Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saying goodbye to How I Met Your Mother (sort of)

This was supposed to be a much more special post. Like a Top 5 with fun pictures, a quick brag about the time I met Ranjit, or a really long and sad eulogy for How I Met Your Mother, as I am wont to write every time a beloved long-running show ends.

But I just don't have it in me right now. I love writing more than anything, and I still love watching TV, but it's been a long few weeks at work and I've been pretty busy. But if there's anything I've learned from nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, it's that growing up sucks, but we all have to do it in some way or another. We all at some point end up working with a Sandy Rivers or a Hammond Druthers, or we have to clean up a mess we made, or we have to admit that we're too old for this... stuff. It happens. But it's not always so terrible (unlike a few episodes from season 6 and 7.)

So, thanks, HIMYM, or as I've called you for the last nine seasons, "Ted." It's been a good run. Maybe someday when I have enough time, I'll sit down and write you something real.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pitching a new Hockey Night In Canada


I should be so excited about George Stroumboulopoulos hosting Hockey Night in Canada next season. He's smart, relaxed, and well-rounded. He loves hockey but he's proven that he can talk about pretty much anything. He's my favourite person on Canadian TV. (No offense, surly police chief on Murdoch Mysteries.) I'd hate to see his talents wasted on a broadcast that won't grow with him, flanked by a bunch of guys that I am far less excited to watch on a regular basis.

It doesn't have to be that way. I just wish I worked for CBC so I could pitch the new and improved HNIC.

First of all, there isn't really a need for a show to have five anchors. Five anchors? FIVE? That's too many. American Idol couldn't even deal with two hosts! Remember Brian Dunkleman? No? Exactly. So instead of five dudes at a desk, let me present:

Hockey Night In Canada, hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos and Andi Petrillo
Petrillo's promotion also comes with two perks: a better stylist, and the respect she deserves. She's great at her current job, but she can do so much more, and deserves to. I really liked her anchoring during the Olympics, so we have proof that she can do it. A hosting job would be a great use of her on-camera skills and knowledge, while giving her some authority so she doesn't have to talk over people just to be heard. Strombo can share hosting duties with her because he'll help loosen up the show and make it more relevant to hockey fans. (Or those like me, at least, who don't own camouflage T-shirts with Don Cherry's face on them.)

They'll talk to a rotating panel of analysts. Elliotte Friedman, senior analyst, will be a fixture, and the other two spots will rotate between a team of people who actually do things when they're not on the air. (More on that later.) The new panel will stay fresh in two ways:
- Viewers won't get tired of seeing the same boring faces every week, and the show might actually give people something to discuss, rather than hate-watch;
- If one of the analysts says something tasteless, irrelevant, or offensive, they're done for the night. Maybe replaced with a puppet that looks like them, depending on how Andi and Strombo feel about puppets.
Like this, but a bit more Muppety
Strombo's interviewing skills can be put to good use by having him pre-tape a weekly interview with an important figure in hockey, like a current or former coach, or a legendary player. It can air during intermissions (leaving less time for idle chatter) or before the show kicks off. If Charles Barkley can interview Barack Obama before the NBA All-Star Game, surely CBC can allow a pre-taped interview with Marie-Philip Poulin or Paul Henderson on HNIC.
...but with less Ron McLean
I'd like to see more women on the show. There will be a few minutes to recap the week in the CWHL or international women's hockey tournaments. As I said in my Olympics post, there's a lot of great female talent out there that can be put to use. Give me any of the women's hockey analysts over Glenn Healy. If they're not at the analyst desk or reporting in-game, they can be part of a team that does (actual good) human interest stories. People make a huge deal out of the whole Hockeyville thing - what if more community rinks got more screen time, or profiles of everyday people who make rinks in their backyards, or who use hockey as a way to raise money for great causes? A short weekly segment that puts the spotlight on regular Canadians would make things interesting, would probably be really popular with viewers in small-town areas, and could easily nab a big sponsor.

Get someone new and interesting to anchor the iDesk. Don't put Jeff Marek back there, as hilarious as that would be. Get someone who's dynamic, who cares about the Internet and thinks it's interesting, and can make it sound interesting on TV.

And, finally, I know you're wondering what I'd do with Coach's Corner. It's getting a makeover. We don't need a full seven minutes of a weird old man saying whatever he wants, because Drunk Uncle is a character on SNL. Instead, it will be replaced by...
Coach's Dunk Tank
Yes, Don Cherry is like a thousand years old and it would be rude to drop him in a pool full of cold water. All he has to do is get through his segment without massacring a player's name, or saying something racist, or trying to invent new words, and he'll stay dry. If he makes a major misstep, he's going in that water.

It's nice to see HNIC hosted by someone who's on my side. With any luck, the entire show will be as good as the musical montages.