Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Jane Show - Feb. 17, 2007

Thursdays; Global


See Jane Run

Canadian TV shows need good timeslots. Some networks get that notion, while others just pretend they care about protecting Canadian culture.

By Eric Kohanik

Canadian TV shows often still have a lousy reputation with Canadian TV audiences.

You could probably blame the CRTC, the regulatory body more formally known as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

You could probably also blame television welfare funds set up by governments that keep telling us Canadian culture (whatever that is) needs to be protected.

Their efforts have resulted in an overwhelming number of awful Canadian series, not to mention a boatload of forgettable documentaries and other filler, most of which attract audiences that are probably smaller than you could fit onto a backyard skating rink.

Once in a while, though, a Canadian series manages to stick its head up out of that sea of mediocrity in order to merit a bit more attention. CTV’s Corner Gas, Showcase’s Trailer Park Boys and Global’s Falcon Beach spring to mind. So, too, does a mildly amusing little comedy called The Jane Show. The brainchild of Teresa Pavlinek and longtime collaborator Ralph Chapman, The Jane Show revolves around a “plain Jane” named Jane Black (ably played by Pavlinek). Jane is a woman who gave up her dreams of being a writer in order to get an office job at a liquor-distribution company called Spirits.

The Jane Show began its second season a couple of weeks ago. Much of the first season dwelled on Jane coming to grips with office life. This season continues her journey as she contends with the kooky co-workers who have now become her friends.

The series rolls out a clever episode this week about a reality-show winner hired by Spirits to raise the company’s profile. Jane is disgusted by this; her co-workers are thrilled. The sentiments soon reverse themselves.

The Jane Show isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it is cute and smart. More important is the fact that it’s getting a decent shot.

Canadian networks often do stupid things. They’re addicted to the easy money that comes from simulcasting American shows, so they often burn off Canadian fare in the summer. Last year, CTV’s preposterous summer run of Whistler – a series set in B.C.’s winter ski season – was a prime example.

At other times, networks staunchly proclaim their support of Canadian programming, but then air that programming on nights when U.S. networks have nothing worth simulcasting. CTV has banished new seasons of two Canadian shows –Robson Arms and Jeff Ltd – to Saturday nights. (The network killed off The Eleventh Hour and Cold Squad with a similar move a few seasons ago.)

At least Global has given The Jane Showa high-profile midweek berth. That’s good. If Canadian culture needs protection, it also needs good timeslots – particularly on the schedules of Canada’s private TV networks.

It seems odd to see Global emerging as the one taking the leading role there.

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