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culture

Televisualist: Old-Timey Policing

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.

Coming this season on Face Off: the "Make Ben Mulroney's Hideous, Inhuman Visage For a Day" challenge.

Monday

Beyond Scared Straight is—okay, you know the old “scared straight” programs where they would put troubled youth in prisons to make sure they recognized the dangers of a life of crime? It’s that, but on TV. We’re not sure where the “beyond” part comes in, because this is pretty traditional scaring-them-straight they are doing here. If you’re gonna do a “beyond” show, there should be, like, aliens or ghosts explaining to the kids that crime doesn’t pay. I bet they would be very convincing. “On our planet, criminals are fed to the Sloggh. You would not want to be eaten by a Sloggh! You will dissolve for weeks before finally terminating!” (A&E, 10 p.m.)

The Glass House comes to an end! Truly, there never was a house so transparent. (CTV2, 10 p.m.)

Wakebrothers is a reality show about Phil and Bob Soven, professional wakeboarders who are also—wait for it—brothers! And they’re, like, totally different from each other! That is the entire show, right there. “Brothers are sometimes not the same as each other” is, apparently, now enough to make a reality show, so long as those brothers do something unusual. (MTV, 10:30 p.m.)


Tuesday

Face Off returns for a third season of special-effects makeup competition, which is fine by us because we like seeing people make other people look like monsters with movie magic (which is, like, half of this show all by itself). On this week’s premiere episode, Sean “Rudy/Samwise Gamgee” Astin is the guest star, and presumably there will be something Lord of the Rings–related in the challenges, because it doesn’t seem likely that a show about special effects would find a way to theme itself along with the Notre Dame football program, but who knows. (Space, 9 p.m.)

Good Morning, Vietnam was Robin Williams’ first attempt to be seen as a potentially serious actor, because it is set during an honest-to-god war and his character learns that wackiness will not solve all things, even if he does have entertaining rants on the radio and plays rock and/or roll music while in the army. But this is not bad. For starters, it is not Patch Adams. We know this is damning with faint praise, but if you are watching something that is not Patch Adams, you could always be watching something worse. Like Patch Adams, for example. (AMC, 8 p.m.)


Wednesday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “The Good, The Bad and the Drugly,” wherein Lisa is given happy meds to relieve her stress about the horrible forthcoming future. “Lisa, your outburst was either a sign of deep emotional imbalance, or a passionate response to a sobering truth. Luckily, the treatment for both is intensive therapy.” (CFMT, 6 p.m.)


Thursday

Sunshine is the name of two very different movies. One of them is a Canadian movie about three generations of a Hungarian Jewish family where Ralph Fiennes plays multiple roles. One of them is a Danny Boyle movie about a spaceship traveling to the sun to reignite it with super-nukes to save all humanity. This is the one with Ralph Fiennes in it, and it is a pretty good movie, lack of super-nukes notwithstanding. (Vision, 9 p.m.)


Friday

Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta returns for its fourth season of being just like the original Say Yes to the Dress, except with mild Southern accents. But so what? Do we have a right to complain about the endless parade of shows about wedding dresses? People watch them. People watch them in huge numbers. So Televisualist hereby resolves to be kinder and gentler to this sort of television show, because there is no such thing as “redundant” when a show caters to a clearly obvious desire of the public. (TLC, 9 p.m.)

I Found the Gown is a show about bargain-basement wedding dresses, which we are sure is completely different from other wedding-dress shows, and—no, sorry, forget that previous promise, we can’t do it. We tried, but: fuck all wedding-dress-themed TV shows forever. (TLC, 10 p.m.)


The Weekend

Copper, BBC America’s new original show, is a combination of police procedural and period drama—but, unlike most BBC shows that combine those two things, instead of having a little old lady solve murders, this one is set in 1850s New York City. So it is basically Gangs of New York: The Series. Except it is also a cop show. And, since it’s filmed in Toronto (which has a certain dearth of areas that look like 1850s New York other than the Distillery District, and good luck filming there with all the yuppies and tourists around), it looks awfully…soundstagey. But it’s not bad, other than that, and is a noble stab at the “hey, remember how much you liked Deadwood?” sort of show. (Showcase, 9 p.m. Sunday)

Speaking of cop shows, Common Law is also a cop show! But it is not old-timey, because this is a USA Network show and USA Network doesn’t do old-timey because that would clash with their creative mandate toward light, breezy dramedies with many modern pop-culture references. (If USA Network ever did a historical show, presumably the characters would make all sorts of sly references to Dickens or Melville. Which actually sounds like fun, come to think. USA Network: that idea was for free.) This time, the hook is that the buddy cops can’t stand each other so they work out their problems in couples therapy. It’s breezy dramedy! (Showcase, 10 p.m. Sunday)

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