There are some TV producers who have such a strong track record that you look forward to any show they’re involved with (they may not always turn out to be great, but you at least expect them to be worthwhile). I think Mark McKinney has become one of those as far as I’m concerned; after Slings and Arrows and Less Than Kind, not to mention Kids in the Hall, I assume that a show he has some role in creating or producing will be worth watching.
Which is why my interest in the Comedy Network’s upcoming show, a sketch comedy vehicle for the Halifax comedy group Picnicface, increased considerably when I read that McKinney has signed on as an executive producer. The press release even gives him the title of “Showrunner,” a title that is rare in Canada — whether officially or unofficially — but seems to be getting slightly more common as networks (and production companies) start to understand the importance of having someone who can write for the show and make big decisions about it, since it’s hard to separate those two functions in a good show.
Not that McKinney is solely responsible for Slings and Arrows (for which he was one of several creators) or Less Than Kind (which he didn’t create). But his presence, like the great U.S. writer-producers, has become a sign that the show will be interesting. It’s a sign of slow progress when you can be intrigued by the choice of showrunner, and the show is a home-grown product.