18th June 2011

Hey Showcase – We Want Endgame Back

showcaseThe short answer about why we want Endgame back is because it’s Canadian and we like it, but in greater detail, here’s the long answer. Earlier this television season, Scott and I began watching the brand-new Canadian TV drama Endgame from Thunderbird Films, and it rapidly became one of our favourites. We enjoyed the writing, the acting, the story-lines, the fact that it was made in Vancouver – and for once wasn’t pretending to be somewhere else like Seattle,  San Francisco or even Switzerland. The show’s premise is somewhat original – Russian chess master Arkady Balagan (Shawn Doyle) witnesses the murder of his fiancee Rosemary (Lisa Ray) outside The Huxley Hotel (The Westin Bayshore), and the resulting trauma turns him into an agoraphobic who experiences panic attacks if he even thinks about leaving the hotel.

From his hotel room and with the assistance of chess groupie Sam (Torrance Coombs), bartender Danni (Katharine Isabelle), hotel maid Alcina (Carmen Aguirre) and hotel security chief Hugo (Patrick Gallagher), the lovably naive yet egotistical endgamegenius Arkady helps people solve problems – from being accused of murder to getting hostages released to finding a missing child. While the crimes themselves may not be original, the methods used to solve them certainly are. While other crime shows have used “detective visualization” to look at solution possibilities, none of them puts the characters on a chess board and interacts with them, or constantly rewinds the image of someone pushed from the hotel roof to ask the victim questions or to see what minute clue was missed.

Of course, Arkady does have a motive for helping these people – it usually involves the payment of a fee or the winning of favours so that he doesn’t get evicted from his penthouse suite by hotel manager Barbara (Veena Sood). Added into the mix is Rosemary’s younger sister Pippa (Melanie Papalia), a blogger and freelance documentary maker. She is obsessed with solving Rosemary’s murder, and often butts heads with Arkady over the clues and possibilities she uncovers.

Endgame is lighthearted entertainment that makes the viewer think a little bit and chuckle often, so you can imagine our disappointment when we heard that Showcase had put the show on the chopping block. We’d already lost Human Target, which was another lighthearted and made in Vancouver television show which we enjoyed – even though it had the city being portrayed as locations around the world – I bet you didn’t know that  the new convention centre was really a Swiss bank, did you.

There are already far too many reality shows on the airwaves that we have absolutely no interest in watching – we don’t care who will be Canada’s next idol or who can dance and who can’t. We rarely watch to see who is the worst handyman or the worst endgame castdriver, and we certainly have no interest in The Glee Project. Chances are if we’re watching a reality-based show, it’s shows like Electric Playground, Reviews on the Run, Museum Secrets, Daily Planet, Disaster DIY, Sarah’s House, Holmes on Homes or Income Property – and HGTV Canada viewing would not be complete without Colin & Justin, who will apparently be returning with a new Canadian show soon. Our one guilty-pleasure reality show is Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which technically has Canadian content. ;)

While we are proponents of Canadian content, as anyone who is familiar with this site knows, we are particular fans of quality Canadian content, and Endgame is in that category, along with one of our other favourite crime dramas, FlashPoint (no killing off Ed or breaking up the team, CTV!). We also like Breakout Kings – and while it’s technically an American production, it is filmed in Toronto and has two Canadian actresses in the lead cast. Yes, we like a little humour mixed in with our murder and mayhem.

Shows often get pulled because a network says it has low ratings, yet time and again we see large and active fan bases fighting to keep their shows on the air while less-than-worthy shows get renewed season after season. This happened most recently with The Event (NBC), and while it’s not a Canadian show, we did watch it. Untimely demises also met CBS shows The Unit and Jericho, with the fan backlash at CBS over the cancellation of Jericho coming through loud and clear.

In my opinion, I think it’s fair to say that the Nielsen rating system, which seems to have much power in what shows stay or go, is in no way an accurate indicator of what people are watching, in part because their sampling is so small when compared to the population at large. Again in my opinion, the Nielsen Ratings System is archaic and has been the subject of much criticism. The ratings do not appear to accurately measure what people are watching online, whether it’s on their PC or their mobile device, and even time-shifting or PVRing a show can skew ratings.

The ratings certainly don’t count what we’re watching in our house – although I’d like to know how the networks know just how many people watched the Stanley Cup Finals – and was that just on TV or did they include those who watched it online like The CaveChild did because he prefers to watch his shows (like Pure Pwnage) online in his cave, while we tend to watch them on the TV. How do they know how many people in each house are watching a particular show? We have more than one TV in this house – sometimes we’re both watching the same show on one TV, sometimes we’re watching different shows on different TVs in different rooms, so how does Nielsen really know, and how can their count be an accurate reflection of what people are or want to watch? Do the Conspiracy Theorists out there have an answer for this?

According to Nielsen’s Canadian site, Nielsen TV Audience Analysis software offerings are built for today’s most pressing TV campaign and programming issues – but I could not find how many households are actually measured. Perhaps you have to be a client to get that information, or I just didn’t look in the right spot on their site.

Borealis enables detailed audience characteristics to be queried while accessing a national respondent-level database through a server based application. This powerful and easy to use analysis tool allows detailed analysis of Canadian television audiences.

SpotWatch offers the most in-depth advertising intelligence available for television in Canada.  A monthly commercial spot database available by product class, company, brand and/or creative theme.

Ad*Views provides the most comprehensive source of competitive advertising intelligence available with access to current and historical advertising data across 13 markets and 5 media types.  Ad*Views can be used to analyze occurrences, GRPs, dollars and television creatives in a single, easy-to-use system.

Why do networks not look at the overall engagement of a show’s audience? Isn’t each and every show a brand property? Or are brand properties measured differently in TV and film from how they are measured in the game development industry? Do they take into account internet activity surrounding a show such as fan sites, discussions, social media participation and brand mentions? Do they take into account how many people have experienced the Endgame interactive features and games? It wouldn’t seem so, because as I mentioned earlier, shows with an actively engaged fan base are repeatedly getting pulled off the air and replaced with drivel. Would not the measuring of total engagement be a major part of a brand’s influence? I thought it was – at least that’s what all of the marketing and branding experts have been saying.

Thus far I have not seen any announced new shows that will hold any interest for me the way Endgame has.  Will King? It’s too early to tell. Will XIII? I’ll get back to you on that.  I can safely say that I have absolutely no interest based on the advertising I’ve seen in Single White Spenny, Kenny Hotz and his Triumph Over Will or Almost Heroes. I have never been a fan of Trailer Park Boys and never will be – I prefer entertaining shows that have some modicum of class and intelligence. That said, and before you go thinking that I have little to no sense of humour, I completely enjoyed Kids In The Hall, The Royal Canadian Air Farce, Wayne & Shuster – and even that other guy, Rick Mercer. I liked The Beachcombers and loved Due South. Being a proper geeky type, I also like Big Bang Theory.

But getting back to Endgame, which ended its first season with a cliff-hanger. It seems that the leads Pippa has been following as she tries to solve her sister’s murder have caused ripples among those who reside on the underbelly of society, and a brutal warning was delivered to Arkady, making it appear that Pippa’s line of investigation has hit a few nerves. How can the network be that uncaring about its viewers to leave Endgame fans hanging with absolutely no sense of the whys or wherefores?

For all intents and purposes, it would appear that Showcase has a total disregard for what Endgame’s engaged fans want from the network. If I’d been able to attend the Banff World Media Festival this year, I would have been front and centre with their representatives, telling them exactly how I feel about the axing of Endgame. Then I would have let Thunderbird’s creative staff know that I want Endgame to continue and will gladly support any movement to keep Endgame on the air. There is hope that perhaps Global, as part of the same Shaw Media family as ShowCase, could possibly pick the show up. This would make us happy viewers. If they don’t, it will cause our Shaw Satisfaction metre to dip – and while you may think that the majority of people at Shaw don’t care how the public feels, trust me, they do.

Do you want to show your support for Endgame? Check out (and Like) the Endgame and  Save Endgame Facebook fan pages or sign the petition (yes, we did). You can also follow Endgame on Twitter – along with Shawn Doyle, Torrance Coombs, Patrick Gallagher, Melanie Papalia, Thunderbird Films, Showcase and Shaw Media TV.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 18th, 2011 at 1:45 pm and is filed under Editorials, National News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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