Like so many other hockey fans out there in the world, we’ve been casting about these last few weeks to find something to fill the hockeyless void on our television during off-nights of the playoffs. Tonight, Gentle Reader, we’d like to take a gander at some of the programming we’ve been forced to watch, and consider how effective a substitute for hockey it is.
Scripps National Spelling Bee:
Pros: The Spelling Bee kicks ass. Period. It is consistently hilarious, and we almost diarized it again this year, because it’s basically one of the finest sporting events that television has to offer; this year’s winner, when confronted with the word numnah, misheard the judges and goggled that he’d been assigned to spell numb nut; we feel socially competent when we watch the contestants in the Bee; the kid we were cheering for, Numb Nuts himself, beat out two evil-looking kids we hated, so unlike in hockey, the good guys won.
Cons: We didn’t realize it was on this past Friday, so we missed the beginning because we were, like the little old ladies we am, napping; because we’d diarized it last year, we figured there’d be no new material to write about this year, but we were wrong, and we missed out on what could have been a great post; all the words seemed made-up; even though the contestants made us feel socially competent, they also made us feel stupid and unaccomplished; there is no hitting in the Spelling Bee.
Verdict: If they had 82 Spelling Bees a year, we’d watch every one of them.
Pros: Ummm… Alex Trebek is Canadian?; the “answers” are all a hell of a lot easier than they were 15 years ago when we watched this regularly during family dinners, so we can feel superior to the contestants; it’s on during our dinner hour, when absolutely nothing else is; we ate in a nearly-empty restaurant with Alex Trebek when we went to the All-Star Game in San Jose. He sternly told his children to stop running ahead of him, while we also happened to be walking a few strides ahead on the way into the restaurant, and we both stopped dead in our tracks, so authoritarian is the Voice Of Trebek when he says to slow down; did we mention that it’s really easy now, so it makes us feel smart?
Cons: It’s moronically easy now; the “video daily doubles” don’t seem to involve video clues so much as they involve some non-Trebek person off-site somewhere reading the “answer” on tape; for all that he’s sternly authoritarian and Canadian, we’re just not that into the whole Alex Trebek thing, especially since he ditched the mustache; it’s Jeopardy!.
Verdict: The “answers” are just so dumb now! It makes us think of the bit from Quiz Show where one of the NBC suits explains that the audience doesn’t watch game shows to see feats of great intelligence, but rather tune in to see the money. The money’s doubled since our Jeopardy! heyday, but the intelligence seems to have been halved.
Pros: Do we even have to list these? Isn’t it obvious what the pros are? This show is utterly, hilariously awful; when discussing this with Katebits, she said that she watched a few minutes and felt ashamed to be alive, which we can only assume she meant in a good way; we are so starved for sports that by the time the Eliminator rolls around, we are genuinely cheering for one contestant over the other; what Devils fan doesn’t secretly yearn for spectacle and camp?
Cons: About that “feeling ashamed to be alive”…; the Gladiators should not be allowed to speak, and yet they are. What is wrong with a show that lets the Gladiators speak?
Verdict: We shamelessly adore this show. Love. It. So. Much. It’s less a replacement for hockey than it is a replacement for America’s Next Top Model, which is saying a lot.
MacGyver (Season 2):
Pros: Includes the occasional hockey-themed set dressing such as a goal net and NHL logos poster in Mac’s apartment; MacGyver hails from MN, prompting many jokes about Paul Martin; Mac frequently wears a Calgary Flames hat and in one episode checks the sports section to read the hockey scores (just before using it to make a newspaper-and-watch-lens telescope); one frightening episode finds Mac and his grandfather held hostage, causing them to miss a mid-80′s Oilers beat-down of the Kings; in another episode, MacGyver gets to skate with the L.A. Blades, during which he and Pete Thornton hold a top secret conversation in very loud voices while in the “penalty box” (it looked an awful lot like the “bench” to us, but who are we to question the verisimilitude of MacGyver?).
Cons: The show sucks; the poor writing doesn’t create any tension or question of how the show might end; it really, really sucks; when the show was filmed, the Devils wished they were as good as a Mickey Mouse organization; did we mention it sucks?; if there are winners and losers in watching MacGyver, there’s no question we’re the losers; we still have five more seasons to go.
Verdict: We’ll wait until we finish the next 5 seasons before we’ll admit this is a very, very poor substitute for live hockey, unless said live hockey is a playoffs that sees three Atlantic Division rivals going deeper than the Devils.
Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championship:
Pros: It’s a sporting event which will result in a winner and loser (and in this case, we won’t be the only losers); one competitor landed wrong — very wrong — on a floor routine then calmly walked off to inform the trainer that he’d broken his arm, making every tough hockey player proud; as far as gymnastics is concerned, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are in the Big Ten, meaning this entire two-hour television event is tailor-made for those of us who love to make jokes about Paulie Martin; provides us the opportunity to critique athletic endeavors despite knowing nothing about the sport other than “falling off the apparatus is bad”; the attendance at the Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championship makes us feel like we’re watching a Devils game.
Cons: It’s gymnastics; we’re fairly certain Paulie Martin isn’t in the crowd wearing full Goldy gear; it’s close to being a real sporting event, but just comes up shy.
Verdict: The frequent mentions of the Golden Gophers is enough to keep PaulieMartinNation happy and the poor-quality gymnastics has whetted our appetite for the Summer Olympics which can only happen in the absence of hockey; this is a solid (if embarrassing) substitute for bad hockey, a poor (and most certainly embarrassing) substitute for good hockey.