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Seven Days of Television: January 27 to February 2

A select viewing guide to the next seven days of television

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MONDAY JANUARY 27 The Following (Fox, CTV, 9 p.m.) Welcome back to the TV version of Silence of the Lambs. Following last season’s so-so debut, this bleak crime drama starring Kevin Bacon as a troubled cop tracking a charming serial killer named Joe, played by the slick English actor James Purefoy. Joe is no Hannibal Lecter, but still resourceful and pretty good on the social media, which I think has something to do with the show’s title. In any case, the chase continues in tonight’s second-season opener and by now Bacon can hardly stand on those tiny stick legs.

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TUESDAY JANUARY 28 State of the Union (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, 9 p.m.) Listen up, America. Your president is speaking. All U.S. television (except PBS) grudgingly give up ad revenue tonight at the behest of the American president. All the usual pomp and circumstance apply and what should viewer expect to hear from a second-term president with a 42 per cent approval rating? Everything’s terrific, folks. The website’s fixed!

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WEDNESDAY JANUARY 29 Nature: The Funkiest Monkeys (PBS, 8 p.m.) Bless you, PBS, for still faithfully turning out documentaries about fantastically obscure and offbeat topics that no other broadcaster in the world would even consider. Tonight, the Nature crew travels through the Indonesian rainforest and jungle territory to find the island of Sulawesi, where they profile a man who has made it his life mission to preserve the crested black macaque. Did you know the crested black macaque was in danger of extinction? Tell your friends.

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THURSDAY JANUARY 30 Saturday Night Live Presents a SNL Sports Spectacular (NBC, 9 p.m.) Diving headlong into the annual hysteria known as Super Bowl Week, this special finds Weekend Update fixture Seth Meyers introducing a series of sports-themed clips culled from SNL’s 39-season catalogue. Expect to see basketball star Charles Barkley beat the hell out of the big purple dinosaur Barney and the late John Belushi’s 1977 commercial for little chocolate donuts – the real breakfast of champions.

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FRIDAY JANUARY 31 Blue Bloods (CBS, 10 p.m.) Isn’t it both cool and cruel how some TV stars evolve? Back in the eighties, Tom Selleck was running around Hawaiian beaches in his swim trunks as the biggest star on TV: Magnum P.I. Fast-forward three decades, and he’s the marquee name in this popular Friday-night cop show, looking craggier and heavier but still with the pretty good moustache. As NYPD chief Frank Reagan, Selleck is the Big Apple’s top cop, and tonight’s he digs into the case of a popular drag queen/reality-TV host found dead in Central Park.

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SATURDAY FEBRUARY 1 And the Oscar Goes To (TCM, 8 p.m.) Have you already booked off March 3? Have you recently gotten in trouble for using the office photocopier to make your voting ballot? Does Oscar fever have you in its grips? If so, you’re a huge loser, but make this brisk and brilliantly-assembled primer on the annual Academy Awards required viewing before making your Oscar-night picks. Mostly it’s clips of old Oscar ceremonies from the thirties upward, with a long list of actors babbling about why the Oscars are the most important awards show on the planet, among them Tom Hanks, Cher, Jennifer Hudson, Helen Mirren and Sir Ben Kingsley. All together now: Hooray for Hollywood!

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SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2 The Lost Weekend (TCM, 8 p.m.) Controversial for its time–that time being the forties when most North American adults drank whisky with breakfast–this hard-hitting 1945 drama earned a Best Actor Oscar for Ray Milland. The versatile Welsh thespian is fittingly frantic in his portrayal of everyman Don Birman, a struggling but likeable writer whose craving for booze consume his every waking moment. Despite the assistance of his brother Wick (Philip Terry) and long-suffering girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman), Don bounces from one bender to the next until his drinking costs him his job and social standing. It all ends up with Don tossed into a forties-era drunk tank, which is not a very nice place at all.

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