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culture

Televisualist: The Post-Olympic Return of Actual TV

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.

Brett is on vacation this week, so pretend that this previous illustration for the American version of Being Human is instead a bunch of horror-TV fans enthused that, following the Olympics, Grimm is returning to television. See how happy the werewolf is? That is how much he loves David Giuntoli.

Monday

Hotel Hell is another “Gordon Ramsay shouts at losers” show. This time, the losers are people operating terrible independent hotels and B&Bs. That is all you really need to know. Either you like it when you see Gordon Ramsay yell at losers (in that terrible edited-by-Fox way that all his American shows have), or you don’t. (Global, 8 p.m.)

Stars Earn Stripes is Mark “Survivor guy” Burnett’s newest reality show. In this one, low-level celebrities (Terry Crews, Laila Ali, Dean Cain, Todd Palin—yes, that’s one more reality show starring a Palin) team up with coaches from the various armed forces to compete against one another by going on “missions.” This show is going to make nobody happy. Liberals will hate it because it’s another show that needlessly glorifies Da Troops. Conservatives will hate it because it suggests that Hollywood celebrities can do what Da Troops do. Everybody else will hate it because it is kind of shitty. Unless this is a Toddlers and Tiaras situation where people end up loving it because it is shitty. (Global, 9 p.m.)

United Bates of America is the ongoing spin-off from 19 Kids and Counting about the Bates family, another telegenic Quiverful family with tons of kids who basically are able to survive thanks to lots of state assistance, so naturally they are conservative Republicans. (TLC, 9 p.m.)

Grimm returns for its second season, and Televisualist totally meant to catch up on it over the summer, but we had other things to do, like everything else, so that did not happen. Sorry about that. (CTV, 10 p.m.)

Big Tiny is another show about little people, and specifically about the smallest pair of siblings in the world as recognized by Guinness. (The book, not the beer.) (TLC, 10 p.m.)


Tuesday

The Comedy Network picked up Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management because, well, somebody was going to do it, and why not them? There is, it seems, no end of public interest in the affairs of a mentally unstable drug addict with a history of abuse and violence toward women who was never really that funny to begin with. In tonight’s episode, Sheen does something outrageous! We think. We’re not watching it. We have standards. Yes, Charlie Sheen is beneath the standard we set that allows us to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. (10 p.m.)


Wednesday

Hey, it’s Crocodile Dundee and Crocodile Dundee II back to back! That’s pretty awesome of you, AMC. And also very awesome is that you were willing to pretend that Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles never happened. Thanks, AMC. (8 p.m.)

Returning this week: Storage Wars Texas, which is like regular Storage Wars except they all wear cowboy hats and do square dances and secede from the Union and other Texas stuff. (A&E, 9 p.m.)

Also returning: American Hoggers, which is by far the most entertaining and educational wild-pig-hunting television show on the air today, or at least in the top three. (A&E, 10 p.m.)


Thursday

Hey, it’s Rudy! We never tire of Sean Astin being all inspirational and five-foot-nothin’, a hundred-nothin’, but still getting to play in the Big Game (or his Big Game anyway). In real life, Rudy wrote a book called Rudy’s Insights For Winning In Life and then got charged by the SEC for involvement in potential investment fraud (said charges were eventually settled). So…ignore real life and watch the movie instead. (CTV2, 8 p.m.)


Friday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Mypods and Broomsticks,” which has a lousy A-plot we can’t even remember, but the parody of Apple in the B-story featuring Lisa is brilliant. “Steve Mobs!” “He’s a genius!” “He’s like a god who knows what we want!” (CFMT, 6 p.m.)


The Weekend

Aliens and Avatar and Terminator 2 get all the acclaim, but The Abyss is, in Televisualist’s opinion, James Cameron’s most ambitious and magnificent work. Unfortunately, it suffered from a for-theatres edit that chopped out the guts of the film’s ultimately pacifist message and took out a lot of the slow build-up between the characters at the beginning that was supposed to let you know how the friendships worked, which made the whole thing somewhat awkward and choppy. It also didn’t help that in 1989 the film press was so seemingly illiterate that Cameron more than once sarcastically suggested calling the movie “The Big Deep Hole In The Middle Of The Ocean” in response to numerous reviewers claiming they didn’t know what an abyss, in fact, was. But this is still the film that basically made Ed Harris’ everyman working-stiff persona (and thus, in essence, his career). It’s the film that needed so many different underwater-filming devices that Cameron ended up inventing most of them on the go. And it’s also the film with groundbreaking special effects and a story that, even in its truncated edition, was braver than 99 per cent of all blockbusters ever. Sadly, airing on Sunday appears to be the regular version rather than the special edition Cameron finished in 1992. Even so, this is a very recommended watch. (CTV2, 8 p.m. Sunday)

Nerve Center, Discovery Channel’s series about important places where people work, returns for a second season focused on the main stage of Cirque du Soleil’s KA. This show was easily one of our favorite Discovery shows when it premiered last year and we expect this season will be just as great. (8 p.m. Sunday)

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