Among the winners of last night’s Writers’ Guild of Canada Awards, one name might be familiar to Ontarians: Heather Conkie, who won the showrunning award for producing Heartland, preceded her long scriptwriting career by starring in TVOntario shows like Report Canada — which I watched all the time — and Dear Aunt Agnes, which I didn’t watch much. The former is not available online, but the latter is, and man, now I know why I didn’t watch it: the empty-studio feel of the whole thing makes it seem a little scary. It’s the best argument for why shows need laugh tracks:
I don’t know about the experience of other people growing up in other provinces, but I think I was pretty lucky to grow up with the kids’ programming on TVO in the early ’80s. A lot of the original programming was fairly imaginative, and the makers of shows like Today’s Special and Harriet’s Magic Hats understood how appealing fantasy/magic elements are to children. Plus there were various foreign-made cartoons like Dr. Snuggles, Willo the Wisp, and the Japanese-made Fables of the Green Forest, which presented a more realistic view of animals’ lives than we were used to (relatively speaking, I mean; the characters had weird round heads and talked to the wind). It’s not surprising that people who worked on TVO kids’ programming in that era have gone on to successful national careers.
Update: A commenter corrects me: “‘Harriet’s Magic Hats’ was an Alberta creation, not a TVO one.”
By the way, as a child, when trying to figure out which country “Green Forest” was from, I guessed Yugoslavia. So my geographical understanding of animation wasn’t great.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.