Televisualist: Halloween Begins, Two Weeks Early
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Televisualist: Halloween Begins, Two Weeks Early

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.

20091012turktrav.jpg John Travolta as Terl, with friend. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Monday

Castle started out a bit slight, but has gradually evolved from being Yet Another Procedural (With A Twist!) into a fun riff on The Thin Man, with the Nick and Nora roles reversed with Nathan Fillion’s Castle as the dilettante and Stana Katic’s Beckett as the working professional. The writing is consistently clever, the entire cast ranges from “strong” to “Nathan Fillion kicks ass,” and apart from the occasionally irritating conceit of starting practically every episode by revealing the corpse-of-the-week as an indie-pop song plays in the background, the show practically never missteps. (A-Channel, 10 p.m.)
Battlefield Earth! One of the worst movies of the past decade! Why is this airing on Thanksgiving? Who gave thanks for this? Did anybody? Maybe the guys from Rifftrax gave thanks for its existence. That’s all I can think of. (Space, 8:15 p.m.)

Tuesday

Nova this week focuses on the recent space shuttle mission that repaired the Hubble Telescope. Nova is always pretty awesome when they use space footage, because you get to see astronauts in space doing astronaut things. Really, it could be an hour of astronauts peeing in space, and it would still be pretty awesome. To some people, it might in fact be more awesome. But we are not those people. (PBS, 8 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Treehouse of Horror.” Yes, the very first one, back when these episodes were just supposedly stories the Simpsons were telling one another, before they started to get weak. This one even takes place in the treehouse. That’s how old it is. “Quoth the raven: eat my shorts.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)

Wednesday

Hank is just dogshit. I want to find more descriptive, flowery ways to describe how bad, how stupid, how completely unfunny this show is, but honestly I can’t be bothered: it’s just that bad. After this and the dreadful Back To You, Kelsey Grammer seems determined to completely destroy all the goodwill he built up over twenty-plus years of playing Frasier Crane. And that was a lot of goodwill, too. You don’t seen David Hyde Pierce doing shows like this, you know. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
Cougar Town, after a truly weak premiere episode, has improved sharply; Courteney Cox is still a bit too frantic for her character to be likeable enough as the lead, but the show is gradually finding its groove and the cast getting used to their roles, and the writing is evening out. It’s tolerable and, with a little more improvement, could actually be pretty good. (City, 9:30 p.m.)

Thursday

30 Rock is back! 30 Rock is back! The best comedy on TV is back! We are very happy about this. (City, 9: 30 p.m.)
Paper Moon is only marred by the directorial presence of Peter Bogdonovich (quite possibly the biggest horse’s ass in Hollywood history, and that’s saying a lot); other than that, though, it’s a fine little film, and although we’re not sure if in retrospect Tatum O’Neal deserved her Best Supporting Actress Oscar (Madeline Kahn was also nominated and her performance in this is excellent), she’s certainly great in the flick. Plus, you get to see Ryan O’Neal before he became a creepy douche. (Turner Classic, 8 p.m.)

Friday

Ugly Betty returns in a two-hour season premiere, with Betty promoted to assistant features editor, Justin getting bullied at school, Daniel distraught both over the death of his wife and the loss of Betty as his assistant, and the ever-awesome Kristen Johnson showing up as Daniel’s new temp. I may have lost masculinity points for knowing all that without having to check. (City, 8 p.m.)
Game One of the American League Championship series has the Yankees and the Angels playing for the World Series berth. Here is all you need to know: the Yankees are demon seeds, clearly working for Satan himself. People think Damn Yankees was an ironic title. It was not. Fuck the fucking Yankees. (Sportsnet, 8 p.m.)

The Weekend

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XX. Can you really believe there have been twenty Halloween episodes of the Simpsons? Unfortunately counting that terrible “Island of Dr. Hibbert” one. Man, that one sucked. (Global, 8 p.m. Sunday)
The other way you can tell Halloween has started its annual two-week existence in televisionland? Spooky movies. YTV, thanks to a family-friendly mandate, kicks things off with Beetlejuice, still Michael Keaton’s best film ever and definitely Tim Burton’s funniest. You really can’t go wrong with it, if you haven’t seen it. Or even if you have. (6 p.m. Sunday)

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