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TV: Public Morals takes you back, Transparent moves everyone forward (Canada)

TV: Public Morals takes you back, Transparent moves everyone forward
 Writer, director and star of Public Morals Edward Burns (left) is seen with co-star Michael Rapaport. | Photograph by: Jeff Riedel , Montreal Gazette

Monday, Aug. 31

Big Blue Live (PBS and T+E, 8-9 p.m.)

This kickoff of a three-night live event brings together humpback whales, otters, great white sharks and marine scientists, though not in the same immediate space at the same time, fortunately. Actually, the sea creatures will be in the water at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California, which has experienced, it says here, an environmental rebirth. The experts will be on stools or some such. Over three nights, the special dives, if you will, into the progress that has been made and explores the wonders of shark migration and whale anatomy and some such. I think some of us will love this two or three tissues’ worth.

Chef in Your Ear (Food, 10-11 p.m.)

Where Big Blue Live sounds utterly blissful, this new food-competition series sounds insane. Top Canadian chefs compete to guide “clueless” cooks through the preparation of a complex, no doubt luscious dish — but the chefs have no hands-on access to the aforementioned clueless contestants. They guide the clueless from soundproof booths, through earpieces. If being called clueless doesn’t make these contestants launch their cleavers at the camera, they’re better than me.

Tuesday, Sept. 1

Public Morals (SuperChannel2, 10-11 p.m.)

Edward Burns (Saving Private Ryan, The Brothers McMullen) is the writer, director, producer and star of this 1960s NYC crime drama. Burns plays Terry Muldoon, a take-no-guff detective in the Public Morals Division of the NYPD. Co-stars include Michael Rapaport and Brian Dennehy. Spoiler-sensitive types take note: Avert your eyes on social media etc., because SuperChannel2 is airing episodes a week behind TNT in the States.

Wednesday, Sept. 2

Jeffrey Tambor, right, and Amy Landecker in Transparent.Transparent (Shomi, Season 1 streaming)

Perhaps you have heard of this series, even though it premièred in February 2014 on the U.S.-only Netflix challenger Amazon Prime. It garnered acclaim for its subject matter — 60-something transgendered Mort comes out to family as Maura — as well as for the performances, especially that of Jeffrey Tambor (The Larry Sanders Show). Nuanced, sensitive, muscular are a few adjectives that fit both the story and Tambor’s work. I burned quickly, greedily through the full season as soon as TV-streaming service Shomi opened its membership to all Canadians. My only regret is that I can’t watch it for the first time all over again. My sitcom-fed expectations were shown the door as a family of characters revealed themselves in every permutation of the word “transparent.” Gorgeous. Watch it now, even though Season 2 is not expected before December. The Emmys will be handed out Sept. 20 and Transparent has seven nominations, including for best series and for the acting work of Tambor and guest star Bradley Whitford.

Thursday, Sept. 3

Mistresses (CTV, 9-10 p.m.)

It’s the Season 3 finale, in which a job is offered, true feelings are realized and someone is tasked with finding out “if the real killer might be on the loose.” OK, I confess that I have never watched a second of this show — not that I’m judging — but I’m pretty sure I could find my footing as quickly as I do on Days of Our Lives, which I periodically dip into, just for the sport of seeing what rivalries are still thriving, who’s got an evil twin, who’s back from the dead, the usual. Speaking of which, my childhood fave soap turns 50 on Nov. 8.

Friday, Sept. 4

Mr. Robot (Showcase, 10-11 p.m.)

It’s a new “techno thriller” in which Elliot (Rami Malek, The Pacific) is a cybersecurity engineer who is tempted to the dark side by Christian Slater (Archer, My Own Worst Enemy). Smf, really, who could resist Slater’s hypnotic eyebrows? Slater wants to use Elliot’s powers for … well, it appears to be a sort of Robin Hood scenario, with the multinational CEOs getting the short end of the hacker stick. Ashley Madison has a cameo, playing Slater’s assistant. Yeah, just kidding about that last part. Or am I?

Saturday, Sept. 5

The Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions (AMC, 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.)

Let your mind drift back to 1999, when DVD extras were a thing of wonder, the Wachowskis were who exactly? and flat screens were something that made you date that guy with the … let’s just stop right there. It was back in the old days, when minds were blown by what would become the Matrix trilogy and not just because, in Neo the hacker, Keanu Reeves found the second-best role of his career (after Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure). There was much more, including rapturous awe of bullet-dodging special effects, excellent sunglasses and the line “There is no spoon.” Never mind the diminishing returns of the two sequels. Accept the offer made by Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus:

“You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Sunday, Sept. 6

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (HBO Canada, 9 p.m. and then streaming on Crave)

We finally get to see documentary in which Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) profiles eight former members of L. Ron Hubbard’s movement, including Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis.

Broadcast times are subject to change.

That’s it for me this week. Got a question? Spot an error? Find me, tell me. And as always, you would do well to check my daily Watchers picks on the Montreal Gazette’s smartphone app in the iTunes and PLAY stores. (It’s the blue one — the app, not the store.)

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