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John Doyle: Television

Important information about the TV racket Add to ...

Today, I was supposed to be on the move. Flying to Dublin via London. Important business such as seeing the ma and da. As the whole world knows, nobody is moving thataway until the volcano with the unpronounceable name in Iceland behaves itself. So there I was, gazing around disconsolately. A small sherry (the drink, not a woman) and I cheered up.

Still gazing around, I find myself inundated with vital information to pass on to you. It never stops in the TV racket. Machinations, cunning stunts, a ruse here or there. The racket and its related branches never sleep. While you and I are sleeping the sleep of the just and innocent, somebody is up to something. Herewith, developments you may need to know about. Okay, I'll admit some of it amounts to mere rants and observations.

Complaints Department (Real & Imagined): Michael Bublé called me on the weekend. Oh yes, he did. Left a message. I've called him back, but I am informed, several times now, that "the customer has not initialized his voice mail." I am also told that when I speak to Mr. Bublé, I should remind him to "initialize his voice mail." My suspicion - founded on some experience in dealing with calls from celebrities - is that he has a complaint. On Saturday, I wrote this about the Juno Awards: "I'm sure for many who care about the diversity of Canadian popular music it would be important that the bland Bublé not dominate the winner's circle." If Bublé is reading this or if you happen to run into him, please tell to call again, and to "initialize his voice mail." A real complaint here - if you run into somebody from Showcase or its parent, CanWest, could you shout at them, please? Showcase shifted Damages from Sunday to Thursday, without any warning. Damages - series finale, Thursday, 10 p.m. - is a series that must be watched closely, in sequence. Shifting the day and time is a brutal insult to viewers.

Season finale dates and details: Friday, April 23: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, ABC, A Channel. Sunday, May 16: Desperate Housewives, ABC, CTV. Monday, May 17: House, Fox, Global. Tuesday, May 18: V, ABC, A Channel. Thursday, May 20: Community, NBC, CITY-TV. Thursday, May 20: CSI, CBS, CTV; Grey's Anatomy, ABC, CTV (two hours). Sunday, May 23: Lost, ABC, A Channel (two-hour series finale followed by a Jimmy Kimmel Live Lost-themed special). Monday, May 24: 24, Fox, Global, two-hour series finale. Tuesday, June 8: Glee, Fox, Global.

On Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Jamie decides that he loves French fries and chicken nuggets. No, I made that up. On 24, Jack proposes to Chloe, who says "yes"! Made that up too. On Lost, it turns out that everybody was high all the time. Made up. Actually, on the finale of 24, Jack Bauer will "take matters into his own hands." As if. And on House, "the Princeton-Plainsboro team work outside the hospital as they join forces with a search-and-rescue team to provide medical attention at the scene of an emergency."

Hot Pilots: The Cape, a pilot for NBC, is allegedly one of the more expensive ever made and thus very likely to air as a series. It's about a framed-for-murder ex-cop (David Lyons) who becomes a "costumed crime fighter to clear his name." His exploits are chronicled by a blogger, played by one Summer Glau, one of the most famous young women in the sci-fi geek world - from Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse. Even more intriguing is casting one Vinnie Jones in a supporting role. Who is Vinnie Jones? A former soccer player in England, Jones is notorious for his hard-man antics. Famously, he once grabbed opposing player Paul (Gazza) Gascoigne by his testicles.

Summer Series: The fourth season of Mad Men will start on AMC on Sunday, July 25. Now that Sterling Cooper has been disbanded, what happens? Your questions answered. Very. Slowly. AMC also has high hopes for Rubicon, it's new drama starting Sunday, Aug. 1. It's a conspiracy thriller set at a government intelligence agency and stars James Badge Dale ( The Pacific) and Oscar-nominated Miranda Richardson.

The End of Larry King? Suspicion is rife that the recent Larry King-to-divorce-yet-another-wife story was a public-relations stunt to boost ratings. Dear heavens! Is there nothing we can take as fact any more? The ratings for King's show are down 44 per cent from last year. Smells like the end.

* * *

Airing tonight

Idol Gives Back (Fox, CTV, 8 p.m.) features do-gooder stuff as well as the singing stuff. Mind you, performers include the Black Eyed Peas, Annie Lennox, Jeff Beck, Joss Stone, Mary J. Blige and Justin Bieber. Idol Gives Back has raised more than $140-million for charity, and this year will benefit the Children's Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save the Children's U.S. programs and the United Nations Foundation. There's a hint that Bill Gates will turn up on tonight's show.

POV: Food Inc. (PBS, 9 p.m.) is filmmaker Robert Kenner's acclaimed and controversial look at the American food industry - "what's hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA." And it asks why harmful bacteria cause illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually.

Check local listings.

 

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