The fall TV challenge

It's shaping up to be perhaps the strangest fall TV season launch ever. The U.S. writers' strike threw a giant wrench into the works by shutting down most television production for three months last winter, meaning very few pilots were completed for broadcasters and advertisers to base their 2008-2009 season plans around.

It’s shaping up to be perhaps the strangest fall TV season launch ever. The U.S. writers’ strike threw a giant wrench into the works by shutting down most television production for three months last winter, meaning very few pilots were completed for broadcasters and advertisers to base their 2008-2009 season plans around.

At press time, the threat of another strike by the Screen Actors Guild still lingered, with studios rushing to complete episodes and nets thanking their lucky stars if they had held back launching mid-season shows or kept something in the vault for emergencies.

And on top of the immediate threats lurk the recession and the feared migration of younger viewers to other, smaller screens.

Where does this leave us? With a scaled-back lineup of new shows that’s heavy on reinterpretations of hits from other eras (Knight Rider, 90210) or other countries (Life on Mars, Kath & Kim, Eleventh Hour, The Ex-List), plus the usual complement of what-will-they-think-of-next reality offerings. But there’s a silver lining for Canadian TV producers who have sold homegrown series like Flashpoint, Little Mosque on the Prairie and The Listener to U.S. networks forced to look beyond their usual sources of content. And we found that Canadian broadcasters are coming up with some imaginative ways to keep eyeballs on their screens. Read on for the details in our Fall TV Preview.

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Winning them back

Brands beef up their supporting role

Owning them elsewhere

Cross-country checkup

Survivors, not thrivers

Canadian upfronts

Channelling the demos

The shows

The grid