Televisualist: Help Haiti! (But Not By Watching Television!)
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.
The Chin That Ate The World bears down on Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayTonight’s episode of Heroes is entitled “Pass/Fail.” Which is too easy. We have standards here. (Global, 10 p.m.)
The show 18 To Life is actually pretty entertaining, despite all those horrible advertisements in TTC stations that make one think that watching the show will be kind of like suffering agonizing death whilst still alive. But the writing’s clever, in a “first season of How I Met Your Mother before it really hit its stride” kind of way, and the cast engaging: Stacey Farber and Michael Seater are quite convincing as the young marrieds, and Peter Keleghan can basically do “fuddy-duddy dad” not even needing a second’s notice by this point. It’s still clumsy at points, but shows have started much worse than this and ended much better. (CBC, 8 p.m.)
So last week in late night TV was marked by the following things: David Letterman spending an entire week insulting Jay Leno and NBC as viciously as humanly possible, Jimmy Kimmel one-upping Letterman by insulting Leno on his own show, Leno himself taking every opportunity to whine like a self-pitying asshole and pretend that he had nothing to do with screwing over Conan O’Brien, and Conan essentially saying “fuck this” and using his last few nights of The Tonight Show to go scorched-earth, attacking Leno and NBC (quite deservedly) as much as possible. It’s entirely possible that Conan will get yanked before the week is out, but at this point the confirmed plan is that Conan will host through this week and then NBC airs the Winter Olympics, and after the Olympics Leno takes over the Tonight Show again. What we’re saying is that this will probably be the last week The Tonight Show is watchable for a very long time, assuming it doesn’t get pre-empted by static. (NBC, 11:30 p.m.)
TuesdayCTV reruns the pilot episode of Human Target tonight, in case you missed it because you have better things to do on Friday night. It’s a pretty decent pilot episode, with good actiony bits and clever writing, but it feels kind of superfluous in the way that some shows do; despite a last-minute stab in the pilot at emotional resonance, this is just a fun, completely disposable action show that nobody will remember five years from now except a few really devoted and kind of creepy fans. Maybe it can up itself from that, but that’s where it is now. But hey, it’s amusing enough, and Chi McBride is in it. (9 p.m.)
X2 is the best of the X-Men movies, which actually isn’t saying that much because most of the X-Men movies are pretty mediocre: the first one has origin-story fatigue from the get-go, the third one has Brett Ratner-itis and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is just…yeah, we should not speak of that. But X2 has Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler and Ian McKellen being super-badassest. So it’s basically the high point. (A-Channel, 8 p.m.)
WednesdayThe Deep End debuts: this series about young lawyers fresh out of law school working for a super-rich firm in Los Angeles wants to be the unholy devil-spawn of L.A. Law and 90210 and unfortunately mostly succeeds at that. Watching this show will probably make you feel unclean. (Global, 10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Raging Abe Simpson And His Grumbling Grandson In The Curse Of the Flying Hellfish,” wherein Grandpa and Bart race against Mr. Burns for priceless works of art. “Now, my story begins in nineteen-dickety-two. We had to say “dickety” ’cause the Kaiser had stolen our word ‘twenty.’ I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles…” (CJMT, 6:30 p.m.)
ThursdayThe Office is back. Michael potentially gets nostalgic for the “good times” they’ve had in the office. We doubt they’re going to go the clip-show route with this one. (Global, 9 p.m.)
Space has something called Android Apocalypse, and we don’t know anything about it but we’re going to recommend it on the basis of the title alone. Because there are androids, and presumably an apocalypse. Come on, how can you pass that up? (9 p.m.)
FridayTo show how much they care, all four major American networks are airing a telethon called “Hope for Haiti” tonight. (Apparently they care enough to wait until Friday, one of their lowest-rated TV nights of the week.) The telethon will be hosted by George Clooney and Wyclef Jean, and the show will benefit Wyclef’s Yele Haiti Foundation, which recently has come under fire because Wyclef billed the charitable foundation for rent for his own offices and for his own performances as charity events and then defended this practice as being reasonable because he charged the charity “less than fair market value.” Televisualist has a simpler solution: instead of watching this crap, just go donate to Médecins Sans Frontières, who have administrative costs of below 15%. Besides, you don’t need to see celebrities in “we’re very serious” mode to donate money to a good cause anyway. Right? (ABC/NBC/CBS/Fox, 8 p.m.)
The WeekendThe 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are sort of the kid brother of the Golden Globes and Oscars, and if they’re less important than the Golden Globes you better believe they’re not that important. Also, they air on Saturday. Yep. Saturday. How many major awards shows air on Saturday night? Can’t think of any, can you? Still, they’re a good bellwether of who’ll win in the acting categories come Oscar time, because actors vote for actors and actors also vote for actors at the Oscars; total Oscar-heads should correspondingly take note. (Global, 8 p.m.)
Test The Nation returns, and Televisualist is personally quite offended that we weren’t asked to be on the “nerds” team. What, you go on Test The Nation one lousy time and you can’t go back? Injustice! That’s what it is! Injustice! RIOT IN THE STREETS, PEOPLE! (CBC, 8 p.m. Sunday)