We ended up watching the Gemini Awards on Sunday night, despite our best intentions. And it was like watching a car accident in slow motion.
For my money the Geminis have never reached the heights they did in 1996 when Albert Schultz hosted and performed a heartbreaking tribute to Casey and Finnegan. That was, I think, the introduction of ironic detachment to the proceedings; every awards show since they’ve tried to top 1996, and they’ve not succeeded yet.
Host George Stroumboulopoulos, who is cooler-than-hip in his day job as host of The Hour, performed his hosting duties completely absent of ironic detachment (perhaps he thought the very fact of hosting itself was ironic enough?). As a result he came off looking like a lame Jon Stewart impersonator, and a clumsy one at that.
Any of the “innovations” introduced to the show this year — most noticeably and embarrassingly the “let’s interview winners on the podium so that they don’t go long,” an idea that melted down before our very eyes — seemed forced. Trying to squeeze the live TV event down into an hour, which meant that we only got to see the “important” awards sandwiched in between endless comedy bits, sucked the life of the whole thing — it’s important to see the gawky composers, self-involved writers and awestruck lighting designers receive awards on national television and, what’s more, it makes it clear that there’s craft in that thar medium.
Perhaps the most depressing thing about this year’s Geminis is that they laid bare the desert that is Canadian television: when the best we have to offer is Corner Gas and Slings and Arrows (a show that, no matter how good it’s purported to be, has been seen by perhaps 2 dozen people), you realize that, for all intents and purposes, there is no Canadian television being produced any longer.