Televisualist: Unstated Union
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Televisualist: Unstated Union

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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Has anybody ever actually seen Obama with stubble? Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Monday

New episode of Castle. There is not a lot to say about Castle on an episode-to-episode basis, though. With rare digressions, most episodes of Castle are the same: opening body with pop song, survey the scene, clever banter, see first two obvious culprits, clever banter, chase false leads, romantic tension between Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, it turns out to be one of the first two obvious culprits after all, clever banter. None of this is bad: Castle is a show that knows what it does well and does it, week in, week out. And that’s fine, but it means a new episode of Castle is just like an older episode of Castle until they bite the bullet and have the lead characters do it. (CTV, 10 p.m.)
Piers Morgan Tonight manages to be even less interesting than Larry King Live, which is saying something. Piers Morgan is more or less a waste of time when he’s not being mean, since he’s really not a particularly clever or incisive interviewer, and not that entertaining outside of saying funny mean things. So this is a show where Piers Morgan does interviews and doesn’t say funny mean things. Good one, CNN! (9 p.m.)

Tuesday

Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address should be interesting, since it will be Obama outlining his policy plans and preferences in the face of a much more Republican Congress, and the question of whether anybody will stand up and shout that Obama is lying stands. Also, some Republicans and Democrats have said they’ll sit together to show unity, which is interesting, one supposes, but what’s the point? When people stand up to applaud the President saying something, it helps to illustrate which side believes what. (Major American networks, 9 p.m.)
Since Global has no American shows it can broadcast tonight thanks to the State of the Union, it instead airs Casino Royale. Which is predictable, but at least Casino Royale is good. (8 p.m.)

Wednesday

American Idol is actually not terrible this season, although it’s still too early to tell. Randy Jackson is still Randy Jackson, of course, but Jennifer Lopez is arguably much less of a waste of space than Paula ever was. Admittedly, this is damning with faint praise. As for Steven Tyler, he’s actually quite good, having taken over the Simon Cowell slot of “the serious one.” Now, if only they would bring back Brian Dunkleman… (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Dog the Bounty Hunter has its two-hundredth episode retrospective. Probably they gloss over the racial slurs part. (A&E, 8 p.m.)

Thursday

The Nature of Things this week is a special two-hour edition about the Alberta Tar Sands and their environmental impact—not just climate change issues, but also the cancer risks caused by their pollutants, and the history of public, industry, and governmental reaction to those issues. As usual for The Nature of Things, it promises to be extremely good documentary television. (CBC, 8 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “24 Minutes,” which is a parody of 24. See it now, before it becomes dated and irrelevant! “The following takes place between 2:34 p.m. and 3:04 p.m. Or maybe it’s a.m. Whichever one is the morning one; it’s not that one.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)

Friday

Operation Smile: One Smile at a Time is a sorta-documentary wherein Roma Downey (of all people) goes to visit various outposts of a charity which performs dentistry for underprivileged youth in Third World countries. It’s a worthy cause and we’re glad to see it getting some airtime, but…Roma Downey? It just seems sort of random. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
We only admit to liking Kate and Leopold, the 2001 time-travel romcom featuring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman, under extreme torture. Waterboarding wouldn’t even come close to making us admit we like it. (Bravo!, 8 p.m.)
Hot in Cleveland premieres its second season as the girls try to get Betty White out of jail since Betty White is in jail because she’s wacky and old. (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)

The Weekend

The NFL Pro Bowl, their version of the All-Star Game, is on this weekend, because for the first time they’ve decided that the Pro Bowl should be before the Super Bowl, which mostly makes sense considering, well, who cares about what happens after the Super Bowl. It’s still in Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, because players bitched and moaned when they thought they might not get the chance to go to Hawaii and play football. Hooray! (Fox, 7 p.m. Sunday)
The 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards serve as momentum generation for the Academy Awards (“The ones that really matter”). Tune in and watch to see whose odds of winning an Oscar increase! Unlike the Golden Globes, nobody gets drunk at this one, and Ricky Gervais isn’t hosting, so there is no chance of anything interesting happening. (Global, 8 p.m. Sunday)

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