Televisualist: Summer Means Reality Teevee!
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Televisualist: Summer Means Reality Teevee!

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.

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Ali Fedotowsky, Bachelorette number six, meets her soulmate. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Monday

The Bachelorette returns, following in the footsteps of previous Bachelorettes by featuring a woman who was rejected by the previous Bachelor, because it is apparently impossible for an average American woman to be believably desirable on television if she has not already showed up on television in some other respect, such as being a contestant on a show for women desperate for fame and/or a man. Still, we have some tiny amount of respect for The Bachelorette thanks to its third season, where that Bachelorette flatly rejected the “winner” on the last episode then went off and fell for some total nobody who wasn’t ever even on the teevee. That was kind of awesome. (City, 8 p.m.)
True Beauty is another competitive reality show with a twist! In this case, the twist is that the contestants think they are being judged strictly on their physical beauty, but actually they are being judged on their moral fibre. The first season of this was a snore; the second involves the contestants thinking they’re on a different show altogether, which means we’re either due for a Joe Millionaire 2 sort of a thing where the show is so bad it is painful or a Joe Schmo Show 2 sort of a thing where the contestants figure out the ruse ahead of time and the show isn’t as good as the first time. (And True Beauty wasn’t good the first time anyway.) On the bright side, Carson Kressley is a judge this year, and he’s still pretty funny! So there’s that. (City, 10 p.m.)

Tuesday

America’s Got Talent comes back for another go-round, with Howie Mandel replacing David Hasselhoff as the third judge, presumably because the Hoff is busy drinking himself to death. Aside: I was chatting with my dad a couple of weeks back and he loves Britain’s Got Talent and thinks it’s a great show. Why does he think this? Susan Boyle, who is the only thing he’s ever seen of the show. He thinks the American version is trashy despite never having seen it. The moral of the story is that respectability as a talent show is dependent on having a YouTube clip of your plucky, inspirational talent story go viral. (City, 8 p.m.)
Hell’s Kitchen returns, for everybody who loves Top Chef but wishes they could feel more schadenfreude while watching it. I’m not sure how they’ll top last season, wherein a diner cook threw a tantrum and left halfway through the first episode, and then a couple of episodes later another dude challenged Gordon Ramsay to a fistfight for no apparent reason whatsoever, and then they brought back the obese guy from the previous season who had to leave for medical reasons and whoops he hadn’t yet figured out that maybe his weight was causing him problems. At this rate, soon Hell’s Kitchen will require contestants who don’t even know what a kitchen is. “I don’t know how to turn on this thing! What’s it called again? A ‘stove’? That don’t make no sense to me! How come a world-class chef like me gotta know how to turn on a stove? I was just gonna make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! But gourmet style, so they are classy.” (City, 10 p.m.)

Wednesday

Wipeout returns with a special two-hour blind-date-themed edition, which sounds like the best thing ever. No, seriously, we love Wipeout, stupid jokes and all; it is pure in its desire to present grown adults getting the crap kicked out of them by a wacky obstacle course, and the fact that they actually found enough people willing to have a first blind date going on this show is just indescribably wonderful. (Global, 8 p.m.)

Thursday

Africa On the Move, despite having a terrible, terrible title, is actually a really good four-hour doc series on the CBC which isn’t about Africa as a whole but instead is just four one-hour documentaries which are all about various Africans. The first two tonight are about a reggae singer from the Ivory Coast and two people in South Africa, one a successful businesswoman, the other an anti-poverty activist. They’re both a really great watch.
100 Questions was originally known as 100 Questions for Charlotte Payne, and the fact that they went from a distinctive title to a blander, more generic one is your first warning. The pilot was shot by famed comedy director James Burrows, and then they fired half the cast and replaced them with new people and reshot it, and that’s your second warning. The fact that one of those three people they fired wasn’t Chris Moynihan is warning three, because Chris Moynihan has spent his entire career trying to be a mishmosh of all three male leads from Friends and failing at it. Moynihan is also writing this show, which is warning four. And NBC dropped their initial order from thirteen episodes to six, and that’s warning five. It’s a shame, because Sophie Winkleman, the lead, is genuinely engaging, and there are occasional sparks of wit in the writing, but it looks like the best we can hope for is that Winkleman lands a better show and soon. (NBC, 8:30 p.m.)
The 2010 NBA Finals kick off tonight, with the Boston Celtics taking on the L.A. Lakers for the twelfth time in NBA history, which is a pretty ridiculous number of times for two teams in such a large league to face off in the finals, but these are the Lakers and the Celtics we’re talking about here. The Lakers won the NBA championship last year, but the Celtics beat the Lakers for the title in 2008. The Lakers have Kobe, but the Celtics have Kevin Garnett. Good basketball is a pleasure when you get to see it. (TSN, 8:30 p.m.)

Friday

The Scripps 2010 National Spelling Bee is always a must-watch, because it’s the goddamn national spelling bee! Little kids! Spelling! It’s awesome! If you don’t understand this in your soul, you have our pity. (TSN, 8 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “The Joy of Sect,” wherein most of Springfield falls under the sway of the cultish leader. “Marge, when I join an underground cult, I expect a little support from my family.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)

The Weekend

Three Rivers returns to burn off the remaining episodes NBC ordered before it gets cancelled, making it, along with Mercy and Trauma, part of NBC’s oh-for-three attempt to replace ER with Yet Another Medical Drama. Hooray! (NBC, 8 p.m. Saturday)
Foolproof is a quite entertaining Canadian comedy/thriller set in Toronto, starring Ryan Reynolds before he was a big star. It totally bombed, of course, but unfairly so because the movie is honestly pretty good for a low-budget caper flick: it’s fast-paced, written and acted well, and genuinely entertaining in a low-key sort of way. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a watch. (CTV, 8 p.m. Sunday)

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