Televisualist: Frickin' Dinosaurs!
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Televisualist: Frickin’ Dinosaurs!

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.

Steve Paikin, drowning in a sea of verbiage. How poetic!

Monday

Terra Nova is Fox’s big sci-fi action offering this fall: a giant, ambitious television show about humanity colonizing the far-distant past – e.g. 85 million years ago, when there were dinosaurs. The two-hour pilot is exciting and entertaining; our question is only to wonder how much story they can get out of what is essentially a “new frontier” show with dinosaurs in it. But whatever: dinosaurs! Lots and lots of dinosaurs! This show is an entire week of Shark Week, except on steroids and with dinosaurs instead of sharks! (City, 8 p.m.)

Against odds many onlookers considered steep, Being Erica enjoys the debut of its fourth and final season. Televisualist isn’t actively watching Erica—too many shows, too little time—but when we tune in it’s consistently good, growing more ambitious with every season, and Erin Karpluk is always wonderful. This show is really proof that the CBC could be the equal of the BBC, if anybody in this country had the balls to fund the CBC equivalently. (CBC, 9 p.m.)

Tuesday

So, if like many of us you have not yet made a decision about which party to hold your nose and vote for in the Ontario provincial election, tonight will be an excellent opportunity for you to get over your gut-checks and decide whether you want to vote for the foreigner-baiting Tory, the duplicitous Grit or the pandering Dipper in the Ontario leader’s debate. Steve Paikin moderates, which means that aspect of the debate will not disappoint. Just, you know. Everything else. (TVO, Global, CBC, CTV and CP24, 6:30 p.m.)

We don’t really have any reason to discuss this week’s new episode of The Debaters, other than that The Debaters is consistently funny. Not always brilliantly laugh-out-loud funny; sometimes it’s just “oh, that’s clever and I have to appreciate it” funny. But funny nonetheless. We suppose that’s reason enough for this week’s appreciation, then. (CBC, 9:30 p.m.)

Wednesday

Suburgatory does not, so far, impress: it seems to have the stock-standard cynicism about commercialized America that a certain sort of comedy demands these days, the usual combination of mockery and passive acceptance that one only gets in television now. It’s not even that interesting any more; it’s cuddly, cheap satire meant to flatter rather than challenge. (City, 8:30 p.m.)

The Real World: San Diego begins, if you are one of those people who can’t get enough real worldness in your teevee, even after twenty-six seasons, which is more seasons than the Montreal Canadiens have won Stanley Cups—and although those two statistics are completely unrelated, that doesn’t make them not depressing. (MTV Canada, 10 p.m.)

Thursday

One of the themes of the new fall season is shows about men being MANLY men, dammit. How To Be A Gentleman is probably the strongest of these shows by default, as the others are terrible. This one has David Hornsby as the Felix Unger proxy, Kevin Dillon as the Oscar Madison proxy, and Dave Foley as no proxy for anything at all in The Odd Couple, but who is entertaining regardless. The show is not bad at all, and given the predictability of its setup, that is not nothing. (Global, 8:30 p.m.)

Private Practice returns. We are not entirely sure how or why. Probably something to do with dark forces beyond man’s ken. (City, 10 p.m.)

Friday

U-571 is a great modern example of the B-movie. Of course, nowadays B-movies are the new A-movies: talented actors, writers and directors congregate over comic-booky or pulpy projects because those make money and success on them lets a Christopher Nolan make The Prestige or Inception in return for making successful Batman movies, or whatever. So the modern B-movie is a war film or other sort of genre flick that doesn’t really have a high-concept hook. U-571 is just a straight-up submarine war movie. And that’s fine, even if Matthew McConaughey as the heroic captain stretches credibility a bit. (AMC, 8 p.m.)

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Homer To The Max,” wherein Homer changes his name to “Max Power.” “Max Power doesn’t abbreviate! In his name, each letter is as important as the one that preceded it. Maybe even more important… No, as important.” (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)

The Weekend

Prohibition is Ken Burns’ latest epic documentary, and by Ken Burns standards this one is relatively brief: a mere five and a half hours stretched out over three parts. Expect a lot of dramatic voiceover narration (by Peter Boyle!) as Burns traces the rise and fall of the Prohibition era. Your parents will watch this, so if you like talking with them about this sort of thing, go nuts. (PBS, 9 p.m. Sunday)

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