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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: Nov. 13

A select viewing guide for Tuesday, November 13

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COMEDY Rick Mercer Report (CBC, 8 p.m.) Never underestimate Rick Mercer’s appeal with the Canadian viewing public. Now in its 10 th season, the show continues to draw in an audience of more than a million-viewers weekly, which is pretty impressive since its airing directly opposite the freakishly popular U.S. network programs Dancing with the Stars and The Voice. In tonight’s new episode, Mercer is in Toronto to go behind the scenes for the rehearsals for the National Ballet of Canada’s production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which somehow results in him donning the costume for the Cheshire Cat and performing a tap-dance routine with the Mad Hatter. Then he’s off to Lindsay, Ontario to wield a chainsaw and race up poles in a logger-sports competition. Mercer Report remains CBC’s best half-hour.

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DOCUMENTARY American Masters (PBS, 8 p.m.) The late Woody Guthrie truly was a man of the people. In typically thorough American Masters fashion, this affectionate profile of the revered folk balladeer recounts Guthrie’s hardscrabble roots and his years during the Great Depression, when he made the long hard pilgrimage with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California. The profile includes rarely-seen thirties-era footage of Guthrie in concert and reveals some of the hundreds of unique paintings and drawings he produced over the years. Also included are interviews with lifelong Guthrie devotee Bob Dylan and the great man’s son, Arlo Guthrie.

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DRAMA Copper (Showcase, 9 p.m.) It’s not too late to buy into this lush period-piece series. The first scripted show from BBC America, Copper has the imprimatur of TV veterans Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana and is head-and-shoulders above most of the new hourlong fare launched on U.S. network television this season. Set in 1860s-era New York (but actually filmed on a sprawling Toronto soundstage), the show’s premise casts the stolid English actor Tom Weston-Jones as the Irish-American detective Kevin Corcoran, who is the only guardian against the crime wave overwhelming the infamous Five Points neighbourhood. The running backstory of Corcoran trying to find those responsible for the death of his daughter and the disappearance of his wife figures prominently in tonight’s episode during his investigation into the murder of a local woman.

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DRAMA Vegas (CBS, Global, 10 p.m.) Dennis Quaid has made the successful transition from big screen to small screen. The former star of features like The Right Stuff and The Big Easy is a natural fit in this period-piece crime drama that recently received a full-season renewal. The premise casts Quaid into the real-life role of Ralph Lamb, a good ol’ boy rancher and Second World War veteran hired to stem the tide of mob guys flooding into Las Vegas in the early sixties. Michael Chiklis, formerly of The Shield, lends menace as the wiseguy Vincent Scavino. In tonight’s new episode, Ralph investigates the brutal murder of a dentist killed because of gambling debts, while Scavino tries to shoehorn a new mob-friendly mayor, played by Vancouver-born Gil Bellows, into office.

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MOVIE The Guru (Vision, midnight) Sweet and funny, this clever romantic comedy came and went from theaters in a blink back in 2002, but stands out as tonight’s best movie bet. British film veteran Jimi Mistry plays the naïve dance teacher Ramu, who leaves his birthplace of Delhi to find his fortune in the United States. Soon after his arrival in New York City, Ramu unwittingly lands a role in a porno film and is befriended by the veteran adult film actress Sharonna (Heather Graham). While working as a caterer at a high-society party, Ramu stands in for a drunken swami and is immediately regarded as a worldly sex expert by the dizzy Park Avenue swells. The sticky part: All of the sexu guru’s advice is coming directly from the porn star.

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