Murtz On The Scene: City / Rogers Upfront 2014 – City & Rogers Announce New TV Schedule

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TORONTO – Well, that was different.

Last night at its upfront presentation which (appropriately enough) emanated from the Rogers Centre itself, Rogers presented its Fall primetime programming lineup. Formerly known as the SkyDome and the current home of the Blue Jays, the baseball stadium was coincidentally celebrating its 25th birthday on the same day as it was transformed into a stage for the company’s biggest event of the year.

Everything was different starting with the fact that the presentation was taking place in the outfield of a baseball stadium. Rogers also spared no expense in providing free baseball tickets to all of the media members and ad buyers in attendance to Mondays Blue Jays game against the Minnesota Twins and even opened up the bullpen to allow attendees to practice their best pitch (just as Rogers made theirs to ad buyers).

The theme that resonated throughout the day was that Rogers was now both a destination for sports and a hub for quality entertainment content. After securing the rights to broadcast National Hockey League games seemingly forever in a $5.2 billion deal last year, there was a lot of speculation about who would stay and who would go in the new the Rogers regime. Tuesday’s presentation addressed those questions as Jim Hughson, Dave Randorf, Paul Romanuk and the ageless Bob Cole were announced as the core play-by-play team.

The presentation itself featured many highlights including an impassioned opening address from Rogers President Keith Pelley who announced that the evening’s game against the Blue Jays and Tigers would air until its duration (luckily the game was being played in Michigan and not in the Rogers Centre during the party).

As for the channel’s new primetime lineup, there weren’t really many new additions. City only added four new titles.

Scorpion, a CBS drama about Walter O’Brien and his team of misfits who serve as the last line of defense against high-tech threats of the modern age. O’Brien’s “Scorpion” team includes an expert behaviourist who can read anyone, a mechanical prodigy and a statistics guru.

Backstrom, a promising mid-season drama features Dwight Schrute like you have never seen him before as Rainn Wilson plays Everett Backstrom, a detective who is brought back from exile to run the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Crimes Unit. Think House meets CSI. In any event, the sizzle reel played at the presentation was met with a great reception.

In the comedy department, City fills its elusive post-Modern Family hole with Black-ish, the story of Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson a thriving family man who appears to have achieved this success as the cost of disassociating himself from his heritage. With the help of his dad, the family attempts to establish a sense of cultural identity that honours their past while also embracing their future.

Finally, the show that I am looking the most forward to in the new season is Utopia. The FOX reality series is one that has been discussed for many months and sees 15 individuals (all with a specific skill set), spending one full year of their lives to build an entirely new society from scratch. It’s a natural fit for City as it seems like a longer Project Guatemala to me. While the competitive element to the show seems to be missing, there are too many brilliant reality minds (Jon Kroll from Big Brother and Conrad Green from Dancing With The Stars) behind the show for it to fail.

FX Canada also features two new programs in the upcoming season. The Strain is the brainchild of Guillermo del Toro and examines vampirism through a viral outbreak. Tyrant looks especially compelling and is the story of an average American family drawn into the Middle East’s unrest. The comparisons to Homeland will be both plentiful and on point.

The day was certainly successful for Keith Pelley, Scott Moore and Hayden Mindell, but the difference between it and the previous Rogers presentations of yesteryear cannot be understated. Last year, Rogers paraded Lauren Ash (Super Fun Night), James Wolk (The Crazy Ones), and Ray Zahab (Project Guatemala) on stage. This year, it was new Bachelor Tim Warmels, Montreal defenceman PK Subban and a minor-league hockey player. With that said, if things work out for City… being able to appeal to a male demographic with its sports-heavy content while attracting female viewers with its steady line-up of Scandal, Revenge and The Mindy Project certainly seems like a good plan… on paper.


Murtz & The Bachelor Canada’s Tim Warmels

Murtz Jaffer is the world's foremost reality television expert and was the host of Reality Obsessed which aired on the TVTropolis and Global Reality Channels in Canada. He has professional writing experience at the Toronto Sun, National Post, TV Guide Canada, and was a former producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada. He was also the editor at