You can’t do that on streaming video!

Ottawa’s anarchic kid show is 40 (and homeless)

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You Can’t Do That On Television!, the wild and crazy sketch series that originated on Ottawa’s CJOH-TV, turned 40 earlier this year. And, despite the best efforts of fans, it remains officially unavailable for viewing. (YouTube copies have varying lifespans.)

A petition seemingly affiliated with show creator Roger Price was recently launched: “Release YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON TELEVISION for DVD/STREAM.” But some of their claims are sketchy—it’s unlikely that this production was a flagship of Saudi TV.

You Can’t Do That On Television!’s most famous sight gag, which involved characters getting slimed whenever they said the phrase “I don’t know,” became the hallmark of the Nickelodeon channel. (Few of those young U.S. viewers knew that it was Canadian.) And when he launched YTV on September 1, 1988, John Candy was slimed while introducing it.


Bye Bye Bravo! Sayonara Space!

Two longtime specialty channels that Bell Media inherited from ChumCity had their branding changed with little fanfare, in contrast to the bombast of their mid-’90s arrivals:

What began as Bravo! is now CTV Drama Channel. But a Karate Kid marathon set for CTV Sci-Fi should make you wonder how broad their definition will get. (Space, the previous name, was at least vague enough to get weird.)


Piecing together Today’s Special

A recently posted picture on the Retrontario Instagram revealed a rare piece of TVOntario’s Today’s Special merchandise: a puzzle featuring jumpsuit Jodie and mannequin Jeff, which was briefly sold in the mid-’80s. While not featured on this merchandise, Muffy the Mouse puppeteer Nina Keogh turned up to reveal that there was at least one other puzzle that featured her rapping rodent.


Who was on YTV 30 years ago

September 1989 was when YTV began airing BBC institution Doctor Who six nights a week, having outbid TVOntario for the exclusive Canadian rights that TVO held for 14 years.

Program director Merv Stone bragged to the Toronto Star that YTV would be co-producing the series with the BBC. But new episodes were soon cancelled. (Barring the one-off 1996 TV movie, which was filmed in Vancouver, Doctor Who didn’t return until 2005.)

Still, the strangest by-product of the deal found the Doctor’s time-travelling TARDIS in YTV’s daily newspaper comic strip:

After disastrous ratings, YTV buried the series in a graveyard slot, before dumping it entirely in the early-’90s. Classic Doctor Who didn’t re-appear on Canadian television until the early black-and-white episodes were resurrected by the fledgling Space channel in 1998:


CN Tower: The Game

We recently came across the most boring board game ever: “COMMUNICATE: The CN Tower Game” is described as a psychological guessing game for two players over the age of reason. Guess your opponent’s move and drive them back. It would seem that the game hinges entirely on the tower’s communication function. The rules provide a reminder that it “was built primarily to improve signal strength for Toronto television and FM stations.”


Choose life

September 1989 was when the federally sponsored anti-drug program “Really Me” rolled out a bumper-length PSA into the Grade 6 school curriculum. Starring a pre-Beverly Hills 90210 Kathleen Robertson, the short film Choose illustrated the dangers of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco by having a pair of teens transported into the innards of a pizza-parlour video game. Their green-screened host (imaginatively monikered “The Game”) then walks them through important life decisions:


Night Walking into Fall 2019

Two months ago, the Retrontario newsletter featured the new version of Night Ride, an update of the Global Television classic, uploaded to a YouTube channel called My Night Walk. And now, they’ve released a new version of Night Walk, which features the original 1986 music accompanying current footage of a stroll around downtown Toronto:

Can an updated version of Night Moves, the final part of the trilogy, be far behind?


Send tips, comments, and other flotsam and jetsam to @retrontario on Twitter, or ed@retrontario.com.

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