Here's a new entry in the annals of inanity on Canadian TV – Your Morning.
The daily three-hour show, launched this week as a replacement for the long, long-standing Canada AM, is in its early days. Finding its feet. Trying to get it right. Trying to be engaging.
It's a tough task, this engaging thing. Getting people hooked on your version of the morning experience and prepping for the day ahead is not easily done. There are existing models, mind you. Turn on most commercial radio in the morning and you're listening to a bunch of people laughing hysterically at one another's lame witticisms and, in general, being obnoxious. That's why a lot of those shows have the word "zoo" in the title.
City's Breakfast Television tends to follow this model. There's an air of hysteria about the show that would give you a splitting headache if you watched it for the hours and hours it airs. It makes you want to get back under the covers and ignore all the fake mirth and delirium outside.
Your Morning (CTV, weekdays, 6 a.m.) is more modelled on U.S. network morning shows such as Good Morning America and Today. Laid-back, intricately structured to include news – local and national – chatter between the hosts, lifestyle news, more chatter and interviews with news makers or celebrities. And weather reports. Lots and lots of weather reports.
Weather is covered on Your Morning. A lot. Like, there's more weather than you could possibly absorb. On its second show last week, there was inordinate interest in wildfires in California. A wee bit early in the day for outright weather porn. And it's big-picture weather, not whether it will be unbearably hot or raining in your town today.
On that same second show, there was one outstanding illustration of how weak Your Morning can appear as a news source. Ben Mulroney was sitting at a table chatting with Kelsey McEwen (weather anchor), Anne-Marie Mediwake (the co-host with Mulroney) and Lindsey Deluce (news anchor). The topic was the coming Rio 2016 Paralympics. The theme was that the competitors are getting a raw deal. Few tickets have been sold, funding is shrinking and that's just terrible.
The topic of Russia's participation arose. Mediwake interjected to announce, "We've just found out, Russia will not be competing." There followed general hand-wringing about the woebegone Russian Paralympics competitors finding out "at the last minute."
This was a nonsensical discussion, because it was utterly lacking in context. Weeks before, the International Paralympic Committee had issued a blanket ban on Russian participation, because of real concerns about Russia's history of doping. What Mediwake was talking about was the failure of an appeal by Russia of that earlier decision. Anyone watching with even a basic knowledge of the issue was in eye-rolling mode.
While Mediwake has seemed a bit lost in the clutter of Your Morning's breakneck repetition of news bits, irrelevant weather reports, chatter, interviews and geeky profiles of the hosts, Ben Mulroney has been sterling in his efforts to be conductor of the team, serious news man and loquacious leader of roundtable chat. Mind you, we could do without him announcing, "I'm just spit-balling" when he means he's just speculating.
Mulroney gave Your Morning a nice start on its opening show with a solid interview with the Prime Minister. There was a serious-issues segment and a personal-banter segment. It worked.
In fact, Mulroney is the single serious person on Your Morning. Before the show aired he told The Canadian Press, "I think there's perhaps an assumption by some that what I do for a living perhaps defines the things that interest me, and that would be foolish."
It's a telling remark. Until now, Mulroney has been the face of CTV's entertainment news, all celebrity-fluff news. Your Morning would appear to be his pitch for gravitas. And if you want to start speculation that he's attempting to grow into a weighty-issues man, with a view to a possible political career, go ahead.
Trouble is, Your Morning isn't exactly a news program. But certainly he's the most articulate of the bunch on Your Morning. Around him are people spouting mindless drivel, using a very limited vocabulary and smiling enthusiastically while they do it. Bluntly, there is no substance to Your Morning. None.
It also lacks the basic elements of morning TV – local news, weather, sports, business news and traffic. The very reason some people watch morning TV by habit is to get the necessary information to start their day. They have questions – "Will it rain?" "Are the subways or buses delayed?" "Is there something happening in business that I need to know, going to work?"
Your Morning doesn't really venture into these areas, which seems harebrained if you want morning-TV viewers. Your Morning is sending those people to the competition. One reason, of course, is that it isn't officially a news program at all. It isn't run by the CTV News division. It comes under the lifestyle/chat-show umbrella.
Hence the inanity of Lindsey Deluce delivering a short summary of the "news" headlines, while visuals illustrate each quick bite in a painfully obvious way. What Deluce delivers is "news" by way of Instagram-light insight. And this comes after Mulroney or Mediwake have attempted to tell us what has been happening overnight – that is, the actual news – but it seems borrowed from the previous night's CTV News.
Your Morning is, so far, neither national nor local, nor is it a morning-news program or a lifestyle program. It doesn't add up to anything except television inanity. Listen, if my morning were this inane, I'd seek help.