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.
2 Broke Girls is CBS’ new vehicle for Kat Dennings, who is a lovely and talented comic actress. They have, unfortunately, given her a terrible, terrible sitcom: Dennings plays one of the titular waitresses just trying to get by in the big city, with Beth Behrs playing the other one, who is named “Caroline Channing,” which we assume is supposed to be funny. There’s a lot of potential being squandered here, which means it is the perfect show to follow Two and a Half Men. How did Whitney Cummings manage to create this? (City, 9:30 p.m.)
Whitney is the other sitcom by Whitney Cummings which got picked up this year, and unlike 2 Broke Girls this is a pretty funny traditional sitcom, mostly because Whitney Cummings is a really good comic actor and Chris D’Elia, playing her boyfriend, pairs with her supremely well in a George-to-her-Gracie way. Plus, Jane Kaczmarek plays her mother, and Jane Kaczmarek makes everything just a little better. (CTV, 9:30 p.m.)
The Playboy Club is painfully bad, as any show where the 60’s Playboy bachelor lifestyle is portrayed as a safe haven for strong women (who nonetheless all want to get married to rich husbands) would inevitably have to be, but what’s really bad is the murder mystery tacked onto the show in the opening episode. It’s not as bad as, say, the murder which partially derailed the second season of Friday Night Lights. Mostly because that show was very good, and The Playboy Club is schlock of the lowest calibre, trying to be Mad Men so hard it’s kind of pathetic. (City, 10 p.m.)
Returning shows of note: How I Met Your Mother (City, 8 p.m.), Dancing With The Stars (ABC, 8 p.m.), The Sing-Off (NBC, 8 p.m.), Two and A Half Men (CTV, 9 p.m.), Castle (CTV, 10 p.m.), Hawaii Five-O (Global, 10 p.m.)
New Girl is Zooey Deschanel’s new series, and why does Zooey Deschanel need a television series? Isn’t she a successful movie actress? Why does she need to shift gears downward to television? Let us just say that, although we of course love television, we recognize that movies are higher-status and higher-reward for actors, and Ms. Deschanel has only so long before she hits Hollywood’s brick wall of stupid and becomes unemployable except in a sitcom where she is married to her generation’s equivalent of Jim Belushi. Why is she running ahead of her natural cycle as a famous actress? We don’t get it. Oh, the show is fun, incidentally. (City, 9 p.m.)
Body of Proof is where Dana Delany pretends to be Dr. House. Or a woman version of Dr. House, anyway. That’s really all you need to know. If you think we’re not being respectful here, this summary is about 10 times more classy than the show, which is not very good at all. (City, 10 p.m.)
Returning shows of note: Glee (Global, 8 p.m.), Raising Hope (City, 8:30 p.m.).
Hey! Did you want to watch a singing show? I mean, yes, there’s The Sing-Off airing right now, and Canada Covers, and it’s only been a week since America’s Got Talent, and The Voice is barely out of memory, but maybe you have the attention span of a squirrel? Or, possibly, what you think a singing show really needs is the presence of a mean British judge who actually doesn’t have the greatest musical taste but is occasionally witty, or at least mean using different words than you normally hear? In that case, The X-Factor is for you! Also featuring the return of drunk Paula Abdul. (CTV, 8 p.m.)
Revenge is straightforward heavy-soap, wherein Emily Van Camp is a girl who used to live in the Hamptons but then something happened and the people there were responsible for her daddy’s death, so she returns as an adult to seek, well, revenge on them. The show is very, very rich and very, very white—there probably hasn’t been a show this unapologetically wealthy since Dynasty. Our theory is that ABC is hoping that rich people doing bad things to other rich people will make its not-rich audience really happy and watch the show every week. We dunno about that. (CITY, 10 p.m.)
Returning shows of note: Modern Family (City, 9 p.m.), Harry’s Law (Global, 9 p.m.), CSI (CTV, 10 p.m.).
Charlie’s Angels is exactly what you think it is, and reviewing it is totally pointless. So instead, let’s talk about the cancellation of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, a show which was a solid hit for CTV and which the network has cancelled, citing excessive cost and lowered audience share. (Of course, their example—that this year’s finale had 30 per cent fewer viewers than last year’s—ignores that firstly this season aired mostly over the summer, when viewership is lower, rather than in fall, and secondly that the finale was on September 11, competing against all the 10th-anniversary-of-9/11 news shows.) Let’s be clear: this is a reality competition show, and therefore less expensive to produce than most scripted programming. It was also a successful show, both critically and popularly. Its cancellation is thus a bold statement from CTV: the network and the rest of Bell Media are making it quite clear that their interest in production is not profitable shows or popular shows or quality shows; their interest is in making shows as cheaply as possible to satisfy their Cancon requirements, and not a thing more. And that is not a good thing at all. (ABC, 8 p.m.)
Person of Interest is one of two offerings from J.J. Abrams this season, and it is more or less a straight-up action series. Michael Emerson plays a very Michael Emersonish character who has built a machine that can predict when people will kill people and/or get killed by people, and he sends Jim Caviezel (going extremely one-note and growly) to go stop bad things from happening with fighting. It’s a gloriously stupid riff on your standard procedural. (City, 9 p.m.)
Global has picked up Happily Divorced, Fran Drescher’s for-cable sitcom about continuing to live with one’s gay ex-husband post-marriage. We unapologetically love Fran Drescher for being awesome, but this show is just not very good. It’s got a great cast, but the writing is… not there, with so many old-school stereotypical gay jokes it’s almost painful. (Global, 9:30 p.m.)
Prime Suspect is the American remake of the classic British TV series that basically made Helen Mirren’s career for her, with Maria Bello in the Mirren role. It’s hard to say whether this will be good. Maria Bello is great, of course, and seeing Kirk Acevedo as her sidekick is pleasantly surprising, but Prime Suspect worked so well because it was short: each series was only four hours long. The first season of the American Prime Suspect, in comparison, will have as many episodes by the end of a first full season (assuming it goes that long) as the first five seasons of the British show did. This sort of thing can get tricky, is all we’re saying. (Global, 10 p.m.)
Returning shows of note:: Community (City, 8 p.m.), The Big Bang Theory (CTV, 8 p.m.), Parks and Recreation (City, 8:30 p.m.), The Office (Global, 9 p.m.), The Mentalist (CTV-Two, 10 p.m.).
A Gifted Man has a weird premise: a doctor meets his ex-wife by accident one day, then finds out after meeting her that she died two whole weeks before he met her that time (BUM BUM BUM!), and then she starts sending him on missions where he can use his doctoring to save people using his doctorism. So it’s a medical procedural crossed with Ghost Whisperer, kind of. (Global, 8 p.m.)
Returning shows of note: Supernatural (CHCH, 9 p.m.), Fringe (City, 9 p.m.), Nikita (CTV-Two, 8 p.m.).
This season on The Amazing Race, we have: Ethan and Jenna, both of whom have previously won Survivor; a pair of Olympic snowboarders; a team of grandparents; a gay couple; a pair of Vegas showgirls; a father-son team where the son was the first person under 18 to sail around the world solo; and the now-kind-of-standard team of twins. This season also marks the Race‘s first visits to Denmark, Malawi, and Indonesia, because after 19 seasons, this show still has lots of things it hasn’t done yet. (CTV, 8 p.m. Sunday.)
Pan Am, like The Playboy Club, wants to be Mad Men really badly and does so by using a setting (1960s air flight) that was a gratuitously sexist workplace. However, Pan Am is much more tolerable than The Playboy Club is, mostly because it manages the Mad Men trick of playing up the glamorous portions of the period without flinching from the ugly parts. It’s still not as good as Mad Men, though. (CTV, 10 p.m. Sunday.)
Returning shows of note: The Simpsons (Global, 8 p.m. Sunday), Desperate Housewives (CTV, 9 p.m. Sunday), The Good Wife (Global, 10 p.m. Sunday).