Steve Buscemi learns where he comes from on Who do You Think You Are? Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
This week, a new episode of How I Met Your Mother, which wouldn’t normally get us too excited except it’s a Barney-oriented ep, and since Neil Patrick Harris is far and away the best thing about this show it’s probably worth seeing. It’s followed by something called Mad Love, another Friends-spawned abomination about white people having sex with each other in New York City. (CBS, 8:00 p.m.)
This week on Two and a Half Men, Alan gets upset when Charlie brings home a Hefty bag full of cocaine and teaches Jake how to sniff it off a porn star’s ass. Sorry, that’s made up, there is no new Two and a Half Men this week and probably never will be again. However, fans of the Sheen oeuvre unsatisfied with his online crazy-cast and unmoved by his history of violence can console themselves with the fact that if you’ve got a TV, you’ve got Two and a Half Men: now, forever, and always. Winning!
ABC brings back the four-millionth iteration of Dancing With the Stars, an opportunity to watch some mediocre dancing while reflecting on how dangerously diluted the celebrity pool has become. The latest cast includes the original (and still the best!) Karate Kid, as well as Kirstie Alley and some people you’ll have to Google. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
Tonight on the The Biggest Loser, a group of morbidly obese people will be bullied, hectored, and humiliated into the kind of transformation that makes good TV. Trainer/dominatrix Jillian will explain why one of the contestants needs to be pushed to the point of collapse, but will not admit that she enjoys it. (NBC, 8 p.m.)
And on Glee, a rerun of the Gwyneth Paltrow stunt-casting episode. (Fox, 8 p.m.)
We’re all about sitcoms this week, and there’s a new episode of the often amusing Modern Family (CFTO/ABC 8 p.m.), followed by the vastly less amusing Mr. Sunshine. It’s like surgeons removed the section of Matthew Perry’s brain where he kept the comic timing and replaced it with cotton balls and irritability. (CTV/ABC 8:30 p.m.)
This week on American Idol, the group is winnowed down to the top ten contestants, who will be ensured a place in future tours of state fairs and Indian casinos. Even on a show where the mediocrity dial normally goes to eleven and beyond, this year’s crop of popsters is an unusually talentless bunch. Paula Abdul must be spinning in her grave. (CTV/Fox, 8 p.m.)
The always classy Spike features a seven and a half–hour marathon of 1000 Ways to Die, comic-creepy true stories about people who’ve died in unusual and entertaining ways, like drinking gasoline or suffocating from their own farts. It starts at 3 p.m. so you’ll have to leave work early.
Wipeout is the ultimate brain-deadening comfort TV. It’s like sitting in a bathtub full of warm mashed potatoes and Jim Beam, and that’s not such a bad thing. (Global/ABC 8 p.m.)
Tonight, whoever got voted off American Idol last night gets revealed, and is dragged crying and wailing back to their rightful obscurity a few weeks before the rest of the crew. (CTV/Fox 8 p.m.).
Finally an all-new sitcom lineup on NBC, including Community, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock, all of which are pretty solid even when they’re bad. (8:00 p.m. onward)
Foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay plagues some more incompetent restaurateurs in a new Kitchen Nightmares. If you’ve never seen the show, it goes like this: Ramsay shows up at a failing foodery, spits its specialty out into a napkin, and says it makes him want to puke. Next he identifies all the problems in the place and is met with resistance by the owner, leading to a bleeped-out shoutfest and to the disbeliever walking out onto a dark street. A new menu is introduced, an opening night crisis is barely averted, and the owner returns, now convinced of Ramsay’s wisdom. Bam—transformation! (Global/Fox 8 p.m)
Who Do You Think You Are is where celebrities explore their roots. This week Steve Buscemi traces his family tree, and the episode description notes that he “discovers a questionable character among his ancestors.” Seriously, just one? (City/NBC 8 p.m.)
Saturday: if you haven’t seen Owning Mahowny yet, do yourself a favour and watch it. Based on a true story, the movie features a standout performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman as a Canadian bank manager who embezzles millions of dollars to fund his gambling addiction. Apart from Hoffman (who even manages to capture the Canadian pronunciation of “out” that Americans never get), there’s a great supporting cast and an excellent script. For anyone who remembers Toronto in the 80s, the locally shot scenes are also a great trip down memory lane. (City 9 p.m.)
Dancing With the Stars is on again, so if you missed Ralph Macchio and that reality lady with the sex tape, you have another chance. It was so much better when TV shows were only aired once a week. (ABC 8 p.m.)
Sunday is the popular The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business, which sounds slightly sinister to us—like a followup to Mein Kampf—but is really quite harmless if you don’t mind frustrated Americans yelling at uncomprehending foreigners. (ABC 8 p.m.)
Finally, Sunday also brings us the 40th annual Juno Awards, a.k.a. the Maple Leaf Grammys. Features lots of famous Canucks, including Hedley, Broken Social Scene, and Arcade Fire slumming it at home after big wins abroad.
Christopher Bird will return to Televisualist next week.