Televisualist: Debate, Knocks, and Michael Scott
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Televisualist: Debate, Knocks, and Michael Scott

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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Monday

The Mentalist is Televisualist’s pick for best new network show of this season. It’s a procedural about a John Edwards type of guy (the one who pretended to talk to dead people, not the former senator who ran for President) who gives up his job bilking people to use his observational skills to solve grisly murders. Patrick Jane is noteworthy as the lead, the show feels like a decent combination of CSI and House, and any show where the lead character is a dedicated atheist is definitely not your normal network fare. Also, it has Robin Tunney in it, and she’s really hot. (E!, 10 p.m.)
Heroes returns after a second season that was so bad the showrunners themselves were giving interviews and saying, “Yeah, we really fucked this season up, sorry.” Televisualist is personally of the opinion that Heroes tops out at “moderately entertaining fluff,” but we know people like it, so who knows, maybe the two-hour season premiere will be all right. (Global, 9 p.m., and if that isn’t enough for you NBC has a “countdown to the premiere” special at 8 p.m., but we really hope you don’t feel the need to watch it, because that would be sad)
CBS’s Monday night sitcom lineup makes its return, which means new Big Bang Theory (yay), new How I Met Your Mother (legen—wait for it—dary), new Two and a Half Men (meh), and the premiere of something called Worst week, which is a sitcom about a schlubby guy with bad luck who’s going to marry a sexy girl way out of his league. In other words, it kind of sucks, even if Kurtwood Smith (Red from That 70s Show) is in it. (Starting at 8 p.m.)

Tuesday

Opportunity Knocks is ABC’s celebration of traditional family life (no game show for you, single parents!) where the crew goes around to people’s houses and sets up a game show on their front lawn (no game show for you, urban-dwelling families!) and allows the family members the chance to win money, cars, and Jonas Brothers tickets (no game show for you, people with musical taste!) by answering questions about one another. Or, instead, you could hit your head against the wall really hard. (City, 8 p.m.)
E! airs a special episode of Fashion Police dedicated to the Emmy Awards, making Fashion Police only 97 percent as pointless as usual. (10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Separate Vocations,” where aptitude tests predict that Lisa will be a housewife and Bart will be a cop, with amusing role reversals and so forth. “Well, I’m going to be a famous jazz musician. I’ve got it all figured out. I’ll be unappreciated in my own country, but my gutsy blues stylings will electrify the French. I’ll avoid the horrors of drug abuse, but I do plan to have several torrid love affairs, and I may or may not die young. I haven’t decided.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)

Wednesday

Knight Rider returns as a series after the two-hour movie earlier this year (which was terrible), starring Justin Bruening as the lead (he is terrible), with a revamped version of the theme (which is terrible) and Val Kilmer as the voice of KITT (he is… well, not terrible, but not great). Hollywood is like a guy who looks at a cemetery and thinks, “Hey, think of all the corpses in there just waiting to be fucked.” (E!, 8 p.m.)
The View From Here airs “The Bodybuilder and I,” which is about a guy coming to terms with his dad competing in geriatric bodybuilder competitions. Televisualist didn’t even know there were such things as geriatric bodybuilder competitions, so… live and learn. Thanks, TVO! (9 p.m.)

Thursday

Survivor returns with a two-hour season premiere. This time around, the Survivors are in Gabon, which is in equatorial Africa, and unlike most African countries is not barely holding itself together; the country is, by African standards, relatively prosperous and peaceful. In short, it is kind of boring—so boring that Survivor rates a mention on its Wikipedia entry. But Survivor is usually pretty entertaining, so better it show up on Wikipedia than a brutal civil war. (Global, 8 p.m.)
The Office! Words are insufficient to describe how happy Televisualist is to have this show back for another season, so let’s just go to the official TV guide listing: “Staffers in the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin become obsessed with their weight in the wake of corporate weight-loss initiatives; Michael pursues a friendship with Holly; Jim misses Pam, who is away at art school.” CAN YOU SMELL THE AWESOMENESS? Amy Ryan (The Wire) as Holly alone makes this show three thousand percent more awesome than American Gladiators, and that show had both pugel sticks and Hulk Hogan. (NBC, 9 p.m., or Global, 10 p.m.)
Grey’s Anatomy something something season premiere blah blah blah I don’t watch it fuck off. (ABC, 9 p.m.)

Friday

The very first American Presidential debate is tonight, with John McCain and Barack Obama debating foreign policy and national security issues in Mississippi, and it will determine the fate of everything ever. (All major American networks, 9 p.m.)
And if you don’t believe that, watch Aftermath: The World Without Humans, where they use animation and CGI and stuff to show what would happen to the world if all the humans died tomorrow. SPOILER ALERT: In about one hundred thousand years, nuclear reactors break down enough to release plutonium into the atmosphere (since we aren’t around to prevent it), and that is pretty much it for life on Earth. You got that, folks? We are the last intelligent species to call Earth home, mostly because we made it that way. (Global, 8 p.m.)

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