Anyway, minding my own business when a tweet from someone I follow came up. It was to promote the The Book of Negro, the CBC miniseries based on Lawrence Hill's bestselling novel. Great novel, by the way, buy it or borrow it from your local library and read it if you haven't yet. Hill has captured a piece of Canada's past that we rarely see, and in a very refreshing voice. I replied to the tweet, commenting that it's a great thing about the mini-series, but I wished that there were more adaptations of Canadian novels on Canadian TV. Sure, we have Anne of Green Gables and its myriad of sequels, prequels and parodies (I'm looking at you Beaver Creek from Made In Canada), a short season of Douglas Coupland's j-Pod and last year we had the miniseries Klondike, partially based on Charlotte Gray's book Gold Diggers.
But when you compare Canadian TV with TV from other countries, like the US, the UK, Scandinavian countries, we are falling behind. The US is producing shows like Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Mad Men, The Wire, Breaking Bad, True Detective and many others. The UK has a wide range of fantastic TV especially with crime fiction. It seems almost every single British, Scottish, Welsh (and Irish) crime writer has had their novels adapted into a TV series (Yes, I'm envious, I'll admit that). And let's not forget Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge and the hilarious Episodes (it's a British/American co-production). Sweden is like the UK, great crime fiction shows like The Bridge, Wallander, The Killing, shows so good that they've been adapted into versions for other markets.
Because of these kinds of productions, many are saying we are in a new Golden Age of TV. That TV is overtaking Hollywood in great storytelling and characters. Big time movie actors are moving away from the big screen and looking to the little one. And they are correct; it is the Golden Age of TV. But in Canada, not so much. We have a few decent shows but compared to these other countries, we are soley lacking. And I'm not the first to say this.
So back to my tweet in which I complained about the lack of Canadian broadcasters and productions companies looking to Canadian stories, possible Canadian novels to create a Golden Age of Canadian TV. I figured that since we have such an incredible and successful literary scene, not just with Canlit, but with crime, sci-fi and fantasy, it would make sense for Canadian TV to reflect some of that. Of course, I didn't get all that into my tweet but it was my thinking behind it.
The response to my tweet suggested I use my voice to speak out, to convince or make broadcasters think about adapting already successful Canadian stories into Canadian TV. And at first, I was defensive saying I have only a small voice. Who's gonna listen to me? Some reality TV blogger who writes crime novels. But after I finished folding the laundry, I realized that what the heck, why can't I say something? I'm a writer and it won't take me long to make my point in a semi-readable fashion.
So the point is this: CBC has produced a mini-series based on the Canadian novel, The Book of Negros. The first episode airs tonight (Wed. January 7). And if you think, like me, that it's time for Canadian to have its own Golden Age of TV and that adapting Canadian novels for TV is a great idea, then watch it. Even if you don't think that, watch it anyway. Reality TV like Amazing Race Canada is great and all, but The Book of Negros is truly a Canadian story, written in Canada by a Canadian writer about the history of Canada. Doesn't get better than that.