On Sunday, TVA debuted its newest Sunday-night populist attention-getter, the Série Montréal-Québec, in which 16 players from each city (each including two women, one guy over 40 and one guy over 50) compete in a meaningless eight-game tournament to determine which city is superior to the other.
I switched back and forth a bit between the TVA broadcast and an actual sporting event that actually mattered. What little I saw of the show consisted entirely of long, drawn-out American Idol-style (or, if you prefer, «Star Académie»-style) player introductions. It's one thing when you're introducing two or three people you've never met, but it gets old after the first few dozen.
Thankfully, I wasn't the only one to notice that. Le Soleil's Richard Therrien and La Presse's Hugo Dumas showed an inspiring example of Quebec-Montreal unity by panning the show and its presentation devoid of any energy. The review from Dans ma télé's Annie Fortin was lukewarm at best, with similar criticisms.
But then there's the Journal de Montréal.
I find it ironic that Quebecor's new Agence QMI put together an article (one written like a ninth-grade book report or the minutes of a school board meeting) that was good enough for both 24 Heures in Montreal and the Journal de Québec website, but the Journal de Montréal decided it needed to have one of its few remaining journalists- Michelle Coudé-Lord - write a redundant story reviewing the show (one, I should add, that was reprinted verbatim in the Journal de Québec - in fact, the latter had an identical two-page spread, only in black and white).
Then again, Coudé-Lord's story has plenty of adjectives that the Agence QMI story was lacking, and her impression was so diametrically opposed to everyone else's (including mine) that I can only conclude that she was in a different universe at the time or has become disconnected from reality:
La Série Montréal/Québec sera rassembleuse comme le fut Star Académie. On n'abandonne pas une recette gagnante. Attendez-vous à ce que le Québec se divise en deux au cours des prochaines semaines. Les joueurs sont attachants ...
Guy Lafleur a résumé fort bien ce qu'allait être cette série : «le hockey est un jeu qui nous rend heureux».
La présentation des joueurs a donné le ton. L'émotion sera au rendez-vous. Stéphane Laporte et Julie Snyder, le concepteur et la productrice de cette série, savent faire de la télévision pour et par le monde. Et encore hier soir ils en ont fourni la preuve.
Le portrait de chaque joueur nous le rendait fort sympathique. ... C'était même touchant de voir les parents applaudir dans les estrades ...
Loco Locass a interprété avec enthousiasme l'hymne national de Québec ...
Montréal commence fort avec une gardienne de but ... Ça promet.
Belle initiative de Guy Carbonneau ...
Éric Lapointe a donné du chien à l'équipe de Carbo avec une interprétation enlevante de l'hymne national de Montréal.
Une belle réalisation de Michel Quidoz ... Marie-Claude Savard, l'animatrice, fut solide et a su laisser place à l'évènement. ...
That's 16 separate praises by my count, and not a single criticism of the show. I would have reprinted the entire article here if I could do so without fear of a copyright infringement lawsuit. It's surreal.
If I ever get married, I'm having Michelle Coudé-Lord write my vows. By then she'll probably be a public relations specialist.
PR is about the only way I can explain both Journals taking two colour pages to present players from both teams.
Hell, it makes Jeff Lee (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebecor-owned Videotron) look tame in his video blowjob.
Despite what some conspiracy theorists might think, Quebecor-owned media were not unanimous in their praise. Roxanne Tremblay of 7 jours didn't hold back on criticisms, and followed it up with a second-day story about the show's problems.
But still, even though I'm skeptical of theories about media owners directly affecting editorial content on a day-to-day basis, I can't help wonder if Coudé-Lord's article is what Pierre-Karl Péladeau envisions for his newsroom of the future - one where unionized journalists don't stand in the way of Quebecor's self-interest with their silly journalistic ethics.