From its macho posturing to its florid announcers, the sport of hockey is ripe for a friendly lampooning. Imagine if the Sklar twins from ESPN’s Cheap Seats were to riff on the boys with scrubby beards face-washing each other after the play during the NHL final. Or if comedian Kathleen Madigan were to present a woman’s view of the pomp and circumlocution – that would be a concept worth watching. Hey, how ‘bout Raj Binder at This Hour Has 22 Minutes getting all sweaty about the skaters?
Unfortunately CBC’s simulcast While the Men Watch is not that show. Exactly what kind of show it is supposed to be and who it’s meant to appeal to is lost in the mists of some CBC programmer’s mind. ( The View meets Bridesmaids?) It can only be said that in the annals of misbegotten CBC concepts, While the Men Watch occupies a very deep trench all its own.
Apparently, the show’s Super Bowl simulcast drew a whopping 2,000 viewers, so you can see why the tall foreheads at CBC recognized it as the next big thing in reality programming. Imagine the staff meeting of non-scripted creative minds. “Why not do the same for the jewel of our network’s programming, the Stanley Cup final? As an alternative, like? And if it fails, no one’s going to complain about Ron MacLean for a long, long time…” Did any of these people actually watch While the Men Watch or was the chick name enough to titillate their spidey senses?
We didn’t set out to hate the concept. Seeing two sorta’ hockey fans give a female spin could be a hoot in the hands and tongues of a couple of witty Kristen Wiigs. Especially as the 2012 Stanley Cup final is about as compelling as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s weight-loss drive. Sadly, we were left with the duo of Lena and Jules (Lena Sutherland and Jules Mancuso), whose idea of sparkling repartee on the simulcast Saturday was asking whether listeners would prefer a full Brazilian depilatory (“mowing the lawn”) or licking the inside of Drew Doughty’s protective cup.
There was more – much, much more – of this Jersey (Devil) Shore banter over three endless hours of watching the hosts prattle on while also trying to follow the game in a split screen on CBC.ca. (The hosts kept mangling the site ID). There was an on-set moderator who did her best to drum up Internet chatter about straddling strangers at a party while your significant other watched. Mercifully, she failed.
As a mortified on-set CBC producer watched in stunned disbelief, he might have wondered, as we did, what were the rehearsals like? Did no one in authority at what’s left of CBC Sports not recognize that the concept was unready and required, say, 20 years of rehearsal? That the women foisting themselves on the public are singularly unremarkable beyond their gender and devoid of wit? That maybe polluting the entire CBC network in a PR blitz last week impugns the reputations of people with real integrity and talent?
Put another way, would CBC promote, program and perpetuate Andrew Dice Clay or Denis Leary lampooning Coronation Street and its fans with a sewer stream of sexual innuendo and putdowns? Of course not. But it’s okay to rip male hockey fans. This car-crash concept is what a hockey program looks to programmers who condescend to the sport, who loathe the millions who watch the sport regularly – but who are always happy to cash the cheques it brings in.
It was an eventful weekend for Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays. As reported on The Globe and Mail’s website, after playing against the Boston Red Sox in the afternoon, the third baseman was among the first to break the story of the tragic shootings at the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. “Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in eaton center mall,” he tweeted. “… Wow just sprinted out of the mall ... Through traffic ...” Followed by, “People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were ... Wow wow wow.”
In all, Langley, B.C.-born Lawrie tweeted five times about the shooting. His description alerted many to the chaos within the shopping centre.
His other media dabbling earlier in the day didn’t go over quite as well. In a postgame scrum, Lawrie ripped teammate Kyle Drabek for his pitching performance Saturday afternoon. Lawrie chided Drabek for not getting ahead of hitters. “I can’t emphasize enough getting strike one over. … You get down in the count, you have to serve stuff up, and sure enough, they hit balls hard.”
Sportsnet analyst Gregg Zaun was unimpressed. “I don’t think it’s that point in his career yet,” Zaun said Sunday before the Toronto-Boston game. “I think that, behind closed doors, you want to be a guy who’s willing to challenge your teammates to be responsible … but in my opinion probably not the time in his career to be commenting on the pitching staff.”
Meanwhile, Drabek was not talking on Sunday.