If I were a bigger person, I would be happy for him, but I'm not, so I'm not. Vinay Menon, former TV critic with the Toronto Star, has left that beat to become the paper's humour columnist. It feels like a betrayal; I thought he already was the paper's humour columnist. Only now he won't be using his witty powers to write about television, but about whatever he's interested in. Selfish man. In his Tuesday and Thursday column, "he plans to document the fall of civilization one absurdity at a time."
When the Star announced that layoffs were in the works last month, my first thought was that the TV section was vulnerable. They had a comparative glut of journalists writing on the topic and given the ever-diminishing ranks of TV critics, it would have fit the trend. That was my last thought on the subject, too. I'm not in Toronto and don't expend a lot of energy thinking about the inner workings of their newspapers.
Then Menon mysteriously disappeared. Rob Salem spared a few words to mention he was taking over the TV column, but not to mention what happened to that guy who had been doing it until that point. It didn't bode well. At least the Star wasn't going with a national newswire for their TV needs. But along with John Doyle (though the Globe and Mail firewall is his handicap), Vinay Menon was the most distinctive voice in television criticism in this country. So naturally I assumed he got the axe.
Because his TV reviews were basically a humour column anyway, they were the most entertainingly readable, even when he was writing about a show I had no interest in. When he was excoriating a show, he gave it an aura of watchability just because of how amusingly he'd write about it.
I didn't hate Sophie as much as he did (not until a few episodes in, anyway), but howled with laughter over his review. If it wasn't on my must-watch list before, it was afterwards just to compare notes. He doesn't have the power to make me watch The Biggest Loser, but his take on The 5 Minute Office Workout that sprang from it are the only reason I've heard of the webisodes, and served to make me giggle while reading the article at work. (I hear laughter is the best exercise.)
He started the official humour column this week with entries on the Canadian Olympic uniforms ("Just checking: are we really sending our Olympic athletes to Beijing this summer dressed like circus freaks?") and the OPP's use of a Cessna to catch speeders.
Maybe next week he'll tackle the House two-part finale. Hey, with anything in the news as potential subjects, TV has to be in the mix too, right? No? Come on, humour me.