Televisualist: Shows That Fail and Monorail
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Televisualist: Shows That Fail and Monorail

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 Border has been back for a couple of weeks now and it is still pretty good in its competent, Canadian way. Televisualist does not watch it as a matter of course, but every so often sits down to watch a couple of Tivoed episodes, and it never fails to entertain us moderately. So this is our low-key, relaxed recommendation of the show. (CBC, 9 p.m.)
Dancing With The Stars this time features Rocco DiSpirito, Lance Bass, Toni Braxton and the already-eliminated Ted McGinley. Hey, did you guys know there’s a tour for Dancing With The Stars? Seriously, they sell tickets to people, and people come and watch ballroom dancing that is, at its very best, a couple of notches below any reasonable competition standard. Joey Fatone is, like, always in it, every single year. The moral of this story: people who watch this show should watch So You Think You Can Dance instead, and be happy with that. (CTV, 8 p.m.)

Tuesday

American Presidential debate numbah three! This time, Barack Obama and John McCain duke it out, verbally speaking, in a town hall meeting, wherein ordinary American citizens who are in no way planted by either campaign ask questions of the two candidates. Seriously, the questions in these things range from “artificially designed to embarrass” to “mouth-breathingly stupid.” It’s the practice of small-town democracy at its least genuine and most irritating. Hooray for the average voter! (CBC Newsworld, 9 p.m.)
“I’m black y’all! And I’m black y’all! And I’m blacker than black and I’m black y’all! And I’m black y’all! And I’m black y’all! And I’m blacker than black and I’m black y’all! I’m blickety-black black blacker than black black yeah I’m blacker than black yo cause I’m black and I’m back! Yo I’m black and I’m black y’all, and I’m blackety-black and I’m black y’all! And I’m black y’all, and I’m black y’all, and I’m blackety-black and I’m black y’all!” Ah, CB4. You never grow old. (BET, 8 p.m.)

Wednesday

Speaking of So You Think You Can Dance, our Canadian version begins its competition episodes tonight with a slate of performers that, and it may be early to suggest this but what the hey, looks incredibly strong. Televisualist is extremely optimistic about the upcoming season, so much so that we are willing to forgive or at least ignore the presence of Leah Miller, as well as the seventeen dozen repeats of each episode on MuchMusic (new motto: “Fulfilling Our Canadian Content Obligations With One Frigging Show”). (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Fans of Pushing Daisies should be forewarned: the new season is tanking in the ratings something fierce. Get to writing those letters if you want this show to survive, folks, because otherwise it probably ain’t gonna. Televisualist, for its part, does not care, but we do so like to provide a public service. (ABC, 8 p.m.)

Thursday

The debut of Kath & Kim, a remake of a popular Australian sitcom which now stars Molly Shannon and Selma Blair instead of some Australian people you don’t know, airs tonight, and it is very bad. It is not as bad as Do Not Disturb was. That show got cancelled so fast Televisualist didn’t even get to make any of the jokes we had prepared about Jerry O’Connell’s bitchface routine. (And they were choice jokes, yo.) But it is quite bad, and will likely not stick around long. (E!, 8:30 p.m.)
Also debuting tonight: Saturday Night Live Thursday Weekend Update, which has an overly long and not very funny title, which bodes very poorly for the show. “Weekend Update” these days has good anchors in Seth Myer and Amy Poehler, but it unfortunately also has average writing at the best of times since most of the good SNL writers jumped to 30 Rock a couple years ago. Oh well! (Global, 9:30 p.m.)
The American remake of Life on Mars had a rocky start. (I know! Who would have thought a British show being remade in the States would have trouble?) For reasons about which we are not sure, the only actor kept on from the original, terrible, unaired pilot set in Los Angeles was Jason O’Mara as lead character Sam Tyler, despite the fact that O’Mara was far and away the worst thing about that pilot episode. However, the rest of the new cast are pretty goddamned stellar: Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli, and Gretchen Mol among others. And Life On Mars‘ central concept of “guy in coma possibly travels back in time or maybe not” is brilliant. This is worth at least one chance. But only one. We’re watching you, Jason O’Mara! (Global, 10 p.m.)

Friday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Marge vs. The Monorail.” One of the best Simpsons episodes of all time, easily, without question. Probably the best single Simpsons role ever given to Phil Hartman, for that matter. “And what about us brain-dead slobs?”/”You’ll be given cushy jobs!” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
Croupier is the small little Belgian film which launched Clive Owen’s career, and it’s honestly pretty damn good, as well as fairly short. No cuts to fit into a primetime schedule is what we’re saying here. So give it a go, why don’t you, before you head out for the evening. (Bravo!, 9 p.m.)

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