Celebrate Canada Day with ‘Degrassi,’ ‘Dragon’s Den,’ and other iconic programs

Dragon's DenOver the past several years, it’s become a hot trend among broadcast and even cable networks to bring in some Canadian programming to America as a way to fill new slots. While some of it (“Rookie Blue,” “Lost Girl”) is strong, there are also plenty others that most viewers have come to ignore and for good reason.

However, what we want to do on this fine Canada Day is focus on what we feel are five great iconic Canadian TV programs that whether you are in Canada, America, or around the globe, you really should know about. Some of these you are probably familiar with, some of these you may not be at all.

“Dragon’s Den” (2006-present) – While this is not the first version of the show in a format that has expanded globally, it is basically one that could be seen as a direct precursor to “Shark Tank.” There are some differences (as sometimes the product pitches are shorter here and more crammed-in), but this show features Kevin O’Leary and, for the first six seasons, it also had current Shark Robert Herjavec.

The “Degrassi” franchise – This series, which airs primarily today on MuchMusic (broadcast in some American homes, as well), originally started all the way back in 1979 with “The Kids of Degrassi Street” specials. It remains one of Canada’s most-popular shows, and also most-influential when it comes to the way that real-life issues are tackled on high-school shows all around the world.

“Corner Gas” (2004-2009) – Probably the funniest sitcom that many Americans are still discovering. It harkens back to many famous American comedies about rural living, but adds a flavor that is distinctly Canadian and really showcases a unique, crazy world of the only gas station for miles in Saskatchewan. What we are most surprised about is that this show has only really been broadcast in the U.S. on WGN America, but it would have a commercial appeal that could do really well, given that its style is similar somewhat to “My Name Is Earl” and “Scrubs” not when it comes to the content, but to the scene structure and lack of a laugh track.

“The Kids in the Hall” (1988-1994) – Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald were among the actors that saw their careers launched in part on this sketch show, which was based on a troupe that they had started up years prior. What really made this show so distinct came via its daring nature, and that these actors were willing to try anything to get a laugh.

“SCTV” (1976-1984) – Otherwise known as “Second City Television,” this is easily one of the shows that also influenced “Saturday Night Live,” and vice-versa. The lineup of actors to appear on this show is beyond impressive: John Candy, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, and Andrea Martin all exploded as a result of their work on this show.

What are some of your favorite Canadian television shows? Leave us a comment and have a very happy Canada Day!

Photo: CBC

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