Made in Canada ran for five seasons on CBC from 1998-2003. Internationally, the show was known as The Industry. The half-hour program served as a comedic self-reflection on the Canadian television industry. The series mocked the shoestring budgets of Canadian productions and the difficulty of being a small country producer in an international marketplace. While the first season was a dark satire, the program soon shifted to be a workplace sitcom for the remainder of its run.
The show focuses on the fictional Pyramid Productions and its employees. Pyramid makes terrible television, but in a financially lucrative way. It’s two main programs The Sword of Damacles (a fictional mythological adventure series) and Beaver Creek (a fictional period drama) are parodies of earlier popular programs. In the season one episode “A Death in the Family'', beloved Beaver Creek actor Walter Franklin dies after a botched hair transplant surgery. Franklin (played by Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent) had returned to Canada after being blacklisted in the US but felt that he was not getting the acclaim or work he deserved. Reflecting on what Canada means to him, Franklin proclaimed “It means no money, it means no audience, it means do it on the cheap”. This sense of the Canadian industry being in a perpetual losing battle to its southern neighbour permeates the program.
Made in Canada also speaks to the difficulty in accessing older television and raises questions about how programs are remembered. While on the air, the program was popular and critically well-received, winning 10 Gemini awards. However, it is currently largely inaccessible. Josef Adalian argues that older programs that weren’t blockbusters are often unappealing to streaming services. Along with access we also need to consider how programs get circulated and remembered. In 2002 the first season was released on DVD but has since gone out of print, though has been uploaded to YouTube by some users. As mentioned, the program underwent a strong tonal shift after season one. However, with those seasons being inaccessible, the program remains as this satire rather than the sitcom that it ended up being. Issues of access and archives raise questions about which shows remain in the public conciousness and how they are remembered.
Almost too dark for Canada.
Thanks for recalling this genre-bending--workplace comedy, satire, sit-com?--gem from Canadian television. I remember this show being incredibly smart, but almost being too dark in its biting satire; as both comedy and social commentary, it nicely critiqued Hollywood and the very own network on which it was aired: CBC.
The Industry is Canada's long-forgotten version of The Office and The Newsroom, combined.
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