“Face Off,” “American Weed,” “The 84th Annual Academy Awards”


 “Face Off”
Wednesday 10pm, Syfy
Remember back in the day when shows like “Project Runway” and “Top Chef” would amaze you every week with the creativity and ingenuity of the contestants? Those old dogs occasionally find some new tricks, but for the most part it’s all gotten a bit rote. This fairly new reality competition ­­—now nearing the halfway mark of Season 2—is practically bursting with crap I’ve never seen before. “Face Off” is all about finding the next great special-effects make-up artist. So each week you’ll see the contestants cook up new prosthetics, molds, or elaborate body-paint applications from scratch, and some of the work is very impressive. Challenges so far this season have tasked the artists with reimagining the characters from The Wizard of Oz, creating unique phobia-based movie monsters, and manufacturing elaborate plant-animal hybrids. It’s pretty cool, even if the editing is a bit clumsy.

“American Weed”
Wednesday 10pm, National Geographic Channel
It’s not a hot-button issue right now—let’s be honest, the country has bigger things to worry about—but the legal-marijuana movement has prompted some interesting debates in the states in which it has been accepted. This new documentary series follows several elements involved with the medical-marijuana trade in Fort Collins, Colorado. The main focus is on the Stanley family, which runs a marijuana dispensary and is working to maintain its cannabis crop and fight off a wave of anti-marijuana sentiment. The other is on the local police department, which continues to bust people growing marijuana illegally, even though they claim to be licensed dealers.

“The 84th Academy Awards”
Sunday 7pm, ABC
I consider 2011 a pretty crappy year for movies. Any body of work that culminates with a 1 in 5 chance of Jonah Hill going home with an Oscar is…grim. That said, there were some fine films last year, and this edition of the Academy Awards has some interesting stories of its own. Namely, the departure of original show host Eddie Murphy and show producer Brett Ratner after Ratner—ever the charmer—used a gay slur. As anyone who has ever sat through one of Ratner’s films (or anything by Murphy in the past decade) can attest, this is not a huge loss. So returning to host duties for a ninth time will be Billy Crystal, who was always very good at the job back in the ’90s. And if nothing else, we’ll always have Meryl Streep.