If only CBC would return to its core values then the embattled public TV network has a future.
The proof comes with a sparkling new CBC-TV special Leonard Cohen: Live In London.
The title says all: the graceful, ageless Cohen walks out on stage at London's 02 Arena, mumbles a few introductory words, then sings for the next hour.And that's it --no fancy production numbers, special effects, guest stars. It's all Cohen with a small band and a few back up female singers.
All the Cohen standards get trotted out for this adoring audience: Suzanne, Hallelujah, I'm Your Man, First We Take Manhattan. Nifty camerawork gets us up close and personal: Cohen isn't wearing stage makeup and every wrinkle and wattle on his face is visible.
And that's about it, as classy a piece of TV as you'll see anywhere. And surprise it's on CBC which has been testing viewer loyalties in recent yearswith a steady stream of mediocre reality shows, poor sitcoms and an aversion to the mandate that once defined public broadcasting.
Shows like Leonard Cohen should be on CBC every week. But culture somehow became a bad word for the present bunch of CBC programmers who shunted aside Opening Night for low brow reality outings.
This is the kind of musical special CBC would regularly show on Sunday night collectively titled Super Special. Remember? If such fare were part of CBC there'd be loud cries these days at the federal government's refusal to help the embattled web during current budget short falls. Instead the viewing public seems mostly indifferent to CBC's fate.
In recent months CBC has been busy dumping such hits as Blue Jay baseball and Royal Canadian Air Farce and there are threats American fare may once more be spotlighted on CBC prime time in the fall.
Leonard Cohen harks back to better days when showcasing Canadian stars was what CBC was all about.
MY RATING: A-.
THIS HOUR SPECIAL PREMIERES ON CBC-TV WED. APRIL 1 AT 8 P.M.