Terry Fox: Unstoppable Canadian Cyborg?

This particular Heritage Piece is not from my childhood. It was not drilled into my brain and I can’t quote from it. Those, I admit, are the things that I like about these things. Still, I obviously knew who Terry Fox was. Looking back, I’m somewhat surprised their wasn’t an ad about him back in those days. Why did it take so long, I wonder? Ah well, he has one now. It’s a straightforward piece, narrated by Terry at first, then closing with a narrator filling in the blanks. I don’t even really have much to say about it. (Note: This is not a sign that I am against cancer research. Those rumours are unfounded as I have said at my many press conferences on the subject.)

True PDR Fact: Walking across Canada is something I’d actually enjoy doing. Not even for a cause, necessarily. I just think that, if the weather was nice and I wasn’t broke and I had the time, I’d be okay with doing that. It’s a dream that will never come to fruition. Terry Fox, on the other hand, did his thing under much worse circumstances and for much better reasons. I don’t think this Heritage Commercial, had it been around in my youth, would have been easily memorized, but I do think it’s a perfectly good way of memorializing Fox and that’s what it is actually supposed to do, so I’m going to give it Three out of Six Pieces of PDR’s Reviewing System Cake. It does its job.

I fully admit that my claim that Terry Fox is a “cyborg” will likely be argued by some. Fair enough, but it’s a claim I first made when Canada put him on money and I wanted to say Canada was the first country to have a cyborg on its money. You can take that away from us, sure, but it would make us feel bad. Meanwhile, if you want to argue that Terry Fox was famously not “unstoppable” okay, but in that case it should make you feel bad.

Canada Can (Try To) Keep Peace

This one is simple enough. To remind viewers that Canada was involved in the creation of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, they show the force saving some hostages in the Congo.

This piece has something I always want to see in action movies, but very rarely do. The heroes take the bad guy alive. It feels like Hollywood can’t fathom an outcome that doesn’t involve death, but I think it is a good idea to tie the UN Peacekeepers’ reputation to a mindset where maybe killing isn’t always the answer. Also, Dextraze comes across as pretty cool. The fact he isn’t using a gun draws a comparison to Sam Steele, but of course Dextraze has two guys with big guns standing next to him, so the comparison isn’t perfect. It’s still cool, though.

Anyway, this commercial is fine. Maybe if it had been on when I was young some of the hostage-taker’s lines would be burned into my head, but as it stands, I have no sentimental attachment. I can give it Three out of Six Pieces of PDR’s Reviewing System Cake.

Frontenac Beat Them Off. heehee

It has been a long while since I have reviewed a Canadian Heritage Minute, but since this is the sesquicentennial year of Canada, seems like maybe I ought to do a few this year. Let’s get on it.

I have little faith that this one comes from an actual historical event. They wanted to make a piece about Frontenac’s refusal to surrender, sure, I can get that. I may not be big into tying a country’s military victories so close to its worth, but I can see the appeal. That makes sense for this thing. But to fill out the minute, we are given this nameless guy who steps out of the crowd to show off. I mean, look at his twirl accompanying the “Ah Oui, Lieftenant!” This guy is the class clown of 1690 Quebec. He just wants eyes on him instead of this silly war thing. He comes up with such winning jokes as getting names and ranks wrong, then calling someone an idiot. Grade-A material there, guy. And then he does the fakey, Errol Flynn-style sword fight. Again, all for show. This guy and his little comedy stylings probably did not actually exist in the real history of these events. And that’s a damn shame. Also of note, I love the anger in the American’s “General Phipps!!!!” line.

And then Frontenac gets to be in the last couple seconds of his Heritage Minute.

I like this one! Five out of Six Pieces of PDR’s Reviewing System Cake.

More like Agnes MacWin, right?

It’s 1935 and all is not well in the penitentiary system. But here comes Ol’ Agnes MacPhail to bust some heads. She’s the first woman to check out the conditions in the prison and she doesn’t like what she sees. Her train of thought seems to be: “Hey, beating these guys up isn’t making them better citizens and actually might cause some problems in the long run so, maybe let’s not do that?”. The guys in Parliament assure her that she’d just too delicate, because she’s a boobhaver, to know what prison is all about. She shows them what actually goes on in the prison (I guess they’d never actually bothered to check) and seems to pretty quickly get people on her side.

It’s a good thing to remember both our first “woman MP” and that improving prisons is a good thing, so that’s nice. The “Is This Normal!?” is definitely memorable, but it is not especially useful as a quoteable line. The parliament scene reminds me of the bit in the Moment about the women in the medical system. An established patriarchy trying to shout down the women who are trying to making progress. At least that other group had some glorious sideburns. I think I settle somewhere about Four out of Six Pieces of PDR’s Reviewing System Cake here.

Soddie Styles

This Heritage Moment is all about an immigrant couple on the olden times prairies building a Soddie, which is like a house for people who don’t have access to wood. All there is to it is these people suffering to make a home for themselves set to stirring music. Brave pioneers who built (that part of) our nation.

I’ve pointed out a couple of these moments that get by on only one or two cast members, and this is like those. It does it well. This couple, their horses, and some cool facial hair are all that carries us through. They seem like a likeable pair and that makes it all work. We’re happy when they build their house at the end and we try not to think about how they probably end up dead a few winters later anyway.

To be honest, there ain’t a whole lot to say here. Perhaps the biggest failing of this one is that the woman sees something “over there” and we never find out what. It couldn’t possibly just be a weak set-up for her husbands line about “the same flat country everywhere”. She must have seen something. And Canadians need to know what. Four out of Six Pieces of PDR’s Reviewing System Cake.