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culture

Televisualist: Also Known As “The Inferior Thanksgiving”

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.

We're pretty sure that a Lady Gaga Thanksgiving will involve some sort of spurts of something. We're going with blood, because it is family friendly.



Monday

How to tell that the networks have hit the bottom of the idea well when it comes to prime-time game shows: You Deserve It, which is just another answer-questions and solve-puzzles affair, except this time the “twist” is that the contestants are competing for “the people they love,” like their mothers or their friends or what have you, so the entire show can be couched in faux-nobility (because these people certainly aren’t going to split their winnings with the contestants or anything like that). Mostly we are disappointed because we thought this was going to be a game show about self-affirmation, a sort of “you deserve to win a hundred thousand dollars on national TV by knowing the names of the individual Bee Gees” sort of thing, but what we’re getting instead is only slightly less annoying. (ABC, 9 p.m.)

Tuesday

Dancing With The Stars concludes season 13 with the finalists being famous burn survivor J.R. Martinez, seventh-most-known Kardashian Rob Kardashian, and Ricki Lake, who is actually sort of famous enough that we don’t have to explain why she’s famous or, at least, why she was famous a decade ago. (CTV, 9 p.m.)

It’s the CNN Republican National Security Debate, because what we all really needed is two hours of Herman Cain mispronouncing “Guantanamo,” and six of eight candidates (we expect Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman will have some slight turn towards decency) talking about how much they love waterboarding. What do you call it when schadenfreude turns into a sensation where the misfortunes of others no longer cause you pleasure, even though they possibly should? Is there a German word for that? Come on, Germans, don’t fail us now. (8 p.m.)

Wednesday

TVO airs the 2010 documentary You Don’t Like The Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo, and by not airing this on Tuesday they have kept me from making comments about how ironic it is that they’re airing this while Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are arguing over who would torture Muslims more. Bad form, TVO. Bad form. (9 p.m.)

Thursday

Because NBC is airing Horton Hears A Who for American Thanksgiving (“now five times less awesome than Canadian Thanksgiving”), there is no episode of Community for us to discuss this week, but multiple people emailed Televisualist asking us to address Community, so here is our take: we think the show won’t be cancelled and will get a fourth season. Why do we think this? For several reasons: Firstly, NBC has a pathetic schedule, and unless all of its midseason shows become massive hits, it will need to fill out its schedule with low-rated shows, and NBC is smart enough to realize that if it’s padding out its schedule with low-rated shows, better to do it with critically acclaimed ones with a crazily passionate fanbase like Community than, say, Whitney or the upcoming Are You There, Chelsea?, which originally was entitled Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, but had its name changed to something that makes no sense in order to make it more “family friendly” because if there’s one thing you need in a comedy based on Chelsea Handler’s life, it’s family-friendliness. (Also, it is terrible. Laura Prepon, what happened?) Secondly, Community is produced by Sony and is one season away from having a long enough run for easy syndication, and Sony has in the past shown that it is willing to take a bath on the initial production of a show in order to get it to syndication viability. Thirdly, Dan Harmon says he needs one more season to tell his full story, and NBC is the network where they kept Chuck and Friday Night Lights around long past their cancellation dates in order to satisfy showrunners and audiences. And finally, remember that they’re not taking Community off the air because of Community—they’re doing it because they’re moving Up All Night to Thursdays, since the Will Arnett/Christina Applegate sitcom is actually sort of a hit and could stimulate the rest of NBC’s comedy block. If they moved Community to Wednesdays that almost certainly would kill off the show. So on the whole, we are optimistic. Man, we didn’t even discuss Horton! I bet Abed would like it. (NBC, 8 p.m.)

A Very Gaga Thanksgiving is Lady Gaga’s Thanksgiving special, where she will perform eight songs, talk with Katie Couric about her life, and cook deep-fried turkey and waffles with Art Smith. Just typing that makes it sound like those old ’70s holiday specials where Dean Martin or whomever would keep having “special guests” show up. Who would the special guests be for this? “Well, hey, everybody, say hello to that guy who sings for Train!” (ABC, 9:30 p.m.)

If you didn’t watch The 85th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade during the day, you can watch the replay! (NBC, 10 p.m.)

Friday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “HOMR,” wherein Homer becomes smart after doctors remove a crayon stuck in his brain. “Dad, as intelligence goes up, happiness often goes down. In fact I made a graph…I make a lot of graphs.” (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)

The annual televised Rotary auction is this weekend. Yes, you can watch TV and bid on…things! This is the sort of thing that community television should really do all the time, we think. (Starts at 7 p.m. and continues all day Saturday)

It begins: Christmas specials are airing the day after American Thanksgiving. This makes us so mad. It makes us italics mad. Why does NBC have to air Hoops and Yoyo Ruin Christmas and The Elf on the Shelf this early? Do they want to enrage us? Is that it? Is this a test? Is Santa somewhere sitting back and judging us on our reactions? If so, I say it is time for revolt against the fuzzy-clothed tyrant. (8 p.m.)

Global airs Iron Man, because why not? Iron Man is awesome. That’s all that needs to be said. (8 p.m.)

The Weekend

Mitch Albom’s Have A Little Faith is based on Mitch Albom’s cloying “inspirational” book of the same name, and stars The West Wing‘s Bradley Whitford as Mitch Albom, who learns about the power of faith as he works on the eulogy of his rabbi friend (Martin Landau) and then begins to talk with an inner-city pastor (Lawrence Fishburne), which teaches him that faith is really quite important after all. These are all great actors. We wish they were in something that was worthy of their talent, rather than the latest Mitch Albom screed. (ABC, 9 p.m. Sunday)

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