Televisualist: Killer Snow (Ho-Ho)
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Televisualist: Killer Snow (Ho-Ho)

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.

'Tis the season to die inside when you see that John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John commercial again.


Starting today and until the end of Christmas Day, you can watch the televised Christmas fire. Because it’s more efficient for us to have one fire and tape it than to have a whole bunch of fires. (Rogers 10, 4 p.m.)

Used to be when you said “Disney’s Christmas Carol,” everybody assumed you meant Mickey’s Christmas Carol, the 40-minute animated special starring Scrooge McDuck as Scrooge, and Mickey as Bob Cratchit. However, that was boring old 2-D animation and nobody likes that any more, so now, when you say Disney’s A Christmas Carol, you are referring to the 2009 motion-capture thing wherein Robert Zemeckis tries once again to convince the world that his motion-capture animation isn’t creepy as all get out, and enlists Jim Carrey to star as Scrooge and all of the Ghosts, as well as Gary Oldman as Cratchit and Jacob Marley, and then a bunch of other famous people, too, because why not. It is not awful—after all, A Christmas Carol is hard to screw up—but it is a long ways away from being the best adaptation of the story or even the best animated adaptation. Also, it was very obviously made for 3-D viewing, and watching it in 2-D makes this…kind of obvious. (Global, 8 p.m.)

A far superior option for Dickensian Christmas viewing is Scrooge, because you can’t go wrong with good old Alasdair Sim. (CBC, 8 p.m.)

For those who prefer their Christmas movie moralizing to be slightly more modern, there’s always the annual airing of It’s A Wonderful Life, where an evil banker creates a situation bad enough to drive a man to suicide. See? Plenty modern. (CTV, 8 p.m.)


As always, there’s the Queen’s Christmas message to us all. Well, really, it’s to the British and we kind of get in on it, but we are still part of the Commonwealth so that counts. Eight whole minutes of Queenliness coming your way, Canada—wait, eight minutes? Man, the Queen is slacking off in her old age. Used to be these things were good for at least a solid quarter hour. (CBC, 10 a.m.)

Shortly after the Queen sits down for a nice cup of gin tea, we can appreciate the next step in Christmas TV that is only very slightly Canadian: an entire day’s worth of basketball. (Because we invented basketball, you see. Well, technically we did.) Boston visits the Brooklyn Nets, New York takes on the Lakers, the Thunder plays the Miami Heat in what promises to be an epic game, and then the day of as-marketable-as-possible basketball concludes with Houston visiting Chicago, and Denver going up against the L.A. Clippers. No Raptors, because we aren’t a major media market in the United States and also because we’re not that good. (TSN, beginning at noon)

MuchMusic airs Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights, because diversity! Even though Hanukkah ended last week. (8 p.m.)

You have your choice of awful Christmas movies tonight: there is, firstly, The Polar Express, where Robert Zemeckis began his decade-long experiment with motion-capture animation, honing a lifelong interest in dead-eyed automatons. Lots of Tom Hanks, too, if Tom Hanks was a soulless android. Or, rather, multiple soulless androids. (Global, 8 p.m.)

Also, you can watch the timeless Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, and then follow it up with the godawful shitburger live-action feature film of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch and man Jim Carrey should really just stay the hell away from this holiday. (ABC, 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively)

Instead of watching any of those awful movies, you can instead treat yourself to the annual Doctor Who Christmas special, because it will be much better. This year, the Doctor teams up with his new companion Clara (played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who also played Oswin in this season’s premiere, which won’t be awkward at all) to fight killer snowmen, who will be voiced by Ian McKellen. See? Killer snowmen! Already ten thousand times better than Jim Carrey in green fur make-up! (Space, 9 p.m.)


This year’s honorees at the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors: Buddy Guy, David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, and the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, all of whom will be too polite to explain that the Kennedys are misspelling “centre” and “honours.” (CBS, 9 p.m.)


Oh, hey, it’s an all-day marathon of Just For Laughs: Gags because we have not yet met our yearly quota of slide-whistle noises. (All day, Comedy Network)


For some reason, somebody at TLC thought December 28 was the ideal time to air the season premiere of Say Yes To The Dress, but we have given up trying to understand TLC. We strongly suspect the entire channel is programmed by a chimpanzee who really loves weddings. (9 p.m.)

The Weekend

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious,” which is the Mary Poppins spoof episode. “Shary Bobbins and I were engaged to be wed back in the old country. Then she got her eyesight back. Suddenly the ugliest man in Glasgow wasn’t good enough for her!” (Global, 1 p.m. Sunday)

We genuinely love A Knight’s Tale and all its little silly quirks: the rock-music soundtrack, the blacksmith who puts a Nike symbol on the armour (because it is SOCIAL COMMENTARY YOU SEE), Alan Tudyk gamely trying to sell “fong” as a verb, Paul Bettany as a not-too-dignified Geoffrey Chaucer, Rufus Sewell having a ball as the EEEEEEEEEEVIL knight, the balsa-wood lances that shatter uber-dramatically, and, of course, Heath Ledger being a decent action lead his first time out. It’s good, dopey fun, and that’s all we want from it. (CHCH, 8:30 p.m. Sunday)