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culture

Televisualist: It’s Christmas Time, And That Means…1940s Mobsters

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.

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“So, did Rick ever—” “Stop asking about Rick.”

Monday

It’s time for Stars on Ice 2013, because as Canadians, it’s our patriotic duty to ensure that Kurt Browning can continue to be paid for flipping around on ice skates. That sounded sarcastic, but it really wasn’t meant to be! (CBC, 9 p.m.)

You can catch the first of many airings of A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight, and it is still the best of all the classic Christmas specials, and it is December, so we won’t get our Grinch on for this one. (ABC, 8 p.m.)

Best Funeral Ever is a new reality show about theme funerals and—no, no, this is where we just walk on not diverting our eyes from the path ahead. It’s not because we’re scared of death, but because we’re worried that TLC is going to treat this show’s almost-certain success as a learning experience. (10 p.m.)


Tuesday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Mom and Pop Art,” in which Homer becomes an outsider artist. “Dad, is this art or is it vandalism?” “That’s for the courts to decide.” (MuchMusic, 9 p.m.)


Wednesday

A Saturday Night Live Christmas is what it is, and you know what you’re going to get: “Schweddy Balls”; the one where Candice Bergen interviews Dan Aykroyd’s sleazy toy salesman (“Bag O’ Glass”); that bit where Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, Tracy Morgan, and Horatio Sanz put on Christmas sweaters and sing; and maybe “the lost ending to It’s A Wonderful Life” sketch if we’re lucky. There won’t be much that’s bad, and that’s about all you can really ask for from an SNL holiday compilation special. (NBC, 9 p.m.)

Frank Darabont’s return to TV after getting edged out of The Walking Dead is Mob City, a 1940s Los Angeles gangster epic served up in three weekly two-hour doses and loaded up with quality “I know that guy” actors: Jon Bernthal (also from The Walking Dead), Neal McDonough, Robert Knepper, Ernie Hudson, Alexa Davalos, and Edward Burns as Bugsy Siegel. Also, in a guest-star appearance (meaning “his character probably doesn’t stick around,” and we say that without having seen any of this series yet), Simon Pegg doing an American accent, which gets us watching all by itself. (Bravo, 9 p.m.)

Hawaii Life is about people who move from their cold wintry homes (Calgary, New Hampshire, etc.) to live in Hawaii. We’re not exactly sure why this rates a television series. Perhaps HGTV has finally decided to just say “to hell with it, from now on we’re the Envy Network.” (10 p.m.)


Thursday

The Sound of Music Live is on. True story: when I went to film school, one of the profs absolutely hated the movie. With an unholy passion. He called it “like Star Trek for middle-aged and old ladies except Star Trek was good sometimes.” Once, he mentioned that one of the actors who had played one of the Von Trapp kids (I forget which one it was), and who basically made her living off being a former Von Trapp, had said that being in The Sound of Music was the most important thing she had ever done, which this professor sarcastically followed up with, “No shit—it’s the only thing she’s ever done. Ever. In her whole life. Isn’t that sad? I think that’s sad.” This doesn’t really have that much to do with the special, but I felt it was sharing time here at Televisualist. (City, 8 p.m.)

Gypsy Sisters returns for a second season of making television critics wonder if it’s fair to call this show bigoted or not. (TLC, 9 p.m.)

Teletoon has the series finale of Futurama tonight, and in addition to being the series finale (very probably, he said of the series that has just kept coming back one way or another), it’s also a really funny and heartfelt episode that easily ranks among the best of Futurama‘s stories. And interestingly enough, Teletoon is airing the pilot episode of Futurama right before it. We see what you did there, Teletoon! (Pilot at 9 p.m., finale at 9:30 p.m.)


Friday

Spoilers is Kevin Smith’s talk show about movies. It lasted one season on Hulu and is now on the Comedy Network (but not Hulu). Smith’s famous antagonism toward critics is on display here, because the “weekly review” portion is him and a crowd of people going to see a movie and then no true consensus emerges. Basically, it’s less than helpful. The best bit of the Hulu series was that each week Smith would talk about a Criterion Collection film available on Hulu, but since the show isn’t on Hulu now, we don’t know if he’s gonna keep doing that or what. In conclusion: Kevin Smith is a land of contrasts. (9:30 p.m.)


The Weekend

Not the famous 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, but rather a two-night miniseries starring Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger, Bonnie and Clyde is… well, it has William Hurt in it as a lawman, and that’s something, we guess? Did we mention Mob City previously? Yes, yes we did. Maybe watch that instead. (A&E/History/Lifetime, 9 p.m. Sunday)

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