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A select viewing guide for Thursday, Nov. 8
DOCUMENTARY Vimy Ridge: Heaven to Hell (History, 7 p.m.) Still regarded as the Canadian military’s finest hour, The Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 marked a turning point in the First World War. At the time, the rousing victory of our Canadian troops, representing ever region and ethnicity of a country barely a half-century old at the time. This sharp documentary presents a sharp deconstruction of the bloody weeklong conflict, with fresh perspective from war historians and archeologists who concur the battle was won by the Canadian’s innovative three-dimensional approach: on the ground, in the air, and under the ground. Lest we forget.
DRAMA Last Resort (ABC, Global, 8 p.m.) Against logic and all probable odds, ABC’s rookie military drama is holding its own in U.S. and Canadian ratings, even up against CBS’s dynamo Thursday-night comedy block of The Big Bang Theory and Two And a Half Men. So why is the concept about an American nuclear submarine gone rogue and its crew hiding out on a tropical island so popular? Hey, why do people buy Tom Clancy novels Either way, credit the show’s appeal to solid on-camera partnership between TV veteran Andre Braugher, formerly of House and Homicide: Life on the Streets, as the sub commander Captain Chaplin, and Canada’s Scott Speedman, ex of Felicity, as his second-in-command, Sam. In tonight’s new episode, they have to protect the sub and the island from a bizarre attack from an unknown source.
DOCUMENTARY The Real Dirt on Gossip (CBC, 9 p.m.) Did you check TMZ on your work computer today? Welcome to the tabloid peepshow generation with tens of millions of North Americans addicted to delish celebrity dish available in gossip magazines, blogs and websites and, with freakish frequency, social media outlets like Twitter. Why are seemingly normal people so fascinated with the every move of the Kardashians or Lindsay Lohan’s trainwreck parents or The Kardashians? The film features theories from various media bigheads but the most interesting take is from Jon Gosselin, formerly of the hit TLC reality series Jon and Kate Plus 8, which eventually became Kate Plus 8 when his co-star/life partner Kate found learning of his cheating ways via a gossip website. Nearly three years later, he’s the fifth most-hated man in America!
HISTORY Outlaw Empires (Discovery, 10 p.m.) By his own design, Kurt Sutter is becoming TV’s foremost expert on outlaw gangs. Best known for creating FX’s acclaimed biker drama Sons of Anarchy, Sutter expands his documentary portfolio with this six-part series profiling infamous criminal organizations. Previous chapters have profiled the Mafia and the Crips; tonight’s show examines the rich and violent history of the South Boston Irish Mob, which have ruled the streets of Beantown since the early 1800s. The film reenacts several key Irish Mob moments, often with gruesome historical accuracy.
MOVIE Network (TCM, 11:45 p.m. ET; 8:45 p.m. PT) Directed by the late Sidney Lumet, this black comedy has turned out to be eerily prophetic in its depiction of a TV world gone mad. The 1976 feature stars William Holden as the world-weary network executive Max Schumacher, who is instructed to fire his best friend, newscaster Howard Beale (Peter Finch), because “he skews old.” That very night, the unhinged anchor announces on air his plan to commit suicide on his final broadcast. The ratings soar, and the suddenly hot network merrily goes down the road of reality television – a phrase that didn’t even exist in 1976. Winner of four Oscars, including best actress for Faye Dunaway for her portrayal of a bloodless young TV executive.