Today Sat Sun
It is forecast to be Mostly Cloudy at 11:00 PM EDT on July 25, 2014
Mostly Cloudy
26°/17°
It is forecast to be Thunderstorm at 11:00 PM EDT on July 26, 2014
Thunderstorm
27°/20°
It is forecast to be Chance of a Thunderstorm at 11:00 PM EDT on July 27, 2014
Chance of a Thunderstorm
24°/18°

2 Comments

news

Today’s Special is the Public Archive

A preview of TVOntario’s programming from the early 1970s.

When TVOntario, then known as the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, took to the airwaves in September 1970, a press release declared that it was “Canada’s first television station devoted to entertaining education.” Since then the network has done its best to live up to that goal for viewers of all ages, whether by inciting children to utter “Polkaroo! Polkaroo!,” keeping adults informed about public affairs, or inspiring budding film historians via Elwy Yost’s movie shows. Those curious to find old TVOntario programs by digging through school board video vaults and surfing YouTube now have another option for rediscovering old shows thanks to the broadcaster’s new public online archive.


The site went live yesterday with over 325 clips from programs like Imprint, Prisoners of Gravity, Realities, Studio 2, and Talking Film. Sifting through the station’s archives over the past year has been a visual feast for producer Craig Desson, who admits that he “spent the first two months here hiding out in TVO’s media library.” The project rose out of TVOntario’s transferral of its back catalogue from tapes in a warehouse to digital media, as well as the broadcaster’s fortieth anniversary celebration. The archive’s goal is to provide a curated look at TVOntario’s past with material that continues to inform long after it first aired. “What I find most interesting about the content is that TVOntario is always trying to answer the question of how to educate people with television,” says Desson. ”And over forty years there have been lots of creative answers to that question.”

An episode of Today’s Special that’s appropriate for the current weather forecast.

As far as most requested shows go, it’s not surprising that beloved kids shows like Today’s Special and Polka Dot Door are near the top. “There is a huge emotional reaction when you see a piece of TV you remember from being twelve,” says Desson. One complicating factor in fulfilling requests for any type of program is the task of wading through the rights minefield, especially since copyright regulations for programs from TVOntario’s first two decades didn’t foresee the digital world. The quest to sort out rights has required detective work (though not in kangaroo suits) mostly in finding former program hosts to get their permission to post their shows. “We were really pleased to work out an agreement with ACTRA whereby we get approval from their members before posting it online,” notes Desson. “We’ve found that Facebook and Google have been invaluable resources in finding where people are today. In contacting former actors you really get a sense of their emotional connection to the wonderful work they did with TVO. I’ve heard lots of stories from former hosts about the fun they had putting their show together.”

From Toronto: Four Faces, writer Scott Symons provides his view of the city.

Of the programs posted so far, one of Desson’s favourites is Toronto: Four Faces, which views the city through the eyes of figures like historian William Kilbourn and writer Scott Symons. He enjoys the program for reasons that the broadcaster’s early PR people would have proud of—it’s both “intellectually dense” and entertaining (“you are looking at 1980′s Toronto and you can’t help but notice how the cars, hair styles and architecture have changed, which is worth watching for that alone”).
Additional material from the September 28, 1970 edition of the Telegram.

Comments

  • Functionalist

    I wasn't impressed by Scott Symons' commentary which I managed to see despite the numerous random pauses in the video, long pauses which I could no longer stand by the time he got to putting down urban Toronto (“the inner city”) and glorifying Rosedale.

    The whole thing seemed to be aimed at bringing down Toronto, as surprisingly many commentaries turn out to be. It's a sort of victimization that abounds in Canadian culture as Margaret Atwood once observed. The reality seen in those images is of a budding metropolis, something that may be inspirational, full of potential to take its place among the leading cities of the world. Its “inner city” was and is vibrant, full of culture, and historic and attractive streetscapes.

    But the reaction of these people is to weave some sort of narrative of fault rather than embracing the many positives of the urban experience. Conveniently, he uses the sexual metaphor so that most people, even intellectuals, won't have a clue about what he's talking about We should reject these self-defeating perspectives, even the elaborate intellectual versions of these narratives. We should recognize our deficiencies and address them, because they are addressable and changeable. The strengths outweigh the problems, but the problems need a lot of attention, like transportation, public spaces, and design and culture. At stake is very much a place among the world's best cities.

    TVO, however, is great. The online archives are definitely a worthwhile project in keeping their legacy of high quality programming relevant in the internet age.

  • Functionalist

    I wasn't impressed by Scott Symons' commentary which I managed to see despite the numerous random pauses in the video, long pauses which I could no longer stand by the time he got to putting down urban Toronto (“the inner city”) and glorifying Rosedale.

    The whole thing seemed to be aimed at bringing down Toronto, as surprisingly many commentaries turn out to be. It's a sort of victimization that abounds in Canadian culture as Margaret Atwood once observed. The reality seen in those images is of a budding metropolis, something that may be inspirational, full of potential to take its place among the leading cities of the world. Its “inner city” was and is vibrant, full of culture with historic and attractive streetscapes and great landmarks.

    But the reaction of these people is to weave some sort of narrative of fault rather than embracing the many positives of the urban experience. We should reject these self-defeating perspectives, even the elaborate intellectual versions of these narratives. We should recognize our deficiencies and address them, because they are addressable and changeable. The strengths outweigh the problems, but the problems do need a lot of attention, like transportation, maintenance and design of the public realm, and promoting culture and design. At stake is very much a place among the world's best cities.

    TVO, however, is great. The online archives are definitely a worthwhile project in keeping their legacy of high quality programming relevant in the internet age.