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Summer 2000 Volt reviews

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Unknown original airdates: We had a bit of a gap between reviews – from April 11 to the week of July 31, in fact. Reviews below are for summer re-runs; I’m giving you the re-run airdates, and only for previously-unreviewed shows. (Yes, I know.)

August 3 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 14 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 30 | 31

September 1 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22

Thursday 3

  • «Mathieu prépare-t-il ses intros?» Yes, but what if he didn’t? Stock silence. Thank God for Bernard De Longlac.
  • Another They’re Doing This to Torture Me moment. I totally admit my complete ignorance of old French folk songs made me a major chump when it came to Manau, OK? Mea, like, culpa. But give me a break! You never heard of sampling? (Do the words "My definition of a boombastic jazz style” mean anything to you?) End of rant. [Cf. Ma folie de Manau]
  • As part of its mandate as a public broadcaster, Les Nouvelles is required to cover community events. (Images of channel 10 growing up, not to mention what we got from Maine. Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree, anyone?) Small-town choir singing «J’entends le loup, le renard et la belette. J’entends le loup et le renard chanter.» Over and over again. Laid on top of any stock footage the Voltistes could get their hands on.
  • And Mathieu breaks up at one point. I woulda done a retake. «Les Nouvelles était là. C’est juste comme on y était seul.» Then some kind of reportage with Rita about a Loch Ness Monster manqué in B.C., with JS frolicking shirtlessly in the background and a childish mockery of the Indian name of the Monster manqué.
  • The day is saved as Yvon Ailleurs describes shoah observations in Israel. “Oh, and Senator – love the suit.” What’s with the pointed hair? And is that how you pronounce “Auschwitz” in French?
  • You know what’s all impressive and sophistiqué about Guy? The way he says «Ça faisait plaisir» at the end of his reportages. To which gene can we attribute this flourish, the French or the invert?
  • Bit of a bum edit between Les Nouvelles and the subsequent interview with Eric about some talent show in an Ottawa polyvalent. I already knew Ottawa was boring.
  • Jeux vidéos avec JS: Crazy Taxi. A game will last five, ten minutes tops; «en sus, c’est fini, game over.» JS’s pauses are now uttered as English-language ums. You’ve been in Toronto too long, Jean-Sébastien. But he’ll always bring a little bit of the country with him, if only in the rack of Scrabble tiles necessary to render the vowels in the French word «super.»
  • Who’s the cutie sitting on the floor playing Crazy Taxi?
  • In Shippagan, a Stupid Volt Trick: With five days’ worth of dirty clothes, Mathieu and JS hit up Acadians to do their laundry. One family actually buys it. Man, Arctic Power: There’s a memory of New Brunswick. I have literally never seen it in Toronto, and I am a total laundry queen.
  • The lads may have dirty laundry, but don’t they have a razor each? Talk about your five-o’clock shadow.
  • Jesus fuck. The guy’s got mounted deer heads on the wall upstairs. Run, Lola, Run!
  • So what does an unprepared extro sound like? A moment’s silence. Mathieu is all chummy with Francine. (Is she the only Canadian-born Francophone Jewess in Toronto? I’m assuming she was born here.)
  • They’re so chummy, Francine twirls Mathieu in her arms. My kinda gal.
    • Videoclips: «Oualalaradime» de Zebda (a video-game spoof, but give it credit for “conventional” animated passages; Cf. “Californication” des Red Hot Chili Peppers and a video much better forgotten, “Où est le soleil?” de Paul McCartney); “Flat Beat” de Mr. Oizo, which we’re still not tired of (must be something to do with the gargantuan green HDPE desk).

Friday 4

  • A fake fundraising campaign. So fake we read constant crawls at screen bottom telling us so, in the Queen’s French: «Ceci est fake.» Simon bills himself as «animateur de Volt,» while Mathieu is merely «végétarien.»
  • «C’est très important de dépenser de l’argent. C’est bon pour la communauté, et c’est bon pour notre culture franco-ontarienne. Le plus on a l’impression d’avoir de l’argent, le plus on en dépense, le plus on a l’impression d’en avoir, et le plus notre estime de nous augmente, et de cette façon, nous remplissons notre mandat de télévision éducative.»
  • Is that Charles Duchesne with a major goatee in the background? I think he’s quite a bit sexier than Guy, actually. (I’d buy the video.)
  • Wee snippetette with Stoner.
  • Some TFO technicians have to “dance in the clubs” to make ends meet at month’s end. And it ain’t pretty.
  • Imagine if the Legislature heard about Volt’s thinly-veiled biting of the Harrisite (actually, Bassettite) hand that feeds them.
    • Videoclips: «Rien à perdre» de Muzion; “The Kids Aren’t Al[l R]ight” de l’Offspring, a vast waste of money and clearly the least-punk action the band led by the ice-blond ghost has ever taken; «Le fil» de la Chicane, a boring, horribly proper and MOR embarrassment of French Kiss proportions (sepiatone fails to redeem this Typical French Pop Song’s Typical French Voice and Typical French String Section); «J’ne veux pas rester sage» de Dolly, an attempt at a typographic video with a combo Lisa Loeb/Dishwalla sound and Elastica look; the confusing and not-undisappointing “Believe” de Franka Potente. You realize I am a total Lola Rennt obsessif, hein? Ask me sometime about lecturing a 6′5″ German national about the film’s merits at the Black Eagle.

Monday 7

  • Whenever the Voltistes attempt to be educational, the results are so boring and interminable as to induce suicidal feelings. God love ’em, but couldn’t JS have made a discussion of high-speed Internet connections a bit more interesting? With such a connection, can’t you watch jazzed-up content?
  • Also, the multiples in computers are 1,024, not 1,000. So a 56K modem does not, in fact, transfer up to 56,000 bits in a second; the max is 57,344. A 1MBps connection actually transfers 1,0242 bps, or 1,048,576 bps. “But it’s a difference of 2.4%,” you retort. The difference between 1,0242 and “1 million” rivals the maximum capacity of a 56K modem. Still think a 2.4% difference doesn’t matter? Either you’re accurate or you’re not, and would you like your paycheque to be off by 2.4%?
  • "Gigabyte” is “gigabyte,” not “gygabyte,” and it’s an English word. Words like “bit” and “gigabyte” already have French equivalents. ("Byte” is particularly charming: octet. Apparently “bit” is bilingual.)
  • Shock: A good segment from Eric, on spelunkers. Looks like everyone’s actually enjoying themselves.
  • Dano with talentless losers Filter, whose only claim to fame is necking with Trent Reznor, prompting him to pitch a tent.
  • TFO decided to start this episode nine minutes late, so don’t ask me what the last nine minutes of the show contained.
    • Videoclips: “Break Stuff” de Limp Bizkit.

Tuesday 8

  • Volt does another New Brunswick school inspection, in Tracadie, where all the kids seem suspiciously well-groomed and -dressed. Where are they getting the clothes? Mathieu looks great in the baby-blue hardhat, which would go over gangbusters at Woody’s.
  • Because Volt was officially visiting Acadie, viewers are spared any acknowledgement of the other solitude, viz. the shitty Turkish-prison schools the anglo kids are stuck with. When it comes to school quality if nothing else, anglophones are the white niggers of New Brunswick. Take it from a fucking expert, honey.
  • Entirely unironic jaw-dropper: A chief source at the polyvalent is a blond, maquillée prom queen wearing a Miss New Brunswick sash, which would go over gangbusters at Woody’s. ("Whatever happened to Fay Wray, that delicate, satin-draped frame? As it clung to her thighs, how I started to cry, because I wanted to be dressed just the same.")
  • Music “chronicle” with Nathalie, whom I’m liking more, but honestly, Charles Duchesne is somewhat superior, and not merely because he’s a he. Mathieu is still pretty good as a Siskel-like conversational partner in these chronicles, but he’s part of a gestalt and couldn’t go it alone. (And how could he not have heard of Esthero?)
  • What goes on in Tracadie, Dano asks? Bugger-all, apparently. And so much for the kids’ being well-dressed. These guys aren’t. And love their calqued French, where French words are uttered in strict English order. Their dialect fits right in with the segment’s franglais intro.
  • Guy does another Internet “chronicle,” but the iMac froze. (They couldna waited five minutes to tape the segment?) Today’s topic: Freebies. Isn’t échantillon a lovely word? Échantillonage is even nicer. Good domain name, in fact: echantillonage.org.
  • Guy, it must be emphasized, is tall.
  • Phone-ins, i.e., blagues, on chastity.
    • Vidéoclips: God help us, Manau. (Who is the weasel?) It’s the echt-français pronunciation of the rhotacisms that does it, you know, plus the Celiticism. [Cf. Ma folie de Manau] «Dans la peau d’un chef» de Bisso na Bisso.

Monday 14

  • All GraVolt all the time. At least, that was the threat. Turned out to be a single segment. Phew.
  • Guy, looking good in his orange jumper, seriously evaluates pizza pockets. Love the Alien Autopsy schtick JS does in his lab coat. And he starts wailin’ away on his drum kit and stuff. Guy’s hair seems browner than usual tonight. We approve of this.
  • An interview with the redoubtable Jean Leloup. Guy looked so young and whippersnapperish. Thank God for Coupe Bizarre. Bet you thought I’d never say that.
  • Skit, apparently filmed (the all-analogue TVO editing booths likely lack antiquing software), of some kind of ’70s crime caper. Where’s the black guy from?
  • Une gogosse à JS: A bicycle "klaxon” (love the word), embarrassingly resembling a penis pump or intravenous drip. The klaxon is not, however, loud enough to shatter the ceramic teapot shaped like a house. Call in the sledgehammer!
  • Continuation of the incomprehensible filmed skit. We’re fast-forwarding through this one.
  • The show will now give away a hideous gargoylish buddha, and the animateurs are now conducting putrefaction experiments. Ack.
    • Videoclips: «Antidépresseur» des Vulgaires machins; «Pis si ô moins» des Colocs.

Tuesday 22

  • JS and Dano host. To my horror, the Voltistes conduct a fashion survey at the lavishly-constructed French high school down the road from where I grew up. And every single informant speaks French in English word order, or with an English accent, or by dropping in English phrases where there already exists a French. (So does Dano: des piercings. I assume Dano had tried the correct French on the kids, only to be greeted by stupefied incomprehension.) The coastal town they forgot to close down.
  • Music “chronicle” with what’s-her-face. To my not-unimpressed surprise, JS appears to be capable of informed discussion of electronic music. Get him off the videogame beat, Thérèse. Nathalie couldn’t get a word in edgewise half the time.
  • First episode of new season of Hospital Passion. Again incomprehensible, but intentionally, parait-il. Charles oughta shave.
  • Simone on bodily biohazards left on surfaces. Like restaurant tables.
    • Videoclips: “Everything Sucks” de Dope; «Opération coup de poing» de la Brigade et Pierpoljak, easily the most bizarre name for a band in the history of civilisation.

Wednesday 23

  • Testing a school in Shediac. Good deadpan cop-style acting from Mathieu. Their English-named tour guide has less of a grating vulgarian accent than expected.
  • Hospital Passion is brilliant today. Intertextuality as Mathieu acts exactly the same as Jean-Louis. We’re talking Julie Christie in Fahrenheit 451 here. «Est-ce que je vous sers quelque chose?» «Non.». «Super. Moi aussi.» Directorial error: First drink handed to Janet is all but invisible.
  • Mathieu’s terrible secret: Left-handedness.
  • Nathalie seems enamored by the group Common. I just wish her opinion counted for more. (Not a slight. I was even worse.)
    • Videoclips: «Téléthargique» de Groovy Aardvark; «La furie et la foi» de Fonky Family.

Thursday 24

  • Oh, cripes. Back at the rich French school in Dieppe. They’re doing this to torture me.
  • Perversions presented on state-sponsored television:

    1. Mathieu entarté.
    2. Guy licks cream from Mathieu’s forehead. Enhancing the perversion, Guy wears untucked tuxedo shirt, the precise name of which eludes me.
    3. Mathieu kisses Guy on cheek.
    4. Guy entarté.

    Let’s hope nobody from the Leg ever sees this.

  • Zut afuckinglors. DJ Focâle does the music “chronicle," not at all as fluently and intelligently as the last time. My vote has shifted to Nathalie. Sorry. The conversation was a tad clubby, even with the gimmick of switching seating positions between discs. (Wow. Junkie XL was the soundtrack to your trip to New Brunswick. You mean you drove?)
  • Poor Charles was taken aback by Mathieu’s correcting the phrase “in the house” to «dans la maison
  • Rather impressive calves on Charles today. Excellent onomatopoeia by Mathieu of some new rap style or other. You know, he’s actually quite a good actor. I think I mentioned that before, but the Voltistes never, ever mention or acknowledge my compliments. Fuckers.
  • What is with the calves today?
  • «Moi, mon chum, il adore ça.» We draw the intended inferences, though I rather envision the stunned dropping of jaws of acutely disappointed teenage girls from Moose Creek to Tracadie.
  • Finally, some family entertainment: Maturbation month.
    • Videoclips: “Zerotonine” de Junkie XL; “The Man with the Red Face” de Laurent Garnier.

Friday 25

  • Guy’s T-shirt is too short. Some kind of volleyball tourney. I admit I got the wrong idea upon witnessing Guy strap on kneepads. Talk about skinny legs. Visually-impaired coach is built like a brick shithouse, topped by heterosexualist hair.
  • However, the conceit of overlaying videogame graphics (not unlike what the kids did when they Franked me) and scanlines works surprisingly well.
  • Dano writes a résumé; [BITCH!] her presentation is so childishly basic and patronizing it must surely apply to Dano’s own experience, if no one else’s.
  • On Hospital Passion, Mathieu continues to channel Jean-Louis. The segments become increasingly metacinematic. This episode’s absurdity rivals a Python sketch. I’m very bullish on this show, let me tell you. You see what happens? You give creative types a bit of freedom and they run with it. Good on yez, kids. You make me proud, not that it counts for anything.
    • Videoclips: “Lounge with Us” de Muzion; «Tous pareils» des Mauvais quarts d’heure.

Wednesday 30

  • Kind of a wooden, overscripted intro by two producer-chick types in the “Acadian” absence of l’équipe. It’s an all-JS-all-the-time episode.
  • Liked the rally segment. Was a minor passion of mine when I was a schoolgirl. Except I am not excellent at reading maps. Otherwise I would be a navigatrix by now. I am calm in other people’s emergencies, where “other people” includes the driver. Reasonably good French from the anglophone guest. And really excellent swearing.
  • Testing condoms with a Suburban’s tailpipe? Comment?
  • Rerun of paint-on-party segment. Not entirely unbrilliant.
  • Still lovin’ the Sauce Trempette Volt segment. And the harvest-gold stove in the background. Ah, yes, “Blue Spanish Eyes." Although it must be conceded that poor JS is the least erotic personnage on television today. God love ’im and all, but.
  • Kraft Dinner? Please. And there is no such unit as a “cubic ton.” Think about it. Oh, and it’s Our Compliments, not Yours Compliments, wrong two ways, not that IGA has any hope of catching up with President’s Choice in this lifetime.

Thursday 31

  • All Guy all the time. Not that we’re complaining.
  • The lad was really quite young when he started. Green, even.
  • Not a good offscreen narrating style, I’ve decided.
  • Straitlaced Woody’sfag Guy at a fetish party. And what a charming calque in French: fétiche.
  • It’s the Robert Smith manqué who comports himself the best by far. Blue lipstick is so empowering.
  • "Wacky weather.” “Wacky.” Guy.
  • The still-offensive recycling-the-dead sketch, like the putrefaction process the kids are exploring elsewhere, has not improved with age. On the other hand, the Law & Order spoof is still bleak and daring. It punches through, to paraphrase Bruce Lee.


Friday 1

Something to do with a performance-art troupe; an all-videos show otherwise. And, gah, is Charles Duchesne ever lookin’ good in the goatee!

Videoclips: «La vi ti nèg» de Muzion; “Falling Away from Me” de Korn, for some reason; «Bagnole» des Marmottes aplaties, a semi-typographic video; «Je sais pas jouer» de Pierpoljak; «Tabou» des Nubians avec Black Thought, whoever they are.

Seem to have missed Monday, inexplicably. I think it was a repeat.

Tuesday 5

  • Ærobix the Volt way. Almost trashy enough to be horribly realistic. And what is going on with Charles Duchesne, a very tight, well-muscled young lad? I smell a foreskin hiding in there somewhere.
  • Wait, JS. It’s spring so we take up cycling again? Some of us ride through the winter, milquetoast.
  • Anyway, JS teaches us how to clean a bike. But never, ever use WD-40, JS! It’s a solvent, not a lubricant. Use chain oil (dead cheap) or any kind of oil marketed for a bicycle.
  • The show is lucky I don’t file a complaint with Isabel Bassett over the slaughterhouse segment. Believe it, kids.
  • Herr Müller on the golf course, in a stunning plaid suiting. Not sure how well Chuck Duchesne succeeds in his taxing, starmaking role of caddy.
  • Still loving the fringe halter top on Nadyne.
  • Dano wraps her head around John Fluevog.
  • Oh, cripes. A careful reading of the end credits shows I have consistently misspelled Nadyne’s name. Fixed. And by the magic of Web pages, I can hide the fact it ever happened, except that such effacement is against policy.
    • Videoclips: «Idéal» d’Étienne Daho (got the credits reversed); “Respect to the Dance Floor” de Mass Hysteria, who really oughta stick to English (take it from an expert, honey).

Wednesday 6

  • The connect mechanism in this episode is Simon’s attempt to navigate an endless voxmail tree.
  • Pascale Laflamme milks a cow. Why, exactly? And note that the poor cows are chained up (i.e., imprisoned) and immobile. And this is one of the nicer facilities.
  • The PMS segment again. The girls seem very aware of just how their emotions change during PMS.
  • Simone, that christer. Or christrix. She and Gertrude seem to disagree on Simon’s new smoking habit. Is this the only segment featuring Gertrude, who looks about as plausible as a female as Terence Stamp did?
    • Videoclips: «Tous pareils» des Mauvais quarts d’heure (titles interchanged again); “Hey[,] Boy, Hey[,] Girl” des Chemical Brothers.

Thursday 7

  • Will o’ the Wisp as astrologistrix. Turn down that lipstick, Simon! It’s running hot on the video.
  • More with the goddamn rallying. We just went through this. And what an interminably long segment it is the second time – and I like the concept.
  • Herr Müller does the laundry. Love the tip not to dry whites and darks together. One seeks to avoid black-light-illuminated lint on his dark T-shirt at the Bovine Sex Club. Très sage, Herr Müller.
  • Date-rape drugs. Needed more teenage informants, and less of the sinister theme music.
    • Videoclip: “Freak on a Leash” de Korn, for some reason.

Monday 11

Some kind of awards-show parody, more or less well-handled. Dano does a very good job playing the role of a ditz. And I’m not insinuating anything. I really mean it. Dubmatique interview. Danger Zone again. (Did you know that “Rock You Like a Hurricane" is in fact by Scorpion? Me, neither.)

But what is Guy wearing?

Videoclip: «Le teint de Linda» de Mara Tremblay, again.

Tuesday 12

  • The episode of the year. (The “normal" episode, all–Hospital Passion–all-the-time shows excluded.) An exploration of what it means to be a hyphenated Canadian.
  • Who would have known that the actor behind Joe Canadian, Jeff Douglas (an equally generic name), would be so well-groomed, and so shockingly unilingual?
  • Majorly fucking shit captioning job on the “I Am Canadian" commercial. Worse even than we expect from the Canadians.
  • Cruel, Dano! Making poor Jeff utter cracked-French phrases whose meaning he does not understand!
  • And now the parodies. Dano’s is weak. Francine’s is pretty good (had to listen to it four times), particularly given how few French Jews there are in Canada. (One notes a clear English accent, BTW.) And of course Guy’s (op cit). Shoulda done another take, though, Guy; you had a small flub.
  • Is Guy the next Avi Lewis? If so, he’d have to bed down with Naomi Klein. <shudder>
  • The Simone music video is hard for me to decipher, but Simon is on to something. Could the Voltistes please post a QuickTime and a lyric sheet? (Music by DJ Focâle, I assume?)
    • Videoclips: «La vi ti nèg» de Muzion, which I’m getting tired of in every way – the jabbering Haitian intro, the opening chords, and above all, the title and its “creative" spelling.

Wednesday 13

Jeux franco-ontariens. The whole episode, apart from its tone of stultifying boredom, feels forced. Even the Voltistes don’t really care.

Thursday 14

All MP3 all the time, courtesy of JS, who seems to hanker for enterprise reporting. Today TFO, tomorrow the CBC. Or at least RDI. Good juicy quotes from the industry apologist, I must say, though they will do nothing to persuade the teenyboppers.

Videoclips: “Starsuckers Inc.” de Nine Inch Nails; «La cabane à Félix» du very sultry and radiant Marc Déry.

Monday 18

  • We give credit to JS for audacity: Cooking via engine heat. (And here I am spending three days this week locked in the back seats of cars documenting an automotive diagnostic tool.) But it’s not a Suburban, it’s a Jimmy! Ack! But they played it straight all the way through.
  • Three Internet “chronicles.” JS actually recommends Sympatico. Appalling. And Dano recommends Canoe. Though it is admittedly the least hideous of the Canadian portals, I mean, really. Develop some interests, you two. The Internet is about specificity, not vague generalities of the sort the losers at Sympatico and Canoe dish up.
  • Two music “chronicles,” including Charles Duchesne and his tight, veinous neck. His chum must be a very happy man. (You know, he is terribly sweet. Too sweet to be a DJ. Too sweet to have produced the memorably dissonant Volt theme music. Does Charles Duchesne contain multitudes?)

Tuesday 19

  • Bernard De Longlac hosts. Mathieu seems to have been humped to death. (Not by Charles Duchesne, shurely?!)
  • Oh, for heaven’s sake. JS and Mr. Bolduc in my hometown.
  • Hard-hitting reportage by Guy on codes of conduct in schools. Astonishingly fabulous black-rimmed orange T-shirt and ancient jeanjacket, melding beautifully with blood-red Fantastic Voyage–style backdrop. Again, I hope the Leg doesn’t find out about this. (Or Isabel.)
  • Eric engages in the moderately novel enterprise of asking a paleontologist to evaluate the realism of film depictions of dinosaurs. The segment was quite clearly shot for a program other than Volt.

Wednesday 20

  • Last studio episode. Four staff have been shitcanned. I am shocked. What will we do without Charles, Guy, Dano, and Thérèse? More on this on the main page after the new “season” starts, where the damage done by Isabel will begin to become clear.
  • The last Simone. Interminable.
  • Who would have expected Dano to plug Slap Shot?
  • We wonder about the actual disability of Joey Boudreau, a wheelchair basketballer. Oops, he outs himself: CP. He sounds stupider than he probably is. (CP can cause cognitive impairment, but more often affects speech motor control.) Mathieu’s interviewing style contains suspiciously high numbers of “Ouais" interjections, as if patronizing him.
    • Videoclip: “Super Beast” de Rob Zombie, looking truly monstrous in the faux-Japanese intro.

Thursday 21

  • Reruns. “Objectification of boys” on a dating site? There’s no such thing as objectification, honey. As usual, dumb-arse liberal feminists equate sexual with sexist. So why is she dressed and groomed so nicely? I thought she decried objectification. How will boys look at her now?
  • Eric on aspartame. You realize that Gulf War Syndrome may have been caused by chemical transformations of aspartame in diet soft drinks left to boil in the Saudi sun?
  • Excellent Laplatt anti-advertisement for beer. Everyone loved getting dressed up, though presumably such attire is a natural occurrence for the three beauty queens on staff. (Or is it four?)
  • And of course... William Portal.

Friday 22

Appears to be an all-videoclips show, bound together by the mucilage of an ill-advised karaoke theme. Videoclips: “Mass Hysteria” de Furia, an oddball RAtM francophone; «Ondes sensuelles» de M (not the other M, shurely?!); "The Man with the Red Face” de Laurent Garnier; “Spiders” by System of a Down (I think; the show still mixes up artiste and title cards); «Téléthargique» de Groovy Aardvark; "All Is Full of Love” de Björk.

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