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.
You’ll have to ask Brett what the leashes signify in regards to Entourage, because we don’t know. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayHaven debuts; this Stephen King–inspired series is supposedly based on his novel The Colorado Kid, but the novel had a distinct lack of “people affected by a range of supernatural afflictions,” which makes it seem like the latest entry in the Hey Guys Look At This Weird Place We’ve Found subgenre of TV dramas. Canadians will no doubt be interested to know that the show is filmed in Nova Scotia. Well, probably they won’t be interested to know that, actually, but as a television critic working in Canada I am legally obligated to mention such things, lest we all start to feel bad about our television production industry. (Showcase, 10 p.m.)
All this week on The Agenda: it’s racism week! Well, not so much, as the theme is “Encounters With The Other,” so it’s more about how people deal with the issue of race on a daily basis instead of being The Agenda‘s version of Jerry Springer. Basically it will be an interesting week full of smart people talking about vital issues, which is why The Agenda is always a good show, even if Steve Paikin does remind us at times of Rick Mercer in an unsettling way. (TVO, 8 p.m.)
TuesdayThe 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is on. If you don’t like baseball, maybe you shouldn’t watch it. This might seem obvious, but with the World Cup now over, it really is amazing how many people on the internet feel the need to tell you over and over again that they don’t like soccer, and even more amazing how many of them think that doing this is somehow clever. Then again, we do the same thing for The Bachelor. Of course, that’s actually really sleazy and disgusting, whereas in soccer, the only thing that’s sleazy and disgusting is watching the Italian team play. (Fox, 8 p.m.)
People who do not like baseball and instead like golf, or at least perhaps like movies about golf, have two excellent options. Firstly, AMC has Tin Cup, the excellent comedy from writer/director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham) about Kevin Costner as a washed-up golf pro, also featuring Don Johnson as the bad guy. (8 p.m.) Also, TSN airs Caddyshack, because… wait, seriously, TSN, are there literally zero sports you can air? Nothing? Isn’t there maybe some cricket or something you can broadcast? Man, is TSN going to become the next MuchMusic and start asking the CRTC if they can show “sports-thematic programming” or “programming that the target audience for sports might appreciate” instead of actual sports? (8 p.m.)
WednesdaySo Alex Wong (who is Canadian, if you did not know that; I bet you feel better about your country now) got eliminated last week on So You Think You Can Dance due to a torn ACL preventing him from dancing, which immediately makes this enormous snafu of a season even less appealing to watch. The week-in week-out adulation for Jose—the breaker who can’t really do much of anything dance-related—on the basis of his sparking personality is intensely grating, and nobody left really deserves to win the season. Even if they did, the “All-Stars” concept can only be described as a failure at this point, considering that the All-Stars (who are mostly much more experienced dancers than the contestants) constantly out-dance the contestants and make them look weak in comparison, and the show’s dismal ratings this year reflect the mediocre level of performance. None of this will stop the judges from cheerleading the show’s new format, of course, and it would be silly to expect them to acknowledge the fact that this experiment is disastrous. But it’s disastrous nonetheless. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Beyond Blunderdome,” wherein Homer helps Mel Gibson “fix” his remake of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Hey, remember when hearing that Mel Gibson was in something you like didn’t make you wince? “It was fine for the 1930s. The country was doing great back then. Everyone was into talking. But now, in whatever year this is, the audience wants action. And seats with beverage holders. But mainly action.” (Fox, 11 p.m.)
ThursdayDeep Blue Sea! If you haven’t seen Samuel L. Jackson’s big speech moment and heard LL Cool J’s ending credits rap song (“MY HAT IS LIKE A SHARK’S FIN!”), you have not lived. Or, at least, not seen this great B-movie about super-intelligent killer sharks. If nothing else, we have this movie to thank for the career of Thomas Jane. Have you not recently given thanks for Thomas Jane? We thought not. (CHCH, 9 p.m.)
FridayLast American Cowboy is a fun show that at moments gets hokey. After all, it’s Animal Planet airing this show, so you expect the animal admiration: the cute widdle calves, the noble stallions, et cetera. But the show’s contrast between the three ranches (the small one-man operation, the giant five-thousand-head herd, and the family ranch) actually makes it quite watchable beyond the “lookit the baby cow try to stand up” moments, even if the narration often over-romanticizes the profession. (“The cowboy code.” Really, Animal Planet?) Mildly recommended. Wildly recommended if you want to see a baby cow or three, though. (9 p.m.)
Ghost Ship is one of the aughts’ “new generation of horror” movies, and like most of them, it’s a remake of an older obscure horror movie because there’s nothing new under the sun. Rottentomatoes.com gives it a lousy rating, but it’s always been a sentimental favorite here; it’s not a great horror movie and never will be, but it’s definitely trying to imitate the better class of action/horror flicks, with Julianna Margulies doing her best “Sigourney Weaver in Aliens” impression and generally pulling it off. (AMC, 8 p.m.)
The Weekend“The Pandorica Opens” kicks off the two-part season finale of Doctor Who, and with the exception of that crappy episode with the Daleks in Blitz-torn London (which had a great concept and sadly just felt like a lackluster, required-by-contract “okay, nerds, here are some Daleks” affair), new showrunner Stephen Moffat has had a very strong opening season, and Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are excellent as the eleventh Doctor and his new companion Amy Pond (who is magnificently Scottish). Granted, most Who diehards have probably already downloaded these episodes a few weeks ago when they aired in England, but if you haven’t, then don’t miss this one, because Moffat’s been building to it all season and the whole show just comes off smashingly. (Space, 8 p.m. Saturday)
Televisualist isn’t sure why anbody watches the ESPY Awards, because aren’t there already a bunch of awards to recognize when athletes do really well in their sports? Like, doesn’t every sport already have those things? But the ESPYs have been going forever, so presumably people just like to see people get awards. After all, that explains the People’s Choice Awards. (TSN, 8 p.m. Sunday)
Entourage‘s seventh season definitely seems to have a bit of story thrust to it: Turtle and E are moving forward in their careers, Drama finally seems to be acting like an adult (well, on a sliding scale where Drama’s stabs at being a grownup are still relatively petulant, but even so… progress), and Vince is stuck in Neverland and almost acting more irresponsibly than usual just for the hell of it. It’s a good progression from season six and the show isn’t stumbling, and a show like Entourage, which is basically Sex and the City but for guys, has to play these cards very close, so advancing characters as they are isn’t an easy trick for them to pull off. (HBO Canada, 10:30 p.m. Sunday)