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Televisualist: At Least It’s Not The Grammys

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.

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Brett’s caption for this was “Jimmy Fallon, laughing at his own jokes like an idiot.” Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Monday

So You Think You Can Dance Canada begins its competition round with a top twenty-two rather than a top twenty, which leads one to wonder why, if CTV was in such a hurry to blast out the audition episodes in one week flat (the auditions being something out of which other versions of the show usually get two to three weeks’ worth of viewing), they have extra competition episodes. Do the competition episodes get better ratings here? Who knows. Also, five judges tonight, including Mary “AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Murphy, so watch your ears. (9 p.m.)
The 2010 Miss Universe Pageant is… well, it’s on. Apparently six hundred million people watch the pageant worldwide, although we would be hard-pressed to name anybody we know who watches this. Nonetheless, six hundred million is about one seventh of the world’s population, so theoretically that means there could be about 350,000 people in Toronto watching this. And we totally mentioned it and everything! (NBC, 9 p.m.)
Space has picked up Being Human, the BBC cult hit about a set of roommates who happen to respectively be a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost. The show is really good: clever and funny while never failing to be creepy and scary as well. If Twilight were good in any way whatsoever, it would be close to what Being Human achieves. Space is airing the entire show this week, so you don’t even have to wait weeks for each new episode. (9 p.m.)

Tuesday

How you know the East Coast/West Coast feud is definitively over forever: it is the theme on tonight’s episode of Minute to Win It. (City, 8 p.m.)

Wednesday

Tonight on Frontline: an in-depth report on whether the claims that New Orleans police used unwarranted lethal force against citizens during Hurricane Katrina and then used the hurricane to cover it up are true. Stuff like this is why Frontline is the only worthwhile American news show that doesn’t air on a comedy channel. (PBS, 9 p.m.)
So, now that we’re into the competition rounds, it appears that MasterChef, in addition to being a fairly impressive ratings success, is also quite a decent bit of television to boot. Although the show still suffers from “Fox-itis,” that strange syndrome where they repeat edits before and after the commercial break in the most annoyingly repetitive manner possible, it still entertains because the contestants are upbeat and relatable, the judges are candid without being self-absorbed or unnecessarily mean (and given that Gordon Ramsay is one of them, that’s no small thing), and the show’s challenges and structure are engaging. It’s a pretty decent example of competitive food TV. (CTV, 8 p.m.)

Thursday

Recently, Televisualist undertook a critical examination to determine, once and for all, if the car chase sequence in The French Connection holds up. The answer: not so much. Although it’s still admirably claustrophobic as Popeye Doyle races underneath the elevated train, it doesn’t communicate the crazy speed nearly as much as it could, mostly because the POV shots which constitute the bulk of the sequence feel slower than they in fact are. (Bullitt, in comparison, is still a magnificent car chase, even to modern-day twitch-afflicted video gamer eyes.) Still, just because the car chase feels dated, that’s no reason not to watch The French Connection. It’s still great. (AMC, 10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Little Orphan Millie,” wherein Milhouse gets all emo when he thinks his parents have died at sea. “Oh, my God. I’ve become the world’s biggest baby. Big boys don’t drink moo-moo from a baba. They drink moo-moo from a big boy cup.” (Fox, 11 p.m.)

Friday

Just in case you were looking forward to Camp Rock 2 but didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle of all those complicated plotlines involving the Jonas Brothers, Family Channel obligingly airs the original Camp Rock so you can catch up, and also get your Demi Lovato fix. Because we know secretly, you pine for Demi Lovato. Oh yes. (8 p.m.)

The Weekend

Persons Unknown finishes as NBC hustles the last two episodes out this weekend, having long since decided that the show is a failure. It isn’t, at least not creatively; it’s an interesting little mystery show in the Lost vein, and the plot remained pleasingly compact and tight throughout. Of course, the show’s creators anticipated NBC getting trigger happy—because NBC has Friday Night Lights for their “work of creative genius that is tragically low-rated but we’re sticking with it” show, and Chuck for the “token low-rated nerd bait” show, which means that the network generally cans anything else as fast as possible to make room for more episodes of America’s Got Talent or whatever crapfest they’re airing this week—and thus constructed the thirteen-episode season of Persons to be self-contained. Give it a watch when it comes out on DVD, I guess. (8 p.m. Saturday)
The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards (and not the stupid daytime TV Emmys that show up earlier in the year, like Eliza Doolittle pre-lessons trying to pretend she’s Eliza Doolittle post-lessons) air, hosted by Jimmy Fallon. The big news this year is that Glee got approximately eleventy billion nominations, as the Emmys have, over the past few years, turned around from being a stodgy enterprise that refuses to award anybody who hasn’t been on television for a decade-plus, and transformed into a show that’s so desperate to award the hot new thing that they don’t even worry if the show is good or not. You have to give the Emmys credit, though: in a bold new television era, they have found an entirely new way to suck. (CTV, 8 p.m. Sunday)
If you don’t want to watch an awards show on Sunday, you can always watch Daniel Craig beat people up as James Bond in Casino Royale. Wherein the game of choice is Texas Hold ‘Em, rather than baccarat. That just seems wrong for Bond. Poker is many things, but “classy” is not and never has been one of them. (ABC, 8 p.m. Sunday)

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