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.
“YOU DARE TO SERVE CUSTOMERS RAW FISH? I WILL MURDER YOU SO HARD YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN WILL DIE! IN THE FUTURE!” Do not piss off Gordon Ramsay. Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
MondayAmerican Ninja Warrior airs on network television for the first time. For those unaware of the show and thinking “what a dorky title”—well, you’re not wrong about the title. But it’s actually a really good show: Ninja Warrior is the American name for Sasuke, a Japanese game show/competition about a gigantic obstacle course that is genuinely hard and where the idea is that it is so hard that the competitors (typically amateur athletes, but also the occasional Japanese comedian trying to up his profile) almost never finish it—only three competitors in 25 seasons of Sasuke have completed the course (two fishermen and a shoe salesman, if you were wondering). G4, the American cable channel, has produced American Ninja Warrior for three years now, as a feeder competition where the best performing athletes win a prize and travel to Japan to compete on Sasuke, and this year NBC has decided to air the finale. It’s great television and great fun. (9 p.m.)
So You Think You Can Dance Canada hits its top 10 dancers episode after what has been a pretty strong season thus far (certainly more memorable than season three). Of course, if you want to know the real difference between the American version of this show and the Canadian version, it’s pretty simple: when the American version hits the top 10 dancers, everybody dances twice and they do a two-hour show. When the Canadian version hits the top 10 dancers, everybody dances once and they cut the show down to one hour so CTV can air reruns of Two and a Half Men. Ah, CTV, you never fail to disappoint. (8 p.m.)
So if you’ve been watching Hell’s Kitchen this season, you’ve been privileged to watch some of the most awful people in competitive reality television history. True, you can say that about any season of Kitchen (seriously, where do they find these people?), but this season has been especially noteworthy since among the usual crowd of 14 no-hopers and three or four would-be winners are Elise and Carrie, who since episode one have been bitching and sniping at one another non-stop. And you can’t root for either of them, because although Elise is somewhat more competent than Carrie (who has consistently fucked up every single thing she has attempted to do), she’s only marginally so. After all, we are talking about a woman who made a dessert parfait with lots of vinegar. And Elise is far, far meaner than Carrie, constantly talking trash about her—but although one gets the sense that Carrie would be tolerable if Elise was gone, Carrie’s just as willing to scream and yell as Elise is. And what’s worse is that these two are clearly still present only because the producers think they make good TV: the other contestants can’t stand them and constantly find reasons to put them up for elimination (not that this is hard) and every single time Gordon Ramsay says that one of the non-horrible-human being has “given up” or something stupid like that and keeps one or both of the terrible people on the show. It is agonizing watching these two women fight all the time. (A-Channel, 8 p.m.)
TuesdayStacy and Clinton present their “top 10 meltdowns” on What Not To Wear, because they are demon seeds who revel in the emotional pain of others. Not shown on television: their dark orgy celebrating the worship of dread Baal. (TLC, 10 p.m.)
WednesdayThis is the weirdest scheduling Televisualist has seen in quite some time: Happy Endings, the surprisingly decent little sitcom from earlier this year, airs a new episode. It is an episode from the first season—which ended three months ago—that didn’t air for some reason. Granted, Happy Endings was aired all out of whack by ABC, which decided that “airing the episodes in order” was some crazy notion for anal retentives, but even given that, this is… impressive. It’s like they just sort of forgot about it for three months and then… “Oh, huh!” You’d think they would have just stuffed this somewhere into the second season this fall, but no. Networks! You’re all crazy! (ABC, 9:30 p.m.)
The Challenge: Rivals ends. If you care about that sort of thing. We wouldn’t admit it if we did. Which we don’t. And we’re not saying that to be cute: we really, really don’t. (MTV, 10 p.m.)
The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Homer’s Enemy,” a.k.a. “the Frank Grimes episode.” Certainly a classic but considered by many to be the point where the golden age of The Simpsons ends, as it marks the point where “Homer is a bad person” became the punchline for too many jokes and plotlines in the show. But funny. “Does this whole plant have some disease where you can’t see that he’s an idiot? Look here. Accidents have doubled every year since he became safety inspector, and, and meltdowns have tripled.” (Comedy Network, 9 p.m.)
ThursdayExpedition Impossible concludes, as the remaining four teams—Team Smug Hipsters, Team Gays Can Hike Just Like Straight People Can, Team Bored Football Players and Team Blind Dude Can Also Hike Just Like Straight People Can If He Has A Guide—race to the end of the, uh, race. Or something. This show has been really, really boring, taking The Amazing Race and systematically removing all the best bits of that show and then leaving a crumpled, dirty mess on the floor. (CTV, 9 p.m.)
The Discovery Channel debuts Things You Need To Know, which is sort of a summary program about basic science: “Why does weather change?” “What is DNA?” that sort of thing. The cynic might say that this show exists because the Discovery Channel has found out that they’re losing audience share because too much of their potential audience is too ignorant to watch anything more in-depth and can’t understand a show like, say, MythBusters, because the science is too complex for them and also Jamie’s mustache freaks them out. But at least the Discovery Channel is still trying to make science television, unlike some channels. We’re looking at you, TLC! (8 p.m.)
FridayYour choice of Spielberg tonight: if you want early, lean-and-mean-on-a-budget Spielberg, you can watch Jaws (Bravo, 9 p.m.). But if you want later-period, maybe-a-bit-too-sentimental-for-his-own-good-but-hey-DINOSAURS Spielberg, there’s Jurassic Park (AMC, 8 p.m.).
The WeekendDoctor Who returns for the second half of its sixth (or 32nd, if you prefer) season. The title of the episode is “Let’s Kill Hitler.” We trust this explains why Doctor Who is so beloved among nerds. And, if not, be thankful for the fact that the existence of Doctor Who makes nerds at conventions dress up in nice suits rather than as the X-Men or whatever, and we can all root for that. (Space, 8 p.m. Saturday)
The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards do not have a host this year, but they have guaranteed a tribute to Britney Spears! And possibly one to Amy Winehouse, but that is still up in the air, given that all Amy Winehouse did was be brilliant and then die, whereas Britney Spears will probably not die for quite some time yet. (MuchMusic, 9 p.m. Sunday)