Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Big Hits, Broken Dreams
Saturday, CNN, 8 p.m.
Welcome to the dark side of Friday Night Lights. In this documentary, CNN medical correspondent and practising neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta examines the devastating impact of sports-related concussions in high-school and college sports. The report's sharpest focus is put on the case of Jaquan Waller, a high-school football player in Greenville, N.C., who sustained multiple concussions and died on the sidelines during a game. He was 16. Using the same deliberate manner he employs to deconstruct complex medical issues on CNN, Gupta explains the relatively new phenomenon of "second impact syndrome," which involves a fatal swelling of the brain that occurs before a first concussion injury fully heals. He also talks to parents, coaches and medical experts trying to change the rules that seemingly foster head injuries. Although the report focuses exclusively on football – which is practically a religion in America – it's recommended viewing for Canadian hockey fans anxiously awaiting Sidney Crosby's return.
The Amazing Race
Sunday, CBS, CTV, 8 p.m.
Time to start globe-trekking on Sunday nights again. Back for its 20th edition, The Amazing Race is the reality show watched by people who normally abhor reality-TV. And by now the appeal seems fairly obvious: Viewers can experience exotic destinations all over the world – the new season breezes through Italy, Germany, Tanzania and, for the first time, Paraguay and Azerbaijan – without ever having to bother with the annoyances of air travel, customs agents, currency exchange and all those dang foreigners speaking their crazy languages. Even better, we get to watch other people suffer through the nightmares of international travel. Still hosted by the affable Phil Keoghan, the show's new season kicks off in Santa Barbara, Calif., and introduces the 11 two-person teams, which include the usual contingent of married couples, brothers and sisters and one set of twins, with each pair vying for the $1-million grand prize. In short order, everyone is whisked off to Argentina, where their first challenge requires the teams to skydive from an airplane soaring at 10,000 feet. No time to send postcards home on this journey.
Sunday, NBC, 9 p.m.
Donald Trump will never realize his dream of becoming the American president, but he's a pretty fair ringmaster of this popular reality-TV circus. The Apprentice began as the search for the next great entrepreneur, but after a few seasons Trump shrewdly switched the format to focus on semi-famous people competing in business challenges toward the goal of a $250,000 bounty – which goes to charity, of course. For the 12th edition, the contestant contingent has been bumped to 18 from 16 and, egad, what a range of celebrity odds and ends. Among them, American Idol finalist Clay Aiken, ex-talk-show host Arsenio Hall, faded pop princess Debbie Gibson, bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno and George Takei, who played Sulu on the original Star Trek. In the opener, the group is split into two teams and told to create sandwiches and sell them at a New York deli. As in the past, each episode builds to the ominous boardroom sequence, wherein The Donald gets to bark, "You're fired!" at some unlucky participant. You just know that's his favourite part.
Sunday, ABC, CTV, 10 p.m.
If you've been following this period-piece drama about flight attendants navigating love, life and the friendly skies, circa 1963, buckle up for the final flight. Pan Am soared out of the gates to huge ratings last September, but the show has since lost more than two-thirds of its viewing audience, which means the odds of ABC sanctioning a second season are about as likely as airlines allowing people to start smoking on planes again. And the show's demise is a shame, really, since the story's primary fly girls, headed by Cristina Ricci as the plucky purser Maggie, were richly written characters and the storyline, like Mad Men, was set during one of the most interesting periods in recent U.S. history. In the final chapter, Maggie is pushed into a life-threatening situation by the bad-boy pilot Broyles, Colette (Karine Vanasse) finds love with a foreign prince, Laura (Margot Robbie) is drawn into an espionage ring and Amanda (Ashley Greene) frets that her fiancé will bolt from their pending nuptials. After viewing, please return your seats to an upright position.
All times Eastern. Check local listings.
John Doyle returns on Monday.