How did Still Life make it to air on CBC?

CBC TELEVISION PRESENTS THE TWO-HOUR CRIME MYSTERY STILL LIFE: A THREE PINES MYSTERY, BASED ON THE INTERNATIONAL BEST-SELLING NOVEL BY LOUISE PENNY

CBC Television Mystery - Still Life

CBC Television Mystery – Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery, based a Louise Penny novel

The Star listed this in its Sunday “worth watching” television lookahead, and I bit. It looked promising—just the kind of thing the public broadcaster ought to be doing. Big mistake.

I’m no TV critic (I leave that ugly chore to John Doyle) but is this really the best the CBC can do? Really? Of course, the CBC didn’t produce this shambling trainwreck of a two-hour pilot, not actually. “PDM Entertainment and Attraction Images (formerly Cirrus Communications) in association with CBC” did, according to the promotional material. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe getting the CBC out of production and exclusively into commissioning back in 1984 was a huge mistake. Maybe, under this system, nobody gives a damn about quality. Where do you pin the blame for a slipshod, phone-it-in piece of work like this? Who’s responsible? The Media Fund? The producers? CBC execs?

Watch any episode of Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, Inspector Lynely or just about any other character-driven U.K.-produced police procedural and put it up against Still Life and ask yourself: is there a single area of production—casting, staging, acting, editing, music, direction, writing—a single area in which the Canadian production comes even close to matching the British product?

Is this kind of comparison fair? By casting Nathaniel Parker of the BBC’s Lynely series as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the producers invited it. Parker himself talked of the projected series of adaptations as being “Canada’s Morse“. And why shouldn’t Canadians expect the very best? We know we’ve got the talent.

So how did such an incompetent piece of work ever make it to air? Who’s responsible? Who should we blame? Just asking…