I remember my first year playing hockey when I was a 10 year old kid. I didn't think I would accomplish much as a first year goalie, but the father of one of my team mates who was also a goalie taught me the basics of the game while my dad was teaching that man's son and the other defensemen on the team since dad had experience at that position. Everyone played for fun and all the players' families got along well. Well, I'm happy I'm not Robbie McConnell, or any of his young team mates in The Tournament the Complete Series DVD because their parents represent everything that's wrong with hockey parents. In fact, that's really the premise behind this mockumentary, as well as why it's so funny. The Tournament seasons one and two was originally broadcast on the CBC and OLN.
The two seasons of The Tournament The Complete Series revolve around a Briarside hockey team (atom level for the first season, pee-wee for the second), the Farqueson funeral home Warriors. Their main goal is to win their local championship in order to access a big tournament at the end of the season. Throughout this quest, we realise that it's not really the children's hopes that we follow through this mockumentary but the parents' quests for their kids success.
No one illustrates this quest better than Barry McConnell, Robbie McConnell's father. He wants his 10 year old to make it to the NHL (something he himself wasn't able to achieve) and he's ready to go through whatever it takes to make it happen. His wife Janice, also wants what's best for her son, but she also encourages her son in all his activities. That being said, she's willing to turn a blind eye at times "for the greater cause" that her husband's trying to get to.
Other characters in The Tournament include Stan Rykman, Janice's former boyfriend from high school, and owner of Stan Rykman Kia, the dealership where Barry works. There's also Deb, Janice's good friend and single mother of one of the kids on the team. There's also Hal and Aurora Farqueson, the owners of the Farqueson funeral home which sponsors the team. Their daughter Denim is the goalie for the team, and mother and daughter often seem more masculine than Hal in their attitude towards hockey. Then there's slow-witted Dougie, father to one of the less talented players of the team and Barry's eternal sidekick. Add to these Dr.Singh, an immigrant gynecologist who is also assistant trainer on the team who desperately tries to be accepted as "one of the gang". Finally, there's Mercier, the guy from Abbittibi, Québec with his fun French-Canadian accent and his mysterious background.
All of those characters are neurotic in one way or the other, and they go through all the myths known to hockey parents. I think every urban legend about hockey parents, real or unreal is touched in this mockumentary. As it says on the box: "The Game. The Dream. The Parents From Hell." I think that accurately describes the series very well. In fact, except for a few quite surprising twists, I often had an impression of deja-vu. Despite that, I find that after a few episodes, we can really feel the emotions of all those oddball characters. The casting for The Tournament The Complete Series DVD couldn't have been better.
The series also has some bonus features on the season one DVD, including interviews with some of the NHL legends who have cameo parts in the series (these include Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito, Dennis Hull and Yvan Cournoyer). There's also an interview with the producers and cast, but nothing out of the ordinary here.
In the end, I'd recommend this to hockey fans who'd like to see a mockumentary done in the raw style of Trailer Park Boys, but in a minor hockey setting. You need to be able to enjoy sarcasm; not recommended for over-the-top hockey loving parents as they might confuse this with a how-to video! Overall, I wish they had taken some of the gags a little further, but the two series remain fun to watch with a beer or two, on nights when there's no hockey on TV of course...