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culture

Televisualist: Like Glee, but for Adults

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.

Oh, rockin' fish, you have ruined "The River" for everybody now!



Monday

Smash is NBC’s big new hope for the mid-season. It’s Glee, but with adults. No, really, that’s what it is: instead of glee clubbers breaking into song to express their feelings, Smash has working actors on Broadway. NBC has filled the cast with enough acting talent to destroy a good-sized tank (Anjelica Huston, Debra Messing, Jack Davenport). The show also features former American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee in the lead. Televisualist is wary, because, on one hand, this is Glee with adults. On the other hand, Glee at one point could have been really special, instead of being one of the reasons why humanity is doomed. So maybe Smash can redeem Glee simply by existing. (CTV, 10 p.m.)

Tuesday

Steven Spielberg’s name is attached to two major TV projects in the mid-season. One is Smash; the second is The River, which wants to be a sort of found-footage horror/adventure series. The first season is only eight episodes long, which means as a standalone series it could be really great; however, ABC seems to want it to be an ongoing, and we have no idea how they would do that or why they should bother. As for Spielberg, the fact that he executive produced Terra Nova didn’t make that show watchable in any way, and that was about time travelling and dinosaurs and therefore much less difficult to fuck up than The River. So, this bodes poorly. (ABC, 9 p.m.)

If your taste in TV runs toward the factual, American Experience: Freedom Riders, a history of early civil-rights protesters (beginning as early as 1947), first aired about a year ago, but is still completely enthralling and exceptionally well made. (PBS, 8 p.m.)

Wednesday

Person to Person is CBS’ attempt to bring longer-form interview journalism back to TV. But because it is today and because Edward R. Murrow is sadly busy being dead, we get an hour of interviews with George Clooney, Jon Bon Jovi, and Warren Buffet, conducted by Charlie Rose. The Buffet interview could potentially be topical and interesting, but, based on everything Rose has ever done, he isn’t the person to conduct it. We’re going to suggest passing on this. (8 p.m.)

The Hollywood round commences on American Idol and…nope, still don’t care. We will make a note of who the runner-up is when, five years down the road, he or she is cast in Smash 2: Musical Boogaloo. (CTV, 8 p.m.)

Thursday

Oh, man, Before Sunrise is one of Televisualist’s favourite movies ever, but CHCH totally screwed up. They’re not airing Before Sunset, the possibly even-better sequel, after it or even the next night! Come on, CHCH! You do nightly movies and you do them well! That’s your thing! How can you miss this? This is like a soft pitch lobbed right over the plate, and you’re hitting yourself in the face with your bat! (9 p.m.)

Famous Food, in which (mostly) pseudo-celebrities compete for the opportunity to win a partnership in a Hollywood restaurant, aired last year in the United States. The “celebrities” included Heidi from The Hills, Jake “worst Bachelor ever” Pavelka, someone from one of the Real Housewives shows, and the members of Three 6 Mafia. The good news is that it totally bombed. The bad news is that E! Canada is throwing away whatever tiny shred of credibility it might have had left (and it didn’t have much) by airing it. (9 p.m.)

E! is also airing the fourth-season debut of Giuliana and Bill, the reality show about one of its red-carpet hosts and her husband, a guy who got a job with Donald Trump this one time. This episode is devoted to “The Year of Fun,” wherein two people who are incredibly blessed by life decide to focus on themselves a little more. Oh, E! You never cease to sink lower. (10 p.m.)

Friday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “The President Wore Pearls,” featuring Lisa as the Eva Peron in a lengthy Evita parody that mostly works. “The student strike will continue until you restore music and art.” “What about gym?” “Eh.” (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)

The Weekend

It’s the 54th Annual Grammy Awards! Which, really, are all about the potential comedy of something like Arcade Fire winning last year happening again. Looking over the nominees, though, there aren’t any real shocker possibilities in Record of the Year, Song of the Year, or Album of the Year. It’s all a big pile of Adele, Bon Iver, Bruno Mars, and Mumford and Sons, with the occasional Rihanna or Kanye popping up. Really, the best potential for laughs this year is Skrillex maybe winning for Best New Artist, just so we can get all the “WHAT IS SKRILLEX AND IS IT CATCHING” non-jokes from the usual suspects. (Global, 8 p.m. Sunday)

The Walking Dead returns from hiatus! Spoiler: not much will happen! (AMC, 9 p.m. Sunday)

TLC brings back My Strange Addiction, because we need to learn about a person who is addicted to dating his car! As in romanticizing it. How is that an addiction? It seems like more of a general mental-health issue. (10 p.m. Sunday)

Comic Book Men is Kevin Smith’s new reality show about people who work in his comic book shop, including Kevin Smith. Well, it’s good to see Kevin Smith had a fallback job after “making movies people wanted to see” didn’t pan out for him, and I’m sure he’ll react well to people watching his reality show and making fun of it, because if there’s one thing Kevin Smith is known for, it’s his ability to take criticism! (AMC, 10 p.m. Sunday)

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