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.
Brett does not like sports, so here is Howie Mandel of America’s Got Talent doing something with a rubber glove. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayNational Geographic has of late turned to making archeology documentaries with cutesy reenactments of whichever past era the archeologists are investigating, and it’s been a winning formula so far as the combination of awesome nerd science with corny Ye Olde Past Tymes acting is consistently entertaining. The Egyptian Job is their latest entry, about archeologists trying to figure out how a bunch of Egyptian labourers robbed Hawara, “the Fort Knox of Egypt,” during Egypt’s Middle Kingdom period, and got past all the deadly traps that the pyramid’s engineers installed. It looks reliably fun. (History Channel, 9 p.m.)
Cake Boss begins its fourth season with a double-length hourlong episode, because people really like watching dudes make cakes. (TLC, 9 p.m.)
For all those people who can’t wait for a whole season of Biggest Loser to watch people lose weight, there is always Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition which, in each episode, will cover the loss of one person’s massive obesity over the course of an entire year. Over/under on the number of inspiring montages during each episode: five. (City, 10 p.m.)
The Hard Times of RJ Berger concludes its second season, which you may not have read much about in your newspaper because if there is such a thing as an inessential cable-based comedy, it is RJ Berger. Beyond the title character’s big dick (yes, really, that’s the gimmick of the show), it feels a lot like a slightly above-average coming-of-age sitcom with slightly dirtier jokes, but is in no way special enough to merit particular recognition except at times such as this one, when it concludes its second season and therefore merits a bit of a writeup about how it doesn’t usually merit a bit of a writeup. (10 p.m. on MuchMusic)
TuesdayAmerica’s Got Talent comes back yet again, and Televisualist will make a bold prediction: a singer or singing group will win the whole thing, because singers dominate this show and always have: four out of five winners have been singers and thirty-one out of fifty-two finalists have been singers. Remember this the next time you complain about all of the singing reality shows on the air: America (and Canada, judging by our viewership numbers on these shows) fucking loves singing shows. Which is a shame, because sometimes they have a dog act where the dog does awesome tricks, and isn’t that so much better than another singer? Maybe this year they’ll have a dog again! (City, 8 p.m.)
The NBA finals kick off, and it’s refreshing to see a solid hero/villain dynamic in the finals again, as the Miami Heat take on the Dallas Mavericks. For those of you who don’t follow basketball, the Heat began this season having signed Lebron James and Chris Bosh (possibly in violation of the league’s anti-collusion rules, but it’s the NBA so nothing’s gonna happen there—this is a league that was entirely willing to let an owner steal the entire Seattle SuperSonics and move it to Oklahoma, after all) and were and are the most hated team in basketball because they were totally unrepentant dicks about how they screwed over fans of not one but two franchises, and then Miami basically steamrollered Boston and Chicago, the two other major contenders in the NBA’s eastern division, to get there. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks are a team filled with journeymen and respected players, many of whom have yet to win a ring, and have likewise been incredibly dominant, sweeping the L.A. Lakers and pounding the Oklahoma City Stolen Team. And finally, Dallas fans and Miami fans absolutely hate each other. So this should be a pretty fun NBA finals… even if we think Miami is probably going to win. (TSN, pregame at 8 p.m., game start at 8:30 p.m.)
The Debaters has rapidly become one of CBC Radio’s best-loved comedy programs: each episode features comics debating, well, issues, and being funny about it. CBC’s experiment of televising it seems to be paying off, as the show translates quite well to a TV format, where it can play off the visual tropes we associate with actual important political debates. (Sean Cullen and Elvira Kurt’s recent debate as to whether Walt Disney was good or evil was a particular highlight.) Tonight’s episode features a debate as to whether Batman is better than Spider-Man, which is why this show is good. (CBC, 8:30 p.m.)
WednesdayIn the Stanley Cup finals, the Vancouver Canucks have a shot at being the first Canadian team to win the Cup since Montreal won it in 1993, and all they have to do is beat the Boston Bruins. Frankly, Televisualist would be more excited about this if it wasn’t the Canucks holding aloft Canadian hopes, but you take what you can get, one supposes. (CBC, 8 p.m.)
ThursdayOver on America’s Best Dance Crew there’s a sort of Sanjaya Malakar situation developing, as a crew that flatly doesn’t deserve to be in the finals is nonetheless getting enormous voter support. Iconic Boyz aren’t a bad crew per se, but they’ve been wildly outmatched by most of the other crews and yet have ridden a wave of voter support to the finals, primarily because, well, they’re eleven-year-old boys and the tweenage demographic therefore thinks they are dreamy, and the tweenage demographic for reality dance shows is like the senior demographic in real elections: they vote. The last crew remaining to try and take down Iconic Boyz (and keep MTV from looking sort of ridiculous when a group of kids who can barely keep up with basic choreography is named “America’s Best Dance Crew”) is I aM mE, a group of dancing nerds led by former So You Think You Can Dance competitor Phillip Chbeeb, who are really quite splendid and in any other year probably would have walked away with the win. But this isn’t any other year: this is the year of Boyz, and therefore the question of whether the tween set can defeat the massed anti-Iconic Boyz vote is one that is still up in the air. (Muchmusic, 10 p.m.)
Love Bites is a new show premiering tonight that has—wait for it—already been cancelled, as the cast and crew working on it have already all moved on to other projects. NBC is still airing all nine episodes, because it’s NBC and it is a loser network run by losers. If you have a better explanation than that, have at it. (Global, 10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Marge on the Lam,” wherein Marge makes friends with a single mom and then things escalate, as they tend to do in Springfield. “At the risk of editorializing, these women are guilty, and must be dealt with in a harsh and brutal fashion. Otherwise, their behavior could incite other women leading to anarchy of biblical proportions… it’s in Revelations, people!” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)