CanTV expert Cameron Archer navigates the often inhospitable landscape of Canadian television for the CATHODE RAY MISSION, our regular blog column that highlights some of Canadian television’s most offbeat offerings.
Late-night television is a crapshoot. Channels of all sizes and budgets will often show whatever cheap films and television reruns they can scrounge up. Sometimes, actual Canuxploitation is shown. The talk show is another late-night fixture; since Canada fares poorly in this genre, the shows often make for great train-wreck viewing. This is the “fun” side of late night television, the stuff that passes through the nostalgia filter. Mention Geoff Peterson, Svengoolie, and/or The Masturbating Bear to people, and at least one person will actually know who they are.
Late night television also contains brokered and/or paid programming, which is rarely as much fun. Night owls know the drill – JR Digs’ latest vanity comedy/talk show hybrid (if you’re watching Global), televangelism, televised poker, infomercials, sex hotline ads, Liquidation Channel, infomercials, psychic hotlines, the odd cooking or car show, infomercials, and – did I mention this one? – infomercials.
One genre of brokered programming stands alone, a genre more heinous than any infomercial – the televised quiz show. THE QUIZ HOUR (CHCH, 2013- ) is Canada’s newest televised quiz show, and it’s…something. It’s not something good, or even watchable, yet THE QUIZ HOUR is already ripe comedy fodder for Cathode Ray Mission.
The Basic Formula
There’s not much to THE QUIZ HOUR. It’s literally one man in front of a camera, for at least an hour. Sometimes, a close-up of “The Money Jar” is seen, through relatively primitive on-screen graphics. Both 900 and mobile numbers are displayed throughout the program, as well as the alleged “prize amount,” and sometimes the names of “winners.”
THE QUIZ HOUR is one big come-on. The games are either basic memory puzzles, or basic word puzzles. One of the games asks callers to find a word with x number of letters (e.g., “hare,” “wolf,” “pudu,” “lion” for four letters), written in a y-letter-row grid. Once a letter is used, it can’t appear again in that column. THE QUIZ HOUR uses a whiteboard to display the word puzzles, while The Money Jar spins on a turntable. High-tech shit!
It’s still Valentine’s Day, but just about nobody’s in the mood for romance in Bonnie Sherr Klein’s anti-porn crusade doc NOT A LOVE STORY, the latest exclusive mini-Motion Picture Purgatory review by Rick Trembles. I only wish we knew Klein’s thoughts on a real homegrown attempt we recently helped unearth, SEXCULA!