Ratings losersNov 14th, 2010 | By Coco Cabrera | Category: Arts
News is just now reaching the outside world that The Gemini Awards, Canada's annual celebration of television from two years ago, were held somewhere in Toronto on Saturday.
The awards, generally ignored, are this year embroiled in controversy as the winner in the category, “Best Show, Any” is made by a small, artisanal production company in Nova Scotia that distributes its programs individually on Betamax tape. Haddock House's “Uncle Frank Doing That Retarded Thing He Does” is dubbed from a Betamax master onto individual tapes and mailed to viewers, bubble-wrapped, in large envelopes. “We've been hand-making television successfully for years,” says Haddock House's founder and sole tape dubber, Charlie MacDonald. “Just because people want to see the show doesn't change that. Great Canadian telev
ision isn't about audiences.”
But the producers of the Geminis are upset that the winning show won't be made available to more viewers. “There are many hundreds of Canadians who would like to watch this show,” said President of the Canadian Television Academy, Kyle Bosco. “It should be on the CBC.”
Television critic Teya Huedellot said of “the Uncle Frank tape”, “It's a homemade document of somebody doing something degrading and humiliating themselves. In that way it is proto-Youtube, it's the ur-viral. And it's the kind of thing the kids are watching so it hits all the right demographics.” Chatter that the tape has drawn the interest of an American Network who are considering a spin-off has generated considerable jealousy in the Canadian industry.
There was also concern about the use of the term “retarded” in the show's title. The term is now widely regarded as offensive. “Yes, at first I was very worried,” said Bosco, “then I watched the tape and there is no other word for that thing Uncle Frank does.” Bosco agreed that the tape was very funny and merited its honour. “I peed in my pants a little,” said Bosco.