Televisualist: Giving Thanks For Bad Reality Shows
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Televisualist: Giving Thanks For Bad Reality Shows

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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Coming soon to A&E: “Turkey: Dinnertime.” Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Monday

How I Met Your Mother has thus far been having an especially strong start to the season, mostly because the show finally seems set to introduce Ted’s future wife this season at an upcoming wedding (Barney’s? Robin’s? Barney and Robin’s? Who knows). Anyway, tonight’s episode is called “Subway Wars,” and will most likely not feature any Toronto mayoral candidates. If we’re lucky. Rob Ford probably wouldn’t make a good cameo because he’d start complaining about how much the set costs and about the lack of fanservice. (City, 8 p.m.)
Chuck‘s ratings so far this season have been… not great. Actually, “not great” is probably upselling it a bit. They’re worse than they have been in previous years, and previous years were never good. The show isn’t just flirting with cancellation, it’s taking it out to dinner and getting it drunk. All of this is to say that if you enjoy Chuck, enjoy it while you can. (NBC, 8 p.m.)
Re-Vamped is a sort of non-competitive reality show where women who have gotten dumped go through a series of tough “challenges” to empower themselves and get on with their lives, culminating in a final-episode burlesque performance. The show means well, but it feels uneven; it concentrates a bit too much on the challenges, which might be cathartic but are also ultimately, in the sense of the narrative the show seeks to build, kind of meaningless. You can’t have drama of the sort the show wants to build around the challenges without some sort of consequence, and that’s lacking. A nice experiment, though. (Slice, 2 p.m.)

Tuesday

Speaking of “not long for this world,” Parker/Spitzer is a horrible, horrible news discussion show, just like pretty much every other newstalk show CNN puts together these days, but this one is especially a trainwreck. Watch it once, to see how bad it is. Then never again. (8 p.m.)
The Little Couple is a reality show about newlyweds who are also little people. We have said all we need to say about this show. Either you’re interested in watching that or you aren’t. Personally, for us, the whole “little person in a big world” aspect gets repetitive after two or three episodes because the show really doesn’t frame that aspect of their lives well. (TLC, 10 p.m.)

Wednesday

Steven Seagal: Lawman is wonderful amazing trash reality teevee of the most spectacular kind. Seeing Steven Seagal be a cop sort of for reals is just insanely nuts. Seeing the people he arrests be amazed in a “whoa I am getting arrested by Steven Seagal” sort of way is even nuttier. The fact that this show is on A&E (which precedes it with Dog the Bounty Hunter) is nutty in ways we cannot adequately explain. And the fact that civic authorities actually decided this was a good idea is nuttiest of all. And yet, the show is entertaining, in a “hey,what’s that going down the drain, oh right it’s civilization” kind of way. At least there aren’t any ads for Steven Seagal’s personally branded energy drink. (10 p.m.)
The Food Network is airing Chopped about a month and a half after it aired in the U.S. (insert usual rant about Canadian networks airing shows after the fact in the internet age here), but the fifty-thousand-dollar challenge, bringing back past winners, is an especially good iteration of this particular competitive cooking game show. Part of the charm of Chopped is that, unlike a Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen, you get your entire competitive fix in one episode: they compete, somebody wins the money, and then the next episode gives you a whole new fix. It’s single-serving television, if you will pardon the pun. (10 p.m.)

Thursday

This week on The Nature of Things: an entire hour of elephants and humans being friends! Because they apparently said “you know, people aren’t happy enough these days. Let’s show them elephants and humans being friends.” Works for us. (CBC, 8 p.m.)
30 Rock is live this week. I honestly have no idea how the show will pull off a live episode, given how reliant it often is on quick cut gags and camera tricks to get laughs, but you have to admire their balls. (City, 8:30 p.m.)

Friday

Just in case letting Steven Seagal pretend to be a police officer wasn’t enough, now A&E lets Tony Danza pretend to be a teacher in Tony Danza: Teach. Well, honestly, that’s not entirely fair to Danza, who actually has a degree in history, as opposed to Seagal, who claims he went through police training at some point in the distant past before the dog ate all his documentation. But watching Danza fumble through the job of being a high school teacher isn’t funny and awesome, like Lawman is. It’s just kind of depressing. (10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show,” which gave nerds the word “Poochie” as a term for a theoretically cool character forced down the throats of a program’s fans. “No, Homer. Very few cartoons are broadcast live. It’s a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists.” (Fox, 11 p.m.)

The Weekend

X2: X-Men United, a.k.a. “the X-Men movie that’s really good,” is on. Because you want to see Hugh Jackman claw people with claws, and see Ian McKellen be stone-cold badass, and see Patrick Stewart fall out of a wheelchair several times. (A-Channel, 8 p.m.)

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