Weekend TV highlights
If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise Saturday, HBO Canada, 8 p.m.
Spike Lee's followup to his masterpiece about New Orleans, When the Levees Broke, also examines New Orleans after Katrina, but five years later. This work is much more wide-ranging and frankly unfocused, but it has emotional impact. Lee attempts to connect the BP oil spill in the Gulf and the earthquake in Haiti, in some symbolic way, to the vast problem in New Orleans. It doesn't always work. Mind you, the detailed look at attempts to rebuild New Orleans, demolish old public housing and the search for justice for those who suffered during Katrina has great power. Lee has a nose for corruption and an ability to present anger. Anyone who saw David Simon's series Treme will realize how much of Treme is rooted in real events and real people in New Orleans.
Glee Sunday, Fox, Global, 10:30 p.m. (approximately)
This is the big post-Super Bowl show this year. (Note, the time is approximate because nobody knows when the game will end. And while the Super Bowl is on CTV, Global has the rights to Glee in Canada.) Exactly what happens on the show is unclear. But you can be certain there will be perky cheerleaders and some stuff about school football, so as not to utterly confuse NFL fans. Rumour has that there is a big Michel Jackson tribute, with Thriller being performed, Glee-style, on a football field, and it appears CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric will play herself on Sunday's show. All fun, but unfortunately these "special" post-Super Bowl episodes of any show are rarely as memorable as they are hyped.
Flashpoint Sunday, CTV, 10:30 p.m. (approximately)
CTV is giving the season finale of the Canadian drama Flashpoint the plum post-Super Bowl slot, and it is a doozy of an episode. Probably much more tense and dramatic than the game. The team is obliged to be tested by military psychologist Dr. Larry Toth (guest star Victor Garber, at his menacing best) whose job is, it seems, to break up the team. He plays a tough cat-and-mouse game using a polygraph test, and old grudges and mistakes surface. Then, to add to the high tension, the wife of Ed (Hugh Dillon) goes into labour. With much of the episode set in a room with people talking, it's remarkable how compellingly sharp it is. Everyone seems to have a breaking point or terrible secret. Followers of the hit show will then be truly shocked by the chilling, cliffhanger ending.
Masterpiece Special: The Unseen Alistair Cooke Sunday, PBS, 9 p.m.
With the Super Bowl on and dominating TV tonight, many PBS stations are airing this, a delightful celebration of Cooke, who was the host of Masterpiece Theatre for many years. Many American viewers knew him only for that role, but Cooke was a distinguished journalist reporting on the U.S. for decades before his PBS gig. After his death, his children discovered 8 mm camera footage that Cooke had done of his travels and impressions of America. That forms the basis for the program. He was always charmed by the U.S. - its vigour, energy and rapid change. And he was wise about its faults too. He was a celebrity journalist at a time when that didn't mean multi-media fame, as it does now. The program is a charming snapshot of a seemingly distant past.
Check local listings.