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.
It is not every column that requires a picture of Ghost Doug Henning. We are not every column. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayFans of Wipeout rejoice: the British version, Total Wipeout, can now be seen on basic cable! Granted, the British version is still pretty much the same as the American version, but the hosts are funnier and have British accents, so it’s almost sort of classy when people fall into the water after bouncing off the Big Balls. (TVTropolis, 8 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Treehouse of Horror V,” which is the one where Groundskeeper Willie keeps trying to save the Simpsons and keeps failing miserably. “Argh! Oh, I’m bad at this.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
TuesdayBurn My Mortgage is, at its heart, a show about teaching people to save money. This would be a lot better, then, if the show was not called Burn My Mortgage but instead Teach Me To Save Money, because when you tune into a show with “mortgage” in the title, you expect a lot more financial trickery and maybe a bit of kicking a banker in the genitals. There is only a bit of the former, and none of the latter. (W, 8 p.m.)
Scream 2010 is Spike’s award show devoted to fantasy, horror, and sci-fi TV and movies (with a few comic book awards thrown in on the side, like a “Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel” award that puts Asterios Polyp up against Blackest Night), with awards like “Best Scream-play,” “Best Superhero,” and “Holy Shit! Scene of the Year.” Granted, it’s nice to know that even 2012 can have a shot at winning an award, since these awards are internet-vote-decided, but…no, wait, it’s not nice to know that at all! (9 p.m.)
WednesdayCanada’s Walk of Fame 2010 is the annual induction ceremony for Canada’s Walk of Fame. On the one hand, the Canada Walk of Fame has always seemed a little hokey: I mean, this year’s Hollywood Walk of Fame has James Cameron, Russell Crowe, Emma Thompson, Ringo Starr, and Adam Sandler making their handprint mark, and meanwhile up in Canada we get perfectly decent workaday celebrities like Nelly Furtado, Eric McCormack, and Sarah Polley. On the other hand, this year they are giving Doug Henning a star posthumously, and that is just straight-up awesome. (Global, 9 p.m.)
So You Think You Can Dance Canada ends its third season with a final one-hour performance episode, because…well, presumably because CTV doesn’t want to spend any money on this show or take away time from American shows. Seriously, the top eight performance episode this year featured only one pairs dance per person, which is a new low for the Canadian version of this show. SYTYCD is a fine program (even on a slightly underwhelming season such as this one), and it deserves better than to be beggared by the usual Canadian network parsimony. Which won’t happen, of course, but that’s Canadian network teevee for you. Question for discussion in the comments: if the CBC had produced SYTYCD here instead of CTV, would it have been so ill-served? (8 p.m.)
ThursdayOutsourced is, it turns out, a bit of a hit for NBC, just proving what many have always said: people are generally interested in watching bad television. (Global, 9:30 p.m.)
Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education has Jon Stewart hosting a pleasant mess of comedians in a benefit concert which did quite well and was quite entertaining. Stephen Colbert’s donation of an oversized cheque for fifty dollars (and then an oversized invoice for the oversized cheque, demanding that “autism” pay him twenty-five dollars) is a highlight. (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
FridaySchool Pride wants to be Extreme Home Makeover, but for troubled schools rather than troubled families. The super-fixing-team—which includes a former Navy SEAL, a former Miss USA, and a former comedian (well, we say “former” on the basis that the comedian is not funny)—shows up at a troubled school and “gets the community involved” to fix up the school. Except instead of the community, it’s really the network and its corporate sponsors donating equipment and supplies. And this doesn’t do anything to fix the other half-dozen terrible schools in each improved school’s area. Oh, and they’re not doing anything to address long-term structural problems with school operation, so in a few years none of this will matter again. And on top of all that, this show isn’t even a particularly good show. Our favourite bit was where the students and their teachers and families gazed upon their newly renovated school, pretending to be surprised at the work they themselves had been doing all week. A terrible show from the network that specializes in terrible. (NBC, 8 p.m.)
Alien 3 gets a lot of flak from fanboys, but it’s not entirely deserved. True, the CGI alien looks a bit lame (stuck as it is in advanced CGI’s infancy), but at heart Alien 3 is a dark, cynical, chase film, which was an interesting thing to do with the franchise, and David Fincher cut his chops here figuring out how to effectively direct a good tense action scene before he went on to become all prestigious and the like. Still a failure, overall, but an interesting one. (AMC, 10 p.m.)
The WeekendConviction Kitchen returns for its second season, making this the rare Canadian reality TV show that can be described as an actual hit. The first season focused on Marc Thuet and Biana Zorich’s (fairly successful) attempt to launch a restaurant staffed by rehabilitated ex-convicts. This season is set in Vancouver instead (amusingly, they had to shut down the Toronto restaurant temporarily to work the new series), and advance buzz is that this season’s band of motley former criminals is more difficult, given that they have more drug addiction problems to deal with than they did in Toronto. Worth watching; the first season certainly was. (City, 9 p.m. Sunday)
Lost Girl is, despite the fact that it is about a bisexual succubus fairy who straddles the divide between Dark and Light and who has to get laid to get her magic superpowers, actually kind of entertaining in a moderately trashy way, if only because it lets you type sentences like that one when describing it. The fights are junk, though. (Showcase, 9 p.m. Sunday)