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culture

Televisualist: Say Yes to the Dress, Last Chance Mama’s Boys

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.

This is just another excuse for us to say "Van Der Beek" as many times as possible.

Monday

Ken Finkleman’s latest foray into television-series production is Good God. It’s also his latest return to the character of George Findlay, better known as “pretty much the only character Ken Finkleman ever plays.” Finkleman’s last trotting out of George, Good Dog, was not particularly strong. This one is better, mostly because the plot—George is hired to manage a Canadian equivalent of Fox News—recalls the glory days of The Newsroom. Last time around, Finkleman got irritated with critics who compared him to Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm (and is getting pre-emptively irritated with them this time around, for that matter), but it was relevant because it was the same shtick, and David does it better than Finkleman does. However, Good God doesn’t make us want to compare Finkleman to David; it makes us want to compare Finkleman to Woody Allen. There’s the same love of language patterns that Allen always has in Good God, and when it fires on all cylinders it’s a thing to see. Unfortunately, the show also reminds us of Woody Allen because the characters Finkleman doesn’t like—i.e., the true-believer conservatives—are caricatures so shallow and simplistic that whenever they show up (inevitably allowing Finkleman to celebrate George Findlay as positively adorable by comparison), the viewer is taken out of the viewing experience. But when the show is on, it’s on, in a way that most of Finkleman’s projects haven’t been in a while. Plus, this show has Samantha Bee in it and we love us some Bee. (TMN, 9:30 p.m.)

Mama’s Boys of the Bronx is exactly what it sounds like: a reality show about men in the Bronx who still live with their mothers. TLC apparently figures that by watching this, we will “learn” things and therefore fulfill its mandate. Ooooooookay. (10 p.m.)


Tuesday

Two tidbits for hockey fans tonight: first off, the NHL draft lottery and, immediately afterward, TSN’s preview of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Just because the Leafs got eliminated yet again doesn’t mean hockey ended along with them! Just your hopes and dreams, Toronto. Just your hopes and dreams. (8 p.m.)


Wednesday

If real estate prices here in Toronto are depressing, you may cheer yourself up by watching Million Dollar Listing: New York, a reality show about real estate brokers in the Big Apple. Because this show is on Slice, one of the brokers used to be a gay porn star. We’re not sure if that will make the real estate prices any less depressing. (9 p.m.)

Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23 has been getting some buzz, mostly because of all its media-friendly elements: the “racy” title (which at one point did not censor the word “bitch,” and then at another point was simply Apartment 23 before becoming the odd compromise it is now), the fact that Krysten Ritter (who is awesome) is the lead, the fact that the show stars James Van Der Beek as himself. But is the show funny? In fact, it’s not bad at all. Van Der Beek as “Van Der Beek” is pretty funny, the interplay between Ritter and Dreama Walker is solid, and the writing is smart and occasionally even slightly brave (as network sitcoms go). Solid B+ outing with potential to improve, and we hope it does because it’s funny to write “Van Der Beek” as many times as possible. Van Der Beek. Vaaaaaaaan Derrrrr Beeeeeeeeeek. (City, 9:30 p.m.)

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “The Bart of War,” wherein Bart’s Pre-Teen Braves engage in conflict against Milhouse’s Cavalry Kids. “Pre-Teen Braves? Is this another one of those community youth groups that inhibit the culture of those you invaded and destroyed?” “Exactly! The Pre-Teen Braves!” (CJMT, 10 p.m.)


Thursday

Manet: The Man Who Invented Modern Art first aired in 2010, but if you have any interest in Impressionist art at all, or even if you don’t, then it’s worth catching this documentary about Édouard Manet and the beginnings of the Impressionist movement. If only to see all the pretty paintings. (TVO, 9 p.m.)


Friday

You know, Televisualist tries to be aware of all new shows coming down the pike, but sometimes we just miss one. Like, did you know that Say Yes To The Dress has a spinoff series, Say Yes To The Dress: Bridesmaids? And that this show begins its second season tonight? How did Televisualist manage to miss hearing about this the first time through? And why didn’t we miss it this time around? Finding out this show exists halfway through is the worst of both worlds, because we have failed in our journalistic duties and we are no longer ignorant of its existence! (TLC, 9 p.m.)

Say, did you ever want to hear Lionel Richie perform songs with country artists? Well, The Academy of Country Music Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends-In Concert is for you! Watch Lionel Richie sing with Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers, Rascall Flatts, and Martina McBride! For some reason. (CBS, 9 p.m.)


The Weekend

Last Chance Driving School is…yeah. At a certain point, one can’t find anything to say about the new reality shows on A&E and TLC and Slice. (We pointedly do not include Discovery Channel’s reality shows in this grouping. You rock, Discovery Channel. Keep on with the not sucking.) Anyway, this one will no doubt provide many opportunities to watch bad drivers in the comfort of your home, which is probably less stressful than watching them while you’re driving. Unless you are a bad driver yourself, in which case driving is probably stress-free for you! (A&E, 10 p.m. Saturday)

NYC 22 is CBS’ new cop drama, which can basically be described as “Rookie Blue but with more money behind it.” You can tell it’s got money behind it because it stars Leelee Sobieski as a former Marine MP who is now a rookie cop (in a turn that is, bluntly, not that convincing) and also has longtime awesome actor Adam Goldberg as another rookie cop. (Hopefully they will explain why Goldberg, in his 40s, is playing a rookie cop.) Anyway, the show has the big action sequences you would expect from a major network cop show, since major network cop shows have not been allowed to demonstrate the frequent boredom inherent to the profession since Barney Miller was on the air. (Global, 10 p.m. Sunday)

Judd Apatow’s influence can be felt in Girls, but is far from overpowering the distinct voice of the show’s creator and writers. This is the show that every critic and their cousin is comparing to Sex and the City because it’s a comedy on HBO about females in New York City, but Girls is nothing like Sex and the City: there aren’t any easy loglines for each episode and the characters feel realistic and whole in a way that the Sex characters never did. The fact that show creator and lead actress Lena Dunham looks like a real, non-Hollywood person helps quite a bit, as does the show’s stripped-down examination of how much life in New York sucks when you are poor. It’s also a lot funnier than Sex ever was. Ignore the comparisons: this show is terrific. Highly recommended. (HBO, 10:30 p.m. Sunday)

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