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.
Ben Mulroney and Stephen LeDrew provide debate commentary. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondaySo You Think You Can Dance Canada is slamming out the entire audition process in an entire week, because… well, who knows, really. CTV’s scheduling method is at times Byzantine in its ambition. At any rate, tonight is two hours of the Halifax and Calgary auditions, and unlike the American version of the show, the Canadian edition rarely bothers to show embarrassingly bad dancers in the audition shows, so the entertainment level is excellent. Of course, it does mean putting up with the show’s cutesy habit of naming absolutely every dancer to qualify, but at least that is sort of endearing, in an anal-retentive way. (CTV, 9 p.m.)
It’s Bad For Ya was George Carlin’s last HBO special, originally airing only a few months before his death. Like most of his final work, it’s more observant and trenchant than out-and-out-balls-hilarious; Carlin was clearly taking his opportunity to say, straight up, what he wanted to say about America and modern society and people, and people laughed because that’s what you do when George Carlin says things. A must-watch. (Comedy Network, 10 p.m.)
TuesdayCP24 has the latest Toronto mayoral debate. Will Rob Ford say anything specific about his proposed policies? Will Sarah Thomson once again appear out of her depth? Will George Smitherman shout a lot? Will Joe Pantalone get defensive a lot? Will Ben Mulroney and Stephen LeDrew once again put in an embarrassingly corny performance as hosts? (8 p.m.) [ : Mulroney won’t, at least, this time—a CP24 rep told us that he’ll be busy with his wife and their newborn twins.]
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Grift of the Magi,” a.k.a. “the one with Funzo.” “Don’t you think there’s something weird going on here? We spent all day selecting fabric swatches and then our guest speaker was Phil, from marketing.” (CJMT, 6:30 p.m.)
WednesdayInside Man may mostly just be Spike Lee working for a paycheque, but it’s good work despite that. This clever little boiler-room thriller is mostly set inside a bank that’s being robbed, but there are little touches that let you know it’s a Spike Lee’s joint: his use of a large, diverse cast examining the incidents through multiple perspectives, intelligent use of editing, and of course the presence of Denzel Washington, always Spike’s go-to guy. Also, Jodie Foster, and who doesn’t love Jodie Foster? Dirty fascists, that’s who. (AMC, 8 p.m.)
The challenge segments of Top Gear are really the best reason to watch the show. This extends to the “Jeremy Clarkson in fancy car versus James May and Richard Hammond in other forms of transport” races, even though at this point the formula is a bit stale since experienced viewers know that somehow the race will always be designed to give the car a huge inherent advantage, because the people who make the vehicles that aren’t cars aren’t spending money to place their vehicles on Top Gear and the carmakers are. This results in often-ridiculous scenarios, where Clarkson, in a Bugatti Veyron, beats Hammond and May in a plane. However, even though the races are rigged like crazy and Jeremy Clarkson is really kind of a schmuck, they’re still entertaining, and tonight’s race, featuring Clarkson in a Mercedes-Benz McLaren versus Hammond and May in a cruise ferry from London to Oslo, is no exception. (BBC Canada, 9 p.m.)
Thursday“Scott’s Tots” is perhaps the cringiest episode ever of The Office, and we say that as high praise. Watching Michael Scott wince and grimace as he tries to tell a bunch of high school kids that he can’t pay for their college educations as he promised is almost painful, but at the same time it’s hilarious. (NBC, 9 p.m.)
FridayIf you missed the pilot for Pretty Little Liars and you want to watch it, then you do not exist and are only a fiction created by television writers to take up valuable column space during a slow week. If you are concerned about your lack of existence, consult a skilled fictionologist immediately. (MuchMusic, 8 p.m.)
Word is that The Crow is going to be remade or rebooted or whatever the current hot Hollywood word for “we don’t have any new ideas” is. There’s really no need, as the useless sequels to The Crow made it quite clear that capturing this particular lightning in a bottle only happened once; Alex Proyas’ direction plus a strong script combined with stellar performances from Michael Wincott, Ernie Hudson and the late Brandon Lee make a movie that was, at the time, groundbreaking. Hey, remember when the idea of pairing rock songs to characters was considered novel? (Teletoon, 10 p.m.)
The WeekendFrom Justin To Kelly features Kelly Clarkson, the first winner of American Idol, and Justin Guarini, the guy who looks like a mop, and… oh my God if you have not seen this movie you have to see it. When future generations seek to make fun of our generation’s films, From Justin To Kelly is our Manos: The Hands of Fate. It is more horrible and wonderful than the life of Leni Riefenstahl. It is our eternal reminder that Simon Cowell’s dark, evil commercial brilliance is not all-seeing. Also, there is a bit where they dance in a bathroom. (A-Channel, 9 p.m. Saturday)
Space airs The Bermuda Triangle: Startling New Secrets. Bold prediction: there will, in fact, be no startling new secrets, unless you know nothing about the Bermuda Triangle. And even then, those aren’t really secrets. J’accuse, Space! (8 p.m. Sunday)