The Surprising Second Life of a Show Only Insomniacs Watched in 1980s Toronto
Back in the 1980s, before 24-hour cable TV networks were ubiquitous, late-night television offerings were limited at best. If you were unlucky enough to find yourself still awake at 3 a.m., finding anything to watch beyond a test pattern or an infomercial was nearly impossible. If you lived in Toronto, however, you were blessed with a rather unusual series of early-early-morning programs that have since found a second life thanks to the Internet.
Starting in 1986, a privately-owned network called Global TV aired a series of late-night "shows" titled Night Ride, Night Walk, and Night Moves. They ran for just about seven years, with the final Night Ride airing in 1993. Each one had an extremely simple premise: raw footage of what it looked like to cruise around the city of Toronto—sometimes by foot, sometimes by car—after the sun went down. Depending on your mood, the results could be calm enough to lull you to sleep, or interesting enough to make you feel less weird about watching TV so late.
With its jazz soundtrack, the footage had an air of '80s cool, but it certainly got weird sometimes. One episode of Night Moves showcased the interior of Toronto's convention center, a new but rather dull structure. As the Steadicam gave viewers a tour, singer Sharon Lee Williams tried to up the city's fertility rate with her song, "Oh Yes There Will Be Love," which included lyrics like:
We're getting to the moment we've been waiting for
Getting ready now to make love
So move a little closer so I can see what's in your eyes
Before you kiss me and you ask for more.
Never since has a convention center been the source of so much romance. As absurd as that audio/visual combination may seem, local blog Torontoist wrote of the segment in 2009, "addicts of the show could be marked by how well they knew the lyrics" to the song.
The videos have since been uploaded to YouTube, where loyal viewers leave wistful comments recalling what they were doing when they first saw the Night programs almost three decades ago. GlobalTV now broadcasts infomercials like everyone else, but with Toronto's convention center renovated just last fall, it'd be crazy to not ask Ms. Williams for a 2014 update of her song.