CBC made the leap into the age of short attention spans with the premiere of their new news look Monday night. Segments zipped by in the blink of an eye and the newscast seemed to pick up speed as it went along.
"I like how it's quicker," says my 16-year-old son, who found the bam-bam-bam newscast straight forward and easy to understand--words that should cheer the people behind this National News makeover. "I think they really know what they're doing," he added.
Among the big changes Monday night was one very strategic upgrade right at the start. Instead of the usual three-and-a-half minute CBC ad hole between shows, the 10 p.m. newscast started fast out of its lame lead in, Just Four Laughs. When it was all done, it also slammed straight into a local news update at 10:55. Holy crap, CBC is behaving like a network.
The new news theme sets the brisk tone, up and out in seconds; CBC must have paid for it by the note.
The hurry up approach continued off the top with anchor Peter Mansbridge and the in-studio correspondents standing rather than sitting. Mansbridge looked like Leno or Letterman on his feet doing a monologue, throwing to Duncan McCue in Vancouver or Adrienne Arsenault in London.
The set had a hockey rink tone, all whites and blues and a red line here and there.
Within minutes, Mansbridge was--not sitting behind an anchor desk--but standing behind a podium. The large, glass table top, set in the antiseptic, brightly-lit blue, white and red set, made it look like a perfume counter at The Bay or a really cool Shoppers Drug Mart.
Amanda Lang hit the counter at the 10:10 mark to set up a clip of Frank Stronach looking pissed. CBC cameras were there as five kids had a tantrum in Parliament and then were outnumbered by photographers. We learned that nobody gives a rats ass about the royal family.
There were ads at the 10:14 mark and the Dominion of Canada somehow still held together.
Back from the ads, Mansbridge was standing facing health correspondent Kelly Crowe and there was a hint of Wolf Blitzer on election night except nothing big was really going on (well, except Toronto tap water may spawn super bugs). Things picked up when Reg Sharren comes on to goof on all the idiots who drive while doing other things--like shaving legs or changing diapers or eating tacos. There was shot of a dog driving a car and some naked chick in a steamy car in Holland where a couple had sex at 123 kms per hour. Ratings gold.
Another ad break, and Mansbridge came back doing what he does best, going one-on-one with somebody important. The guest was general Rick Hillier, on set to sell copies of his new book. Hillier, who never tires of selling Hillier, started yapping about how Ottawa got in his way in Afghanistan. Mansbridge went toe-to-toe, throwing the "McArthur of the North" jab at him and hitting him with a five year old clip before making nice by flagging Hillier's appearance later the same night on The Hour.
More ads, then Peter and Wendy Mesley renewed their love and we learned that hand sanitizer sales are way up. Mesley was caught on a hidden camera in a goofy pandemic protection suit. "Nice outfit," deadpanned Peter.
The crazy fast pace caught up with the news which flagged a bit towards the end. Still, a pretty impressive opening. On a night when something is actually happening, CBC will be poised to race along side the story and stay on top of it. Viewers will get a lot more out of the hour--if they can tear themselves away from The Mentalist.