Televisualist: So Long, Crappy Old Year!
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Televisualist: So Long, Crappy Old Year!

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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George Stroumboulopoulos wants you to be merry—again. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Monday

AMC runs back-to-back-to-Back to the Future, with all three movies in a row. Some argue that the second movie is the low point of the trilogy; others say that it’s the third with its Western setting. Televisualist thinks that quibbling over which of the two sequels is the least of the trilogy ignores the larger, more important point that all three films offer genuinely good, classic big-audience entertainment, and if the latter two aren’t as great as the first, so what? (Back to the Future at 6 p.m., II at 8:30 p.m., III at 11 p.m.—and AMC is doing this every night this week.)

Tuesday

The 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors this year are going to Jerry Herman (the composer for many Broadway classics such as Hello, Dolly! and La Cage Aux Folles), Bill T. Jones (dancer and choreographer who has won more or less every dance award there is), country singer Merle Haggard, and then some people named Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey who are too obscure to bother explaining. (CBS, 9 p.m.)
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year is the Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey of holiday specials: nobody really asked for it, but it’s genuinely quite good and in some ways possibly even surpasses the original. (ABC, 8 p.m.)

Wednesday

Shall We Dance On Ice? is a special that was taped back in September at Copps Coliseum, featuring a blend of Olympic ice dancing champions working alongside top Broadway dancers to create… something. Also: the Canadian Tenors and Kurt Browning! This is sort of the holiday special equivalent of beef stew: lots of stuff, mostly good, all in one big pot, and kind of blended together for better or worse. (Global, 8 p.m.)
The Man in the Iron Mask got a lot of hype for being Leonardo DiCaprio’s first major release post-Titanic back in the day, but what’s most interesting about this production of the Dumas story is that, intentionally or not, the lead actors’ accents are matched to their Musketeers: John Malkovich’s flat, angry Midwestern American tones complement no-nonsense Athos, Jeremy Irons’ clipped British accent perfectly suits devout, intelligent Aramis, Gérard Depardieu’s actually-French accent makes Porthos stand out appropriately, and Gabriel Byrne’s romantic Irish accent is just right for D’Artagnan. The movie’s not half bad either. (CHCH, 8 p.m.)

Thursday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Mypods and Broomsticks,” which has a boring A-plot where Homer thinks Bart’s new friend is a terrorist, but the B-plot with Lisa getting an iPod (well, a “mypod,” but whatever) is inspired. “My question is the following statement: Operating System 4.2 has sloppier architecture than a Tijuana anthill.” (CFMT, 10 p.m.)

Friday

Showcase reruns the entire first season of Sherlock, because you do not have enough Benedict Cumberbatch in your life. Actually we just mention this because we like saying “Benedict Cumberbatch.” Cumberbatch. Hee. (Beginning at 1 p.m.)
Apparently, even cancelling the Air Farce‘s show was not enough to keep them from returning, zombie-like, every New Year’s Eve. (CBC, 8 p.m.)
And then, CBC follows this up with the New Year’s Eve edition of The Ron James Show, as Ron James has boldly taken up the proud Air Farce tradition of comedy that is not funny in any way. This is actually a brave artistic choice: Ron James, through his comedy, boldly reminds us that death is not to be feared, because when you are dead you never again have to worry about watching a Ron James sketch. (9 p.m.)
New Year’s Eve specials: NBC has their usual Carson Daly special (11:30 p.m.). The annual Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest features Jennifer Hudson, Drake, Ne-Yo, Avril Lavigne, and Train (ABC, 11:30 p.m.). George Stroumboulopoulos apparently has a “very special” interview, for people who hate music or dancing or fun (CBC, 11 p.m.). ET Canada has Rick the Temp bringing you Great Big Sea, Kardinal Offishall and Barenaked Ladies (Global, 11:10 p.m.). Fox has a special hosted by Nancy O’Dell about which details are sparse (11 p.m.). CNN has New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, for people seeking incentive to chew their own arms off (11 p.m.). Finally, MuchMusic has their annual Commercial Free New Year’s Eve Party 2010, during which time they will actually play videos for once, because now MuchMusic is a channel that only plays videos on special occasions (11 p.m.).

The Weekend

New Year’s Day still, sort of, means Bowl Day for college football fans. This year’s Outback Bowl features Florida vs. Penn State (ABC, 1 p.m. Saturday); the Capital One Bowl is Alabama vs. Michigan State (TSN, 1 p.m. Saturday); the Progressive Gator Bowl, featuring a great many liberal alligators, is Michigan vs. Mississippi State (The Score, 1 p.m. Saturday); the Rose Bowl is Texas Christian vs. Wisconsin (TSN, 4:30 p.m. Saturday); and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (sigh) is Connecticut v. Oklahoma (TSN, 8 p.m. Saturday).
Hey, did you want to start watching V from the beginning? Me neither! But ABC has you covered by broadcasting the first few episodes for you, in case you really needed something to do. (Beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday)
The CBC airs Wall-E, because it’s the CBC and they want you to watch good movies. (8 p.m. Sunday)

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