Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Being close and being clever, ain't like being true

On the topic of ham-handed smugness on the part of the CBC and its personalities, the Toronto Star has an uncannily good takedown of Rick Mercer today: If he rights himself soon we'll all look back on his career, years from now, and forget the awkward phase that is Rick Mercer's Monday Report. If not, we'll have no trouble pinpointing the moment when he jumped the shark: when those "one-tonne challenge" ads touting the Kyoto Accord started to air. In the ads, Mercer urges Canadians to get behind the Liberal environmental plan by cutting a tonne of their own CO2 emissions. Its hand-held, walking-on-the-street style encourages confusion with Mercer's rants, first seen on This Hour Has 22 Minutes. The ads aren't funny, but you could say the same about 80 per cent of Mercer's work in the last two years. For those who haven't seen Monday Report, here's the format: a brief monologue, which generally sticks to material as familiar and safe as a children's aspirin. (George W. Bush is a bad man; Tim Hortons sells soup in a bread bowl. Ain't that crazy!) Then there's a dull taped segment in which Mercer travels the country, apparently on the basis of which CBC personality he feels like killing his time and ours with — Shelagh Rodgers, Mary Walsh and the Mothercorp's talent in P.E.I., just in the last month. We return to the studio, where Mercer makes fun of a few pictures in the newspaper. Then Buzz's once-promising Daryn Jones offers another lame piece of video, or there may be a bit in which we spend time with a non-CBC celebrity. Typical of the latter was the recent piece premised on the notion that if you put Margaret Atwood in hockey equipment, the comedy just writes itself. We spent two long minutes waiting. A confession: I used to like Rick Mercer. I spent most of 2002-2003 adoring Made In Canada - one of the sharpest sitcoms ever to have the misfortune to be made here, rather than elsewhere, about here - until I realized that the production company, Salter Street Films, bankrolled Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine, and thus is directly responsible for his 2002-2004 rise to inexplicable political relevance. I can't forgive something like that. But I digress. Garnet Fraser's observations are spot-on: Rick Mercer used to be genuinely funny (at least, when not doing the reprehensible Talking to Americans thing) but has since completely sold his soul to the CBC and their agenda. What a waste.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had me eating from your hand about how fine Made in Canada was, no matter where it was made. And I was willing to overlook your take on Talking to Americans, because I am one, and we are often some of the dumbest people on earth when it comes to our northern friends and neighbors. Come on, now---the bit about adopting the 24-hour clock is hilarious, and you know it. We deserved it, and he gave it to us with deadpan panache.

I have prowled the Salter Street and the Made in Canada sites. They are well-done by any standards. But I will enjoy them and the work of Mr. Mercer far less, now that you have told me about the Michael Moron connection.

That part was just plain evil. Salter should be bulldozed for having done it, and full-page apologies rendered in every major U.S. newspaper.

Bah. And I really liked that series.

2/16/2005 02:52:00 AM  

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