SkyDome’s opening cavalcade of cringe

It was 30 years ago today, Alan Thicke brought the wince to play

June 3, 1989 was when CBC broadcast The Opening of SkyDome: A Celebration in national prime time, to mark the momentous opening of Toronto’s $570-million stadium. It had to be the most embarrassing live event in Canadian TV history, as hosts Alan Thicke and Andrea Martin died multiple times in the skits, amidst songs so horrible that they would’ve been rejected as satire from The Simpsons.

Perverse delights included a sleepwalking performance from Glass Tiger; a laugh-free set from Quebec impressionist André-Philippe Gagnon; a jaw-dropping paean to multicultural Toronto called “The Toronto Song”; and then-premier David Peterson signalling to open up the dome with a laser pen, while pianist Oscar Peterson (no relation) played on. When the roof finally retracted, everyone was quickly soaked by the storm—one which fittingly rained down on the official opening of SkyDome.


When VR still meant “Very Raptors”

Raptors-mania continues to dredge up curious memories of the franchise’s relatively young history, like the 1995 re-branding of Barrie’s sleepy classic-TV station CKVR into “The New VR,” in order to highlight its NBA broadcasts.


The canned emotions of soup

The closing of Campbell Canada’s plant in Etobicoke was a low-key affair. But its soup spots used to lay on the saccharine, like this this 1983 spot inspired by On Golden Pond:


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The summer of stereo simulcasts

Concerts produced by Citytv were simulcast in stereo on CHUM-FM, circa June 1979. The New Music, hosted by J.D Roberts and Jeanne Beker, was dedicated to live shows by Canadian acts before morphing into a magazine series that lasted 29 years. A summer of reruns drew early attention to the concept, which presented the likes of Downchild Blues Band, Goddo and Streetheart.


Moses Znaimer’s MZTV Television Museum is currently hosting a fascinating exhibit on the work of Scottish boffin John Logie Baird, who obtained the first recognizable television image on October 1, 1925, which was 18 months before AT&T was able to produce a similar transmission in the U.S. (Bill Brioux reviewed the exhibit, at the ZoomerPlex in Toronto.)


A real like from the Vapors

The U.K. band responsible for 1980’s “Turning Japanese” endorsed an Instagram post via @retrontario, featuring Rick Moranis’s brilliant cover version as crooning SCTV character Tom Monroe. (The parody also owed some debt to Toronto crooner Tommy Ambrose.)


Derek McGrath: he’s still a somebody

The pride of Porcupine, Ontario, who turns 68 on June 4, currently plays Frank on Kim’s Convenience—but McGrath’s on-camera résumé reflects the reality for a jobbing Canadian actor. While starring as Dr. Benjamin Jeffcoate on CTV’s My Secret Identity, he was appearing as a third-banana on a Nissan car commercial. Other notable Derek McGrath roles: Cal Harrison in TVOntario’s Mathmakers, “Andy-Andy” Schroeder in Cheers, Butterworth in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, Garth Harble on The Red Green Show, and this spot:


The Jumpstack is a smoke break with your work wife. It’s the Tuesday newsletter from @JodiesJumpsuit, the spin-off from her Twitter handle inspired by TVO’s Today’s Special.

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