2011 was a pretty big year for the TV world in general. Oprah said farewell to her beloved daytime chatfest. Regis bid adieu to mornings with Kelly and Gelman. And Kim Kardashian broadcast her "fairytale" wedding for all the world to bask in. Here in Canada, we had some pretty memorable small screen moments of our own.
Perhaps most notably, our Canuck quest for global TV domination continued to gain momentum with homegrown shows like "Rookie Blue," "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil," "Lost Girl" and "Republic of Doyle" steadily growing their international audiences around the world (and we also reinforced the global stereotype that Canadians are an attractive bunch, with the likes of Anna Silk, Missy Peregrym and Allan Hawco representing us on the world stage).
Since it’s that time of year (yes, list time), we've compiled a list of the top 11 most memorable moments in Canadian TV this year. Some were good. Some were great. Some we may prefer to forget.
1. Marg Delahunty (Mary Walsh) ambushed Toronto mayor Rob Ford on "This Hour Has 22 Minutes." Oh, the horror! I can see why Ford had to (allegedly) cuss out the 911 operator who just wasn't grasping how serious the threat was. Emergency services should really work on their response times to protect public figures from having to 'play ball' with zany fake news correspondents.
2. Pam Anderson portrayed the Virgin Mary on "A Russell Peters Christmas." We can't think of a more perfect choice to play an ironic virgin. Viewers must have agreed -- a whopping 2.1 million Canadians tuned in to see the funnyman lampoon the holidays.
3. FX finally launched in Canada, so we can see awesome shows like "The League," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Sons of Anarchy" right away. Plus fans of "Murdoch Mysteries" now have a go-to channel to catch their favourite sleuth. We don't know why FX runs so many back-to-back-to-back episodes of "Murdoch," but don’t question it. Just embrace it.
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Who could ever forget iconic characters Spike, Stephanie K. and Joey Jeremiah? This show, which is still on, and features some of the beloved actors from the original series (we're looking at you, Snake), always touches on hot-button issues and manages to stay current. TV shows all wish they had this longevity. (CBC)
Weed, booze and brawling are always on tap for Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, Canada's golden trio of comedy. These guys bring vulgarity to new heights with every-other-word swearing and consistent intoxication, much to our delight. You can't really say you've seen everything on TV until you've seen a greasy shirtless guy and a drunken cop chase a pothead, an alcoholic and a moron, can you? (Showcase)
We only wish we had the ability to travel back in time, relive monumental events in our lives, and then fix/rearrange any damage we've done. Erica has that power, thanks to her "special" therapist. Maybe that's why everyone loves this show -- we can vicariously live through Erica. (CBC)
Mounties. There. Isn't that all you need to know? No, but seriously, this show is meant to be a crime drama, but it ends up being a dark comedy. With more "laugh" moments than serious ones, resident perfect male specimen Paul Gross and his compadre Callum Keith Rennie work their way out of several jams. You can bet this show had a loyal female audience when it aired. (CBC)
Canada cares about the environment -- even back in the '80s! A young Donnelly Rhodes plays a marine biologist who deals with various environmental problems, running the gamut from deforestation to endangered whales. Like a family-friendly Canadian 'MacGyver,' basically. (CBC)
Take 'All in the Family' or 'Maude' and plop it in Canada, and you have 'King of Kensington.' Based in Toronto's Kensington Market (which, let's face it, has gone through quite the transformation since this show aired), Al Waxman plays a convenience store owner who helps his neighbours and friends solve problems. (CBC)
Any Canadian worth his/her salt can appreciate the Kids' humour. Their bizarre and out-there comedy skits feature cross-dressing, celebrity impersonations and outright unexplainable scenarios. You can still catch some of the guys around in movies or on TV, but it's never quite the same. (CBC)
There is nothing this dog cannot do. He can climb fences, shoot guns, set traps and foil robbers from one coast to the other. In every episode, the dog (played by London the dog) saves at least one person's life. When his work is done, he's on to the next town. We want to keep him for ourselves. You can admit that you want him too. (CBC)
Perhaps one of the more uncomfortable-to-watch Canadian shows, each episode is like revisiting the awkwardness and horror of high school. The show is 'Degrassi' Lite, dealing with issues like sexual abuse, racism, bullying and cliques. It has a very endearing quality to it, though, because we've all known someone like each of the characters. (Global TV)
No, this is not 'Anne of Green Gables,' though the extension is logical. Written by the same woman who penned the 'Anne' series, 'Road to Avonlea' is filled to the brim with sweetness, life lessons and PEI drama. Starring a pre-teen Sarah Polley, the show is about as earnest you can get. (CBC)
Man, there's Paul Gross again! Talk about your ubiquitous Canadian actor! But all Gross-ribbing aside, only in Canada can you find a TV series based at a fictional Shakespearean festival. The black comedy has some incredible pedigree behind it though, including 'Kids in the Hall' star Mark McKinney and playwright/actress Susan Coyne. (The Sundance Channel)
'The Beachcombers' is the longest-running English-language TV series in Canada at a whopping 18-year stretch. Knowing this, it's almost unbelievable to hear the premise: the show follows a Greek-Canadian log salvager as he works his way up and down the coast of British Columbia, along with his trusty sidekick. They don't have wacky adventures, per se, but they sure get themselves into heaploads of trouble. (CBC)
This is a children's show about a department store mannequin who comes to life after-hours when someone puts a hat on his head. He hangs out with the store designer (a human), the building security guard and a mouse (both puppets), and there's a lot of singing and dancing. Suddenly the kids shows of today don't seem so far-fetched... (TVO)
4. Todd and the Gang got trapped inside of a video game on "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil!" Oh, those crazy kids. What will they get up to next? Whatever it is, a whole lotta people will be watching. The Little Canadian Show That Could just got picked up in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Norway. Go, "Todd!"
5. The "Degrassi" kids headed to Haiti to do some good. "Degrassi" proves it's still head and shoulders above the fluffy "90210"-style teen shows on the air right now by continuing to raise awareness about important issues. "Degrassi in Haiti" debuts Dec. 30 as part of the Much Holiday Wrap.
6. In a surprise move, CTV pulled the plug on "So You Think You Can Dance Canada," in spite of solid ratings and legions of fans across the country. The official explanation? They wanted it to end on a high note. (Inspired by "Seinfeld," perhaps?)
7. Rick Mercer got the entire country talking about teen suicide after his powerful rant on "The Rick Mercer Report" following the suicide of gay Ottawa teen Jamie Hubley. In a subsequent interview, he vowed to be a stronger role model for gay teens and implored fellow gay public figures to follow his lead.
9. Seamus O'Reagan made like Reege and left "Canada AM" to pursue other endeavours. He's since traded morning show cooking segments for a more serious role as a CTV National News correspondent.
10. The Dragons divided and conquered. Stars of "Dragons Den" were everywhere in 2011. Arlene, Kevin and Robert all published new books. Kevin can be seen on everything from "Dragons" to "Shark Tank" to "Redemption Inc." The CBC announced that the Dragons will be hitting the road to interact with entrepreneurs (and possibly give them cashola) in the new show "The Big Decision." And yes, there's even a "Dragon's Den" board game.
11. Canada officially made analog TV a thing of the past. As of August 31, 2011, all Canadian TV stations converted to digital television. (I already miss my TV dial. And channel 1! Thanks a lot, progress!)