The CBC Summer Waves Review Part III

CBC Radio is strange this summer.  Andre Alexis’ new show didn’t seem to me to be that bad at first listen.  That was partially because he was playing some jazz – which I don’t mind – and partly because he wasn’t telling his stories, which I do.  Still, the thing with most CBC music programs this summer is that they’re hard to review.  It’s impossible to review The Circuit when it spends its ninety minutes culling bits from The Winnipeg Folk Festival.  I’m not even going to attempt to review the shows that are comprised of 100% FURNER content, but only because I’m reviewing CBC shows and something from NPR does not count as CBC content in my eyes no matter how quality the content.  This year is such a grab bag compared to last year.  My measured cynicism is being challenged.

To me, this is a strange summer season for CBC Radio.  The show that I thought would be a lock – that’d be the advertising show, to recap – has a dull-as-dishwater host.  Three weeks in, I have realized that the advertising clips are the best part of O’Reilly on Advertising, and the B+ I gave to the show was premature.  It’s still a good show, but as a radio host Terry O’Reilly is a damn good advertising executive.  Deep Night seems amateur to me, Station to Station is actually worth something and I actually don’t hate one of the two native-oriented programs that CBC Radio obviously found important enough to cut into The Current‘s running time.  Either I’m going soft or the programming isn’t too adventurous this year.  I’m assuming both excuses to be equally valid.

THE RED EDGE | Actually, The Red Edge isn’t that bad.  The show doesn’t seem to shy away from social issues that weaker shows would brush under the rug, and it seems to know what its purpose is on the schedules.  The hip-hop artist that I heard on one program didn’t interest me, but The Red Edge seems to remain liberal-minded without falling into an easy victim culture mindset.  The show isn’t as good as Dead Dog Café (which is the standard for native CBC programs, to hell with that show being a comedy) but The Red Edge manages to get its politics across while challenging them within the context of the show.  Honestly, it’s nice to hear a show that doesn’t try way too hard to force its diversity down the audience’s brainpan.  I hope The Red Edge keeps this trend up. ¤ B-

FIRST VOICE | I caught this show on a bad day.  A feature length documentary about indigenous erotica that told me, essentially, that natives are just as interested in stories about muscled, shaven Harlequin men and lovelorn, horny women as everyone else?  WOW!  Good grief, that’s diversity!  Hey guys, it’s erotica.  I’m not saying that erotica is an invalid genre, or that it’s essentially softcore pornography for the desperate wanks out there.  Still, the books are more often than not poorly written, and I can’t understand how scratching out the name Brawny Q. Lumberjack and replacing it with Kinikuk T. Eaglepants brings a whole new dimension to hot ‘n’ heavy bodies heavin’ and glistenin’.  This show is the more conventional of the native-oriented CBC programs, and it’s just there. ¤ C

DEEP NIGHT | I love the “you might also like” links for this show.  Deep Night is supposed to be this Twilight Zone contemporary, so obviously I should also be interested in Tom Stone and Doctor Who.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Tom Stone cancelled a year or two ago?  Wasn’t Tom Stone also a detective show that had little or nothing to do with anything supernatural?  I’m not even going to go into the recommendation of two television shows for fans of a radio thriller anthology, but I guess I’m asking too much from the MotherCorp.  I’m apparently spoiled enough.
 
As for the show itself, I didn’t like the show I listened to.  It was full of that wonderful CBC Radio acting, and if you’ve heard CBC players do radio drama you’ll know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, suffice it to say that no one’s really acting – the actors sound more like they’re giving dispassionate line readings, which is likely what they’re actually doing.  Maybe I’ve caught the show on an off night, or maybe (and I’m assuming this to jibe more with the truth) this show is standard CBC Radio drama and that it rarely gets better than this.  Either way, I’m not impressed with Deep Night so far.  At least this show isn’t Promo Girl bad, though.  That’s a positive thing to say about Deep Night, I guess. ¤ C

LA SUITE ROYALE |  IT’S VIVA VARIETY!  STARRING MR. AND THE FORMER MRS. LAUPIN AND SPECIAL GUEST SEÑOR X!  FEATURING THE SWIMSUIT SQUAD, AND YOUR COOL-ASS PAL JOHNNY BLUEJEANS!  Honestly, what did I say this show was going to be, a lounge music show?  That’s exactly what this show is.  I’m not impressed.  I know I should be a little more openminded, but I fail to see how this differs from standard CBC Radio Two programming.  Then again, I guess that’s the show’s purpose – aural wallpaper.  I hate to be so hard on CBC Radio programs, but I don’t like when the creatives are slumming, either. ¤ D

STATION TO STATION |  I don’t like the female host on this program, and Station To Station is the pop version of Global Village.  Still, this show could stick around for a while.  The whole “global pop charts” claim is a bit of a lie – the show I heard focused on friggin’ Oasis and Esthero a bit too much – but, on the whole, there seems to be some consistency within S2S‘ format.  The formula seems a little too whitebread at this point in S2S‘ history, but I’m actually interested in hearing how this formula evolves.  I hope this show acknowledges how popular death metal is in Europe (not that CBC Radio gives a flip about that sort of music, as it doesn’t bounce on the happy fun-time bouncy diversity ball very well) and/or continues to give accurate displays of the popular music scenes in different countries.  This is one of those rare shows CBC Radio does that could end up showing an accurate portrayal of what people are listening to, as opposed to the “YOU LIKE RAP AND GENERALLY AWFUL POST-ROCK AND GLAM POP!” force-feeding that CBC Radio 3 is infamous for.
 
Yes, I said infamous.  Grant Lawrence makes me retch. ¤ B-

TUNE IN TOMORROW AS I, UH, DO SOMETHING ELSE – LIKE TRY TO BE MORE CREATIVE, AND JUNK

Cameron Archer

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer