State Funeral of Jack Layton (Saturday, multiple channels, 1 p.m.)
It is a signal of the importance of the occasion that all three major broadcasters, CBC, CTV and Global, will carry live coverage on their main networks. Coverage starts with the funeral procession through the streets of Toronto from City Hall to Roy Thomson Hall, where the funeral service will be held. Peter Mansbridge anchors CBC coverage, Global anchor Dawna Friesen works with Ottawa bureau chief Jacques Bourbeau as well as Global Toronto anchors Leslie Roberts and Anne Mroczkowski. CTV has Lloyd Robertson, joined by Craig Oliver, with Don Martin and Daniele Hamamdjian reporting. Stephen Lewis, the former Ontario NDP leader, is expected to give a eulogy while Layton's children, Mike and Sarah, may also give eulogies. Singer Lorraine Segato will perform Rise Up, the anthemic Parachute Club song. Quebec singer Martin Deschamps will perform his song C'est beau le monde.
Dennis Miller: The Big Speech (Saturday, HBO Canada, 8 p.m.)
Miller says, in this, his umpteenth HBO special, "There are two types of people in the world. Those who are afraid of terrorism and those who are worried about global warming." Such nonsense begets the retort that there are two types of TV viewers hereabouts, those who like Miller and those who loathe him. Once a prototypical American comic, with a particularly good feel for yuppie absurdity, he was smug but funny. Then he morphed into a right-wing ranter. The tone and subject matter here are corrosive if you have much in the way of sensitivity. Some of it is large-scale mockery of small-scale subjects, such as a bizarre attack on U.S. politician Nancy Pelosi. But his attack on Islam is truly inflammatory. Watching Miller is a stark and necessary look at a certain area of American life and attitudes.
2011 MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, MuchMusic, 9 p.m.)
The annual awards celebrate excellence in music videos, live from Los Angeles. But, of course, it's also one of those heavily hyped pop-culture moments. So much glam. So much coarse fabulousness. One thing to look out for is a celebration of Amy Winehouse, done by Tony Bennett, apparently. Winehouse and Bennett recently recorded a duet for his upcoming album. Bennett has, wisely perhaps, avoided this awards show for years. Also performing are Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and Pitbull. According to MTV, "Beyoncé Is Going To Tear The Roof Off The VMA's." Fair warning. The actual Best Pop Video category has these nominees – Adele, for Rolling In The Deep, Britney Spears, for Till The World Ends, Bruno Mars for Grenade, Katy Perry for Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) and Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer for Give Me Everything. Not that the videos are the point.
Livin' for the Apocalypse (Sunday, TLC, 10 p.m.)
Yes, the "g" is deliberately dropped from "living" in the title of this special about the subculture of people preparing for the Apocalypse. It can be any kind of end that is nigh – natural disaster, economic collapse or foreign invasion of the United States. The program profiles four couples who are devoted to preparing for an Armageddon they feel certain is coming. Some, like the first couple seen, don't actually seem sure of just what kind of disaster is coming. Still, they have room after room filled with canned goods and dried food, and dad has an arsenal of weapons. There is also a chiropractor who calls himself the Survival Doc, and his wife. He hosts his own online show about survivalist thinking. And that's not the half of it. Really, it isn't much of a surprise to find that several of the people profiled run businesses that feed the survivalist industry. There's material for a sitcom here.