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culture

Televisualist: Cruel To Be Kind

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.

Josh from Less Than Kind stares at the promos for Mad Men and dreams of greater things. Like maybe not wearing underpants in public.

Monday

Dancing With The Stars returns once more, to dance on the ruin of human civilization. (Memo to the makers of the next Fallout game: You’re crazy if there is no Dancing With The Stars parody in your game somewhere.) This season’s stars include Martina Navratilova, Gladys Knight, Roshon Fegan, Gavin DeGraw, and Jaleel White. Yes, they got Urkel! You already know Urkel is going to win, too. You know this in your bones. (CTV2, 8 p.m.)

Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All concludes. We mention this in case anybody did not know this. Presumably the contestants did, because, well, you know. (Discovery, 10 p.m.)


Tuesday

The Bates Family is the spin-off of 19 Kids and Counting, and is a show about another extremely religious family that feels that contraception was created by the Devil—which demands that we ask how many of these goddamned shows does the world really need? Because there is nothing about this family on television that the Duggar family was not already doing. I mean, when they spun off Just the Ten of Us from Growing Pains, they at least came up with a new hook. This is just the same show again with different people. (TLC, 8 p.m.)

The Little Couple is back for a fifth season on TLC, because this is a show that teaches you about midgets and dwarves and which is which and how they recover when they miscarry, which is the subject of tonight’s no doubt laugh-a-minute episode (um, not). Just remember as you watch these people try to pick up their lives and move on: you’re learning! (10 p.m.)

Key and Peele concludes, and it has been one of the most entertaining sketch comedy shows to come along in some time, and if you watch it now you’ll be able to put on your fake hipster glasses and be all “oh, you’re so cute” when people tell you how much they love this show three seasons from now. (Comedy Network, 10:30 p.m.)


Wednesday

Bent is NBC`s latest single-camera comedy: this time, the premise is that Amanda Peet hires David Walton (who was a good thing about both 100 Questions and Perfect Couples, which were both bad shows) to remodel her home, but she is a control-freak lawyer single mother and he is an easygoing slacker surfer dude and however will these two co-exist and what will they do about the sexual tension, but the leads are good enough that we can overlook the hackneyed premise. Also, Jeffrey Tambor is in it and we love him. (NBC, 9 p.m.)

Duck Dynasty is unfortunately not a show about Donald Duck in any way, but instead about a family who are now rich from their hunting-equipment empire, which began with homemade duck calls. So basically this is a show about the redneck equivalent of the 1 per cent. Total honesty time: we are so not going to bother watching this. (10 p.m.)


Thursday

Touch returns, in case you felt that there were not enough TV shows that depicted autism as something that grants you magical prophetic powers. (Global, 9 p.m.)

At some point, TVTropolis just became Sitcom Marathons Channel, but in this case we will let it slide because in a mini-marathon of Friends episodes, they are running “The One With Chandler In A Box,” which is one of the truly great episodes from that show because they put Matthew Perry in a giant box to suffer Matt LeBlanc’s wrath, and it is brilliant. “The meaning of the box is threefold. One, it gives me the time to think about what I did. Two, it proves how much I care about my friendship with Joey. And three, it hurts.” (8 p.m.)


Friday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “See Homer Run,” mostly because of Homer dressing up in the Safety Salamander costume and then running for mayor. “Why should this election be determined by a photo taken hours ago?” (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)


The Weekend

Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has the prominent African American intellectual discussing genealogy and history in an intertwined fashion. For example, tonight’s premiere episode has Gates discussing family history with Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, and in turn using those family histories to illuminate the broader history of New Orleans and the development of jazz. It is interesting television, and we mean that in the best sense of the word. (PBS, 8:00 p.m. Sunday)

Less Than Kind closes out a third season, which has been one of the strongest in Canadian television since probably Da Vinci’s City Hall got cancelled. A lot of series do not survive the death of a major cast member, particularly one as truly great as Maury Chaykin was, but Less Than Kind‘s third season has actually improved on the first two in many ways. Jesse Camacho’s performance as Sheldon Blecher is simply a standout in so many ways, but Benjamin Arthur’s turn as Josh this season has been captivating and entertaining as all get out. Many of HBO Canada’s “Canadian” offerings have been unimpressive (Good Dog, anyone?) but Less Than Kind is proof that HBO Canada can meet the standards of its American counterpart—even if it has to work with a smaller budget. (8:30 p.m. Sunday)

Mad Men returns for a hotly anticipated season five, and by “hotly anticipated”—well, we aren’t quite sure what we mean by that phrase at this point because the entire television media will tell you that it is hotly anticipated, but in terms of ratings Mad Men is the nichiest of niche shows. This is not to say that Televisualist isn’t greatly looking forward to Mad Men. Of course I am! But I am a TV critic and therefore I do not represent the masses. (After all, I do watch Community.) Anyway, this season will have probably a lot of smoking and drinking and cheaty sex. Call it a hunch. (AMC, 9 p.m. Sunday)

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