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CBC axes ‘Davinci’s,’ ‘Wonderland’
TORONTO (CP) – Da Vinci’s City Hall, The Tournament and This Is Wonderland, three of CBC’s critically acclaimed but low-rated series, will not be renewed, a spokeswoman for the public broadcaster confirmed Monday.
Da Vinci’s season finale is scheduled for Feb. 28 and Wonderland’s on March 15. The hockey comedy The Tournament has already wrapped up its second year.
“These are three programs that CBC believed in and attached significant resources to,” said Ruth-Ellen Soles. “Unfortunately the audiences for all three have been in steady decline and did not resonate with Canadians. These decisions are always difficult but they had to be made.”
Wonderland kicked off its third season last November with high hopes. Created by George F. Walker, Dani Romain and Bernard Zukerman, it starred Cara Pifko as Alice De Raey, a novice Toronto lawyer who has her eyes opened to the realities of practising law in the crowded, manic criminal courts housed at Old City Hall.
Last October, after seven seasons under the helm of creator-writer Chris Haddock, Da Vinci’s Inquest morphed into Da Vinci’s City Hall.
Nicholas Campbell’s crusading chief coroner Dominic Da Vinci proved he could master the political ropes and won election as mayor of Vancouver, in much the same manner as the series’ inspiration and consultant, former mayor Larry Campbell who is now a Liberal senator.
While the public broadcaster has often indicated that its Canadian cultural mandate is more important than ratings, it’s clear that ratings matter a lot. Soles says Da Vinci had been averaging 394,000 viewers, Wonderland 376,000 and Tournament 268,000.
Da Vinci had lost about 40 per cent of its audience from its high point a few years ago.
ACTRA, the actors union, condemned the cancellations as short-sighted and “a startling display of incompetence by irresponsible CBC brass.”
“CBC management is punishing these shows for a decline in ratings – a decline clearly brought on by its own brutal decision to lock out 5,000 professional workers last fall,” says Stephen Waddell, ACTRA national executive director.
But Soles dismissed any connection to the lockout and subsequent delayed season launch. She said the numbers decline had started well before that.
“It’s a shame because they’re terrific programs. It just doesn’t seem to be what Canadian viewers want to watch,” she says.
“We’re in continuing discussions now regarding all of the arts and entertainment programming, everything.”
The CBC has reportedly ordered 13 episodes of Intelligence, a new series based on Haddock’s recent Vancouver-produced CBC-TV movie. In addition, negotiations are under way for a TV movie spinoff of Da Vinci, similar to what happened when the North of 60 series was cancelled.