Funny, You Don’t Look Canadian
By: Katrina Onstad
Date: June 5, 2009
Source: NYTimes.com (A version of this article appeared in print on June 7, 2009, on page MT2 of the New York edition).
Note: The below is a copy and paste of just the part about THE BRIDGE. To read the full article please click on the link above.
Soon television audiences will be seeing a lot more red mailboxes, as shows created in Canada infiltrate the American broadcast networks. NBC just introduced “The Listener,” about a telepathic paramedic; ABC has picked up “Copper,” described as “Grey’s Anatomy” with rookie officers; CBS has scheduled another police procedural, “The Bridge,” as a midseason replacement next winter. All three programs are shot in Toronto.
“The Bridge,” a CBS-CTV co-production, is another street cop show, this time loosely based on the career of a former Toronto police union boss named Craig Bromell. A controversial figure, he was once accused of being one of several officers who beat up a homeless man. (The case was settled.)
“All around the world people have this uneasy alliance with their police: ‘Do what you can to protect us, but if you have to break the rules to do it, don’t let us catch you,'” said Alan DiFiore, a show runner of “The Bridge.”
While members of the Strategic Response Unit on “Flashpoint” sport Canadian flags on their jackets, “The Bridge” seems to be moving toward a more generic sense of place. “Cops are the same in Italy, Canada, Spain,” said the show’s star, Aaron Douglas, best known as Galen Tyrol in “Battlestar Galactica.” “I’m playing it like Anytown, U.S.A.”
This is, in part, because of Mr. Bromell: a Toronto setting could leave the show vulnerable to lawsuits. But a Canadian-generated program set in Anytown, U.S.A., may be philosophically problematic for a heavily regulated television system, one that offers significant tax breaks and subsidies for shows that employ only Canadians in key positions on and off camera. The tax dollars that contribute some of the $2 million-an-episode budget of “The Bridge” are there to promote local productions, part of a larger policy intended to help Canada achieve some kind of artistic independence from the cultural behemoth next door.