Jolts: The TV Wasteland and the Canadian Oasis


139 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88862-649-5





Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


This polemic is not only vastly argumentative but also superficially persuasive. Wolfe is a good writer, but he supplies little hard evidence. What he does give are quotations just about everywhere, but none of them are sourced: they are attributed to a person or to a report but they are not referenced to the original document. Who knows what got taken out of context? For this Wolfe loses print credibility.

He gives a basic survey of the emptiness of television, choosing to emphasize the “entertainment” shows rather than the news, drama on documentaries. The kernel is to be found on pages 101-102 (here I am referencing my source): “Canadian television tends to be more realistic (and satirical), American more idealistic (and cynical).” And then he goes on to explain this, over and over again, concluding with a list of recommendations that read as if they were part and parcel of a submission to a government investigative committee. He calls for more media criticism; more money for the CBC; a CBC2 (for serious shows) with more drama, education, public affairs; and more regional news reports and reporters. Admirable stuff, but it is all for the CBC. Wolfe has little material on the private CTV network, or on educational television in general. Worth reading if you want to get mad at the vacuousness of commercial television entertainment.


Wolfe, Morris, “Jolts: The TV Wasteland and the Canadian Oasis,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,