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Rascal Flatts (KATHERINE BOMBOY/Katherine Bomboy / ABC)
Rascal Flatts (KATHERINE BOMBOY/Katherine Bomboy / ABC)

John Doyle: Weekend TV

Country music, polygamy and a look at the fifties Add to ...

Rascal Flatts: Nothing Like This

Saturday, ABC, 9 p.m.

On a night with many repeats, old movies and sports, this is worth a look - especially for those interested in non-Hollywood U.S. pop culture. Rascal Flatts is a country-music phenomenon, having sold CDs by the truckloads and generated tens of millions of dollars in touring. An unusually bland country act, the band does a lot of songs about cars ("Life throws you curves, but you learn to swerve" is a lyric in one song), including a cover of Tom Cochrane's Life Is a Highway. They also do a lot of deeply sentimental songs about women-who-got-away. The one thing they don't do is songs about critters, which immediately puts them outside the true country tradition. This special, a concert performed in Minnesota, includes a video thing they did with Justin Bieber, if that's your bag. Rascal Flatts's bag is drawing as many age groups as possible to their corny, but toe-tapping oeuvre.

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie

Sunday CBC, 8 p.m.

Right now, with a big anniversary for The Nature of Things being celebrated by CBC, it's David Suzuki's world and we're living in it. This NFB special is built around a lecture that the 74 year-old Suzuki delivers and weaves in scenes from his life along with his thoughts about the major events - social, scientific, cultural, political - of his lifetime. His Japanese-Canadian heritage is here and, of course, the central message of his time as a public figure - the need for our society to rethink its relationship with the natural world. A good deal of what he says makes sense, in particular his views in how we distort our grasp of nature to suit our own agenda. Suzuki describes the lecture as "a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die." It's true that he has become a lightning rod for disagreement among Canadians but no matter what your thoughts on his views, his energy and humour are admirable.

Sister Wives

Sunday, TLC, 9 p.m.

They're back - polygamist dude Kody Brown, and his multiple wives and children. Last year, Brown and his family emerged on TLC as provocateurs on behalf of the polygamist life, with Kody announcing "Love should be multiplied, not divided." Even before the first show aired, he was under police investigation in Utah for a possible charge of felony bigamy, an event that is covered in these new episodes about Brown's family. The initial batch of episodes drew more than two million viewers to TLC but it's possible that the novelty has worn off. Many found Brown to be a repulsive figure, even as the show generated some serious discussion in the U.S. about polygamy challenging traditional views on marriage. What's interesting here is how Brown clearly loves the media spotlight and how some of his kids are clearly, terribly disturbed by the possibility that their father might be going to jail.

The Fifties

Sunday, CPAC, 9 p.m.

Superb, intelligent television here. This nine-part series is a sold investigation of Canada in the 1950s, covering every aspect of life and culture in the country then. It's neither nostalgia nor a disparagement of the times. It opens this week with a program about "The Young" and starts with footage of Guy Lombardo who, we're told, dismissed rock 'n' roll as a passing fad. His TV show was cancelled soon after. We get loads of information about how much of Canada's population was young, and what that meant for the times and the future. While the series is fairly traditional TV with many talking heads turning up to chat about their memories, much of the commentary is cogent and compelling. A woman tells a vivid story about skipping class in Ottawa to see Elvis Presley perform and one gets a true sense of what Elvis meant and represented. The archival footage and photographs are startlingly good and the picture painted is arresting. Host Holly Doan describes the series as "forensic journalism," which is apt.

Check local listings.

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