Dennis Miller Millennium Special
Comedy, 9 p.m. People either love or
hate Dennis Miller. It's just that simple.
The former Saturday Night Live comic turned talk-show host has been all over the map this past year. Beside his Emmy-winning HBO talk show, he was also in the limelight this season when he became an unlikely commentator for ABC's Monday Night Football (where his obtuse comments were over the heads of most pigskin fans, but at least he's trying). In this special, however, Miller is more in his element, as he specifically skewers the
big news stories of the past year
-- with Bush and Gore being the main targets
-- as well as events from throughout history. As always, Miller holds nothing back and delivers the jokes in his staccato, machine-gun style. And, as always, his language is saltier than a sailor's, particularly when he's joined by Norm Macdonald, another comic not known for holding back his opinions. In between Miller's wisecracks, though, there's also quite often a good deal of truth, so pay attention.
Kavanagh, Q.C. Marathon
TVO, 8 p.m. So it's New Year's Eve and, if you're smart, you'll be staying home for the evening. (As Jackie Gleason once said, "New Year's Eve is for amateurs.") There are, of course, a raft of live, count-down style programs from all points of the globe -- including Toronto, New York, Miami and other locales. Or, if you want something a bit different, TVO is running a marathon of Kavanagh, Q.C., the lively and critically-acclaimed British series starring John Thaw as the crusty barrister. The lineup is basically the entire third season of the series. The best episode is the first one, Mute of Malice, in which Kavanagh defends an army chaplain who, after being charged with killing his own brother, is rendered mute. In some ways, Kavanagh is like a Brit version of Perry Mason: He almost never loses a case. Either way, it's a much more civilized way to spend New Year's Eve, rather than watching a bunch of yahoos jumping and screaming in Times Square. It was a rough year. Let's put it behind us.
Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Gala
CBC, 8 p.m. This is the ninth annual year for this fete, which honours Canadian performers in all fields of the arts. This year's event, held at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, is hosted by actor Kenneth Welsh and Michaelle Jean and involves a more
stellar than usual lineup.
There are extended tributes to renowned Canadians like Christopher Plummer, singer Molly Johnson and tenor Michael Schade, as well as a performance by the world-famous circus troupe Cirque de Soleil. But the real highlight comes when they pay homage to the one and only Stompin' Tom Connors. The lanky Connors has been a Canadian legend for more than three decades, and he's still going strong today. On the show, he's introduced by former hockey star Ken Dryden, which is quite appropriate, given that Conners' ditty The Hockey Song, is a mainstay at most rinks across this country. A worthy tribute to a deserving Canadian.
The Nature of Things
CBC, 9 p.m. OK, I admit it: I think David Suzuki is a national treasure. His series, The Nature of Things, has been informing Canadians on matters of science and nature for over 20 years. The show moves to a new timeslot tonight, with Lost Worlds -- Episode 4: The Andes. It's an in-depth examination of the Andes, the world's longest mountain chain that reaches from the tropics to Antarctica. The program utilizes spectacular footage of the Andes, and explains how its presence has affected virtually every lifeform in its path. It's a typical Suzuki episode, in which he takes an incredibly complex subject and reduces it to simple, understandable terms. There are other notable episodes in the weeks to come: Amanda's Choice (Jan. 10) is about a teen who has early-onset Alzheimer's in her family and has to decide whether to get tested for it herself; and The Secret Life of the Crash Test Dummy (Jan. 17) is an amusing look at the creation of the dummy used to test the safety of vehicles. Long may this show run.
WTN, 9 p.m. This is a quirky little documentary that delves into a rarely-visited domain. It is filmed on the island of Samoa, where there are three officially recognized sexes: male, female and the fa'fafine. The third group, or fa'fafine, which most of us have never heard of before, is the title given by Samoans to young boys who are raised with a strong female influence and essentially grow up as females. Throughout history, the Samoans have openly accepted
the fa'fafines into their society. There's
even an annual beauty pageant, in which the fa'fafines compete to ascertain who is the most beautiful. This doc focuses on three of them -- named Cindy, Blondie and Aunty Tania -- who are from different generations. It follows them on their day-to-day lives, and has them talking about the tribulations of growing up as an amalgam of two sexes. What's amazing about the film is how readily the Samoans have accepted the fa'fafines into their society. It's a fascinating documentary, even if only viewed as an anthropological study.
Beggars and Choosers
Bravo!, 11 p.m. This show, which launched on Showtime in the U.S. to rave acclaim last year, is set in the world of network television. As such, virtually all the storylines involve backstabbing, lying and duplicitous network weasels. In other words, it's quite close to reality. It's actually a decent little ensemble-style show, which is a not as harsh as, say, The Larry Sanders Show, but just as absorbing. For those not overly familiar with the cast of characters, the second season opens with network head Rob Malone (Brian Kerwin) fending off the threat of a hostile takeover, while at the same time trying to pay some much-
needed attention to his neglected wife Cecile (Isabella Hoffman). There's also the arrival of a snippy British TV executive, named Nigel Gibney (Justin Carroll), who has everyone looking over their shoulders, and a new intern named Kelly (Christina Hendricks) who has all the males jumping through hoops. Basically, it's a soap opera that just happens to be set in the world of TV. Watch it once, and you'll be hooked.