TV Review: The 20th Annual Gemini Awards

One of the highlights of the Gemini Awards on Global was when Ken Finkleman won a Gemini for Best Writing In A Comedy Series.  Having won five Geminis in various categories for various shows prior to tonight, Finkleman gave a speech that epitomizes how I feel about the Canadian television industry.

His speech was simply this: “The best thing about writing is you don’t have to thank anyone.”  Then he left.

Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but it came off as a flippant remark.  Finkleman stars, writes and is executive producer of The Newsroom.  His character on the show is that of an egotistical executive producer of a news program.

If Ken Finkleman’s character isn’t essentially his personality writ large, he did little to disprove it here.  It’s almost like Finkleman expected the award.  There were funnier programs than The Newsroom on Canadian television this year, but that’s the thing with the Geminis – he just didn’t seem to care.  If he doesn’t care, why should I?

Something else I could never figure out was when Trailer Park Boys won Best Ensemble Performance – the nomination clip littered with as many S-and-F-bombs as could be expected of the program.  “Shit” is quite acceptable for prime-time audiences and has been in Canada for years, but “fuck” is not (well, not before 9:00 PM, anyway) and was censored for the audience.  Later on, Mary Walsh trudged through a rah-rah speech about the Canadian television industry, letting out a few F-bombs just because…well, because she could.  The speech was about as subtle as a hand grenade being delivered by a fist to the face.  Trailer Park Boys uses that language because it’s colloquial to the inhabitants of the show’s redneck setting.  Walsh just seemed like she was peppering her speech for the sheer hell of it.  Edge and reverence: two tastes that don’t go great together.

That’s the principal problem with the Gemini Awards.  The Geminis try to be a hipper version of the Emmy Awards – well, about as hip as one can go considering Luba Goy’s involvement.  The awards ceremony (or, more importantly, its closing gala as the awards are spread out over three days) came across as uneven and unbecoming of an anniversary gala.  The awards broadcast was produced by both Global and CBC, CBC having lost Gemini broadcast rights this year due to the CMG lockout.  It still felt like the CBC-oriented Gemini Awards, on another network.  How else to explain the involvement of Gavin Crawford, Sean Cullen, assorted members of the mutated husk that is modern-day Air Farce and Mary Walsh?  On top of that, Scott Thompson and technical problems also featured.  It’s like the purveyors of cornpone and the hipsters were thrown into a blender and expected to become something that didn’t taste off.

The Geminis are a train wreck.  There’s no way to say this aside from the direct way.  I had never watched a Gemini Awards ceremony before this one, and I might never again.  I can’t understand why Canadians need to ape the American model of awards ceremonies so slavishly.  The majority of Canadians probably wouldn’t know who Michael Riley and Cara Pifko are, which suggests why the Geminis don’t work in the CBC-centric awards ceremony format.  Marrying the American style with Canadian hand-wringing about a national identity makes for bad television.  It’s nice to see an awards ceremony being produced in part by someone other than the CBC (with a ridiculous 204 Gemini nominations, which is why the award’s credibility always comes into question.)  The Geminis still need retooling.  If this is the most prestigious awards ceremony for television in Canada, the Geminis need to look it.

Perhaps Global will be able to wrest full control of the Geminis from the CBC next year and make the Gemini Awards look as respected as CTV makes the Junos look.  Canadian television should be supported.  Bad awards ceremonies should not.

C. Archer
Le Social