Wednesday, December 30, 2009

NYE on TV: Hey, you! I’m talking to you, 2010! Yes, you! Bring It On!

So, it’s almost 2010 and that means the holidays are coming to a close and it’s back to the grind next week, unless you’re a federal Member of Parliament, in which case the party’s just getting started (you indolent so-and-sos).

For the rest of us, New Year’s Eve is a chance to say good riddance to 2009 and to welcome the new year. Out like a lion, in a like a lamb? If you’re planning on watching a bit of TV before the clock strikes midnight, CBC has a fun offering of holiday-themed NYE programming.

The venerable Royal Canadian Air Farce is back with an hour-long special at 8 pm. The ensemble’s usual suspects are in action, and the special’s guests include Mike Holmes, the Dragons from CBC's hit series Dragons' Den (pictured above), and skaters Jamie Sale and Craig Simpson ( first-ever winners of Battle of the Blades ). The Air Farce troupe can be counted on to offer a satirical and piquant look at ‘the year that was’ in 2009. This one’s a must for current affairs-and-news junkies.

Unfortunately, it was taped in advance of today’s announcement that the sailors (MPs) who run Canada are abandoning ship (the House of Commons) until March, robbing us all of a chance to see the Air Farcers skewer and hold our elected leaders accountable.

And for the first time, East Coast comedian Ron James brings viewers a New Years’ Eve Edition of his eponymous The Ron James Show, an hour that highlights the best of James’s comic skill.

Like the series itself, the special offers a nice mix of James doing stand-up and sketch comedy, a very difficult balance to manage. Some regulars, such as the animated Little Ronnie and the Mayor of the Politically Incorrect are on hand and in fine form. A reasonable amount of fun is had at the expense of everyone from the Virgin Mary to Boxing Day shoppers.

James’s series has gotten progressively stronger, smarter and entertaining through its debut season. It routinely earned about 700,000 viewers per episode.

The New Year’s edition “is a continuation of what we’ve been doing all season,” said James during a phone interview from Halifax, where he’s visiting family and enjoying his mother’s chowder. Apropos of that, he mentioned how proud he is that audiences seem to be embracing his animated, autobiographical “Little Ronnie” sketches.

Little Ronnie is featured in the New Year’s edition cracking-wise with a priest, no less. It’s a great example of how James’s comedy reflects Canadian culture and how it’s evolving. “It’s about a rapidly changing planet and how people (or how I) deal with it,” he says.

Unlike many comedians, James doesn’t shy away from exploring how societal changes manifest themselves and impact families. You can’t help but feel you’re sitting in James’s living room as you watch his sketches play out, especially those that touch on how family dynamics can heat to boiling during the holidays.

“You have to draw from your own well of experiences,” he says of the themes he explores. “I write from the heart, not the head,” he says.

Whoa...honesty and sincerity, what a concept! See, that’s how you ring in a new year. If we can’t find it in our politicians, at least we can find it on our airwaves.

Happy New Year!

Here's a peak at a Little Ronnie sketch that aired earlier this season.

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