MVP: So Offside It’s Icing

MVP, or as it is being called, “Desperate Hockey Wives,” feels kinda wrong on the staid old Hockey Night in Canada network, which is exactly why CBC should be doing it. Still, for me, the pilot was, to borrow a phrase from west coast critic Dana Gee, “so offside it’s icing.”

I may not be the only one who feels that way. The series scored 383,000 viewers across Canada its first time out Friday. That’s the lowest score of the four CBC series that premiered last week.

The problem: the Friday night soap suffers from comparisons to Desperate Housewives or even more outrageous shows like Californication. You want sex scenes? Duchonvy’s show’s got sex scenes. The puck bunny action here seems so ’80s. Street Legal showed more skin.

The producers, including Mary Young Leckie (The Arrow, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion) got the production values right. The babes ‘n’ hunks cast is wall to wall eye candy. This is the NHL by way of The CW which, judging by the CW’s ratings this season, may not be the best approach. Still, MVP is Smallville slick.

Lacking, at least in the pilot, was the kind of killer script Marc Cherry churns out on Desperate Housewives, full of sparkle, snap and surprises. Several encounters in the pilot screamed out for memorable zingers (especially from pampered hockey wife Evelyn McBride, played by Deborah Odell). Instead, well, I can’t recall a single line anybody says.

The characters are cartoonish and one-dimensional, but, hey, welcome to soaps. Peter Miller stands out as team enforcer and babe magnet Damon Trebuchet. He tapes all his sex encounters and keeps them neatly catalogued. Lucas Bryant plays Mustangs captain Gabe McCall, jaded by all the one night stands and looking for love. Enter Kristin Booth as Connie Lewis, so goody two shoes she still blushes at being labeled a virgin. The new kid is hot shot rookie Trevor Lemonde (Dillon Casey), sort of a Jiri Tlusty with pants. Will he be the next Damon or Gabe? So many questions.

The team owner and the coach are evil bastards. The former captain, high on booze and cocaine, did a two-storey face plant during a little party his wife was throwing for the team and died. Party pooper! Two minutes for ripping off Dynasty!

The music seemed muted and generic in the pilot, exactly wrong for the MuchMusic target audience.

One scene made me laugh. Half the town is holding and reading copies of what looks like The Toronto Sun when captain Gabe and cute Connie get outed on the front page. Again, very ’80s–shouldn’t kids be relaying these images on their cell phones and iPods? Has anyone even looked at The Toronto Sun since, say, last January 26?

The British hit Footballers Wives is apparently a bit of an inspiration for this series. I dunno if it translates; hockey culture seems quite different from the soccer world. You don’t see, say, Sidney Crosby being mobbed by paparazzi or being trashed in the tabs like David Beckham.
For viewers who like a lot more realism in their CBC drama, The Border returns with episode two tonight at 9 p.m., with easy on the eyes Sofia Milos joining the cast as an American homeland security agent working in Canada. Frisk me! Frisk me!

5 Responses to “MVP: So Offside It’s Icing”

  1. Easy there … some of your very good friends still are working as hard as they can and trying to make a living at the Toronto Sun!

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  2. I really enjoy MVP and was disappointed to learn that it hadn’t done so well in the ratings. However, a friend of mine who writes for television in Toronto told me that the CBC isn’t too worried about those numbers because MVP is on Friday nights, when tv viewership is very low. So expectations were not as high for MVP as they were for The Border, for instance. Apparently, within the context of Friday night, the MVP numbers are quite good.

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