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The Globe and Mail

TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: January 8

A select viewing guide for Tuesday, January 8

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COMEDY Rick Mercer Report (CBC, 8 p.m.) While America looks to the smarmy comedy stylings of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Canada still has the good-natured humour of Rick Mercer. Now in its 10 th season, Mercer’s weekly ramblings around the great white north continues to pull in an audience of more than a million viewers weekly and how many Canadian TV shows can make that claim? More importantly, the lad is game to try just about anything new. In tonight’s “best-of” outing, Mercer travels to Sylvan Lake, Alberta, to try out flyboarding–sort of a merge between hang-gliding and flying a jetpack–and goes gliding with Canadian air cadets. On a more serious note, the program rebroadcasts Mercer’s rant on a bullied gay Ottawa teenager who committed suicide. Long may he run.

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HISTORY American Experience (PBS, 9 p.m.) Certain to be an Oscar contender, the recent feature film Lincoln documents the efforts of Abraham Lincoln (played by Daniel-Day Lewis) to abolish slavery in the waning days of his presidency, but he wasn’t the only one behind the noble cause. Airing tonight and the next two Tuesdays, this three-part documentary pays rightful homage to the other activists integral to America’s first civil-rights crusade. Told largely in dramatic reenactments, the film profiles five principal players, including Angela Grimke, daughter of a wealthy South Carolina plantation owner; William Lloyd Garrison (pictured), whose newspaper The Liberator gave voice to the movement; and author Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin provided millions of Americans with their first insight into the injustices of slavery.

Antony Platt

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COMEDY The Mindy Project (Fox, Citytv, 9:30 p.m.) Rock on, Mindy Kaling. Respectable ratings have prompted Fox to bestow a full-season order to this rookie sitcom casting Kaling, formerly of The Office, as Mindy Lahiri, a wacky physician with odd friends and even odder co-workers. And wackiness seems to run in her family. In tonight’s new episode, Mindy’s brother Rishi (Utkarsh Ambudkar) shows up and announces that he plans on dropping out of college to become a rapper. Sounds like someone skipped career day.

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REALITY Snooki & Jwoww (MTV, 10 p.m.) Take heart, Jersey Shore fans. MTV is solidly behind this spinoff series starring Snooki (real name: Nicole Polizzi) and Jwoww (aka Jennifer Farley), which returns for its second season on a new night and in an expanded hourlong format. And can it be that the infamous party girls are finally settling down? In tonight’s season opener, Snooki is busily planning for parenthood (she gave birth to son Lorenzo last August) with her boyfriend Jionni, with Jwoww settles down with her special guy Roger. Buona fortuna, ladies.

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MOVIE Broadcast News (AMC, 11 p.m.) The technology of TV news has changed immeasurably since this 1987 romantic comedy written and directed by James L. Brooks, but it’s a safe bet the ego-driven personalities remain the same. The story takes place at the Washington branch of a network news outlet and stars Holly Hunter as the driven producer Jane, whose sharp news instinct and intellect is matched only by her reporter pal Aaron, portrayed brilliantly by Albert Brooks. Enter the handsome news anchor Tom (William Hurt), who doesn’t understand the news he’s reporting but immediately clicks with viewers. As breaking news unfolds, Jane and Tom enter into a star-crossed affair–much to Aaron’s chagrin. The stellar support cast includes an unbilled turn by Jack Nicholson as the network’s vainglorious national anchor.

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