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The Globe and Mail

Seven Days of Television: September 9 to September 15

A select viewing guide to the next seven days of television

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MONDAY SEPTEMBER 9 The Million Second Quiz (NBC, Citytv, 8 p.m.) Who’s up for a brand-new primetime obsession? Hosted by American Idol mainstay Ryan Seacrest, this new interactive gamer launches with major fanfare and a unique concept: Contestants are placed in a massive hourglass-shaped structure in midtown Manhattan, where they’re challenged to compete in a trivia challenge for one-million seconds (that’s 11 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds, by the way). Throughout the grueling mind-match marathon, viewers at home are invited to participate and the whole shooting match wraps up next Thursday (September 19) when the overall winner will take home the biggest prize in game-show history.

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TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 10 Moneyball (Global, 8 p.m.) The big draw at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, this acclaimed feature is not your typical baseball movie. Based on the bestseller by Michael Lewis, the story stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, a former big-leaguer who took the post of general manager for the Oakland Athletics. Since the team can’t afford to compete with bigger-market teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, Beane realizes he needs to some way to remain competitive in the majors. Enter Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an Ivy League economics whiz with a unique method of getting the most out of players deemed too old or untalented to play the game. Standing in their way: The team’s fusty manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). As with every role in his career, Pitt knocks it out of the park.

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WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 11 MasterChef (Fox, CTV, 9 p.m.) And then there were two. Following a long, hard season of burnt soufflés, bruised egos and surprise challenges, TV’s best cooking competition comes to a close in tonight’s fourth-season finale. The last two chefs standing: Affable Luca Manfe, an Italian emigre with a thick accent and a big heart and the humourless Natasha Crnjac, who has steamrolled over her competition with her haute cuisine expertise. In tonight’s closer, the two chefs will be tasked to conceptualize and prepare a three-course meal with the emphasis on originality. The winner will receive $250,000, a cookbook deal and possibly even a hug from overseer Gordon Ramsay.

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THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 12 The Secret World of Gold (CBC, 9 p.m.) Has there ever been a more enduring commodity than gold? Cherished for its permanence and prized for its beauty, gold has corrupted kings and dictated the rise and fall of entire civilizations over the last few thousand years. This sharp documentary from filmmaker Brian McKenna rewinds the history of the gleaming metal that to this day continues to be the measure of economic health. The film also provides an answer to the outrageous urban myth that almost all of the gold held by the Bank of Canada, Bank of England, U.S. Federal Reserve and Fort Knox does not really exist.

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FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 13 Undercover Boss (CBS, 8 p.m.) Now in its fourth season, this series based on a British TV concept continues to find to new ways to sneak in the bosses of major corporations among the rank and file of the companies they run. In tonight’s rebroadcast episode, Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon Inc., dons a blonde wig and a clueless attitude to go undercover in one of the micro-bakeries that supplies the sugary confections to the public. Everything is going swimmingly until one customer very nearly exposes the reality ruse.

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SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 14 MacGruber (MuchMusic, 10 p.m.) Remember the days when it seemed like every second Saturday Night Live sketch was turned into a feature film? Following in the vein of Wayne’s World, Coneheads, A Night at the Roxbury, this 2010 film stretches out the recurring SNL skit on MacGruber, which of course was a parody of the eighties TV series MacGyver, starring Richard Dean Anderson as a remarkably resourceful secret agent. SNL regular Will Forte resumes his portrayal of MacGruber, who in this spin has been in retirement since the death of his wife years before. The spy-guy gets back in the world-saving game, however, with the resurfacing of his old arch-enemy Dieter, played with malevolent glee by Val Kilmer.

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SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 15 Asteroids: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (CBC News Network, 8 p.m.) First broadcast on the British science series Horizon, this documentary focuses on the inescapable truth that there are literally millions of asteroids floating around in space, and it’s only a matter of time before one plummets to Earth. As shown in the film, an asteroid did in fact hit our planet in 2008, but it had the good grace to land in the Nubian Desert. As with most cautionary documentaries, the film deploys astounding CGI technology to show viewers how and why asteroids are created. And while most of the scientists concur that a really big asteroid – 900 kilometres wide or larger – will eventually strike Earth, that day is presumably at least a century away. Let’s hope.

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