Televisualist: Kiefer, Idol, and Sucky Rider
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Televisualist: Kiefer, Idol, and Sucky Rider

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.


24 is back with episodes 3 and 4 of the seventh season back-to-back tonight, and what’s more, Tony Almeida is also back, although in addition to being not dead, Tony now has a kickin’ buzzcut and goatee. He’s extreeeeeme Tony Almeida! Also, the evil warden from The Shawshank Redemption is playing the White House Chief of Staff this year, so start your bets now on whether he plays to type and is evil or whether the producers throw us for a loop by making him be not evil. So many options! What will Keifer Sutherland do this time? Televisualist is in suspense already. (Global, 8 p.m.)
This week on How I Met Your Mother: Lily helps Barney work out his rage issues! Also, the other characters do something possibly but who cares. (E!, 8:30 p.m.)


It’s the return of American Idol! Three months of karaoke ranging from godawful to moderately okay starts here! Three months of Paula appearing on air drunk or stoned or both and nobody admitting it starts here! Three months of Randy Jackson babbling like a jackass starts here! Three months of Simon Cowell being far too smug about actually having two brain cells to scrape together starts here! Three months of closeted-fag jokes directed at Ryan Seacrest starts here! It all starts here! Three months of everybody watching this fucking show so people have something to talk about at work the next day and can keep from realizing how desperately unhappy they really are starts here! (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Now with 2008 well back in retrospect, we can safely say that “The Constant” was not only the best episode of Lost in 2008, but indeed the best single episode of any scripted television program of 2008. Yes, better than any single episode of Mad Men, even. “The Constant” was a singular achievement: an episode of a relatively impenetrable show that requires close loyalty to understand the plot twists that was itself extremely watchable for the novice viewer, and on top of that did it while working itself into knots through a Vonnegut-like time-travel narrative. It should have been a disaster, and that it wasn’t marks one of the great television writing moments of all time. (Space, 8 p.m.)


Speaking of Lost, ABC is gearing up for the fifth season debut next week by re-airing the two-hour finale, “There’s No Place Like Home,” tonight. So if you didn’t know that Locke was dead now? You can find out all over again! OOPS SPOILERS YOU GUYS. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
More American Idol. They will go to one or two American cities and hear people sing. Some people will be good! Many more will be bad! Some (or if we’re being honest, many) of the people who are bad will be bad on purpose just so they can get their pathetic asses on your television screen. American Idol is actually a documentary about the sad state of mental health treatment in the United States if you watch it properly. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Still, it’s better than Knight Rider. If you haven’t been watching Knight Rider (and you shouldn’t, because it is terrible), it has been hilarious watching them try to fix the show midway through the first season by scrapping most of the original cast and changing the setting. And the tragic thing is that none of it matters, because Justin Bruening sucks as Michael Knight Jr. and Val Kilmer sucks as KITT and the fact that KITT transforms into whichever Ford vehicle they want to pimp in any given week sucks so bad it is hard to explain how much it sucks. At this point Televisualist thinks that the only thing that can save this show is a judicious application of the Hoff, and even then, it would be a near thing. (NBC, 8 p.m.)


This week’s episode of Smallville is written by Geoff Johns, who currently writes approximately 147 comic books per day for DC Comics, including all of the Superman books, and what he doesn’t write he tells other people to write. The guest stars this week are the Legion of Super Heroes, the thirty-first century superhero team inspired by Superman to fight evil in the future. I have been a Legion fan since I was about six, so I am hoping that this show will not suck like just about every episode of Smallville has for the last season and a half. But I’m not optimistic. (SunTV, 8 p.m.)
This week on The Nature Of Things: a special about the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Televisualist is going to go out on a limb here and predict that David Suzuki will tell us all that in fact, the oil spill was pretty awesome! (CBC, 8 p.m.)


Wife Swap gets as topical as it possibly can when a wife from a poor family who clips coupons and pinches pennies swaps places with a wife from a rich family who buys large-screen TVs to use as surfboards and who uses cocaine in place of baking soda. I wonder if the rich wife will realize that she leads a life of privilege? Answer: probably! Will this change her lifestyle? Answer: probably not. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Much Apu About Nothing,” the one where Springfield decides to eject all its illegal immigrants. “Immigunts! I knew it was dem! Even when it was the bears, I knew it was dem!” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)