MONTREAL, QC. — You’d think that a half-hour series about my favourite sports team would be a treat to watch from beginning to end. Unfortunately, TSN’s Your Canadiens missed the mark a little.
Maybe I had high expectations after watching the premiere of HBO’s fantastic 24/7 series, chronicling the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals on their way to the 2011 Winter Classic. 24/7 is a raw documentary series, combining fly-on-the-wall sequences with talking heads and one-on-ones with players in their everyday lives. Perhaps I shouldn’t have expected the combination of candour and dramatic voice-over narration that makes TSN’s Oil Change so watchable. Your Canadiens pales in comparison, more an extended Access Hollywood segment than it is an in-depth look at the team.
The first episode aired tonight, right after SportsCenter, and featured Andrei Markov. I openly admit that Markov is my favourite player on this team and I was happy to see him on the show because, like many Habs fans, I haven’t seen much of him in the last few months. Unfortunately, Markov was the only part of the show worth watching.
The show is hosted by TV and radio personality Anne-Marie Withenshaw, who will tag along for a day in the life of each Canadiens player. She spent the morning with Andrei Markov after watching him skate in a gameday practice. She then waited for him to change his clothes and come out of practice. We, the audience, know this thanks to a brief “Anne-Marie Withenshaw waits around and plays on her BlackBerry” montage. When Markov finally emerges, Withenshaw greets him in the most awkward way possible, as if neither of them knew what they were supposed to do or say next. Finally, Markov takes Withenshaw through the team’s parking lot at the Bell Centre and drives her to one of his favourite restaurants.
I’m not sure it’s the kind of information any players on the team would want broadcast on national television, but if you watched Your Canadiens, you now know what cars two of the Canadiens drive and where they eat on game days.
During their meal, Withenshaw made small talk with Markov. I know Andrei Markov is notoriously shy, but there’s no way I can place the blame for this painful interview squarely on his shoulders. Withenshaw cut her teeth as a VJ and has been working steadily on television for years. It is therefore incomprehensible that she could appear nervous, unprepared, and starstruck on television. Unfortunately, that was the case. The only flashes of spontaneity came from Markov, who after a good meal seemed to be at ease. The episode’s best moment was, by far, Withenshaw’s question whether Markov, now a Canadian citizen, would ever play for Canada at the international level. Markov immediately responded “Never.”
After they finished eating, Withenshaw asked Markov if he wanted to go shopping. I guess it was supposed to be the episode’s first bit of spontaneity (of which there should have been more) but I was a little thrown off. It turns out they were headed to a costume shop in Old Montreal to help Markov find a Halloween costume. A bit of traffic meant a bit more dead airtime, which would have been better off filled with another poorly scripted voice-over sequence that would probably be informative to people who have never watched TSN or followed the Canadiens in the last year. Markov’s mission was to find a costume that would make his teammates laugh. It probably wasn’t the best idea to go shopping for one with someone who doesn’t know him – or them – very well.
Markov would end up finding a costume he liked, and planned to dress up as a Scotsman for Halloween. I’d say all’s well that ends well, but the episode didn’t end there. Ms. Withenshaw briefly thanks Markov, in both English and French, for spending the day with her. She is perfectly fluent in both of Canada’s official languages. Markov is not. Neither he nor the viewers at home needed to be reminded that he doesn’t speak French. (RDS does that enough already.) To add insult to injury, our half-hour with Andrei Markov ends with an extended replay of his injury from November, a subliminal reminder that we won’t see him again for months.
The concept of Your Canadiens is a good one. The execution, unfortunately, looks like it will be the show’s downfall.
Category: Fan Focus