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culture

Televisualist: So, Ten People Walk Into a Bar

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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It turns out that people who go to bars are 80 per cent white. Who woulda thunk?

Monday

Woo! Okay, the Olympics are finally over! I can’t wait for the CBC to bring me new quality television like AW MAN the season premiere of The Ron James Show? Look, God, I swear I wasn’t trying to kick that puppy last week—I was just trying to step around it, and it got in my way while my foot was moving! Certainly, I didn’t expect it to get so much mid-air hang time! Who knew puppies were aerodynamic? (And resilient, too: really, the puppy’s totally fine.) (9:30 p.m.)

The Voice is back again, and Shakira and Usher are returning as judges, once more replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green (Cee-Lo having apparently decided to be done with the show, and Christina having decided to take a break). And… we’re out of Voice jokes, looks like? I mean, Adam/Blake bromance jokes are done, Usher and Shakira defy humour, and what else is there to make fun of in what is, when you get down to it, a quality singing competition show? Not a lot really. Carson Daly, if you’re desperate, but thankfully we are not. (CTV2, 8 p.m.)

Dallas is also back for a third season, and the problem we have with this show is that every time we watch it, we wish we were watching season six of Friday Night Lights instead. Which is not Dallas‘ fault, really. (Bravo, 9 p.m.)


Tuesday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Three Gays of the Condo,” wherein Homer moves in with a gay couple after having marital troubles with Marge. “You know, Moe, I was just thinking. My problems with Marge started because I drink too much. And then tonight, alcohol only made things worse. Maybe all my problems are actually caused by…” “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take ya medicine, ya lush ya.” (MuchMusic, 8 p.m.)

Mind Games is a sort of caper series, the idea being that our team of caper heroes are using behavioural science to literally get people to change their minds at crucial moments. It’s a neat idea for a show, and Christian Slater and Steve Zahn as the leads play well off one another (Slater plays the slightly sleazy but normal one, and Zahn’s the wired crazy one). Dunno how much this show has in the way of legs, but it’s a good short-term bit of fun if nothing else. (City, 10 p.m.)

Game of Arms is a show about competitive arm-wrestling, because that’s where we are now as a society! Airing on AMC, where, as we have been told, “story matters.” In the first episode, our story is that a bunch of guys from California are arm wrestling with a bunch of guys from New York, and that’s gripping drama right there, I tell you what. (10 p.m.)

Cold Water Cowboys is Discovery’s new show about Newfoundland fishermen, and it looks to be a return to form for Discovery after its flirtations with less traditional reality storytelling (like, you know, drama). (10 p.m.)


Wednesday

Survivor’s hook this season is “Brains v. Brawn v. Beauty”: it’ll be starting off with three tribes of six—one of “brawn” (including a former NBA All-Star and two cops), one of “brains” (including the current president of the Miami Marlins and a nuclear engineer), and one of “beauty” (including a lot of people who hope to become actors, probably). Whatever, it’s Survivor, and what’s more, this season apparently means no Redemption Island, which a lot of fans hated because other than in Blood v. Water, it was always kind of lame. (Global, 8 p.m.)

Mixology looks to be a sort of experimental sitcom where all of the action takes place at a bar and there’s a large ensemble cast (ten people, pretty large for any sitcom) and… we are intrigued? The writing seems not terrible? It still looks like a one-and-done, but maybe it’s the sort of one-and-done that people revere as a cult classic in later years? We’re doing everything in the form of questions because we’re not sure about this one, maybe? (ABC, 9:30 p.m.)


Thursday

In its first season, Vikings swiftly transcended my “Game of Thrones but no magic and on basic cable” joke to become a really strong medieval action/drama in its own right, so I won’t lie—I’m pretty stoked to see it come back. TV critics love to be proven wrong! Except about non-TV things. Then it sucks when we’re wrong. Actually, we don’t like to be proven wrong at all, even about TV. We want to be right about everything all the time. (History Television, 10 p.m.)


Friday

In its first season, Hannibal got a cult audience and numbers that were also, well, what you would expect from a cult audience, so NBC is very smartly doing what it should and giving it an X-Files-type slot; let the cult audience grow over time, don’t try to force it. But really, we just want to see Mads Mikkelsen wear nice suits some more. (City, 10 p.m.)


The Weekend

It’s the 86th Academy Awards! Going into the home stretch, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity are the two films considered most likely to win Best Picture or Best Director (Slave is favoured to win Best Picture and Alfonso Cuarón is favored as Best Director for Gravity) and also represent the best opportunities for big Oscar sweeps. We’re rooting for 12 Years a Slave, personally, because it is the best film and should win all of the awards, but we’re also watching in the hopes that Idina Menzel will perform a live rendition of “Let It Go” from Frozen, because come on, how do you not root for that? Also, Ellen DeGeneres is hosting, and while her previous turn at hosting was decent but not amazing, she cannot possibly be worse than Seth MacFarlane was last year. (CTV, Red carpet coverage begins 7 p.m. Sunday, awards begin 8:30 p.m.)

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