It shouldn't surprise anyone that the biggest program on CBC's fall schedule is devoted to the great Canadian game. Running slightly more than 10 hours, Hockey: A People's History charts the history of the game from its first wobbly steps to the slick professional sports-ballet it is today. The series mixes clips of key moments, re-creations of momentous occasions that pre-date film, and the standard talking heads who wax philosophical about our national pastime. Airing over the next two months, Hockey: A People's History requires strict weekly commitment to fully chronicle the growth of the game -- though for once viewers aren't likely to complain.
(CBC, Sunday, 8 p.m.)
The opening episode weaves through the rumours and legends behind hockey's origins -- which have long been shrouded in myth and regionalism -- to uncover the first origins of hockey in Canada in the late 1800s.
Best moments: The historical reenactments of the first games played on frozen ponds.
(CBC, Sunday, 9 p.m.)
Covering the period from 1900 to 1914, when hockey became a professional affair. It was the era when shrewd businessmen swooped in to sign the best players and began charging for attendance at arenas.
Best moments: Archival film clips of families skating on the Rideau Canal, circa 1900.
(CBC, Sept. 24, 8 p.m.)
A full episode covering the germination of the women's game and the establishment of the NHL during the First World War. The program also details how American audiences started to fall in love with hockey.
Best moments: Footage of the Montreal Canadiens, led by superstars Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat, playing the first NHL game in New York.
(CBC, Sept. 24, 9 p.m.)
A chronicle of the two growth decades leading up to the end of the Second World War, this episode also shows how the game kept growing while the country was in the grip of the Great Depression.
Best moments: Footage of young Rocket Richard in his rookie season early years.
(CBC, Oct. 1, 8 p.m.)
How the first real first hockey legends -- Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe -- pushed hockey into the national obsession it remains today.
Best moments: Two more servings of Rocket Richard -- first, scoring his 325th career goal, and also appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show.
(CBC, Oct. 1, 9 p.m.)
The bulk of this episode is dedicated to the lively 1960s rivalry between Montreal and Toronto (one team or the other played in nine out of 10 Cup finals that decade). The episode closes the '60s with the arrival of Bobby Orr, the player considered by many as the greatest to ever play the game.
Best moments: Images of a teenaged Jean Beliveau skating with the Quebec Aces.
(CBC, Oct. 8, 8 p.m.)
A whirlwind tour through the chaotic '70s, when the NHL was threatened briefly with the arrival of the upstart WHA. There is also considerable screen time devoted to the 1972 Summit Series.
Best moments: Rare WHA game footage, including Bobby Hull challenging an opponent to a fight.
(CBC, Oct. 8, 9 p.m.)
The game steps up the pace in the '80s with the arrival of Wayne Gretzky and other high-scoring superstars. Also: A look at the continued growth of women's hockey.
Best moments: On-ice game action from the first national women's championship. And a truly bizarre TV moment as former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington sings with Ronnie Hawkins.
(CBC, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m.)
The further expansion of the NHL into the U.S. and the failure of some Canadian franchises, including Quebec and Winnipeg.
Best moments: The first famous female goalie, Manon Rheaume, plays in an NHL game and even appears on Late Night with David Letterman.
(CBC, Oct. 15, 9 p.m.)
How the game has survived rocky times in recent years, and a look at the prospects for its future. Also: The ups and downs of the Canadian hockey team in Olympic competition.
Best Moments: Mario Lemieux's goal in his comeback game.
FULL PROGRAM LISTINGS: SEE GLOBEANDMAIL.COM/ARTS