W5 Saturday, CTV, 7 p.m.
There are two great crime-related, full-length news stories airing this weekend. Here, a one-hour W5 story is about a case that has puzzled and gripped Toronto for two years – the disappearance of Mariam Makhniashvili, the 17-year-old Toronto teen who vanished into thin air, on the way to school, on Sept. 14, 2009. Sue Sgambati does the reporting and does the first extensive interview with Mariam’s mother. The case involved the largest missing-person search in Toronto history. Helicopters and infrared cameras were used. Police canvassed 6,000 homes. We also get considerable background on the Makhniashvili family and what is called “the complex web of confusion and controversy that has surrounded them.” Mariam’s backpack was found some weeks after her disappearance but, as a police officer says, that was the first and last piece of evidence discovered and, he suggests, there was no evidence to suggest any crime. It’s an astonishing mystery.
Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel Saturday, HBO Canada, 8 p.m.
Very interesting to watch this after the failure of NBC’s The Playboy Club series. It’s a documentary study of Heffner’s public life by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Brigitte Berman. Essentially it’s about the good that Hefner has done – from his work in film preservation to his role as an advocate for civil rights. It illuminates the fact that Hefner, in the early days of Playboy, took stands that were far from popular. The doc will irritate many people – those who focus on Playboy magazine and Hefner’s private life, in which he has always been interested only in relationships with much younger women. Still, it suggests that for a man who never progressed beyond adolescence in some areas, he was remarkably grown-up in public areas of his life and career.
The fifth estate Sunday, CBC NN, 7 p.m.; CBC, 11 p.m.
This is the other true-crime story airing this weekend. It’s called Murder, He Wrote and CBC says it is “the shocking story of a cold, calculating killer; a victim who left a trail of online bread crumbs; and the terrified victim who got away and ultimately helped police crack the case.” True. It’s a story that unfolded in Edmonton, and it’s Hollywood thriller material. Mark Twitchell, who wanted to be a filmmaker and who claimed to have Dexter Morgan of the series Dexter as his model, set out to enact his own crimes. The resulting case brought big media interest and the programs Dateline NBC and CBS’s 48 Hours Mystery did extensive coverage. In this fifth estate we get the cold, hard facts, including extensive footage from police interviews with Twitchell, who was convicted of murdering Johnny Altinger in 2008. In one instance a detective says to Twitchell, “You’re not going to be able to live with this for the rest of your life.” And Twitchell replies chillingly, “You’d be surprised what I can live with.”
The 2011 American Music Awards Sunday, ABC, CTV, 8 p.m.
Always more fun than the stuffy Grammy Awards, the AMAs try to bring to TV the atmosphere of a wild music-industry party. If that’s your bag. And there is an astonishingly long list of performers. The awards handed out matter little and hardly anyone remembers them later. It’s the performances, the sheer weirdness of the clothes and peculiar acceptance speeches that stick. This year, musical acts set to party include Katy Perry, Pitbull, Christina Aguilera, Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, Marc Anthony, Chris Brown, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj and David Guetta. It being on ABC, expect appearances from the stars of ABC series. They will be the ones who don’t have the wacky hair.
Check local listings.