Monday, February 15, 2016

Mediocre "Letterkenny" headlines a frustrating experience with Crave TV

The cast of the new Crave TV comedy "Letterkenny".
Photo Credit: Bell Media
(A caveat: I feel the need to preface this anytime I write about a Canadian series, particularly one about which I have a negative opinion : I do not begrudge any Canadian television show for being made; in fact its existence in at least one aspect makes me happy. More Canadian television needs to be produced outside of the CBC. I don't care right now if the programming is not top notch. I'm just happy someone is putting in the time, money, and resources to make it exist at all. More please, and stat.)

It was around last Christmas when my brother asked me something to the effect of, "so I guess Shomi is the new Rogers thing now?" I really had no idea what he was talking about - somehow I had missed being inundated with television commercials for Rogers and Shaw's joint streaming video venture that had launched a month prior. It didn't help that my mother seemed convinced that Shomi was actually a rebrand of the Rogers On Demand service (it isn't, though Rogers sure did a good job of burying their VOD platform in service of Shomi).

Before long though, commercials for Shomi and it's competitor, the Bell-owned Crave TV, popped up everywhere and it became all too easy for me to compare and contrast the services even without actually subscribing to them. Crave offered a deeper program catalogue even before signing deals for the HBO and Showtime libraries, for less than half the cost of Shomi, whose commercials seemed to always feature the same five popular series in every single commercial (i.e., the only ones they had streaming rights to). Neither service seemed "necessary," even as I recognized that I was basically spouting the Canadian version of, "but I already have Netflix, why do I need to subscribe to Amazon?". But they seemed harmless, and if the existing daily schedules of Bell's network and cable channels was deemed insufficient as an on-demand "Big Bang Theory" delivery system, Canadians were welcome to pay $4 a month for their hit.