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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: Oct. 16

A select viewing guide for Tuesday, Oct. 16

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COMEDY: Raising Hope (Fox, Citytv, 8 p.m.) Surely it’s no coincidence this sophomore sitcom is pulling in its best ratings ever at the same time the viewing public has gone plumb crazy for redneck reality fare like TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and A&E’s Duck Dynasty. The show’s fictional premise works outward from the blue-collar existence of lovable single dad Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff), who is simply trying to raise his baby daughter Hope after her mother receives the death penalty for killing her previous boyfriends. Jimmy gets some help from his parents Burt (Garret Dillahunt) and Virginia, but they’re usually wrapped up in their own problems. Still, nobody can ever cast aspersions on Chance family bonding: Tonight, the entire clan hatches an elaborate scheme to spring Jimmy’s grandmother Maw-Maw (Cloris Leachman) from a state-run nursing home, even though the old gal is being treated well and loves the place. Because that’s what families do, right?

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REALITY: The Big Decision (CBC, 9 p.m.) When times are hard and your business is in the dumps, who you gonna call? Some foundering Canadian companies put the call in to Dragon’s Den fixtures Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving, the magnanimous hosts of this homegrown series back tonight for a second six-episode season. Each episode finds Treliving or Dickinson going into the books and behind the scenes of two struggling businesses, one of which will receive desperately needed financial assistance. In tonight’s opener, Jim is in Mississauga, Ontario, to find out why a family-based business selling a unique brand of concrete is on its last legs. Next stop: Belle River, Ontario, where he visits a business-supply outlet saddled with a lousy store location. In this economy, paper clips are a privilege, not a right.

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REALITY: Pawn Stars (History, 9 p.m.) Every day is a new adventure at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. Midway through its sixth season, the show remains a smart lesson in modern economics as proprietor Rick Harrison offers the lowest price possible for various collectibles and objets d’art to people who naturally think their items are worth top dollar. In tonight’s first new episode, Harrison haggles with a customer attempting to hock a twenties-era Charles Lindbergh doll and another man trying to sell a harmonica that once belonged to Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler. In the second show, he provides a reality check to a man looking to sell a guitar signed by the sixties rock group Crosby, Stills & Nash (but not Young). Teach your children well.

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REALITY: Extreme Cheapskates (TLC, 10 p.m.) Everyone is watching their money in this tough economy, but some people take penny-pinching to a bold new level. Back tonight for a second season, this series profiles individuals who go to remarkable lengths to save money for themselves and their families. Tonight’s first episode introduces viewers to Kate, who lives in Manhattan but keeps down costs by eating food recovered from dumpsters behind five-star restaurants. In the second show, we meet Oakland native Terence, who squeezes every last penny. His family lives in a furniture-less house and his kids receive a minuscule allowance. And Terence’s favourite pastime: Scouring the streets in search of dropped change!

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MOVIE: Pete n’ Tillie (Vision, midnight) Although Carol Burnett is best known for her comedy roles and iconic seventies TV variety program, she’s a solid dramatic actress given the right role. Burnett is achingly believable in this 1972 drama as the shy and religious spinster Tillie, whose life changes when she meets the boisterous bachelor Pete (Walter Matthau) at a party. The odd couple court and eventually marry, which does nothing to deter Pete’s womanizing ways, even after Tillie gives birth to their son. The marriage plods along until their son is diagnosed with a fatal illness, forcing his parents to grow up in a hurry. Veteran character actor Rene Auberjonois is memorable as Tillie’s supportive gay pal.

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