Watch this if: You fancy a dose of female power circa 1920s.
There’s no question who’s wearing the pants, both figuratively and sometimes literally, in this detective series from Shaftesbury, the makers of Murdoch Mysteries. The pleasure is to be found in the interactions among the series leads: Lauren Lee Smith as private detective Frankie, Chantel Riley as her partner Trudy, Rebecca Liddiard as morality cop Mary and Sharron Matthews as morgue attendant Flo. The second season begins with Frankie and her rascal of a mother Nora (Wendy Crewson), trying to unravel an antiquities scam at the Royal Ontario Museum. (CBC at 9 p.m., also on the CBC TV app and at cbc.ca/watch)
Watch this for: Just the beginning of a long, long goodbye to touring.
Don’t look now, but it’s another one of those farewells. And if nothing else, Sir Elton knows how to string these things out amid much-rhinestoned splendour — this two-night stop comes barely two weeks into a Farewell Yellow Brick Road series planned to extend over the next three years (which means, who knows, he may be back again, arena-filling pop being a never-say-never venture). So far, the visuals have been career-spanning and the baby grand is front and centre of the band, performing a setlist that’ll unfold like a radio tuned almost exclusively to the ’70s heyday — given all the hits, the only problem is figuring out which to play. (Tuesday and Wednesday, Scotiabank Arena, 40 Bay St., 8 p.m.)
Watch this if: You want to confront many different gradients of racism.
Shadeism, the discrimination between light and dark tones of skin, is the subject of a new creation from one of the biggest dancers and choreographers in Toronto, Esie Mensah. Known for working with Janelle Monae, Rihanna and Drake, Mensah has seen her theatre credits growing as well, with partnerships with the Shaw Festival, Luminato, Soulpepper Theatre and more. Shades channels the intergenerational trauma of shadeism, inspired by the experiences of Mensah as well as her fellow dancers, into a 75-minute piece of dance-theatre to provide healing to those familiar with its sting, and a valuable education to those who aren’t. (Thursday through Sunday, Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Ave., 8 p.m.)
King Khan & The Shrines
Watch this because: Amid a typically packed fall weekend of options, the soulful maharaja presides over the best party going.
In just its third year, this weekend-long Night Owl Festival has come of age in terms of overall quality, but psychedelia’s spacey, weed-friendly jams tend to be short of magnetic frontmen. Enter Arish Khan, the chubby-cheeked Montreal native who has worn many hats and gold lamé suits in his two-decade career, and is no stranger to local stages (Mark Sultan, his King Khan & BBQ Show partner, is at the Monarch Saturday, so perhaps he’ll drop by there too). His eight-piece Shrines go horn-heavy with Khan a charismatic, anarchic presence; bonus points, too, for droll Aussie drawler Gabriella Cohen down the bill. (Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., doors 8 p.m.)
The Anthropocene Project
See this if: You want to see humanity’s impact on the environment up close.
According to scientists, the world has moved on from the Holocene to the Anthropocene — the period of geological change brought about by human impact. And documenting this transition is photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier with their collective, Anthropocene Project. The AGO is hosting a major exhibition from that collective, alongside the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, featuring augmented-reality pieces, virtual-reality experiences, and powerfully high-res video and photography installations. To avoid mass feelings of guilt, maybe don’t drive to see this exhibition. (Friday through Jan. 6, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W.)
Sharon, Bram & Friends
Watch this if: You want to say goodbye to a beloved childhood team.
It has been 40 years since the elephant-loving, Skinnamarink-creating trio Sharon, Lois and Bram first performed in Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre in 1978. This week, Sharon Hampson and Bramwell Morrison return (sadly, without Lois Ada Lilienstein, who died in 2015) to the theatre for a limited run of a new farewell tour concert. Before the run officially begins on September 29th, the iconic pair are also hosting a fundraiser for the theatre on September 28 for a chance to finally say “I love you” back in person. (Friday through Oct. 3, Young People’s Theatre, 165 Front St. E., 7 p.m.)
Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival
Watch this if: You love watching things go fast.
Thanks to cult classics like The Wild One and Easy Rider, motorcyclists have long had a pretty gnarly reputation when it came to the kind you’d see on movie screens. Now in its second year, the Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival aims to upend the clichés by presenting less unsavoury views of folks who like going really fast, like the sidecar-race competitors in 3 Wheeling, a new documentary shot behind the scenes and on the track at the Isle of Man TT. It screens in the first of the TMFF’s four action-packed, muffler-optional programs of docs and shorts this weekend. You’d best bring your helmet just to be safe. (Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Ave., 6:45 p.m.)
The Fruit Machine
Watch this if: You need a reminder not to take LGBTQ rights for granted.
It started with the defection of Russian Igor Gouzenko in 1945 and ramped up during the Cold War: an RCMP effort to root out anyone in the military or civil service who might have secrets that could theoretically make them prey to Communist spies. It soon became a homosexual witch hunt as thousands of gay men and women were interrogated, threatened and forced out of the public service — even after Canada decriminalized homosexuality in 1969. The “fruit machine” of the title was a device that could supposedly identify gay men by measuring their pupils when they looked at gay pornography. Besides the TV debut of this doc by Sarah Fodey there will be a special screening Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. (TVO at 9 p.m., repeats Sept. 30 at 10 and Oct. 3 at 9)
Bad Reputation: A Joan Jett Documentary
Watch this if: You don’t know the whole story about one tough rocker.
Has there ever been a rocker who’s as consistently, perpetually cool as Joan Jett? Though the answer seems indisputable, anyone who needs further proof needs to see this recent Sundance selection, which makes its Toronto debut in the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema’s This Film Should Be Played Loud music-flick program this weekend. Tracing the leather-clad one’s history from her tumultuous days in fabled ’70s teen-grrl band the Runaways to her stardom in the ‘80s to the present day, Kevin Kerslake’s doc celebrates her achievements as a bad-assed trailblazer for women in rock via archival footage and interviews with Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and many more admirers. (Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 9 p.m.)