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 may think this caricature of Bristol Palin is unkind, but look at her poor partner! What a dork. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayDancing With The Stars concludes its 11th season tonight as the three finalist couples perform their final dances. There has actually been some controversy this season regarding Bristol Palin, who, frankly, has not been dancing on a level traditionally associated with finalists on this show (because, for all the mockery Dancing With The Stars gets, one thing that’s usually pretty consistent is the fact that when you get down to the finalists, they’ve almost always gotten to be very solid ballroom dancers), and people have raised allegations of conservative fans of Sarah Palin power-voting to prove some sort of point. To which Televisualist responds: who really cares? This isn’t a standard reality talent show where the winner gets anything awesome, like a pile of money or a new car or anything. Bristol Palin is already rich. If she wins, all she really gets is bragging rights that fanatics voted for her over more talented people. How does being the Sanjaya Malakar of Dancing With The Stars mean anything important? (CTV, 8 p.m.)
If your standards for “stars” have dropped even lower due to Dancing With The Stars‘ assertion that The Situation is a “star,” or if you’ve tried to watch the show but thought “I wish this was more like Battle of the Blades,” then ABC has you covered! Skating With The Stars features six stars, the only one of which who is even moderately recognizable is Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe, who nowadays is more famous for being on The Surreal Life. Also: Sean Young, whose last major role was the villain in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Which came out in 1994. However, she is still more legitimately a star than The Situation. (CTV, 9:30 p.m.)
TuesdayDancing With The Stars concludes. Hopefully next season they will have Meghan McCain or somebody similar on the show so this season’s non-controversy can happen all over again. That would be fun! (CTV, 9 p.m.)
Tonight on Frontline, consistently one of the best long-form documentary shows on teevee: “Facing Death,” about doctors and nurses in a New York hospital ICU who have to talk to families about end-of-life decisions for their loved ones. A brutal hour of television, but if you can take it, do so. (PBS, 9 p.m.)
WednesdayOh fuck off, American television. American Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet and the first Christmas specials are already airing? The mediocre Merry Madagascar was not especially good to begin with, but now it is a holiday programming block as it is twinned with the generically named Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special. Maybe the genericness of that special is why TV executives thought they could air them so early. “What happens in the panda one again?” “Uh… Kung Fu Panda and the other guys celebrate Celebrating Day, which is kind of like a mix of Christmas, Arbor Day and the Chinese New Year. But then Evil Cat comes back to town to ruin it, so Kung Fu Panda has to fight him.” “I suppose we can air that pretty much whenever, then.” (NBC, 8 p.m.)
ThursdayAmerican Thanksgiving means boring specials nobody cares about! Like Taylor Swift: Speak Now, wherein a singer who is at this point megafamous because of Kanye West being a dick travels across the country singing songs and so forth. This is honestly the most interesting thing airing today, because nobody wants to bother airing good original content on Turkey Day. Can’t blame them, I guess, although you’d think there would be a reasonable share of the audience looking to watch something while they hide out in the den as dad and Uncle Tommy have that fight about the girl in high school that they have every year while grandpa yells about his angina at both of them. (NBC, 8 p.m.)
NBC also has NBC’S People Of The Year 2010, a special about the year’s newsmakers. Which include Kim Kardashian, Justin Timberlake, and the guy who oversaw the Chilean miner rescue. It’s like they decided to distill everything wrong with modern news into a one-hour special. They were actually going to call it that originally, but it was too long to be catchy. (9 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “The Squirt and the Whale,” wherein Lisa tries to save a beached whale. From last season, and a genuinely excellent episode that stands up to the golden era. “He’s young, he’s got a couple of cute kids, soon he’ll hook up with a beautiful octopus. They’ll have to sell the old place, too many memories, but if I’m not mistaken, there might be a little whalepus on the way.” (CJMT, 7:30 p.m.)
FridayThe annual Rotary auction kicks off, and this is really great TV if you’re stoned because the entire idea of a weekend-long televised auction is kind of nutty. Sadly, the Rotarians do not wear fezzes. Those are the Shriners, we think. Either that or the fezzes don’t get brought out for this sort of thing. All we know is we watched for a couple of hours last year and we did not see one fez. (Rogers 10, 7 p.m.)
Networks generally avoid programming new things on Friday period, so them avoiding programming new things on Friday-after-Thanksgiving is not surprising. If you want to watch a movie, you’ve got a few decent options: the not-offensive Happy Feet if you’re in the mood for animated fluff (ABC, 8 p.m.), Enchanted if you’re in the mood for mostly live-action fluff (NBC, 9 p.m.), The School of Rock if you want to see Jack Black’s only decent live-action movie (YTV, 8 p.m.), The Breakfast Club if you want some classic teen dramedy (A-Channel, 8 p.m.), or Gosford Park if you want to see Robert Altman’s last truly great film. (Bravo!, 8 p.m.)
Barbara Walters interviews the Obamas because it is Thanksgiving and that is when you talk to the president if you are Baba Wawa. An entire hour of Walters’ non-probing, worshipful questions? We’re already on the edges of our seats! (ABC, 10 p.m.)