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.
NORM MACDONALD’S WORDS ARE LIKE PAIN! Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayMarijuana: A Chronic History is a pretty decent documentary about how we came to marijuana’s illicitness—an odd legal state for a drug whose level of harm is so low. Granted, most people actively interested in watching this will already know most of the pertinent facts—or at least assume they will and therefore not watch it—but it’s a neat film, even if you aren’t a big pothead. (History, 9 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Lisa the Beauty Queen,” wherein Lisa wins the Little Miss Springfield pageant by default. “It does seem the father of deposed beauty queen, Homer Simpson, filled out the pageant application incorrectly. In the area under ‘Do not write in this space,’ he wrote ‘Okay’.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
TuesdayDancing with the Stars has a one-hour “greatest results show performances” special tonight, as ABC admits that they can do nothing that will earn more ratings for less money than a clipshow of D-list celebrities dancing. Tomorrow, civilization falls! Grab your donkey jawbones while the getting is good, people! (8 p.m.)
WednesdaySome people have complained that Sports Show with Norm Macdonald is just Norm Macdonald doing his 15-year-old “Weekend Update” schtick, and you know what? They’re totally right. And you know what else? That’s good! And if you disagree, then Sad Bill Cosby is just going to be very disappointed in you. (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
ABC is burning off its stock of episodes of Happy Endings, its new sitcom with Elisha Cuthbert (among a number of other very talented actors, but Elisha Cuthbert is so smoking hot that we forget all of their names, even the one who was on Scrubs), which is a shame because it’s actually a pretty clever and well-written show; the recent episode where Penny can only speak Italian when she gets stupid drunk was a highlight. We’re not sure why ABC is running episodes two-at-a-time after 10; do they want to kill this show? Is this part of the conspiracy where we’re not allowed to have anything good? (ABC, 10 p.m.)
Some critics have complained that this season of Survivor has become the “Boston Rob show,” and to an extent they’re right…but that’s only because the rest of the cast is so damned stupid (or, if you prefer, so less good at playing Survivor than Boston Rob) that Boston Rob has been able to dance circles around them in the game without much of anything resembling a challenge. The real sin of this season isn’t that Boston Rob has dominated the show, because Boston Rob is entertaining and fun. No, the real sin of this season is that there’s a real danger that the Redemption Island winner will punt back into the game and win the whole thing for basically sucking and then getting an opportunity at the million dollars via producer fiat. That would not be good. (CBS, 8 p.m.)
ThursdayCommunity concludes its two-part season finale with “For a Few Paintballs More,” and at this point the general consensus from fans is that the entire paintball extravaganza is a plot by City College (booooo!) to defame Greendale, which doesn’t really make sense because, come on, it’s Greendale. We don’t care, however, if it means we get to see Josh Holloway reprise his role as the Black Rider again. He was awesome last week. (City, 8 p.m.)
Empire Records is interesting in that in many ways it very much is a generationally-defined movie: if you are a certain age you’ve seen it, but you only ever saw it on video because it absolutely bombed in theatres so it became something you and your friends rented and then rented again, be it because you loved the message of musical abandon or because you wanted to see a young Renee Zellweger shake her barely concealed ass. (CHCH, 11 p.m.)
FridayWe’re not saying that Smallville airing its two-part series finale on Friday the 13th is proof that the series finale will suck. But given that it’s Smallville…you have to admit, it’s kind of appropriate. (CHCH, 8 p.m.)
The WeekendAttention nerds: this week’s episode of Doctor Who, “The Doctor’s Wife,” is written by Neil Gaiman. You’re welcome. (Space, 8 p.m. Saturday)
Survivor airs its season finale, and here’s the other thing we need to mention: Phillip’s entire strategy this season has been, supposedly, to act like a crazy asshole so that he becomes an invaluable “bring” to the last tribal council, since other players will want a crazy asshole there so they’re more likely to get votes. Now, let’s accept the premise that Phillip has only been pretending to be a crazy asshole (as opposed to the entirely likely premise that he’s a bit of a crazy asshole already and is just playing it up). Say his plan works and he makes it to final tribal council. What then? Does he really think saying, “ha ha fooled you I’m not really a crazy asshole” is going to suddenly get him votes? Because if he thinks that, I want to point him to the entire history of how the game works: the jury traditionally respects gamesmanship a lot less than it does a willingness to suck up to the jury. (Global, 8 p.m. Sunday)