Televisualist: Swords With Friends
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Televisualist: Swords With Friends

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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Peter Dinklage is awesome. Game of Thrones is awesome. We are totally biased about this and that is awesome. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Monday

Because there’s no such thing as an American reality show which Canadians cannot imitate, Top Chef Canada debuts. In fairness, given the strength of the Canadian culinary scene right now, a Canadian version of Top Chef was both inevitable and likely to be decent. Mark McEwan of North 44 steps into Tom Colicchio’s shoes to be permanent head judge. Also, a couple of people who live in Los Angeles and are “Toronto natives” serve as the rest of the judging panel, which seems like a huge cop-out even by Canadian television production standards. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the gender split on the inaugural season of Top Chef Canada is a whopping 13–3 in favour of the guys, which even for a male-dominated show like Top Chef is kind of freaky. (Food Channel, 9 p.m.)
Christopher Plummer earned accolades for his performance of Prospero in last year’s Stratford production of The Tempest, and they are deserved, but the sad fact is that at least in the production that they filmed for television, most of the rest of the cast is simply outclassed by him. Still, Plummer is awesome. (Bravo!, 9 p.m.)
Gates of Hell is the History Channel’s look at six places around the world that were traditionally considered to be entries to mythical underworlds, which is at least closer to “history” than airing Ice Road Truckers, so I guess hooray for the History Channel this time around. (9 p.m.)

Tuesday

It’s the federal leaders’ election debate! Except for Elizabeth May, who is apparently not popular enough to sit at the cool kids’ table. Actually, using the phrase “cool kids’ table” for anything at all associated with Michael Ignatieff is probably one of the more egregious abuses of the term. In any case, this is our chance to see if Ignatieff can really debate rings around his opponents like everybody says, or if instead this will just be the usual “no, YOU sir” shoutfest. Odds favour the shoutfest. (TVO, CBC, Global, CTV, and CP24, 7 p.m.)
For your education, here is the “Latin” scene from Tombstone, annotated. After Doc Holliday explains that he hates Johnny Ringo, Wyatt Earp says he’s drunk. Doc responds: “In vino veritas” (“in wine there is truth”). Ringo responds by saying, “age quod agis” (“do all you can do,” implying Doc is just a drunk). Doc retorts, “credat Judaeus apella, non ego” (“the Jew Apella may believe it, not I,” implying drinking isn’t what he does best). Ringo touches his pistol and says, “eventus stultorum magister” (“events are the teachers of fools,” which with touching the gun is a pretty clear dare). Doc finishes the conversation by saying, “in pace resquiescat” (“rest in peace,” which is a pretty clear counter-threat). And then Doc explains that Ringo is an educated man and now he really hates him. Isn’t that neat? (AMC, 8 p.m.)

Wednesday

At this point in Survivor, the question seems to be when Boston Rob will get too cocky and then get blindsided: he has a mostly-firm alliance of five (plus Phillip, who is hands-down the batshit-craziest player in Survivor history, to the point where the Survivor editors have taken to labelling him “Former Federal Agent?”—yes, with a question mark), a dispirited group of enemies who have wasted their immunity idol, and another immunity idol that absolutely nobody else in the game knows about in his pocket. (The fact that none of the other players on his tribe have even considered where all the clues for hidden immunity idols are is proof that this show casts way too many wannabe actor/model types rather than serious Survivor fans, who could elevate the game’s play.) Still, Boston Rob being dominant makes for entertaining Survivor, because Boston Rob is so much damn fun to watch: he’s three steps ahead of everybody else at this point, and his only problem is that he knows it too well. Which is why he will get cocky and get blindsided. Eventually. (Global, 8 p.m.)

Thursday

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Like Father, Like Clown,” wherein Bart and Lisa attempt to reunite Krusty with his estranged rabbi father. “This is it, Bart. It’s a longshot, but it’s the most I can do without learning ancient Hebrew… Bart, I am not learning ancient Hebrew.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)

Friday

Smallville kicks off its tenth and last season by teleporting Clark to an alternate universe where Jonathan Kent is still alive, presumably because everybody else who has ever been on this show is showing up in the tenth season regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not, because Smallville has never been a show which concerns itself so much about whether the ideas it has are good ones. Which is why we have a show about Superman where instead of calling himself Superman, he calls himself “the Blur” and dresses up like Neo from The Matrix. (CHCH, 8 p.m.)
Friday Night Lights begins its fifth and final season, which aired already on DirecTV in the USA, but this is its final network airing so it still counts. Given that this doesn’t air until Friday, that means you basically have four days to watch the entire first four seasons if you haven’t seen Friday Night Lights yet. Unlike most shows, Friday Night Lights is worth that sort of effort: one of the greatest dramas ever made for television, period. We’re quite serious when we say that. (NBC, 8 p.m.)

The Weekend

Game of Thrones makes its long-awaited appearance as nerds around the world eagerly await their first real view of the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular low-fantasy novels. (“Low-fantasy” means “the characters are in a realistically medieval world for the most part, and also they say ‘fuck’ a lot.”) The show has managed to achieve several dream-casting successes (most notably Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, with Sean Bean as Ned Stark close behind) and looks absolutely gorgeous. High hopes all around here. (HBO Canada, 9 p.m. Sunday)
If you want to see something achingly bad, though, you could always watch The Girl In The Café instead, which is about a senior civil servant who falls in love with a girl in a café (like in the title!) and then the girl tells the Prime Minister how Africans are all poor and they all decide to do something about it because none of them ever dated a hipster before and they don’t know how to react. Even if it does have Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald in it, this is still horrible. (TVO, Sunday 9 p.m.)
King is Showcase’s new series about a spunky female criminal homicide investigator, and Showcase’s actual tagline for the show is “Surviving eight years in Homicide, two marriages and multiple stab wounds, King is primed for any challenge, except when it comes to passing up a good shoe sale.” Which makes one ask if Showcase actually wanted anybody to see this show, because that is the worst pitch I have ever heard in my entire life. But the show’s not bad. (9 p.m. Sunday)

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