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Ron White as Dr. Royce and Kari Matchett as Amy in the CTV original movie Plague City: SARS in Toronto
Ron White as Dr. Royce and Kari Matchett as Amy in the CTV original movie Plague City: SARS in Toronto

John Doyle: Television

Weekend picks: Drama inside the ER, the CFL, the Deep South and Apple Add to ...

Plague City: SARS in Toronto

Saturday, CTV Two, 8 p.m.

A repeat, obviously, but it offers a chance to do some “remember when” anti-nostalgia viewing. It's no masterpiece of TV drama, but this program manages to be very effective and unsettling. It plays out like a tense thriller, but you know it's not a fantasy: It happened. People died during that SARS period, and health-care workers toiled in extraordinary and dangerous conditions. The entire city became a numbed, uncertain place. It was no media-created panic; it was a serious and deadly situation. Plague City is absurdly ambitious, attempting to capture so much in a TV movie, but it works. A central character is Amy (Kari Matchett), the head nurse at a Toronto hospital. Through her frustrations in getting officials to pay attention, the seriousness of the situation emerges.

2011 Grey Cup

Sunday, TSN, 6:30 p.m.

Jiminy. It's Grey Cup weekend. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the B.C. Lions, in Vancouver. I'm going with the Bombers in the 99th Grey Cup. TSN has massive coverage Saturday and Sunday: the expected bundle of news, analysis and predictions. An unusual element is John Candy: True Double Blue, airing Saturday at 1:15 p.m., about the late, beloved Canadian movie star and former part-owner of the Argos. TSN says the special, presented by Brian Williams, is “a moving and at times shocking account of the star’s first love: the Toronto Argonauts.” Sunday’s coverage starts at 1 p.m., with a review of the CFL season and lengthy analysis of the teams playing the final game. Nickelback, currently famous for being disliked, do the half-time show. Every Grey Cup is a national cultural moment. This is always about us, as we are.

Carnal Innocence

Sunday, W, 9 p.m.

Utter tosh, some would say, but it’s based on a novel by the ultra-bestselling Nora Roberts and therefore aimed at her millions of fans. Made for the Lifetime cable channel, it has Gabrielle Anwar (from The Tudors and Burn Notice) playing a famous violinist spending time in a Deep South town called Innocence. There, the local big guy is a rich, arrogant dude named Tucker (Colin Egglesfield). Things get tricky when Tucker is suspected of being a killer, after two of his ex-girlfriends are found murdered. Meanwhile, there’s this thing between Tucker and the famous violinist lady. It’s Southern Gothic done light and it’s the kind of female-centric escapist material – populist romance with a trace of the erotic – that always finds an audience.

Steve Jobs: One Last Thing

Sunday, CBC NN, 10 p.m.

If you missed the recent airing on PBS, here’s your chance to see this serious and substantial look at Jobs. Various colleagues talk about his talents, achievements and the ups and downs of Apple. A particularly striking segment for many viewers will be a never-before-seen TV interview with Jobs from 1994. He says, “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is everything around that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again." The overall portrait in the doc is of someone capable of genius thinking and ruthlessness. As one person says of Jobs, "I wouldn't put ‘gracious’ in his description." It is a far from reverential program.

Check local listings.

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