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.
Who’s Still Standing is NBC’s newest attempt at a zeitgeist-defining game show like Deal Or No Deal (this being approximately their seven hundredth such attempt to do so since Howie Mandel found other things to do that were less humiliating, like hosting America’s Got Talent). This show’s twist on the “ask contestant questions” formula is that when contestants are wrong, they get dropped through a trap door. Thrilling, huh? (NBC, 8 p.m.)
Terra Nova concludes, and you may be thinking, “Wait, wasn’t that the show about the dinosaurs?” And it was. And it flopped, because it wasn’t about anything other than going back in time and looking at dinosaurs. You might think, “Well, isn’t that enough?” And the answer, it appears, is “No.” And so we have all learned something. (City, 8 p.m.)
Christmas stuff tonight: The Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special goes to exceptional lengths to be a Christmas special that at no point refers to Christmas, given that it is set in medieval furry-animal China (ABC, 8 p.m.); CTV reruns the Corner Gas Christmas episode “Merry Gasmas” (8:30 p.m.); Scrooge is the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol, starring Albert Finney as Scrooge and Alec Guinness as Marley’s ghost; and it is terrific, albeit weird, in the way that many musicals are (Turner Classic, 10:15 p.m.).
Tonight on the continuing cavalcade of cancelled shows: The Protector, which had Ally Walker in it and she was a cop and honestly, we can’t remember anything more than that. (CTV2, 9 p.m.)
Christmas stuff tonight: A Christmas Carol is the 1938 version, with Reginald Owen as Scrooge, and it’s not the greatest of them but it’s definitely worth watching for historical value (CHCH, 8 p.m.); you can watch last year’s “A Very Glee Christmas” on Glee, which was much better than this year’s (terrible, awful) Christmas episode (Global, 8 p.m.).
The X-Factor begins its finale with the very last competition episode, between Melanie Amaro (old-school belter), Chris Rene (wobbly-voiced charmer), and Josh Krajcik (rough-voiced probable winner). The show is frequently overproduced to the point of ridiculousness (backup dancers! backup DJs doing backup scratching! backup backups!), Nicole Scherzinger is a terrible judge and has rightly earned viewers’ dislike, and the whole show feels a bit stale because we got tired of Simon Cowell’s terrible advice a long time ago, but we’re still willing to give the show a passing grade because it’s a lot less lookist than American Idol was. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Deck the Halls is deserving of special mention for being a terrible attempt at a Christmas-themed black comedy, as Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick are neighbours feuding over Christmas lights. A colossal misfire on all levels. Avoid, avoid, avoid—even if you want something dark and unfuzzy for your holiday viewing, you can do better than this. (Global, 9 p.m.)
The X-Factor reveals who wins the five million dollars. Are you excited yet? Simon Cowell really needs you to be excited. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Christmas stuff tonight: You can catch Pixar’s outstanding Christmas special Prep and Landing and its far inferior sequel, Prep and Landing: Naughty and Nice (seriously, Rob Riggle is like a comedy vacuum), together one after the other (ABC, 8 p.m.); A Christmas Story is still a classic even if you’ve seen it 487 times, as we are sure you have (CBC, 8 p.m.).
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “‘Tis The Fifteenth Season,” where Homer behaves very badly at Christmas time. “Now in the spirit of the holiday season, start shopping! And for every dollar of Krusty merchandise you buy, I will be nice to a sick kid. For legal purposes, “sick kids” may include hookers with a cold.” (CFMT, 6 p.m.)
Christmas stuff tonight: Shrek the Halls is like the rest of the Shrek franchise, except worse (ABC, 8 p.m.); this week’s Chuck is a Christmas episode (CHCH, 8 p.m.).
The annual Doctor Who Christmas special is upon us on Christmas Day, and, to say the least, nerds are all excited for it, as nerds are wont to be. This year’s special is a riff on C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books and other than that, the fact that it will probably end up having aliens of some kind, and Matt Smith as the Doctor, the BBC has not spilled many details, which is for the best. (Space, 9 p.m. Sunday)
The Comedy Network’s winning entry for “this year’s least appealing Christmas marathon” is a Big Bang Theory marathon (beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday).
Other Christmas stuff this weekend: Rogers 10 airs the televised Yule Log all weekend (beginning 2 p.m. Saturday); It’s A Wonderful Life gets a welcome second airing in the holiday season (CTV2, 8 p.m. Saturday); the Queen gives her annual Christmas message (CBC, noon Sunday); the annual Disney Christmas Day parade features performances by Justin Bieber and Christina Aguilera (CBC, 12:05 p.m. Sunday).