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culture

Televisualist: A Rap-Rap-Rappity-Doo

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.

It's funny because the Raptors are terrible.

Monday

If there’s a new game show that is absurdly stupid, it must be hosted by Howie Mandel, and Take It All is no exception. This new holiday-themed game show is a combination of Deal or No Deal (or, as some liked to call it, Basic Math) and the old tradition of “Yankee swap,” as contestants will first randomly pick a gift (which is, of course, wrapped in a holiday gift box) and then either take from the pile of gifts or steal an existing gift. If this sounds exciting, well, perhaps you’re in a coma. Probably anything would be exciting then. (NBC, 9 p.m.)

A Michael Bublé Christmas: Home For The Holidays is exactly what it sounds like: Michael Bublé sings Christmas songs, along with his guests Carly Rae Jepsen (insert obligatory “Call Me Maybe” joke here), Rod Stewart, and also Blake Shelton, who already got a Christmas special and is now on another one because Blake Shelton is part of the Christmas 1 per cent who get more Christmas than everybody else, and we don’t think that’s fair at all. (City, 10 p.m.)


Tuesday

Happy Holidays: The Best of the Andy Williams Christmas Shows is just what you need, assuming that there’s a vast lack in your life of cheesy, schmaltzy Old Hollywood–style insincerity of the sort that let Bing Crosby and David Bowie sing “Little Drummer Boy” together in a friendly way even though they almost certainly despised each other. (Important note: the Crosby/Bowie duet will not be on this show. That was just an example, for rhetorical purposes.) Anyway, nothing says “Christmas” to us like Andy Williams and his dead-eyed smile and yet another rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” because Christmas is the time of year when you act friendly to everybody even if you really don’t want to. (PBS, 8 p.m.)

The oh-my-god-it’s-so-shitty-you-guys holiday classic of the last decade is undoubtedly 2002′s The Man Who Saved Christmas, starring Jason Alexander as the inventor of the Erector Set, who has to retool his factory during World War One to make war things but really wants to make money selling toys bring smiles to all the children of the world, especially the ones who buy Erector Sets, so he lobbies the government and gets permission to make Erector Sets and thus saves Christmas. Fun fact: if you drink a shot every time Jason Alexander stares wistfully into the distance in this movie, you will die of alcohol poisoning. (Vision, 9 p.m.)


Wednesday

Hey, it’s Christmas time, so that means it is also time for CBC to trot out Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko yet again because Canadians just can’t get enough of middle-aged figure skaters doing “inventive” routines like taking classic movie scenes and saying “well, what if we did them on figure skates?” Hence: Holiday Festival on Ice 2012. (8 p.m.)

On The X Factor, the finalists perform. Who are these finalists? We realized that most people do not know the finalists well, because most people are not aware that The X Factor is still a thing or that Simon Cowell did not in fact cease to exist in 2010 (as nice as that would have been). So we looked into it. One of the finalists is a skilled brain surgeon who is looking to jump careers. Another is a single dad with 14 children who needs to win in order to make sure that he succeeds and that his children are able to wear food and eat clothes. The third finalist is a trained elk named Bongo who clatters his horns for a percussive beat while he sings. Is this not fascinating? Simon Cowell is exploring broad new horizons here. (CTV, 8 p.m.)

It’s the season finale of Recipe to Riches—and, Loblaws, could you come up with a different box design for the winning food items that is less creepy? Those dead-eyed caricatures on the boxes just make me avoid buying them and instead I just get candy-cane fudge-crackle ice cream again, both because it has no scary-looking humanoid on the box and also because it is candy-cane fudge-crackle ice cream. (Food Channel, 9 p.m.)

Also: Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012! Without even bothering to try to figure out who they are, we will guess. One: a politician who was controversial. Two: a tween singer. Three: someone who went viral on YouTube. Four to seven: actors who were in big movies. Eight: someone who got famous for no reason. Nine: somebody who got famous for a deserved reason (e.g., they actually did something). Ten: a famous somebody’s wife who became famous by proxy. (ABC, 10 p.m.)


Thursday

TLC brings us The Top 10 Weddings of 2012, because of course they do. The only reason TLC just doesn’t rename itself “Wedding Television” is because of the six hours per week they dedicate to rednecks, crazy religious families, and midgets. (9 p.m.)

Flashpoint comes to its end after five seasons, which is frankly four seasons more than Televisualist gave it when it first aired, given that it starred Veronica Mars’ dad, the Pink Ranger and the lead singer of the Headstones. But it has turned into a solid little cop drama that is identifiably and genuinely Torontonian, which is all too rare. (Even Canadian shows that are set in Toronto try to pretend that they aren’t really that Toronto-esque because the rest of the country will whine like little bitches if we ever point out that we are kind of awesome, because they think we are saying “we’re more awesome than you,” which while not generally the intention has the unfortunate ring of truth to it. Suck it, Medicine Hat!) Anyway, Flashpoint was never really Televisualist’s thing per se—not our genre—but we knew quality when we saw it and we’re sad to see it go, because good Canadian shows that run long and are popular are rarities. (CTV, 10 p.m.)


Friday

So it has been a woeful season for the Toronto Raptors thus far. Hopes of grabbing that eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (and, before the season began, most people agreed we had a shot at it) have vanished as the team has played sub-.200 basketball. Many fans are screaming for Dwane Casey’s head, but Casey has the exact same problem the last two coaches before him had, which is that the NBA is in many ways a feast-or-famine league in that you either have a game-changing superstar player or you don’t, and the Raptors have been following the MLSE credo of “play just well enough to get the fans to keep giving you money” rather than doing whatever they can in order to get a superstar player in Toronto to build around. (Trying to get Steve Nash this past year doesn’t count because Steve Nash, great though he may be, is too old to build around; really, going for Steve Nash was perhaps the ultimate in MLSE moves, as it was an attempt to pander to fans and sell tickets without actually doing what was needed in order to win.) Right now Toronto has precisely one player who would legitimately make just about any NBA starting lineup (Kyle Lowry), one who has the potential to get to that level but isn’t quite there yet (DeMar DeRozan, who of course already has the contract that a legitimate starter would get, because Bryan Colangelo is not a very good GM), a rookie who will probably get to that level eventually (Jonas Valanciunas) and then a bunch of bench players, future bench players, and a lot of guys who really aren’t even playing well enough to earn bench time yet have multimillion dollar contracts because Bryan Colangelo. And here’s the kicker: Andrew Wiggins, the projected number-one pick in the 2014 draft and an elite Lebron-level player, is Canadian, but Toronto almost certainly will not be able to get him due to trading away various draft picks. At some point, Toronto sports teams will have management that treats Toronto like the major media market it should be (and the Blue Jays may finally start acting like a major-market sports team should, but then again they aren’t owned by MLSE). Until then, we’re going to have shitty teams. And that’s sad. Anyway, the Raptors host the Dallas Mavericks tonight, which means Vince Carter will return to the franchise he helped destroy and will likely score 20 points or more off us, because he always does that. (TSN, 7 p.m.)

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” aka “the very first Simpsons episode ever.” Thrill to the just-barely-past–The Tracey Ullman Show level of animation quality! Wonder why Dan Castellaneta’s Homer voice gradually smoothed out over time! Remember when Bart still talked like old-school Bart. “Now that just leaves little Maggie—ah, a squeak toy! It says it’s for dogs, but she can’t read.” (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)


The Weekend

Survivor concludes what is widely acknowledged to have been its best season in quite a long time. At this point, the final five consist of four solid-to-great game players (Malcolm, Denise, Skupin, and Lisa Facts of Life) and Abi, who as we have previously discussed is a horrible person and a terrible player. However, Abi has survived longer than many thought possible, first by snagging an immunity and then because everybody decided to eliminate poor, hapless Carter because he was a greater threat than Abi—but, then again, a soft-shelled crab is a greater threat than Abi because if you don’t cook the crab properly you might get a bellyache. And now, Abi is a threat to make the final three, because you have two clearly defined two-person alliances (Malcolm and Denise/Skupin and Lisa) and each of them needs that crucial third vote to advance further in the game, and whoops, all that’s left is Abi, and once you make common cause with Abi you might as well take her to final tribal council because nobody will vote for her on account of her being both a horrible person and a terrible player. Survivor: where bad people and incompetents sometimes inexplicably flourish due to blind luck. Just like real life. (Global, 8 p.m. Sunday)

Comments

  • Dinah Might

    I wanted to like Flashpoint, but unfortunately I hate the “here’s-the-ending-now-let’s-see-how-we-got-here” gimmick, and they do that EVERY EPISODE.

    Plus too many stories of poor downtrodden workers being crushed by society’s gears, lashing out by taking hostages, which tended to be less fun cop drama and more flat-out depressing.

    Still, Enrico Colatoni! NNNEVER GIVE UP. NNNNEVER SURRENDER

  • Anonymous

    Man, Bublé OWNS Christmas.