No “Intelligence” at the CBC

March 10, 2008

There’s a problem. CBC has just announced its fall line-up and – to the horror of fans of good TV – there is one notable omission. Little Mosque on the Prairie is there. So is Sophie. The Border made it too. But the one show that gave us all faith in original Canadian programming is now gone.

Intelligence, an hour-long crime thriller set on the hard-knox streets of Vancouver, has been dropped after two seasons. Why? Well – surprise, surprise – ratings were too low. The Chris Haddock-created show could not bring in the audience of his previous hit, Da Vinci’s Inquest. Even that show’s spin-off (yes, Canadian television can have spin-offs), Da Vinci’s City Hall was yanked after a single – I would say – spectacular season.

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Intelligence creator Chris Haddock with actor Matt Frewer (photo: TV, Eh?)

Inquest, which ran for nearly a decade, was actually based on one of the personalities we interviewed for Kickstart. Larry Campbell, now a Senator in Ottawa (you know, the real kind of senator), was a Coronor in Vancouver for most of his career, investigating that city’s unsolved and unusual deaths. A strange job, perhaps. But not as far-fetched as what he would do next: run for mayor of Vancouver.

He won. In 2002, he mastered a landslide victory and, for three solid years, took care of the two major issues facing the city: creating a safe injection site to counteract a serious needle problem and holding a plebiscite on the 2010 Olympics. And after that… he quit. Someone who can join the political scene to reach clear objectives, uninterested in mere power and glad-handing, deserves our utmost respect.

So, back to Intelligence. Even though a petition of nearly two thousand devoted fans was sent to the CBC offices in Toronto, it didn’t seem to shake the fortress.

Not to worry. Though the show will not be airing, its first season will soon be available on DVD. Order it now! Seriously. It was a good show because the writing was sharp and clever, the pace was fast and non-gratuitous, the acting was compelling and the backdrop was intriguing.

You never know, the CBC may develop some cajones and bring it back. Cult support helped bring Family Guy back. It failed, tragically, for Arrested Development. Whoever’s bright idea it was to cut Intelligence will hopefully learn this lesson: that the mandate of promoting Canadian culture means, first and foremost, to promote good quality Canadian culture. If you have a strong product, the viewers will do the rest. Only sometimes, it unfortunately takes a while.

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