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.
George Stroumboulopoulos wants you to be merry. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayGeorge Stroumboulopoulos hosts a very special holiday edition of The Hour, with Our Lady Peace, Blue Rodeo, and Norah Jones all performing for your viewing pleasure. And then they’ll discuss trade policy! No, probably not. (CBC, 9 p.m.)
The Sing-Off concludes tonight, and although we made a lot of jokes about it last week, it’s turned out to be a terrifically entertaining little competition with some really world-class performances and extremely intelligent judging commentary from Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men (who, incidentally, will reunite for a special performance tonight on the finale). Thankfully, Nicole Sherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls has provided the requisite “idiot judge” that this sort of competitive reality genre seems to demand. (NBC, 8 p.m.)
The best holiday movie ever airs tonight. Hint: it has the reunification of estranged lovers, a child’s wish fulfilled, a display of the power of friendship in difficult circumstances and a heartwarming manly hug at the end. Also, it has machine guns, explosions, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Johnson, evil European terrorists, a heroic limo driver, and Alan Rickman as the single best movie villain of all time, since the movie in question is Die Hard. (CHCH, 8:30 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Skinner’s Sense of Snow,” wherein Springfield Elementary is buried underneath a blizzard and anarchy reigns once Skinner is trapped in snow. “That sounded like a silo tipping over!” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
TuesdayWhat’s the best Christmas movie tonight? You have two very valid choices: firstly, Die Hard 2 (CHCH, 8:30 p.m.), the underrated kid brother of the Die Hard franchise (which does indeed take place on Christmas Eve), where Bruce Willis fights a bunch of evil supercommandoes across an airport. And on the other hand, you have A Christmas Story (CBC, 8 p.m.), which is a timeless holiday classic in a lot of ways, but sadly lacks a scene where terrorists are brutally machinegunned to death. So difficult!
WednesdayChristmas classic alert: Scrooge, the 1951 Christmas Carol adaptation with Alastair Sim as Scrooge. Most adaptations of Carol borrow liberally from this one (especially Sim’s performance, which is the definitive Scrooge), so catching the original at some point is recommended. (CBC, 8 p.m.)
Video on Trial does a 2009 best-of (or, rather, worst-of) special. If you like Video on Trial, which is practically the only show on MuchMusic that still feels like vintage-style MuchMusic should, why not? (9 p.m.)
The annual Faith Hill Christmas special! Actually, that last sentence didn’t merit an exclamation mark. It really didn’t. (CBS, 8 p.m.)
ThursdayIt’s A Wonderful Life used to air like seven billion times during the holiday season. Now it airs once and once only. This makes it feel more special, if nothing else, and now the sole holiday airing is unedited (which used to happen all the time). So on balance, it’s for the better that you can only catch it tonight. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
AMC, on the other hand, has chosen to air White Christmas.
For some reason, there is a shitload of Star Wars this Christmas Eve. Spike airs the good trilogy (New Hope, Empire and Jedi) all day long, while Space airs the bad trilogy (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) back-to-back starting at 3 p.m. Because nothing says Christmas like lightsabres and midichlorians!
FridayAre you waking up early with kids? Or are you one of those people with an overactive inner child who can’t ever sleep in on Christmas Day? (Full disclosure: Televisualist is one of the latter.) Well, then, you need the Yule Log. Possibly better for the environment than burning a real log! (A-Channel, 6 a.m.)
The Queen gives us her annual Christmas message. Because that’s what she does. It’s her job, you know. She says stuff at Christmas, and that’s why we’re not a republic. (BBC World, 11:20 a.m.)
What’s the randomest thing airing on Christmas Day? Is it MuchMusic airing Bring It On? (9 p.m.) Is it ABC airing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest? (8 p.m.) Spike giving us an entire day of Pros vs. Joes? No, we think the vote must go to Fox’s decision to run a mini-marathon of episodes of ‘Til Death, starting at 8 p.m. Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher as a married couple who quietly loathe one another! CHRISTMAS!
The WeekendIf you’re not shopping on Boxing Day, there’s always Space’s classic Star Trek movie marathon starting at 7 a.m. with The Motion Picture and concluding at 9:45 p.m. with the credit-roll of The Undiscovered Country. Given that The Final Frontier, the only truly bad classic Trek flick, starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m., that even gives you a convenient dinner break.
The Comedy Network has a My Name Is Earl marathon. Nothing says Christmastime like marathons! Even seasonally inappropriate marathons! (Sunday, starting at 8 p.m.)