Hockey: A People’s Middling Interest

I was surprised by the so-so ratings for Hockey: A People’s History last Sunday, well short of the 800,000 goal Stursberg set for documentaries.

Sure, the thing was schmaltzy. But hockey is a drama played out with broad strokes. There’s no place for angst. Have you seen these people? More importantly, have you seen their t-shirts?

Going up against the Canadian Idol finale surely had something to do with it. And then the Amazing Race after that. I thought Kirstine Layfield was some kind of crack scheduler?

Or maybe those who like hockey are not so crazy about history? And Wayne Gretzky is a historian now? Most of the hockeyheads I know didn’t even know it was on, despite the heavy promotion.

Feeling a little Canada-ed out by yet another metaphor for why hockey is Canada, I tuned in to Idol just in time to catch Ben Mulroney explaining how Idol was quintessentially Canadian, and how that made him proud of this great land, and his show.

Now that Idol is finished, Hockey: A People’s History will do just fine.

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted September 24, 2006 at 8:26 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Re-enactments. Get used to them Johnny. There’s going to be a lot more of them when the CBC shuts down its film transfer facility to rent out the 7th floor.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted September 21, 2006 at 6:55 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    well perhaps people are just plain sick of hockey and yet ANOTHER documentary on the friggin’ royal family…move on folks….lets stop living in the past…we ain’t a colony anymore…get over it…no wonder nobody’s watching.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 8:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “…hockey is a drama played out with broad strokes. There’s no place for angst. Have you seen these people? More importantly, have you seen their t-shirts?”

    Oh, really?

    I’ve had it up to here (I’m pointing at my forehead) with CBCers who disdain sports, particularly hockey. I’ve worked at the TBC for years, and am still constantly amazed at the little blue-collar, high-school educated box people reserve for sports.

    Hockey is a complex, dramatic and, yes, sometimes subtle sport rich in history and tradition. And it touches millions of Canadians’ lives, from the beer-guzzling Neanderthals to grad students trying to deconstruct Foucault.

    So it’s not the subject matter that’s at fault here. Ken Burns’ Baseball is simply one of the best doc series in the history of television, and if he’d done hockey, it would be just as good.

    Problem is, Ken Burns didn’t do this. Starowicz did, and he decided to give hockey the ‘A People’s History’ treatment and turn it into the same plodding, boring melange of Grade 8 history we had to endure as kids.

    I could see it coming a mile away. Unfortunately.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 1:59 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Or maybe, just maybe, the CBC saw it as an easy ratings getter and the public saw through it and reacted negatively. It could also be that the public doesn’t trust CBC programming – especially of late it seems to be someone in program development’s job to check scripts for originality and creativity and make sure it is removed before airtime.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted September 20, 2006 at 5:40 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Holy crap, I never thought someone could make hockey boring, but Mark has succeeded.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 8:26 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    No comment on Mulroney the Younger’s remarks. At least none that can remain civil…

  7. Anonymous
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 8:24 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Why not call a spade a spade? Or a stick a stick? It was a wonderful production but it was BORING. Period.
    And I say this as someone who loves hockey, loves documentaries and works at the CBC…

  8. Johnny Happypants
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 3:46 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I turned it off at the first America’s-Most-Wanted-meets-Pioneer-Village re-enactment. Yes, that was pretty early on.

  9. Green
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 11:16 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m finding this all a bit depressing. Are we actually becoming Americans? Hmmm. We prefer American television shows; our soldiers are no longer peace makers; our Prime Minister is …

    Nah! That’s not it at all. Everyone taped the Hockey programme. Yeah, that’s what happened. Right?

  10. Anonymous
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 8:33 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    people watch CBC?

  11. Classic
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 8:31 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    _Hockey is a winter sport. WINTER sport. My calendar says that it is still Summer.

  12. P
    Posted September 19, 2006 at 7:30 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m not sure about that. It’s also up against The Amazing Race (followed by Desperate Housewives), the Simpsons, and feature movies on three networks. And for the sports crowd, that timeslot already has NFL football.


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