Each week, Torontoist examines the upcoming TV listings and makes note of programs that are entertaining, informative, and of quality. Or, alternately, none of those. The result: Televisualist.
The Kids In The Hall, in Death gear. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayOctober Sky is one of those movies that went by largely unnoticed in theatres and then got a bit of a second wind on DVD, complete with “obvious inspirational story” cover. It was a largely deserved second wind, because it’s a good little movie in the “small-town folk do inspirational things in a true story” mold, with a young rocket-building Jake Gyllenhaal playing off against Chris Cooper’s authoritarian father. Recommended. (CHCH, 7 p.m.)
So word on the street is that The Jay Leno Show is such an embarrassing failure that NBC is planning to push Leno back to 11:30 for a half-hour talk show, push Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show to midnight, and push Jimmy Fallon and Late Night to 1 a.m. Understand that NBC had a totally reliable and often unbeatable late-night structure for over twenty-five years prior to this TV season (over thirty-five if you count Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, Late Night’s predecessor), and they’ve managed to kill that in less than five months. Way to go, NBC! Anyway, this might be your last chance to watch Leno in prime time, so have at it. (City, 10 p.m.)
TuesdayThe big TV event of the week is Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town, and Torontoist has plenty of other coverage, and we haven’t seen the first episode yet, and we know you’re all going to watch it, so instead of saying anything substantial we will simply be trivial and rank the Kids by how well they have aged in order from best to worst: Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, and Kevin McDonald. Wasn’t that absolutely illuminating? (CBC, 9 p.m.)
To compete with the return of Canadian icons, CTV has… the return of American Idol, which says a lot about CTV. This season, Ellen Degeneres replaces Paula Abdul, because Paula thought she could get a sweeter deal than working a couple of hundred hours a year doing next to nothing for a ridiculous amount of money (which of course she did not), and that just goes to show you that whatever she was on, it must have been terrifyingly powerful. (8 p.m.)
WednesdayPassing Strange, Spike Lee’s concert film/documentary about the musical of the same name, is on PBS tonight. Having seen it, Televisualist is confident in declaring that this is definitely worth watching: the musical itself was already a very good one, but Lee’s docuconcert flick of it takes the original work to new levels, making it even more accessible and watchable; this was easily one of the best films of last year. A fascinating movie. (9 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Homer the Smithers,” wherein Homer takes over Smithers’ job for a week, forcing Mr. Burns to take care of himself. “Okay, Mr. Burns, here are your messages. ‘You have thirty minutes to move your car.’ ‘You have ten minutes to move your car.’ ‘Your car has been impounded.’ ‘Your car has been crushed into a cube.’ ‘You have thirty minutes to move your cube.’” (CJMT, 6:30 p.m.)
ThursdayBack-to-back new eps of 30 Rock is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. (City, 9 p.m.)
Hulk Hogan made his return to televised wrestling last week in a very special Monday-night episode of TNA Wrestling (the TNA stands for “Total Nonstop Action,” for those of you wondering), and promptly once again went around stinking up the joint by being Hulk Hogan. Do other forms of entertainment have guys sticking around for thirty years even after they’re not that popular any more? Televisualist can’t think of anything else like wrestling in this regard. (Spike, 9 p.m.)
FridayHere’s something odd: in Canada, much like in the rest of the world, Dragon’s Den is a huge hit (it’s easily the most-watched regular show on the CBC other than Hockey Night In Canada). But in the United States, Shark Tank (their version of Den) is a middling flop that survives mostly because it’s cheap to make; its relegation to Friday nights should be a sign that it’s not really a very popular show. Why is that? Shouldn’t the Dragon’s Den formula be even more popular in the hypercapitalist mecca that is the United States? What went wrong? Televisualist does not have the answers. (Global, 9 p.m.)
Teletoon’s Friday movie: Spawn. Oh, man, Teletoon. Hope you got that one real cheap. Like “traded a leftover bucket of fish for it” cheap. (10 p.m.)
The WeekendThe Golden Globe Awards! Or, as they are better known, the “Poor Man’s Oscars.” Seriously, this is an awards show where they have two different categories for Best Picture. Whatta buncha maroons! Anyway, the only real purpose of this show other than to have a big Hollywood party is to help people decide who should win the Oscars this year, so if you care about that, watch it. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
24 returns for its eighth season, which when it ends will make this show the longest-running espionage show in the history of television. Cherry Jones will reprise her role as president of the United States, and new additions this season include Katee Sackhoff and Mykelti Williamson, who are both awesome. Also: Freddie Prinze Jr., which is sort of less awesome. (Global, 9 p.m.)