Canada doesn’t seem to treasure as many traditions as it has in the past. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your point of view.
But one Canadian tradition that has hung on is comedy on CBC on New Year’s Eve.
First up at 8 p.m. (local time) is the annual Air Farce New Year’s Eve special. That’s followed at 9 p.m. by The Ron James Show’s New Year’s Eve Special.
Then at 10 p.m., it’s the news, which rarely is funny. So let’s focus on those first two.
The Air Farce extravaganza this year features a hilarious video parody starring Craig Lauzon, doing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, doing Korean rapper PSY. The words to PSY’s massive hit “Gangnam Style” have been changed to reflect Harper’s world.
Besides Lauzon, the usual Air Farce crew of Don Ferguson, Luba Goy, Alan Park, Penelope Corrin and Arnold Pinnock will be on hand. Guests include hockey legend Paul Henderson (pictured above left, with Lauzon as Don Cherry at right), Olympic gold medallist Rosie MacLennan, Yannick Bisson of Murdoch Mysteries, recording artist Victoria Duffield and David Chilton of Dragons’ Den.
Then it’s time for Ron James (pictured below), who – as we successfully head into 2013 – vows “never to listen to a Mayan again.” Damn straight.
Regular James characters Aunt Vivien, Buell Crawford and fan favourite Li’l Ronnie also stop by to help ring in the new year.
The real beauty of the back-to-back Air Farce and Ron James New Year’s Eve specials is that you can watch both and still have two hours to get drunk.
Now THAT’s a Canadian tradition.
“So that twerp Don Cherry gets a biopic and I don’t? I think you need to have a little talk with your favourite organization the CBC, Mr. Prime Minister.”
That’s what Gordie Howe appears to be saying to Stephen Harper in the above photo.
Well, whatever Gordie did, it worked. The CBC announced on Wednesday that it has commissioned Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story, along with two other made-for-TV films, Smilin’ Jack: The Jack Layton Story and Still Life.
Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story apparently will focus on Gordie’s later era of professional hockey, when he came back in his mid-40s to play with sons Mark and Marty. I guess that’s the better “story,” per se, but I personally would be more interested in learning about Gordie’s early years. We now seem to remember Gordie Howe merely as an athletic freak of nature who played a long time, rather than the most dominant player in the game, which he was for an entire era.
There apparently was a saying in the NHL back in the early 1960s: “There are four good teams in the league: Montreal, Toronto, Chicago and Gordie Howe.”
Whenever I think of Gordie, I can’t help but recall a book I read years ago exposing hockey’s dark secrets that detailed some of Gordie’s contract negotiations with the Detroit Red Wings. The trusting Gordie would be told, “Don’t tell any of the other players what you’re making, they’ll be jealous.” Meanwhile, the truth was that Gordie was being criminally underpaid for a player of his stature.
So who gets to portray Gordie? Hey, why not Jared Keeso, the actor who played Don Cherry in two CBC biopics? After all, Keeso kind of looks like every hockey player who ever lived (well, except for maybe Doug Gilmour).