GUEST BLOG: Strombo move no reason for celebration
I'm a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin. "The Newsroom", which recently ended its run on HBO, was one of my favourite shows of all time.
There's a moment that I particularly enjoy in one episode. Network President Charlie Skinner - played by the perennially underrated Sam Waterston - interrupts a group of his staff who are celebrating the fact that CNN had to retract an exclusive it had on the Boston marathon bombing.
Skinner's warning to his staff was forceful but fatherly. "They got knocked down," he tells them. "We didn't get taller".
I thought about that line amidst the online jubilation over George Stromboulopoulos having been taken off of Hockey Night in Canada.
Some spotlights are just bigger. Some acts are just hard to follow. The next person into that spotlight is almost always doomed to fail. It's a testament to how good the act before them was.
In 1964, there was a concert performance called the T.A.M.I (Teen Age Music International) Show. The second last performer on stage lit the stage on fire. As the civil rights led every newspaper along with bus boycotts, integration and riots, a 31 year-old African-American from Barnwell, South Carolina shook up the screen and the concert with dance moves no one had ever seen.
To this day everyone who remembers the show talks about his performance and not the Rolling Stones who were supposed to be the show's grand finale.
To this day, Keith Richards says the Stones' biggest regret is going on stage after James Brown that night.
Jay Leno hosted the Tonight Show for more than 20 years, but it never stopped being Johnny Carson's show. We forget that Carson wanted Letterman.
And speaking of Dave, we're watching as Stephen Colbert tries admirably to fill his shoes while, over at the Daily Show (where Colbert once hung his hat as a correspondent) Trevor Noah is the subject of a never-ending chorus of lacklustre performance reviews. The guy's only trying to follow in the footsteps of the most culturally relevant comedian since Richard Pryor after all...
We held a national morning of mourning the day Canada AM went off the air a few weeks ago - all coffee cups were poured to half mast. And that was a show we had on in the background as we showered or got the kids ready in the morning.
Hockey Night in Canada is the seminal Canadian television institution. It takes precedence over the National news. Foster Hewitt's legendary introduction has been memorized by Canadian kids who never once heard it live.
Most hockey fans can hear a Bob Cole "Ohhhh Baby!" in our sleep during the playoffs.
In that atmosphere, Strombo (perhaps best known as the national boyfriend of Canada's Gen Y set), was set up to fail. It was an atmosphere steeped in too much history. Its appeal was its timelessness, its lack of trendiness, its contribution to the sport's place in our grand national narrative.
Remember it was Prime Minister Lester Pearson - a man who had a trophy named after him until a few years ago - who famously said that Canadians had yet to find a national identity outside of a hockey rink.
With Don Cherry signed on for a few more years, even at 82 years of age, we're reminded that the current era of Hockey Night will soon come to an end. Time eventually changes all things.
But we can all do without celebrating Strombo's departure. He showed up, he did his best and he got through two seasons on Canada's biggest national stage. It's no small feat.
And, his tribute to Gord Downie during this year's playoffs is still one of the best moments in the pantheon of the program's history.
Someone got knocked down. We didn't all get taller.
But we were, perhaps, reminded that you shouldn't go on stage after James Brown.
Alexander Campbell is a pseudonym. The author has asked that his name not be made public at this time.
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