a six week interruption, as John Vernon starred as Kip Caley, the bank robber trying to reform in Morley Callaghan's Depression story, More Joy In Heaven, produced by Melwyn Breen.

The second season started with Weyman's production of Convoy, Joseph Schull's World War II story about the assault on a Canadian corvette by a Nazi submarine. Melwyn Breen produced Chord Of Steel, adapted by Lyon Todd from Thomas Costain's narrative of Alexander Graham Bell, starring Paul Harding. A Train Of Murder, written by Halifax writer Kay Hill, was a comic mystery, starring Don Francks, Beth Morris, Gillie Fenwick, and Cosette Lee, and produced in Toronto by David Gardner. Gardner also produced Larry Zahab's and Ronald Chudley's espionage story, The Reluctant Agent, with John Horton and Diane Stapley. For several weeks, The Serial deviated from its plan to run films from the BBC, then resumed with Cariboo Country. The season ended with Edward McCourt's prairie story of a professor who is fired by his university for having published a pornographic novel; The Fasting Friar was produced by George Bloomfield.

The third and final season of The Serial opened with Gordon Pinsent's debut performance as Quentin Durgens, in David Gardner's production of Mr. Member Of Parliament, written by George Robertson. The series, about a young and idealistic lawyer who wins the seat vacated at the death of his father, was so well received that the CBC continued it the next year as a series on its own, Quentin Durgens, M.P. (q.v.).

The Road was a Weyman production from a script by George Salverson about the underground railroad that brought slaves from the U.S. to Canada, and featured Robert Christie and Ed Hall. McGonigle Skates Again, by Leslie McFarlane, and produced by Melwyn Breen, starred Tom Harvey as a former NHL star, now a hockey scout. The series ended with a final run of Cariboo Country productions from Vancouver.

The Serial marked a significant moment of maturity for CBC drama. Production moved out of the studios and into the streets. It also moved out of the main production centres and into more distant locations for the purpose of authenticity. After the series ended, Weyman went on to produce Wojeck (q.v.).


Sesame Street

Mon-Fri 11:00-12:00 noon, 28 Sep 1970-To Date

In addition to producing its own programming for young viewers, Canadian television has also imported shows, including the formats of the Howdy Doody show and Romper Room. Sesame Street, the Children's Television Workshop production from New York that revolutionized kids' TV, was carried on the CBC virtually since its beginnings in 1969. Starting in January 1973, however, the CBC started to replace some segments of the U.S. program, particularly those that dealt with Hispanic culture and the Spanish language appropriate to U.S. viewers, with Canadian-produced segments that dealt with Canadian culture and the French language. In the first year, the segments featured several children from different regions: Peter John Halcrow, a Cree from Manitoba, Daniel Ruest of St. Hilaire, Quebec, Raymond Doucet from Richibucto, New Brunswick, and Bobbi Edge from the mountain region of Alberta. In subsequent years the amount of Canadian produced material was increased from the initial limits of about eight minutes per sixty minute show.

Many of the sequences used animation, and employed the talents of animators and film creators including Don Arioli, Richard Condie, Brad Caslor, Ken Perkins, Leon Johnson, Connie Bortnick, Pattie Lavoie, Bruce Head, Dave Strang, Allan Frank, Norman Drew, Ray McMillan, Ken Mimura, and Gloria White, with much of the production originating in Winnipeg. The original executive producer of the segments was Perry Rosemond.


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