Battle of the Blades – this fall’s best new show

Today  on the Inside the CBC blog, there was a posting that talked about the success of Battle of the Blades, with the premise that anything to do with hockey in Canada is bound to succeed.

I disagree -  this series had all the earmarks of a train wreck. But it has turned out to be insanely popular and I think I know some of the reasons why.

  • Cross demographic and gender appeal. This is a show you can sit around with the entire family, including grandma and watch. Having a wide age range of retired players makes this happen. Grandma can wax nostalgic about Ron Duguay in the seventies, while her grandkids remember Jamie Sale and Salt Lake City.
  • It’s almost live. It airs a few short hours after shooting – meaning that there’s no chance to overproduce it, or filter out the authenticity. Witness how poor Kelly Hrudey’s stumbling analysis on opening night (summary: gee I like girls and you’re a girl) was untouched. I was killing myself laughing reading Tweets that referenced Hrudey as the broadcast went on.
  • The host. Is there a more universally appealing host than Ron MacLean? All that Olympic capital is put to use here.
  • Location. Finally – Maple Leaf Gardens put to good use! What Canadian wouldn’t tune in to see the old lady on Carlton Street.
  • There is actual talent on display. I don’t mean the hockey players. The women are phenomenal athletes – it’s incredible how they can carry a performance, and Barbara Underhill on hockey skates (Kurt Browning too) was truly amazing.

Keep it up CBC – great show! But give credit to alot of smart decisions made along the way – it wasn’t a gimme.

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