What we consider to be “reality” television is far less real than you might think. Events depicted as authentic human drama are often at least partially scripted, with larger narratives and plotlines frequently influenced by hidden teams of experienced writers and producers. Rare is the day that the tribe actually does the speaking.
Gripping and authentic as it may seem, HBO’s 24/7 series is no different. The purported documentary is designed to provide a look behind the scenes at hockey players fighting their way through early-season challenges on the road to the famed Winter Classic. A series of storylines are portrayed around that journey, to ramp up the drama and tone down the mundane doldrums of the NHL lifestyle.
As luck would have it, we managed to get our hands on several early script drafts that reveal some of these secret, carefully-crafted plots. Read on as we reveal some of the highlights we found: details about upcoming episodes, surprising twists that have happened behind this season’s public-facing media stories, and even a few plot ideas that may have been axed for time and won’t appear in the finished cut.
- After David Clarkson begins his tenure as a Maple Leaf with an optics-deflating suspension, the MLSE PR team abandons plans for their #Clarksonofabitch social media campaign. The decision secretly pleases at least one member of the Leafs’ senior staff, who says the hashtag always sounded too much like “some JFJ-era European draft pick that didn’t pan out” anyways.
- Cody Franson defies the conventional laws of physics by ripping a 108mph slap shot with a paradoxically absent windup. This tears a hole in the space-time continuum and sends him into a never-ending loop where—no matter how great his performance is—he wakes up every September with yet another one-year contract.
- A heated debate between the Leafs’ coaching staff about the usefulness of advanced stats ends pretty definitively when Randy Carlyle points out, “The Allies took Omaha beach with maybe the worst CORSI imaginable, and LOOK AT HOW THAT TURNED OUT!”
- Wayne Gretzky attends a secret meeting at TSN to discuss joining the broadcaster’s last ditch effort to combat Rogers’ growing monopoly of hockey coverage in Canada. Gretzky tries to sneak out of the building and accidentally bumps into analyst Kerry Fraser. The former referee laments, “Whoa, I didn’t see you.” Gretzky smiles knowingly and keeps walking.
- The first goal of the Winter Classic is scored by Jay McClement with assists from Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, prompting the first onscreen, open-mouthed kiss in thirty years between Don Cherry and a too-slow-to-possibly-resist Ron MacLean.
- In an unprecedented development, a select group of Maple Leaf bloggers are awarded full press access to the Air Canada Centre. An utterly unbelievable plot twist follows: they’re friendly, respectful, and the free coverage they provide is excellent.
- Randy Carlyle is given a verbal warning about his job performance by Dave Nonis. This happens after it’s revealed the coach actually spends most of his time writing Warner Bros. and asking them to reconsider casting Mikhail Grabovski as Batman, a difficult role in which the player has no interest, experience, or chance of success.
- Phil Kessel’s mystery ailment is revealed: like frequent linemates Lupul and van Riemsdyk, he’s suffering from a sporadic back injury most likely caused by the amount of time spent carrying Tyler Bozak on it.
- During a visit to Detroit, Philadelphia Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren is forced to apply a 2013 roster update to his copy of NHL ’08 on a hotel Xbox, notices the change in several players’ overall ratings, and suddenly realizes what a colossal series of mistakes he’s made.
- The Leafs’ atrocious possession stats lead to the coining of the term “puck none-ies.” It doesn’t catch on like it should.
- Attempting to set a new precedent for the digital era, Cliff Fletcher sues multiple internet commenters for what he calls their “slanderous, egregiously harsh, and totally misinformed negative reviews of last summer’s Man of Steel.”
- As part of HBO’s ongoing competition with Netflix, Kevin Spacey is cast as a diabolical executive who manoeuvres politically through the league executive branch to guarantee that events transpire to his advantage. Unfortunately, he’s promptly replaced when critics deem him “not quite old or skeletony enough to play Mr. Jacobs.”
- Mark Fraser and Frazer MacLaren erupt in a cement-shattering locker room fistfight after a prolonged argument over which one of them is spelling their name correctly. It ends in an awkward handshake when a member of the 24/7 crew points out how many Emmys “Frasier” won.
- Video of Nazem Kadri’s hearing with Brendan Shanahan is finally revealed. The Leaf forward pleads “not Gionta” immediately before his totally-consistent-with-the-past three-game suspension is handed down.
- NHL coaches are encouraged to join Twitter to enhance the fans’ experience by posting mid-game, a suggestion which is misunderstood by Randy Carlyle, who stubbornly refuses to do anything but retweet whatever that night’s opposing coach says.
- Tim Lieweke orchestrates a midseason trade for Dustin Brown. He convinces Dean Lombardi by telling him, “I didn’t say don’t trade Dustin Brown. I said, you won’t trade Dustin Brown. I was daring you.”
- The Randy Carlyle Twitter thing two lines ago was a matchup joke. I’m not entirely confident in its execution, so I’m just checking back in to make sure you got it.
- Steve Carrell appears as a surprise guest star in the 24/7 Winter Classic finale, but only for about four minutes, because he doesn’t want to overshadow everyone else. Which is strange, because market research suggests that literally every single viewer would have been totally fine with that.
- In the post-Christmas matchup between Buffalo and Toronto, John Scott obliterates James van Riemsdyk with an experimental electromagnetic pulse rifle. This is deemed a good hockey play under NHL rules, since the deadly radiating projectile technically touches the puck first.
- Every Paul Ranger mention, segment, or interview inexplicably ends with “to be continued.”