The scene: a lakefront cottage in Whytewold, Manitoba. I’m in my single digits and visit my great grandparents with my grandparents and usually an uncle or two nearly every weekend in the summer. After dinner, I would poke around in their shelf full of games – two in particular, a bingo set with a cranked number dispenser and the glow-in-the-dark game board, missing all the other pieces, of a game called The Green Ghost used to be good for a few minutes of amusement. Here’s a picture of the Green Ghost box and set:
(photo links to a site dedicated to this awesome
game. Yes, I know I said it was missing a bunch of pieces, but just look at that picture. How could it possibly NOT be awesome? How?)
Anyways, I digress. Going to the cottage was like an anachronistic adventure, and yes, it definitely had elements of that “magical childhood world” people like to talk about, like the store which inexplicably carried things you had never seen before and never discovered again. Things like sodapop with exotic names (there was a 7up knockoff called either Sparkle or Snowflake of which I was quite fond, for instance) that came in cans and bottles with old world, often psychedelic designs (ten year old signs in 1980 would definitely bear the mark of the psychedelic era). It was here that I first encountered the non-venerable Swedish Berries, which were like the newer, better, cooler and tastier version of the old-style ju jubes, which stuck to your teeth, that my great grandpa used to share. And a lot of the candy cost a penny! It was easy to scare up a quarter somehow, and be in sugar heaven for the rest of the day.
But this is not Once Upon a Win, and I did not start this post to go off on some Stuart McLean screed. I came to talk about a most important issue to Canadians at this crucial time, one which could profoundly affect the way history will view us. Yes, that’s right, CBC needs to bring back the Beachcombers, preferably to DVD!
After sunday dinner (ALWAYS a roast, generally beef but sometimes a chicken or two, along with taters and carrots and sometimes yam and stuffing and gravy… drooling I am), or sometimes during (as IF they didn’t have tv trays, come on….), we would watch Disney and The Beachcombers before I started to get tired and sent to bed. It took me a good year, but over time I came to know the characters fairly well, and eventually all but lost interested in Disney, particularly since it was such a crap shoot as to what you’d get from week to week. I wanted cartoons – always cartoons, and they had all these damn live action crapfests like Old Yeller, which I refused to watch on principle. haha I’m stupid. Anyways, I’ve been told it was a big hit internationally, but maybe that was by Canadian standards, meaning “the Americans made their own version that sucks”.
For those who’ve never seen it, the youtube above is apparently part 1 of a whole episode of the show that someone posted to youtube – I’ve just been listening to the theme over and over again, which is causing me to get a bit weepy. Bruno Gerussi was a reluctant hero of mine – the reluctance being on my part, about accepting the idea that I could be at all interested in the protagonist of an “grownup” show. Even Gerussi aside, the whole case was fantastic, in my memory, and the show’s longevity suggests that many others agree.
I’ve never been a big booster of Cancon, because as many others have pointed out it’s the sole reason that Tom Cochrane still has a career. But Cancon hasn’t only resulted in top 40 pap which seems to have been composed and recorded to answer the question “if mediocrity could be expressed musically, what would it sound like?”
The thing is, Cancon has also produced shows like the Degrassi series, and Davinci’s Inquest, and indeed Winnipeg’s own Less Than Kind. By the way, for anyone who watches that show and has never been to Falafel Place on Corydon, you need to go meet Ami and let him know that he should be demanding royalties. I always get the falafel plate, because while Ami’s garbananzos are truly a pinnacle of flavour, the wrap form is a pinnacle of messy.