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.
Andy Whitfield is Spartacus! Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondaySpartacus: Blood and Sand debuts, and…well, it’s not bad. We want to say it’s awesome, but…come on, Lucy Lawless is one of the evil Romans, and as much as we love Lucy Lawless, her presence brings with it a certain cheeseball factor. That cheesiness (and it’s not just Lawless) permeates the show, turning drama into something closer to melodrama. It’s not bad, but it’s way off from being the second coming of Rome that many of us were hoping something like this might be. Still, there are swords and sandals, and it’s not unentertaining in its way. There are worse ways to kill an hour. (TMN, 9 p.m.)
Brewster’s Millions? Man, when was this last on TV? One of Richard Pryor’s more underrated little films, it actually managed to show how surprisingly beloved it is last year when some studio announced they were remaking it and fans started complaining (oddly, considering that Pryor’s version was itself a remake). But hey, it’s been twenty-five years now, and practically everybody in the Pryor version is now dead: Pryor, John Candy, Hume Cronyn, Jerry Orbach…okay, now we’re depressed. (SunTV, 8 p.m.)
TuesdayLost fans must be gearing themselves up for next week’s season 6 premiere, but until then, they can hold the need at bay with a re-airing of “The Incident,” last season’s two-hour finale. Hooray for nuclear weapons and polar bears on tropical islands! (CTV, 9 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “The War of the Simpsons,” a second-season classic wherein Marge and Homer go to couples counselling and Homer learns about an enormous catfish. “She never cooks, she doesn’t keep a clean house, she smokes and she drinks and she talks profanely! She’s the queen of the harpies! Queen of the harpies! Here’s your crown, Your Majesty! Queen of the harpies!” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
WednesdaySpeaking of Lost, tonight you can watch the annual State of the Union address from the president of the United States. Which airs tonight because they didn’t want to pre-empt Lost. No, really, they moved it up after ABC begged them to move the date, thus confirming that health care, the economy, and the environment are all less important to the average Joe than what the hell the Dharma Initiative was doing with all those polar bears anyhow. (major American networks, 9 p.m.)
Tonight on the History Channel, a show entitled “The Nostradamus Effect” will speculate about apocalyptic events in 2012. Granted, we stopped pretending the History Channel was actually about history when they started airing Ice Road Truckers, but come on: predictions aren’t just not history but actively the opposite of history! I call shenanigans! Shenanigans! (8 p.m.)
ThursdayCaprica debuts. Well, sort of, because it “debuted” on DVD last spring. But this time it’s debuting on television, so everybody who wasn’t willing to spend money on the DVD or download the episode via Bittorrent can see it with commercials! That having been said, it’s a pretty decent pilot, retaining the moral complexity that made Battlestar Galactica so great but going to its prequel setting without making all the answers you know are forthcoming obvious. Worth a watch if you have somehow missed it up to this point. (Space, 9 p.m.)
CannaBiz is a one-hour documentary about “Canada’s secret billion-dollar marijuana industry.” The doc is good, but we quibble with the use of “secret.” Seriously, does anybody not know about Canada’s enormous marijuana industry at this point? Sometimes it seems like every third person we meet is a pot farmer. Okay, actually they just wish they were pot farmers. But that’s close. (CBC, 9 p.m.)
FridayKitchen Nightmares returns for a third season, which just goes to show that Americans love Gordon Ramsay, no matter how much the Fox network waters down his show to the point of unwatchability. Really, when I say I like Kitchen Nightmares, I have to explain, “no, just the British ones.” There’s that much difference; the British ones were about running restaurants successfully, and the American ones are about emotional trauma and boring interpersonal relationship things. When Gordon Ramsay is on teevee, you want him to be a chef, not a therapist. (Fox, 8 p.m.)
New episodes of What Not To Wear are like the television equivalent of leprosy. NOTHING GOES WITH LEPROSY! (TLC, 9 p.m.)
The WeekendIt’s the Grammy Awards! Wake us up if Kanye does something stupid. (Global, 8 p.m. Sunday)
Lost fans can also watch a special this week, “The Final Chapter,” which will helpfully recap all the little details you’ve probably forgotten and tell you who’s dead and who’s not dead and who might be dead and who is merely lost in the Springfield Mystery Spot along with Wade Boggs. (CTV, 8 p.m. Sunday)
18 Kids and Counting becomes 19 Kids and Counting, as Jim and Michelle Duggar have their nineteenth, Josie (you’d think they’d have run out of “J” names by now, but so long as they can invent names like “Jinger” they’ll be fine), prematurely and via C-section. On the one hand, you’d think an emergency premature C-section delivery might make the Duggars think “maybe we have enough, already.” On the other hand, you kind of want them to go for twenty, because it’s such a nice round number. (TLC, 8 p.m. Sunday)