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 is not a cowboy enthusiast, it seems. Although we couldn’t find anything when we Googled “Calgary Stampede vomiting ghost cows,” so perhaps he is misinformed. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondaySo You Think You Can Dance Canada begins the competition phase of its fourth season with the top 22 performing—the top 22, of course- being the gimmick the show has used for two seasons now to distinguish itself from its American counterpart “because we have too many good dancers here.” (Which, once one hits the performance rounds, never seems to be the case, but there you go.) This year’s 22 are a more-diversely skilled lot than last year’s: five ballroomers, five hip-hoppers, and the balance technically-trained dancers, which puts the Canadian show in sharp relief against the American, and good on them for that. The show works best when its dancers are diverse. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Space has the debut of Alphas, SyFy’s new series about “realistic superheroes,” which is the latest in a long line of “realistic superheroes” following after Heroes (which sucked) and Misfits (which didn’t). In this one, the powers are all basically physiological (because that’s more realistic, we guess?). Oh well, it has David Strathairn in it, and David Strathairn has been a favorite of ours ever since we saw him play the blind guy in Sneakers. (Space, 10 p.m.)
TuesdayThe 2011 MLB All-Star Game is, well, a baseball all-star game. You know what you’re going to get here: a relatively low-drama ball game, with the game’s best pitchers pitching one inning at a time and hitters getting maybe two at-bats apiece, and everybody playing low-impact fun ball. If you like baseball, you will like it well enough, because the point of the All-Star Game isn’t to have an exciting game but to have big names all the time at every position three times over. If you’re not particularly a fan, you really won’t like it at all. (Sportsnet, 8 p.m.)
Speaking of baseball, AMC airs A League of Their Own, the supremely-fun movie about World War II-era women’s ball, starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Lori Petty. It’s aged well (as period dramedies tend to do): it’s funny, heartfelt, and just a professional piece of filmmaking all around, and if perhaps it’s a bit too low-key and winsome throughout, well, there are worse things than that to idle away a Tuesday evening. (8 p.m.)
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has the first part of its two-part reunion special tonight (the second is next Wednesday). Nobody is horribly murdered on this show. We’re not saying the stars are bad people or that they deserve to be murdered for appearing in yet another horrible extension of the Real Housewives franchise. That would be ludicrous and nasty. But we know a lot of people wish that the stars of these shows would be horribly murdered. Not us, of course. We don’t care, we really don’t. But we felt we should warn all those people that, on this reunion special, nobody is horribly murdered, not so much as a sound technician. (Slice, 10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, which airs part one tonight and part two tomorrow night. Convenient! “Dozens of people are gunned down each day, but until now, none of them was important. I’m Kent Brockman. At 3 p.m. Friday, local autocrat C. Montgomery Burns was shot, following a tense confrontation at Town Hall. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then taken to a better hospital where his condition was upgraded to alive.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
WednesdayLucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown is a relatively-recent addition to the Peanuts specials, having been made in 2003, and it’s an adaptation of two runs of the comic strip: the storyline where Charlie Brown almost trades away Snoopy from his baseball team to Peppermint Patty’s (from 1967) and the storyline where Charlie Brown trades Lucy to Peppermint Patty for Marcie (from the mid-’80s). We know some people will make lesbian jokes about the second storyline. We pity those people. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
ThursdayWipeout has an All-Stars special, presumably to tie in with the MLB All-Star game. We’re not sure what “All-Stars” means in a Wipeout context. Is it people who did exceptionally well at Wipeouting, or is it people who did exceptionally poorly but made the biggest splashes? It could honestly go either way. Wipeout is like that. (Global, 8 p.m.)
FridayPeople interested in watching what can only be characterized as a terrible failure must watch The Next Karate Kid, the 1994 attempt to bring back the franchise by having Hilary Swank be the pupil of Mr. Miyagi. It is godawful bad, even if Pat Morita is still charming and there are some funny scenes with cute roly-poly Buddhist monks and Michael Ironside is in it. Actually, Michael Ironside is in lots of bad movies, really, but he’s awesome anyway so we tend to believe that his participation is a plus even if, on the whole, most movies with Michael Ironside in them are bad. We also note that YTV is taking two and a half hours to air it uncut, but the film only runs an hour forty-seven, which means that the commercial/programming ratio here is going to be awful, so maybe if you really want to watch this, rent it instead. (YTV, 7 p.m.)
The WeekendTop Gear is most entertaining when Jeremy Clarkson (or the other two, but mostly Jeremy Clarkson) isn’t busy masturbating over whatever zillion-dollar supercar came out this week, but instead when its three hosts take older cars out on adventures or perform crazy stunts. We understand that in order to justify the show’s massive budget they have to pimp out each new car as it’s released; we’re just saying it’s boring, and it’s more fun to watch them drive crappy cars—you know, like the ones the rest of us drive, old beaters and used cars and crapmobiles—and do things with them, because these are things the rest of us can conceivably relate to. We will likely never drive a McClaren ZZSKnumbernumbernumber, but shoving as much as humanly possible into a Honda hatchback or driving through a Third World country in a rented shitwagon because we were too cheap or “authentic” to go to Club Med? Oh, we’ve all been there. Tonight’s rerun is one of the good ones, wherein the three hosts each buy a used car and then systematically destroy them in order to see who got the best deal. It is fun. Every episode of Top Gear should be like this. We know they can’t be, of course. But we can dream. (BBC Canada, 8 p.m. Saturday)
The 2011 ESPY Awards are on, in case you wanted to see what happens when sportswriters get to give people awards. Answer: they kiss ass, just like they always have and always will. It’s refreshing to see people take sports—something wherein achievement is more or less supposed to be easily quantifiable—and decide what it really needed, what it really needed, was debate about the intangible qualities of its participants. (TSN, 8 p.m. Sunday)
This year’s Calgary Stampede Championship, in comparison, is very straightforward. You watch people ride bulls and broncos, and wrestle steers and horses, and whoever lasts longest or wrestles fastest wins, and occasionally somebody gets trampled by a bull. That is what sports is fundamentally about, and that is why the Stampede, which is not necessarily our thing, is much more worth your time than the stupid ESPYs. (CBC, 8 p.m. Sunday)