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.
Baby Ron MacLean fears Baby Don Cherry! Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayTelevisualist failed you all by not mentioning Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story last week, but you can still see the second half of this thus-far awesomely awful four-hour television event tonight, as the story moves forward into Grapes’s later years. We’re not kidding. This is Mystery Science Theatre 3000 levels of hilarity, folks! Just making a “Swedish wussies” joke whenever somebody has an emotional moment in this is better than three months’ worth of weed! (CBC, 8 p.m.)
Well, we’re five episodes in, so now is as good a time as any to weigh judgement on the Corner Gas alumni sitcoms. So: Hiccups is frenetic and has a terrible case of tries-too-hard: Nancy Robertson in particular is hamming up her performance so fiercely that she may transform into a peameal roast before the end of the season, and with the exception of Brent Butt (playing, well, Brent Butt, but you knew that) everybody else on this show is only a step behind Robertson in terms of cheese factor. It’s a shame, because the gags are frequently clever and would work much better if they didn’t all end with desperate physical pleas for you to laugh, dammit, laugh! (CTV, 8 p.m.)
On the other hand, Dan For Mayor is definitely hitting a sweet spot, somewhere in between Corner Gas and Arrested Development in comedic tone: it’s a little more absurd than Gas, but gentler and less sardonic than Development. And Fred Ewanuick is surprisingly gifted in his promotion to comedic lead, but doesn’t outshine the rest of the cast, especially Benjamin Ayres (whose fabulous ’80s-style moustache is right out of an episode of “Body Break,” and whose hilarious dimwitted presence as Mike never fails to entertain). So the ex-Gas crowd is one for two this year. Could be worse. (CTV, 8:30 p.m.)
TuesdayHey, V is back! Like you care. (ABC, 10 p.m.)
MuchMusic is now airing Buffy the Vampire Slayer every night, because…I dunno, the theme was by Nerfherder? (I should really stop trying to explain MuchMusic’s programming decisions in terms of what it once was. It only leads to heartbreak.) Anyhow, tonight is “Prophecy Girl,” the first-season season finale, and although Buffy’s first season is clunky compared to later years when they had everything down to a science, this is really the first point where the epic nature of the show was apparent. (6 p.m.)
WednesdayIt’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown is one of the lesser early entries in the Peanuts specials. There’s no Vince Guaraldi score, but instead some mediocre funk guitar (which, if you’re old enough, starts to make the whole thing eerily pornographic), and there’s no overarching plot but instead just a series of mostly unrelated vignettes. Skippable. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
America’s Next Top Model this week has the contestants posing as vampires, presumably to make me care even less about this show. Maybe next episode they’ll all decide to appear in a medical procedural drama! That might be zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (A-Channel, 8 p.m.)
ThursdayDouble hit of some of the best Mel Brooks: Spaceballs followed by Blazing Saddles on AMC. “The sheriff is a ni*bong!” “Keep firing, Assholes!” “Mongo only pawn in cruel game of life.” “I see your Schwartz is as big as mine.” Ah, AMC. Sometimes you are too good to us. (8 p.m. and 10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Lisa’s Wedding,” the first and still the best of the “possible future” episodes. “Homer, don’t be offended, but I’ve obtained a court order to prevent you from planning this wedding.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
FridayThe Vampire Diaries got renewed. Presumably this is because the show sucks a lot less now (no vampire pun intended): it’s gone from being a boring quippy melange of Twilight and Dawson’s Creek to being a mildly entertaining noir soap, a sort of latter-day Dark Shadows if you will. It’s still not our cup of tea, but it’s not actively offensive unless you now hate all vampires because of the existence of Twilight. Which, to be honest, we could understand. (MuchMusic, 8 p.m.)
There’s been a lot of hating on Juno, but we’ll just come out and say that it’s a good little movie that unfortunately got hyped beyond all belief and the backlash is largely undeserved. Is Diablo Cody’s dialogue for Juno a bit twee? Perhaps, but it’s clearly meant to be: Juno’s speech is that of someone trying to avoid the real consequences of life. And the movie works, and Michael Cera isn’t annoying (this was right before Michael Cera really started getting on peoples’ nerves for being Michael Cera), and it has J.K. Simmons and Alison Janney, and screw you this is a good movie. (W, 9 p.m.)
A Wipeout marathon? Oh, TVTropolis. You really have hit rock bottom. It’s only a hop, skip, and jump to premium direct digital cable from where you are now. Go gently into that good night! (pretty much all day)
The WeekendThe very last A Touch of Frost series commences Sunday night, as the first part of the two-part “If Dogs Run Free” airs on TVO. Fans of British-style police mysteries should savour this, given that David Jason is adamant that Frost should retire because he’s getting too old (and after eighteen years in the role, he has a point). Everybody else should consider watching this anyway, because A Touch of Frost is one of the great police mystery series and as this is essentially one long movie it’ll be mostly very accessible to newcomers. (TVO, 9 p.m. Sunday)
The season finale of How To Make It In America should probably be decent, assuming it’s like the rest of the series, which can best be described as “Entourage minus a lot of the privilege and wish fulfillment.” It’s a bit grittier and lower-rent than Mark Wahlberg’s other HBO comedy, but it’s got a great heart to it and it’s been a highly entertaining first season. (HBO Canada, 10 p.m. Sunday)