Wednesday, January 19, 2005
An hour with George Stroumboulopoulos
In the great big high school of life, George Stroumboulopoulos is the resident cool kid.
He’s smart, he’s sexy, he’s stylish. He’s charismatic and confident, without being overly cocky. He has earrings, a nose ring, and chunky rings on his fingers too. Which, in case you need these kind of things spelled out for you, means he’s edgy. He’s also aloof, sarcastic and completely irreverent. So he’s cool, but is he too cool for the CBC?
Stroumboulopoulos (hereafter referred to as “Strombo” for brevity’s sake) jumped from VJ duties at Much Music to become the host of a new show called The Hour, which runs every night at 8 p.m. on CBC Newsworld. It’s a current affairs show aimed at the incredibly fickle ‘under 30’ crowd.
The Hour premiered on Monday. I caught the show for the first time last night. Strombo is clearly talented, intelligent and able to think on his feet. But, as much as it pains me to say this, there was something about the show that just didn’t click.
The set was too slick, too large and too empty. The segments a little too raw. The on-set interviews a little too dry. The pacing was all over the map. Sometimes it was too slow, sometimes it was too fast.
It felt like the show was trying too hard to be too much to too many people. It’s not really hip and edgy enough to be hip and edgy. But it’s not really stuffy and serious enough to be stuffy and serious.
The show kept lurching between styles like a small boat tossed around on a rough sea. One minute it was like This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the next it was like Counterspin, then it changed gears to Much News, and suddenly it was like Vicki Gabereau. I was feeling seasick.
Strombo would be great as a Canadian Jon Stewart, but Rick Mercer kind of already fills that role for the CBC.
There were some genuinely good moments on The Hour, including an interesting and lively interview with Jian Ghomeshi on the mainstreaming of mental illness on TV. And, well, George is hot.
But the interview with the lawyer about the Judy Sgro situation didn’t really fit. And a way-too-long segment on why Canadians prefer Canadian beer fell flat.
Because I’m such a Strombo fan, I don’t want to write off his new show entirely. I’m going to chalk it up to growing pains. Sometimes it just takes a while for a new show to work out the kinks and get into a groove. But I’m not entirely convinced the CBC is the right home for Strombo.
If Strombo is the cool kid, CBC is the quiet, boring kid. There’s a place for both of them in the world, but maybe just not together.