It’s cozy in L’antichambre

The new RDS talkshow made its debut last night, and it was obvious from the get-go L’antichambre will be an alternative to 110%, rather than a competitor.

The TQS show is like a tavern table full of hockey fans: loud, opinionated, frequently obnoxious, occasionally stupid.

L’antichambre is more genteel: polite conversation in a setting that resembles a basement rec room, rather than a raucous saloon. 

Whereas the 110% panel is on bar stools, hunched forward and ready to pounce, the L’antichambre gang sits back in overstuffed blue chairs like they’re waiting for some babe to come out and dance on the coffee table.

The wardrobes accentuated L’antichambre’s relaxed atmosphere. Host Alain Crête was wearing a brown leaher sport jacket. Dave Morissette had on a black long-sleeved polo shirt, and Michel Bergeron and Françcois Gagnon wore sweaters.

A nice touch: They all wore poppies, as did featured guest Georges Laraque.

BGL stole the show. Laraque’s a very smart guy with a lot to say (check out his views on race and U.S. politics in The Gazette and his thoughts on fighting at the RDS web site). He talked about Jackie Robinson, junior hockey (RDS analyst Norman Flynn was BGL’s coach in St. Jean), racism in the Q (Gagnon remembered crowds that threw bananas at Peter Worrell). 

They tried, without success, to get Laraque to bitch about how Guy Carbonneau has been using him.

"On gagne," BGL said, "et je suis bien content. That’s it."

Laraque took umbrage at Gaganon’s suggestion that because he’s he’d missed most of training camp, he still wasn’t in shape. BGL countered by pointing out that fighting requires an elevated level of fitness.

The funniest sequence was a video clip of the off-ice stuff Laraque did in Edmonton, including donning a fright wig to act in an improv troupe, recording a hip-hop tune and manning the mic on a phone-in radio show that offered advice on relationships.

Bergeron cracked everyone up by imagining a scenario in which a woman caller goes on and on about her personal problems and when Laraque asks what her husband does, she replies: "He coaches the Oilers."

Also hilarious:phone calls in which comic Michel Beaudry, a superb impressionist, did boxing promoter Régis Lévesque, prime minister Steven Harper and Bob Gainey.

Less amusing: a video game boxing match between Laraque and Morissette. They had fun, but the bit went on too long.

L’antichambre is visually busy. The set is decorated with a jukebox (playing 33 rpm LPs), goalie masks, football helmets, athletic footwear, blue and red hockey sticks, a dart board. The debut telecast was overly fond of split-screens, displaying video that distracted viewers.

The most effective shot, when someone is saying something interesting, is a closeup. L’antichambre’s cut-happy director needs Ritalin. 

Deciding which show to watch comes down to your taste in late-evening snacks: raw meat and cold beer on 110%, canapés and wine spritzers on L’antichambre.

Sadly, no Chantal Machabée on either. 


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