Sunday, October 17, 2004

MOVIE NIGHT IN CANADA

Well, all I will say about it is: it sucked. But I got through it. I survived. I imagine lots of other people did, too. But it did not feel normal. In October I usually feel like flipping the channels between the baseball playoffs and Hockey Night in Canada. Last night, I was flipping the channel looking in vain for any entertainment, because the movies were boring and the baseball game was a total waste.

I keep joking about the coast being clear for me to chase girls on Saturday nights now, but even that won't be the same. Think about it: I'd go to some bar trying to pick up a girl on a Saturday night, and there won't be any hockey games playing on the TV in the bar! So I won't even be able to strike up a conversation with her about the hockey game on TV! Another potential romance down the tubes. Saturday nights are ruined. We're now culturally no different from the United States when it comes to Saturday nights now.

I checked out Movie Night in Canada on CBC at 7PM and there was Ron MacLean standing with two guys wearing Red Wings jerseys at a hockey rink, and said briefly of the lockout that "there's nothing we can do about it." Then it was on to a Disney movie- and I proceeded to the remote control along with the rest of the disgusted hockey fans in this country.

In a genius programming decision Kevin Newman hosted a news special on Global on the no-hockey situation. Among other things they discussed how the game was ruined by all those teams being placed in those deep-south American markets, a ridiculous assertion. Expansion actually brought lots of money into the league to help pay the ridiculous salaries of the players! Funny how they talked about how bad things were in Nashville and Atlanta- things seem just fine in Dallas and Tampa Bay. Going down THERE didn't hurt the game.

I completely disagree with people who say NHL expansion is somehow to blame for the NHL's problems and the NHL lockout. It's got nothing to do with expansion, it's just these salaries are completely out of control. Expansion probably saved the NHL's hide for a few years. The problem for the NHL is that there's nowhere left to expand to. All these cities have all the teams they want now, they don't need the NHL. And I don't understand these people who want these existing American cities contracted. They don't seem interested in spreading interest in the game. Well, if this lockout lasts all year, they'll get their contraction, lots of it. So many teams will end up out of business that it won't even be funny.

So Global had their hockey lockout special. On the radio, AM 640 had a rerun of the Leaf playoff win over Ottawa, which was no good because it was a rerun. The baseball game on Fox between the Yankees and the BoSox was one of the biggest blowout embarrassments in the history of the sport, a 19-to-8 massacre. And Saturday Night Live was, well, not live- it was The Best of Jimmy Fallon. It didn't even start on time. So I wound up sticking a tape in the VCR of the last Leaf game at Maple Leaf Gardens, out of sheer desperation.

So Movie Night in Canada was, for everyone, exactly the disaster that everyone expected it would be. I know CBC has been criticized by all these armchair critics for not running classic hockey games, and even the arts community is blasting the CBC for running Hollywood classics instead of home-grown Canadian content (!). But really, it doesn't matter. No matter what the CBC put on the tube, NOTHING would have replaced Hockey Night in Canada and the Ron and Don Show.

The CBC did the best it could last night. Having Ron MacLean introduce movies sure beats putting on a test pattern. It's not the CBC's fault that the NHL dispute has ruined our Saturday nights and our usual routine. So don't blame the CBC for this mess, blame the people who deserve the blame: everyone in the NHL.

Yes, Movie Night in Canada sucked. But it's supposed to suck. And that's why we must put the pressure on the NHL to get a deal done. Because if they don't, our Saturdays will continue to be empty and lifeless and we'll all end up having to find other things to do on Saturday nights. I think we'll learn to get used to the new normal. Heck, we'll have to.

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