Saturday, Global, 9 p.m.
Not your typical disaster story, this 2007 TV movie was directed, believe it or not, by Bruce McDonald, the Canadian indie film auteur of Hard Core Logo and Pontypool renown. McDonald deploys his standard stripped-down approach to the story, which was filmed in Quebec and Nova Scotia, and opens with a series of massive tidal waves decimating the East Coast. The disaster prompts the arrival of an ecological scientist, played by the sturdy Scot actor Angus MacFadyen, who tries to discover the cause of the disasters with assistance of an oceanographer, played by French-Canadian Karine Vanasse, seen more recently as one of the sixties-era fly girls on ABC's Pan Am. As it happens, the waves are man-made, with the usual evil corporate types responsible. McDonald elicits worthy performances from his actors, but more importantly makes use of the substantial budget at his disposal. (The film cost a reported $10-million U.S.) The big waves come sparingly, but when they come, they look terrifyingly real. A perfect Saturday night popcorn flick.
Saturday, Fox, 11 p.m.
Do not squander your second chance to sample this new series from Lost creator J.J. Abrams. Already tagged a mid-season hit, the show's debut Monday pulled more than 11 million viewers south of the border, which was pretty impressive since it aired opposite Two And a Half Men and Betty White's birthday party. As with Lost, the opener introduces a damnably addictive premise: San Francisco cop Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) stumbles upon the fresh fingerprints of a former Alcatraz prisoner who supposedly died decades before. Utilizing the intellect of comic-book aficionado Diego (Doc) Soto, played by Lost's Jorge Garcia (Hurley to you) and the semi-assistance of dour government agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), Rebecca is shocked to discover more than 300 of the infamous facility's prisoners and guards disappeared without a trace in 1963. Now some are starting to return and they haven't aged a day. It's pretty clear that Abrams is setting up for a long run with this story. Shrewdly repurposed in late night, Alcatraz is a sweet option to the wheezy Saturday Night Live.
Million Dollar Neighbourhood
Sunday, OWN Canada, 8 p.m. ET; 5 p.m. PT
What fresh reality-TV weirdness is this? Hailing from the same TV factory that cranked out The Cupcake Girls and Village on a Diet, this new unscripted series has been produced for the Canadian edition of Oprah Winfrey's cable channel, which presumably has to adhere to the usual Canadian-content regulations to retain its broadcast licence. Whereas Village focused on the citizenry of Taylor, B.C., bonding while shedding excess poundage, this show gets the good people of Aldergrove, B.C., to scrimp, save and squeeze every penny in order to raise $1-million over a 10-week period. The experiment is overseen by a financial guy named Bruce Sellery and psychologist Joti Samra, who exercise tough love in the opener by forcing people to surrender their credit cards – gasp! Next, everyone is digging through sofa cushions to find lost change. Mostly, it's a series of snapshots of people living beyond their means; in some cases, way, way beyond their means. Pay attention, Canada.
Sunday, NBC, 9 p.m.
It’s last call for this American remake of the beloved British crime drama. NBC hasn't issued the official cancellation notice, but considering the show stopped production in early November, we can safely assume its demise. So what went wrong? The original Prime Suspect starred the inimitable Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison, a troubled but extremely capable inspector working grim cases in London and Manchester. The NBC version cast the versatile Maria Bello as a brusque detective named Jane Timoney, working homicide cases in New York City. Bello brought the required world-weariness to the role, but the remake's storylines paled markedly in comparison to the British version. (The decision to have Bello’s cop character wear a fedora probably didn't help matters.) Whatever the reason, NBC burns off the last two unseen episodes this Sunday night in back-to-back outings. In the first show, Jane investigates a murder on the swanky Upper East Side; in the second, she fights the system to keep a jailed hit man behind bars. Fare thee well, Jane Timoney. We hardly knew ye.
Check local listings.
John Doyle returns on Monday.