It's Just Toronto
April 12, 2013 12:38 AM   Subscribe

Between 1986 and 1993, rather than showing a test pattern, Global Television would, in the dead hours of the night, broadcast long videos of walking and driving through Toronto.

Three shows, of one "episode" each, were produced, the aforementioned Night Walk and Night Drive, as well as a walking/driving/nightlife video, called Night Moves (1, 2, 3) which ran on a loop between the end of one broadcasting day and the start of the next. Best of all for Global, they counted as Canadian Content, allowing the channel to broadcast American shows in more desirable time slots.

The shows, well-known to insomniacs, certainly contain a sense of nostalgia for those who were up early or late enough to see them. Beyond that, they offer up a time capsule of Toronto in the early 80s.

(Previously)
posted by frimble (35 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh no...nostalgia bombs!
posted by salishsea at 1:20 AM on April 12, 2013


I believe these were early uses of steadicam technology too.
posted by salishsea at 1:22 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


They were nice, but I preferred channel 47's solution to filling the all-night void.
posted by pracowity at 1:25 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was a young adolescent boy, channel 47 had a whole different thing going on for me, somehow involving B-rate Italian cinema and lax ratings standards on the multicultural channel.
posted by salishsea at 1:38 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The idea of a late night tv or radio program that some how went into
a special mental space while the rest of the world slept has always been
a secret desire for me. The late night radio station that goes deep deep
into the night, the radio announcer calling out to anyone for a live voice to
comfort him. a small group of strangers calling in to affirm their tickets on the
night coach... with smokey jazz. why do the wee hours have to be so short?
posted by quazichimp at 2:45 AM on April 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


oh man, Night Walk.

Hi 1990. I.... I missed you?
posted by 256 at 4:00 AM on April 12, 2013


Ok, I never realized that Night Walk and Ride were always the same clip. I thought they were sending the camera guy out like every night. And the weather two hours up the 401 in Toronto was always mild and pleasant.

Re Channel 47, I would watch entire movies in Italian just to catch a few seconds of boobs or sex. Which isn't as crazy as it sounds, because you never had to wait too long for somebody to take their shirt off.
Actually it is as crazy as it sounds.
posted by Flashman at 4:00 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Without even opening the thread I knew Chuck the Security Guard would be mentioned too. I would also bring up the third late-night curiosity that Toronto TV produced in my young adulthood: CP24's Rewind. When CITY launched its 24-hour news channel, it did not let the minor impediment of not having 24 hours of programming lined up get in the way. As a result, at some small hour -- I want to say 2:00 to 3:00 AM -- they would run a complete evening newscast (either the 6:00 or the 10:00 Citypulse) from decades earlier. As I recall, it was always that same calendar day and usually from the eighties. Thus, on June 29, 2001, you might have seen the evening news from June 29, 1985 and watched Mayor Art Eggleton in a hard hat digging a silver shovel into the ground for Skydome, the announcement that all new Fords by 1987 would have a heads-up GPS in the car, the review of the Phil Collins concert that night at Exhibition Stadium, and Dick Smyth's skepticism that this new Gorbachev fellow meant any sort of change to the status quo in the USSR.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:17 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


The All Night Show was special.

A couple years ago, I said some nice things to the show's producer on Facebook and ended up receiving a DVD copy of "10,000 Shiftless Nights" - the ANS anniversary special that I believe has never aired.

And quazichimp - I know exactly what you mean. There's something magical about the middle of the night.
posted by davebush at 4:50 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea of a late night tv or radio program that some how went into a special mental space while the rest of the world slept has always been a secret desire for me.

People have been feeling like that since the days of cat's whiskers.
posted by pracowity at 5:25 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those night time driving videos have to have been an influence on David Cronenerg.
posted by pmcp at 5:45 AM on April 12, 2013


Which isn't as crazy as it sounds, because you never had to wait too long for somebody to take their shirt off.
Actually it is as crazy as it sounds.
posted by Flashman at 4:00 AM on April 12


Eponysterical! (Am I doing this right?)
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:19 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pioneers of reality TV.

In fact, that's way more real than reality TV. I'd watch that!

Pioneers of Google 'Street View' too. Sort of.

posted by mazola at 6:54 AM on April 12, 2013


Those night time driving videos have to have been an influence on David Cronenerg.

Long live the new flesh!
posted by Beardman at 6:58 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, the guy in the first video around 3:00 who beckons the camera to the back of the all-night pharmacy, and then it just cross-dissolves to being back outside? WTF happened?
posted by Beardman at 7:04 AM on April 12, 2013


Movie mistakes.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:06 AM on April 12, 2013


I thought Sheila Heti's lecture/essay in the first link was really nice. She says:

I love “Night Walk” for many reasons; it doesn’t do that thing that so much art about Toronto does — which is make it into something it’s not...watching it today, it still makes me love this city all over again...I mean love like the real love, where there’s some deep recognition that this thing lives eternally inside you.

My own aesthetic response to these videos is complicated. On one hand, having lived in Toronto for 8 years now, I feel at home enough that I have a similar feeling about "Night Walk" as Heti: recognition, and, if not love, affection. On the other hand, unlike her, I didn't see these videos as a kid; in 1986 I was five years old in BC. And since I know that this therefore isn't really my Toronto, I still watch "Night Walk" from an outsider's perspective. From that perspective, the unadorned presentation of Toronto at night is nonetheless a kind of idealization, not unlike my relation to Taxi Driver. Yonge Street in 1986 and Times Square in 1976 are obviously really different, but to me they're equally products of the imagination. (To put it another way, these clips strike me as parts of Videodrome do.) So when I watch the camera floating around Toronto at night in the 80s, I feel this tension between familiarity and strangeness.

To the extent that all of us are exiles from the past, we all watch these movies from outsiders' perspectives--so in a sense, what we 'access' through them is always something imaginary. But what you can do if you lived here, like Heti, is map the present object of longing onto some other memories: snippets of her childhood in Toronto, watching these videos and falling in love with her idea of the city. Torontonians of a certain age can watch these and cross-index their current longings with their childhood fantasies of the city. It's not that the Toronto of "Night Walk" didn't exist, but that what Heti is remembering when she watches "Night Walk" is her own hope for what her adult life would be like. (Her piece is good because it recognizes this and wonders about it.)
posted by Beardman at 8:01 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: the Maison du Croissant on Yonge St. at the start of the "Walking" clip used to be known as the "House of Toast" by Ryerson theater students.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:08 AM on April 12, 2013


Fun fact: the Skinhead walking by at 2:30 was a buddy of my best friend's cousin Eric.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:10 AM on April 12, 2013


The "driving" link in this post was uploaded by my friend Retrontario...if you grew up in Ontario during the '70s and '80s, his site is a bottomless well of nostalgia.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:41 AM on April 12, 2013


As much as it would freak people out (me included, probably) privacy-wise, I wish Google or somebody would do this for all cities every 5-10 years. It feels like such an awesome time capsule.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2013


Also, I'm not sure if using this to skirt the Canadian content rule is the best or worst thing about it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Ryerson?

GIVE US BACK OUR SAM'S SIGN!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think what happens with the drug store scene is that the camera man is beckoned into the back room, fades to black, gets hit over the head with a club and then gesture guy steals the camera and resumes the walk.

At least that's not far off my occasional experience of wandering around Yonge Street n the middle of the night and the middle of the 1980s.

Fun fact: I KNOW I was filmed by a Night Walk guy back in the day. I think it will be like seeing a ghost of my 17 year old self if that clip has been uploaded somewhere. Back then, we didn't have YouTube y'see, so if you wanted to be famous, you had to go down to Yonge and Dundas at 3 in the morning and accost the Global Night Walk guy or the City TV Late Great Movies streeter camera.
posted by salishsea at 9:34 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I kept expecting to see Johnny LaRue.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:01 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


CP24's Rewind. When CITY launched its 24-hour news channel, it did not let the minor impediment of not having 24 hours of programming lined up get in the way. As a result, at some small hour -- I want to say 2:00 to 3:00 AM -- they would run a complete evening newscast (either the 6:00 or the 10:00 Citypulse) from decades earlier.

The loss of City TV really diminished this place. Imagine how they would have dealt with Rob Ford. Or maybe better to say how Rob Ford would have dealt with them. What is Moses up to these days...
posted by Chuckles at 11:10 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The loss of City TV really diminished this place. Imagine how they would have dealt with Rob Ford.

My train of thought went like this "Hmm, how would the old CITY-TV deal with Rob Ford?" --> "Who was CITY's local politics guy?" --> "Adam Vaughan." --> "Oh, yeah."

And speaking of councillor Vaughan, one of my highlights when watching rewind one insomniac night was seeing a 1985-ish report on some controversy at Ryerson's radio station and seeing an interview with the 24-year-old mulleted Vaughan himself.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:18 AM on April 12, 2013


My train of thought went like this "Hmm, how would the old CITY-TV deal with Rob Ford?" --> "Who was CITY's local politics guy?" --> "Adam Vaughan." --> "Oh, yeah."

Well, ya.. On the other hand, City didn't exactly play hardball with Mayor Mel. I guess that is simply because City wasn't ever about playing hardball. They managed to have such a positive impact on culture and politics.. I wonder if Rob Ford could even have been elected if City was still around.
posted by Chuckles at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2013


Was that version of Strangers in the Night unique to the Night Show or can you find it elsewhere?
posted by wheelieman at 11:56 AM on April 12, 2013


MCMikeNamara: "Also, I'm not sure if using this to skirt the Canadian content rule is the best or worst thing about it."

Infomercials produced in Canada count as Canadian content so it could be worse.
posted by Mitheral at 6:05 PM on April 12, 2013


Really the best possible middle of the night programming you could dream up. So meditative. If you still can't sleep after watching, consult your doctor.

I'll take these as CanCon over Beaver Hour on the radio. If you had to wake up early on a Sunday morning, you knew you were going to hear Gordon Loghtfoot or Tom Cochrane on your clock radio.

Also, the CP24 Rewinds made me miss Mark "CityTV, Everywhere" Dailey.
posted by dry white toast at 9:00 PM on April 12, 2013


Also, not to be forgotten, the CBC late night sign off Oh Canada with cross country animation.
posted by dry white toast at 9:09 PM on April 12, 2013


Anyone know the music for the Night Walk video? It's very soothing.
posted by jenh526 at 9:16 PM on April 12, 2013


I think there are music credits at the end of the video (or maybe I'm remembering Night Drive).
posted by Beardman at 5:03 PM on April 13, 2013


This is when you knew your sleepover was entering AWESOME territory.
posted by Theta States at 8:17 AM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


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