There's a lot of show biz on TV this weekend. That doesn't mean that there's a lot of fun to be had unless you're one of those people who is awed by celebrities and inside information about movies and TV. But to truly enjoy the menu this weekend, you have to begin with a skeptical, satiric attitude. Fortunately, things kick off with a tailor-made satire about TV itself.
Made in Canada (CBC, 9:30 p.m.) ends its run tonight. It's all over for Pyramid Productions, the fictional Canadian TV production company that Rick Mercer and Gerald Lunz have used to mock television in general.
The series started as an insanely dark satire a few years ago and eventually developed into a sitcom of sorts that was really about office politics in any company.
Most people who work in Canadian television have enjoyed Made in Canada's mockery of the rinky-dink racket that comprises much of the industry here. They believe they've seen real stories and scandals from the industry, but many of the outrageous incidents on Made in Canada have not been literally adapted from scandalous behaviour at the big Canadian companies.
They have been twisted, vague versions of real stories. Besides, nobody would believe that stuff, even on a satiric show.
Tonight, Alan Roy (Peter Keleghan) sells Pyramid to an avuncular media mogul, played by Gordon Pinsent.
This guy's empire is based on cows and dairy products. At one point, he tells Richard (Mercer), "I like cows and I like cable subscribers. In that order." Anyway, a lot of the tomfoolery in this final episode is devoted to the shenanigans that inevitably occur after a takeover -- tricky office politics and bad behaviour. Richard's summary of what happens to the main characters in the years after the takeover is the best bit about the TV business. It's the very funny and believable bit.
Revealed: Jim Carrey (Saturday, Star!, 10:30 p.m.) starts with this statement from host Jules Asner: "As you might expect, an hour with Jim Carrey leaves you in stitches." I found this interesting because I once spent more than hour with Carrey and it wasn't funny at all. At the time, he was performing and writing for the show In Living Color. I had lunch with him at a Toronto hotel. It was supposed to be an interview but I never actually wrote it because he didn't say anything that conformed to an interview. Accompanied by a young writer for the show, he indulged in a tedious mind game of non-answers, a feigned ignorance of anything to do with In Living Color and a general insistence on making things as difficult as possible for the interviewer and his sidekick. Maybe he was having a bad day, but he revealed himself as one strange, manipulative person.
Here we get the official version of his life so far. The legends are trotted out. Part of his adolescence is called "his time as a homeless teenager." That's the part about the Carrey family living in a camper van. This might be an aspect of Carrey's past that makes him deeply angry -- a time when the family all worked in a factory in Scarborough, Ont., and lived in a van. There was real poverty, but Carrey is such a mercurial character that it is impossible to know how he truly feels about it all.
This program is structured as an inspirational story, but in the end it's just unnerving. Certainly, Carrey entered a show-biz stratosphere with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but there's something very, very strange and unsettled about this man. With all the outrageous mugging for the camera -- any camera -- and the impulse to constantly indulge in infantile jokes, he doesn't seem very happy at all or very funny.
Page to Screen (Sunday, Bravo!, 4 p.m.) is a new 11-part series, which attempts to explain how various books have been adapted for the screen. The first program deals with the mammoth task of adapting J. .R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is occasionally interesting but far from truly informative. Host Peter Gallagher and others involved take the view that any novel is mere fodder for filmmaking. You won't learn much practical information here about storytelling technique. But you will get a lot of excitable talk about the glory of Peter Jackson's screen version of Tolkien.
MuchMusic Video Awards (Sunday, MuchMusic, 9 p.m.) is a non-stop celebration of all that is pop music and the MuchMusic channel itself. As everybody knows by now, this isn't an awards show with twerps sitting in a theatre and going to the stage to make silly speeches. This one sprawls all over the building that houses MuchMusic and the street outside. It's a party with musicians, select media types and, as far as I can figure, a handful of real people. The performers this year include Avril Lavigne, Ashanti, Our Lady Peace, Michelle Branch and Sean Paul. Nobody ever remembers who won an award.
P.O.V.: Flag Wars (Sunday, PBS, 10 p.m.) is one the few programs this weekend that isn't about some aspect of show biz. A strong opening to this season of P.O.V. (Point of View), it's about the tangled emotions that develop in the town of Columbus, Ohio, when a section of the rundown city gradually becomes gentrified. Black families find themselves living side by side with gay couples. On the surface, it's the sort of story that could happen in any big city. The sprawling old homes in the centre of town have become the place where black families can afford to live, but real-estate agents see the old homes as a gold mine. Gay couples who want to indulge in fixing up the old properties are attracted to the area, and soon, neighbours are living in an uneasy environment. Here, filmmaker Linda Goode Bryant sees the situation as ironic -- both blacks and gays are marginalized in the United States and in this circumstance they cannot reconcile their differences. In many ways, however, this is a very American story. It's about tensions just beneath the surface of urban American life.
Dates and times may vary across the country. Please check local listings or visit http://www.globeandmail.com/tv