Man Kicking Dog Dominates Canadian Golden Age TV Debate

The country's leading TV critic took Canada's top-rated broadcaster to task after being accused of not letting sleeping dogs lie.

TORONTO -- Such are the niceties of Canadian TV that the country's premier critic on Thursday felt the need to tell Canada's top broadcaster that no animals are harmed during the assembly of his newspaper columns.

Not even those asking why Canadian dramas have gone missing from TV's new golden age.

"I heard you suggested I kick my dog," The Globe and Mail TV critic John Doyle asked Bell Media president Kevin Crull stage-side at the Ritz Carlton after the broadcaster appeared to suggest as much a half hour earlier during a Canadian TV panel debate.

"John Doyle must be a pretty miserable guy," Crull told a Banff Industry Day gathering, allowing a faint laugh to emerge from his lips.

The thing was, a lot of other people gathered at the Ritz Carlton -- representing a who's who of Canadian TV -- laughed much louder and applauded.

"I wonder if he goes home and kicks his dog. It's really sad," Crull added, before launching into a full-throated defense of Canadian drama.

"In the entire history of Hollywood, the biggest original content machine there has ever been, there has only been a handful of Sopranos and Breaking Bads and Homelands," he argued.

Crull then pointed to the vast output of Canadian indie producers connecting with mainstream audiences.

"Edgy appeals to a certain audience. But there are family audiences that don't want to see sex and gore. They want to be entertained in many ways," he added.

That's where Crull and Doyle part company, as evidenced by their exchange after the panel.

Doyle insisted he had a right as a critic to single out "mediocrity" in Canadian TV, by now standing with The Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse at his side in support.

Crull, while insisting with a broad smile that he meant no malice by his earlier characterization of Doyle's dog-handling habits, questioned whether his TV taste-making role was needed at all.

Surely it was the market and a broadcaster's direct relationship with its own audience that should decide what viewers will ultimately watch, he insisted.

"I just spoke to him (Crull) & he was dismissive of ALL newspaper writing, pretty much + he doesn't read me & hence his misunderstanding," Doyle wrote on his Twitter account after the critic-broadcaster exchange.

All this brought home a Canadian TV industry that comforts itself when critics and TV viewers are abuzz with its TV shows, and juried trophies are handed out as this week during the Canadian Screen Awards to put local producers on par with Hollywood, but they get more than a touch prickly over criticism.