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.
Brett Lamb boldly predicts Conan O’Brien will shave his beard! Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayThe big news this week is Conan, the return of Conan O’Brien to late night teevee. The Comedy Network was actually trying to work with having The Daily Show and The Colbert Report air at 10 through 11 so they could air Conan at 11, but they couldn’t always get the episodes in time which meant that sometimes they would air shows a day late and everybody thought it was stupid so eventually The Comedy Network gave up and decided to have an 11 p.m.-to-1 a.m. Stewart/Colbert/Conan block of programming, which was the most obvious thing to do anyway. Tonight’s guests are Seth Rogen, Lea Michele from Glee, Jack White, and a surprise mystery guest, so the only thing now is to wait and find out whether this will be, as Conan himself put it, “a show that will either blow up the paradigm of TV as we know it, or nestle comfortably among Yes, Dear reruns.” (12:00 a.m.)
Speaking of returns, George W. Bush returns to network television for Decision Points: A Conversation With George W. Bush, wherein the former president will shill his new memoir. Odds that he will be asked any deeply challenging questions: approximately zero. No, they’re not even going to ask something obvious like “wait, Kanye West calling you a racist was the worst part of your presidency for you? Not 9/11 or Katrina? Really?” Because NBC is not going to endanger its fourth-place status for anything, baby! (8 p.m.)
The 2010 MTV European Music Awards are, as always, eminently forgettable. Understand that the “regional” awards, which actually award European acts “best of” awards, don’t make it to air. Here, then, is a list of all European performers nominated for “major” awards other than “Best European Act,” which spans a range of eleven awards: Plan B (nominated twice!), Muse, Tokio Hotel, Gorillaz, and the following performers in the ten-nomination “Best Push” award (don’t ask us what it is, we don’t know): Alexandra Burke, Hurts, and Professor Green. The rest is the usual load of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber noms, and as much as we love Lady Gaga, she doesn’t have to win all the awards. We particularly thought her Nobel Prize for Chemistry was undeserved. (MuchMore, 8 p.m.)
Tuesday30 for 30 has been an absolutely fascinating series of sports documentaries, put together by Bill “ESPN Page 2 Sports Guy” Simmons and a team of excellent video journalists. Tonight’s is double-length: “The Best That Never Was” is about the career of Marcus Dupree, the high school football player whose recruitment by numerous universities was so extensive and elaborate that it completely changed the university sports recruitment process, and probably not for the better. The doc also takes time to follow Dupree’s unfortunate flameout of a career. Just about everything in this series has been worth watching (other than the MLB-produced show about the Boston Red Sox win in 2004, which was just propagandtastic); this should be no exception. (TSN, 8 p.m.)
“I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.” “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!” “I think you’re some kind of deviated pervert. I think General Ripper found out about your perversion, and that you were organizing some kind of mutiny of perverts.” “Mein Führer! I can walk!” If you haven’t yet seen Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, it is your civic duty. (Turner Classic, 8 p.m.)
WednesdayThe 44th Annual Country Music Association Awards air tonight, because there must be at least one country music awards show in every fiscal quarter lest Big Country Music get nervous. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
Paris 1919 makes its television debut: this docudrama, a combination of re-enactments and archival footage, has hammy acting at times, but the overall story of the peace conferences following WWI, where Germany would be forced to agree to terms so punitive they would eventually instigate WWII, is a fascinating one. Also, everybody has a really outstanding moustache. (TVO, 9 p.m.)
Also giving us a dose of WWI flavour is Billy Bishop Goes To War, a one-hour adaptation of the classic stage play of the same name, with Eric Peterson and John Gray starring in the roles they created. It’s not in TV guide listings, because that would require the CBC to actually bother caring about correct TV guide listings, and why would a major Canadian television network give a damn about that? (8 p.m.)
ThursdayWe Will Remember Them is a two-hour CBC documentary for Remembrance Day about the 152 Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since 2002, with an appropriate respectful adjunct website. That is all. (8 p.m.)
FridayThis week’s Allan Gregg In Conversation With… features Roméo Dallaire, who we can only hope will continue to speak loudly, forcefully, and angrily about Canada’s abandonment of peacekeeping as a military mission. Also, he, like diplomats of the early 20th century, has an outstanding moustache. (TVO, 10 p.m.)
The WeekendThe Simpsons rerun of the week: “Homerpalooza,” where Homer goes on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, and Peter Frampton. “Who is playing with the London Symphony Orchestra? Come on people, somebody ordered the London Symphony Orchestra… possibly while high… Cypress Hill, I’m looking at you…” (Global, 3 p.m. Saturday)
It’s the annual Gemini Awards, which are the Canadian awards for television, and which are traditionally hosted by the biggest Canadian name currently working down south that they could convince to come host the show, which explains why the dude who plays Finn on Glee is this year’s host. If you’re curious, this year’s nominees for Best Comedy Series are Dan For Mayor, Less Than Kind, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Pure Pwnage, and The Rick Mercer Report, and for Best Drama Series they are Durham County, Flashpoint, Republic of Doyle, The Tudors, and… wait for it… Stargate Universe. No, really! SGU is up to win a Gemini! That’s kind of awesome, in a crazy way. (Global, 8 p.m. Saturday)
The Great Escape is a classic and if you haven’t seen it, sit down and watch it. Yes, we know it’s three hours long. But it is three hours with Steve McQueen and James Garner and and Charles Bronson and Richard Pleasance and James Coburn and Richard Attenborough digging tunnels and forging documents and doing awesome WWII things and there is a bit with a motorcycle, and this film has introduced so many of its elements into the pop culture lexicon that new viewers will likely recognize many parts where The Simpsons or any of half a dozen other shows have lifted references from it, and you deserve to know the original. (CHCH, 8 p.m. Sunday)