Easter, then, or whatever it is you are celebrating on the religious or the secular side of things. What happens is your own business - incessant gardening, spring cleaning, sitting around getting lacquered or going to church. If you're interested in horror, you don't have to search for a Hollywood movie. Just watch W5 (Saturday, CTV, 7 p.m.) which has a memorable story about a Canada Revenue Agency audit of a small business that went horribly awry. What happens when the taxman gets it wrong? You'll have nightmares. An alternative is the Canadian spelling championship, Canspell 2010 (Saturday, Global, 8 p.m.) as 21 cute and enthusiastic kids compete and make you wonder about your own competency in spelling. On the main menu is a droll old-school thriller, a famous epic remade for TV and a feel-good reality thing with a glamorous helper. All tasty treats, trust me.
Poodle Springs (Saturday, HBO Canada, 8 p.m.)
This is a rare gem. Made for HBO in 1998, it's a film version of Raymond Chandler's final, unfinished novel featuring private eye Philip Marlowe. The book was finished by Robert B. Parker, the adaptation was done by playwright Tom Stoppard and the director is Bob Rafelson. James Caan plays Marlowe with ease but this is an older, tired Marlowe - he's at the end of his working life and the world has changed. (Stoppard moved the setting from the 1950s to 1963.) He's also newly married and met his wife (Dina Meyer) on vacation. She's much younger and ready for the 1960's. He isn't. The movie is all tricky plotting and style - the dialogue, the clothes and the attitude are wickedly sharp. Of course, there's a corpse and Marlowe gets beaten up several times. What happens makes no sense, but it's not meant to - this is an homage to Chandler, a riff on the movies made of his earlier work ( The Big Sleep, Lady In The Lake), and the emphasis is on the gap between Marlowe's golden years and the America that came after that.
Ben Hur (Sunday, CBC 8 p.m.)
As sword-and-sandal epics go, Ben-Hur is the biggest. Director William Wyler's extravagant 1959 movie version is famous for its grand scale and the chariot race. It was of its time - pompous and melodramatic. Remaking it as a TV miniseries (it's in two parts, continuing next Sunday) seems a daunting task and this version is lavish but often ludicrous. An international co-production (between companies from Canada, Spain, Morocco, Germany and the United States), it comes across as a hoity-toity Brit drama. Almost everyone talks as if they've just graduated from a very, very posh English school. This is especially true of Joseph Morgan, who plays central character Judah Ben-Hur. And it's a tad off-putting, even if, as is clear, the Roman occupation of Jerusalem is used for unsubtle analogies to various occupations today. Anyway, stuff happens - Judah Ben-Hur is wrongly accused of being a bad fella and it takes years for him to clear his name and rescue his family from shame. It isn't what his mom (Alex Kingston) has in mind when she burbles about his "journey to manhood." Canadian Kristen Holden-Ried ( The Tudors) has considerable manly presence as Gaius, and Kristin Kreuk (from Smallville) looks very comely as Tirzah. One thing leads to another over many years, scores are settled, and the chariot race takes place in the second instalment.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Sunday, ABC, CITY-TV, 8 p.m.)
This two-hour special edition of the show features a) the largest home ever built on the series, b) the most deserving family ever to get help , and c) a celebrity helper along for the ride. Texas couple Larry and Melissa Beach had been living in a trailer with 13 children since Hurricane Ike destroyed their home. The couple has fostered dozens of children over the years, many with disabilities. Along comes Ty Pennington and almost 4,000 volunteers to help build a home the family needs. Along with the volunteers is actress Jessica Alba, who wears a hard hat and certainly seems to be wielding a paint roller. While the Beach family vacations at Disney World, the army of helpers constructs an eight-bedroom, handicapped-accessible, 5,700-square-foot home. There is probably a tad too much emphasis on Alba's presence, but the show is determined to a) announce itself as a worthwhile endeavour, and b) tug at your heartstrings.