Monday, January 28, 2013

Global's SAG screwup reflects a network in shambles

     "Homeland" star Claire Danes reacts to winning the SAG
     Award for Female Actor in a Drama Series Sunday night.

A funny thing happened on Canadian television last night.

No, that's not right. Allow me to rephrase. A funny thing didn't happen on Canadian television last night.

Hmm, still not exactly right, since even for TBS and TNT viewers in the United States, the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards probably weren't a laugh riot.

Okay, how about this: a super weird, ridiculously embarrassing thing happened on Canadian television last night. A major screwup the likes of which I can't remember ever seeing before.

On Sunday (January 27) night, just as the clock struck 8pm, Canadians who had tuned into Global to watch the SAG Awards inexplicably found themselves watching an episode of "From the Ground up with Debbie Travis". Realizing their terrible mistake, Global quickly killed it and began their simulcast of the SAG Awards. The episode aired in full, followed by about 10 minutes of an episode of "American Dad". It took about 20 minutes for the @Global_TV Twitter account to confirm that technical issues were preventing them from airing the show. It took a few minutes longer for Global to start a crawl across the bottom of the screen informing viewers that the show would be starting soon. And shortly after 8:40pm, the show finally began, in progress, for viewers in the Atlantic, Eastern, and Central time zones (the Mountain and Pacific time zones were unaffected and saw the show in full starting at 8pm Pacific time).

Not to mention the fact that all the while, Global was showing advertisements for Entertainment Tonight Canada's super awesome coverage of Sunday's awards. Viewers were probably also thrilled to be informed over and over that Global will be broadcasting the Grammy Awards on February 10.

Global claims the screwup was not their problem, and was due to a signal not being sent to Canada from the show's Los Angeles home base. I'm not sure if SAG even cared enough to comment on what went wrong in trying to send their signal up north. What I do know is that a) this wouldn't happen on American television because TV in the United States is treated as much more empiric than it is up here, and that b) this is just more proof that the Global Television Network is a pathetic excuse for a broadcaster and they need a significant overhaul, stat*.


Oh, Global Television. Let me count the ways in which you are the worst:

You are ugly as hell: Sure, I don't love CTV or the CBC in every way all the time either. It would be nice, for example, if CTV programmed in a way that didn't suggest Canadians would die in masses if they went one day without watching an episode of "The Big Bang Theory". But CTV presents itself as a network capable of programming to a country with a population of 33 million. College students could produce a better on-air brand for a television network in a graphic design 101 class than what is currently being used, and has been in use for more than a decade, on Global. And the thing is, the network has acknowledged branding mistakes before and ditched some really awful things like when they use to superimpose "on Global" in really crappy looking fonts onto the title cards of every one of their shows. What's taking them so long to enter the 21st century?

You sound horrible: For four years, Todd Schick has been the voice you hear on every single advertisement for an entertainment broadcast on Global. If you visit Schick's professional website, you can listen to a bunch of audio clips of some of the work he's done over a 20 year career as a professional voice artist. Which is why it's absolutely crazy that he sounds exactly the same in every damn promo. He's got a great voice, and he has quite the range - so why is he being directed to use his regular speaking voice for every "Global promo," a voice suited for a game show or the information channel in a hotel room? It's also absolutely ridiculous that this same goofy voice is used for promoting everything from "Glee" to "NCIS" to "Chicago Fire". Set the man free and employ a more diverse group of voiceover artists (that's "artists" with an s, as in more than one)

You are perhaps the worst offender in terms of a lack of Canadian content: CTV is guilty of this too, but they're certainly trying harder to produce and air scripted content (even if the visually appealing but often bland "Flashpoint" is the best they've done as of late), so much so that Global's upfronts have long been picketed by ACTRA, the union representing Canadian television actors. This fall, Global aired one hour of Canadian content not in the Saturday night dead zone, which was their Friday at 10 broadcast of newsmagazine "16:9". I believe CTV (with "Flashpoint," "Motive," and "The Listener") only narrowly edges Global (with "Bomb Girls" and "Rookie Blue") in terms of Canadian scripted content this season, but I'm gonna defer a win to CTV based primarily on the first two reasons. I don't particularly want to watch any of those shows, but at least if I did I would be far less annoyed watching the ones on CTV.

Maybe someday there will be enough great scripted content on the air so that ACTRA can not only stop picketing the Global upfronts, but might even be able host an entire awards show honouring the best performances in movies and television. It will be great fun to hypothesize what the first 40 minutes of that broadcast might have entailed.

Amateur hour is long over. It's time for Global to look, sound, and program like a respectable network.