Few surprises this weekend. We are in a pause (and the weekend should be a pause, anyway). The late-night TV fandango has pretty much played out. We're in between the Golden Globes and the Oscars, so a tiny little awards show must suffice. Some new shows have aired, but the hot shows haven't arrived yet. It's a midwinter cozy weekend. How cozy is it? Well, there are two Jane Austen adaptations. A new Emma on Sunday; and the movie version of Sense and Sensibility , with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant (Saturday, W, 6 p.m.) Thus, apart from a kooky CBC special about our IQs, it's a fabulous weekend for frock watching.
Screen Actors Guild Awards
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET/PT, Global
In the hierarchy of awards shows, the SAGs are way, way below the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. Far as I can tell, only the cable channel TNT is carrying them live in the United States. The lowly status of the SAG shindig is a mystery. This is an actors-only event. No speeches from unglamorous writers or technical people you've never heard of. Among the presenters are Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver. From the TV racket you'll see Felicity Huffman, Jane Lynch, Anna Paquin and Ray Romano. Nominees include Carey Mulligan from An Education and Penelope Cruz from Nine . Sandra Bullock will honour Betty White with the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award. There might be some fun from Larry David, bizarrely ignored by the Golden Globes, and nominated here for playing himself on a great season of Curb Your Enthusiasm . Expect long-winded speeches, inside jokes and, of course, exhortations to help relief efforts in Haiti. And the frocks. Lotsa lady actors in gee-whiz frocks.
Test The Nation: IQ
Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, CBC
CBC's slogan for this indulgence in tomfoolery is "Canada, how smart are we?" Not that the CBC should make pronouncements about being smart. Last week, it bought a big ad in this section to quote my negative review of the new Kids In The Hall series, pointing out that one million people saw the first episode, and declaring "More than a million Canadians can't be wrong." For the second episode, viewership dropped about 50 per cent. So I declare, "Half a million Canadians decided they were wrong. And John Doyle was right." Anyway, the lovely and talented Carole MacNeil and George Stroumboulopoulos are the hosts. Six teams take the IQ test - twins, politicians, believers, atheists, contact-sports athletes and nerds. Each team has 30 Canadians. They take the test individually and you - yes, you - can play along at home. Think of the fun. Bring the neighbours over and get loaded. The winning team "will be awarded the highly coveted Test the Nation trophy" says the CBC. What you get if you win is unclear.
Sunday, 9 p.m. ET, PBS, check local listings
Yes, yet another adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. Austen TV must account for a good deal of Britain's export trade these days. Here, Emma is given a terribly modern treatment. A reviewer in England who liked it used the phrase "brushing away the cobwebs" but Austen devotees will barely recognize the story, and in particular Emma Woodhouse (the tall, blond, striking Romola Garai). For a start, the novel is stretched to fill out three episodes (continuing next Sunday) and thus seems long-winded and a tad far from the pithiness of Austen's text. Emma, as expected, spends all her time matchmaking others, but neglects her own romantic longings. In the novel, this makes for a rather prickly Emma, but here she's jolly pleased with everything. Jonny Lee Miller stands around being the rather obviously handsome and charming Mr. Knightley. Michael Gambon is excellent as the fussy, fretting old Mr. Woodhouse. But he can probably do this kind of role in his sleep. It drags, but the frocks are gorgeous. Probably much prettier than at the SAG Awards.