10 Toronto TV shows that deserve to make a comeback
With everything from Twin Peaks to Gilmore Girls to Star Trek to Reboot and The X-Files ramping up production for splashy televisual comebacks, isn't it about time some classic Toronto TV shows were given a new lease on life?
Rebooted, re-imagined or just plain picking up where they left off, these shows might benefit from a modern make-over, and could even serve as a warm and fuzzy nostalgic boon to Canadian SVOD operators like Crave TV and Shomi who should at the very least be celebrating local TV legacies amidst the litany of glossy U.S. imports that clog most of their output.
Here are 10 Toronto TV shows that deserve to make a comeback.
The Littlest Hobo
So obviously a certified bread winner it defies explanation as to why it hasn't happened already. The premise is simple - a dog (preferably a German Shepherd) wanders from location to location, helping out those in need. While it's a safe bet that original star London has long ago passed onto the great dog kennel in the sky, there are no doubt countless trained canines who would love a shot at TV fame.
Toronto's most infamous live dance party was easy to shoot, cheap to produce, and a vibrant showcase for local dance music (whether it be hip-hop, R'n'B or sleazy euro house). Record labels still desperately desire outlets to get their songs played, and few have ever lost money on the voyeuristic appetite of the viewer. As the old EC commercials used to say, "Sometimes I think, F*** it I just wanna dance."
The CBC's creepy proto The Dead Zone chronicled the adventures of balding schlub Louie Ciccone (played to the hilt by Louis Del Grande), a low-rent crime reporter for Toronto tabloid The Gazette was also a clairvoyant gleaning helpful imagery from crime scenes. A middle aged guy dabbling in the supernatural, who lives at home with his aging parents? Prime Generation X by way of The X-Files fodder.
This mostly forgotten Toronto sit-com was set in a dysfunctional youth counselling centre and addressed "controversial" subjects like birth control, teen suicide, homosexuality, and racism, all of which are still topical and ripe for the self-aware sit-com treatment a la Modern Family.
The so-called "difficult second album" syndrome affected Ken Finkleman's brilliant 1998 follow-up to his critical darling The Newsroom. More Tears ran for a mere three episodes and a single 90 minute TV movie on CBC in which it pummelled the faux compassionate kabuki inherent in news media. It was a decade (at least) ahead of its time and perhaps too cynical for the softer '90s.
Strange But True
The Mad as a box of frogs anthology series profiled weird stories based on supposedly true tales that ranged from the supernatural (UFOs, Ghosts, Bigfoot) to the mundane (parking tickets, missed connections), but always played it straight. Co-produced with the Brits, this is exactly the kind of old-school, offbeat fodder missing from all the po-faced "mystery" shows that currently pollute the genre.
The Joke's On Us
The joke is indeed on us for not making more TV shows based around Toronto's eclectic comedy scene. This old relic used a rotating group of comedians (a dolly mixture of washed-up Borscht belt players like Marty Allen and Jack Carter beside young whipper snappers) to begin telling a joke, while a contestant would try and guess the punchline. Lots of groan worthy stuff of course, but more hits than misses.
Created simply as late night filler to burn off hours worth of CRTC mandated Canadian content, Night Walk (and its brethren Night Ride and Night Moves) have attained true cult status as definitive Toronto Polaroids of the year in which they were made - 1985. No reason why shooting POV while cruising around downtown T.O accompanied by smooth jazz (circa 2015) could not pull off the same trick.
Science International aka What Will They Think of Next?
This aspirational "floating heads" science show probably helped push countless young minds towards a career in the field thanks to its breathless reporting on way out-there Sci-Fi concepts. Owing more to The Jetsons than Omni, a series in this mould could shine some hopeful light on the future of mankind as opposed to the constant drumbeat of doom and gloom we are currently drowning in.
The Polka Dot Door
The most prolific kid's show of all time in Canada, which at its peak was sold to more countries around the world than Sesame Street (which still runs strong) and birthed the greatest kids TV mascot of all time in Polkaroo, lies dormant. Are you kidding me? The brand remains a household name: trusted, robust and contained in a formula as ripe now as it was when Polka Dot Door was terminated in the early 1990s.
Would you prefer Ready or Not was resurrected? Or would you like to see Wojek rise again? Let us know which Toronto TV show you would most like to see come back in the comments.
Ed Conroy's Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing stories and discoveries at www.retrontario.com.
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