The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Ian Cuthbertson

Su­per­tramp: Live in Paris ’ 79

Satur­day, 8.30pm, Stu­dio

English band Su­per­tramp came to in­ter­na­tional promi­nence in 1974 with its third al­bum, Crime of the Cen­tury. By 1979, sixth al­bum Break­fast in Amer­ica had been launched and the band un­der­took a gru­elling 10-month world tour to pro­mote the new record. Per­haps as a re­sult, Break­fast in Amer­ica be­came the big­gest sell­ing al­bum in the world that year. The tour be­gan in March in Boul­der, Colorado, and by Novem­ber Su­per­tramp had con­quered France. This concert film shows the band at its per­for­mance peak and bask­ing in the fren­zied ado­ra­tion of au­di­ences on a par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable night in Paris near the end of the tour. It’s pretty much a straight­for­ward filmed concert, though the band’s trade­mark back­ground videos are dis­played in full screen. Great tunes, great play­ing and horn play­ers in trousers that are far too tight. Baby boomer nos­tal­gia writ large.

Wildest Arc­tic

Sun­day, 6.30pm, An­i­mal Planet There is much to en­joy in this beau­ti­ful doc­u­men­tary about one of the cold­est, most in­hos­pitable places on earth. Lovers of nat­u­ral his­tory tele­vi­sion will find them­selves in fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory but the pro­gram is dis­tin­guished enough to con­tain many new an­gles on old in­for­ma­tion. Did you know that fe­male polar bears weigh­ing up to 500kg give birth to cubs that weigh just 600g? That male polar bears don’t hi­ber­nate, spend­ing months wan­der­ing alone in the freez­ing dark of win­ter? Early in the pro­gram a pod of bel­uga whales gets trapped be­neath the ice with just a small hole for the en­tire pod to breathe through. Starv­ing and weak­ened they make ex­cel­lent prey for hun­gry polar bears. The land­scape, filmed in win­ter twi­light and glar­ing day­light, seems al­most im­pos­si­bly beau­ti­ful. Highly rec­om­mended.


Mon­day, 8.30pm, Dis­cov­ery The de­but of the eighth sea­son for the guys who get to blow stuff up for a liv­ing. Ah, I’ve missed Adam Sav­age and Jamie Hyne­man: they re­mind me so much of kids I liked at pri­mary school. And there was a time, not so long ago, when Myth­busters was all over payTV like a rash, then it seemed to van­ish. Hap­pily, ab­sence makes the heart grow fonder, and our mates are up to their old tricks. Tonight the topic is things that may cause an oth­er­wise care­ful driver to swerve off the straight and nar­row, such as shoes with spike heels or ver­tig­i­nous plat­forms. Sav­age and Hyne­man take one for the team by putting on fancy shoes and head­ing for a stunt-driv­ing track. The blokes also ex­plore the no­tion that it’s not a great idea to drive when you are des­per­ate to take a pee. It has noth­ing to do with al­co­hol — which is clearly a no-no when driv­ing — but the ef­fect a burst­ing blad­der has on con­cen­tra­tion. To show how it works, Adam has a con­test with him­self. In one cor­ner is a brain ad­dled with booze; in the other a blad­der filled to en­durance point and be­yond.

Inside Men

Sun­day, 8.40pm, UKTV Ready for some tip-top British crime? This four-part minis­eries, writ­ten by Tony Bas­gal­lop ( Sirens, Wor­ried About the Boy, Ho­tel Baby­lon), should fit the bill. It be­gins with a bru­tal armed rob­bery at a count­ing house (places ex­ist with the sole pur­pose of count­ing money?) in Bris­tol. The voiceover by ab­ducted count­ing house worker John (Steven Mack­in­tosh) as he moves about the build­ing un­der duress to let the rob­bers in is chill­ing. The ac­tual rob­bery is not just con­vinc­ing, it’s ter­ri­fy­ing. Af­ter about 10 ex­cru­ci­at­ingly nail-bit­ing min­utes the ten­sion eases off a bit as we flash back nine months to see who these peo­ple are and what mo­ti­vated the rob­bers to com­mit the crime. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart, or for those who can­not bear graphic de­pic­tions of hor­ren­dous in­juries in­flicted by psychopaths in masks.

Flipped Off

Tues­day, 9.30pm, Life­Style Home Fans of Sur­vivor will likely re­mem­ber for­mer wrestler turned oil ser­vices com­pany owner Rus­sell Hantz as one of the show’s most an­noy­ingly suc­cess­ful vil­lains. In Flipped Off, Hantz, his brother Shawn and real es­tate agent Kris­ten Bre­de­hoeft use all the strength, rat cun­ning and in­ge­nu­ity they can muster be­tween them to flip houses — that is, to do up dumps and sell them fast. It’s hardly a new idea — even rap­per Vanilla Ice has a ver­sion of the for­mat called The Vanilla Ice Project. While Rus­sell is cred­ited as the Boss in the high- en­ergy ti­tle se­quence, no­body seems to have told Shawn, who is cred­ited merely as the Brother. They fight a lot, as broth­ers, es­pe­cially broth­ers in re­al­ity TV shows, are wont to do. But Bre­de­hoeft (the Bro­ker) is no slouch in the con­flict depart­ment ei­ther. ‘‘ Don’t kiss his ass,’’ Shawn yells at her tonight. ‘‘ I’ll kiss any­one’s ass I like,’’ she re­torts. It’s all a bit bo­gus and ma­nip­u­la­tive but, as with Sur­vivor, if you are pre­pared to go along with the var­i­ous con­ceits and ig­nore the ob­vi­ous ma­nip­u­la­tions, it’s quite a ride. Tonight the team is in Hous­ton, Texas. Af­ter some te­dious three-way bitch fights about whether they should ac­quire a stinky dump are re­solved, the sweaty, heav­ily mus­cled broth­ers go about a de­mo­li­tion job with sledge­ham­mers. Shawn hes­i­tates when the time comes to smash a gi­ant mir­ror. He thinks it will bring him seven years of bad luck. Rus­sell says he is an idiot and that he makes his own luck. A smash­ing event fol­lows.

Unmasked: Treacher Collins Syn­drome

Tues­day, 9.30pm, Bio Have you ever no­ticed how a train con­duc­tor will slam the doors and move the train out when he sees a bloke run for the car­riage, yet grind to a screech­ing halt for a pretty girl? How hand­some men tend to get ahead faster than shmos who are smarter? Ac­cord­ing to this doc­u­men­tary, good-look­ing peo­ple have more money, more friends and are like­lier to be helped by strangers in an emer­gency. So what does that mean for some­one born at the other end of the spec­trum? This doc­u­men­tary clev­erly cap­tures the plight of un­con­ven­tional-- look­ing peo­ple who suf­fer from Treacher Collins syn­drome, a dis­fig­ur­ing con­di­tion of the face seen in just one in 10,000 births. TCS is an equal op­por­tu­nity ail­ment — it does not dis­crim­i­nate by race or sex. It can be in­her­ited or oc­cur ran­domly. The clas­sic fea­tures are an un­der­de­vel­oped jaw, miss­ing cheek­bones, down­ward-slant­ing eyes and badly formed or miss­ing ears. The syn­drome also ranges from mild to se­vere in dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­als. The re­ac­tions to chil­dren and adults with this con­di­tion vary from cu­ri­ous star­ing to open dis­trust, teas­ing and some­times bla­tant hos­til­ity. But the suf­fer­ers here are not in­ter­ested in play­ing the vic­tim. A fas­ci­nat­ing ex­cur­sion into how su­per­fi­cial we can be in the way we judge by ap­pear­ances.

Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion

Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Life­Style Wel­come to sea­son 14 of this pro­gram in which real es­tate pro­fes­sion­als Kirstie All­sopp and Phil Spencer scour the English mar­ket to match fussy buy­ers with per­fect homes. Tonight our hosts are in Liver­pool and, in a nice touch, the al­ready funky sound­track fades into a solid rock struc­ture based on the chord changes of the Bea­tles’ I Saw Her Stand­ing There. Not the real thing, of course, be­cause that would have cost money, and if Kirstie and Phil are about any­thing it’s about keep­ing a tight rein on bud­gets. The mu­sic re­ally does en­gen­der a sense of place. I find all the muck­ing about with this house and that a bit te­dious. How­ever, al­most as a side ef­fect of this pro­gram, Liver­pool is now firmly on the list of places I’d re­ally like to visit.

One Car Too Far

Wed­nes­day, 9.30pm, Dis­cov­ery In this bizarre ad­ven­ture se­ries a car is dan­gled from a he­li­copter and flown to a re­mote cor­ner of South Amer­ica where it is dropped on to the frozen peak of a vol­cano. Then the stars of the show, for­mer British Spe­cial Forces sol­dier Gary Humphrey and Cal­i­for­nia car en­thu­si­ast Bill Wu, are dropped some­where in Chile with the chal­lenge of first find­ing the ve­hi­cle, then some­how driv­ing it back to civil­i­sa­tion. It’s like Star Trek for mo­torists as the two drive where no car has gone be­fore. It’s also a lit­tle bit Top Gear, a lit­tle bit Sur­vivor and a lit­tle bit Man Vs. Wild. Other than that it’s com­pletely orig­i­nal. Sur­pris­ingly en­gag­ing de­spite its ob­vi­ous mon­grel ori­gins.

Chas­ing UFOs

Fri­day, 8.30pm, Na­tional Ge­o­graphic I am a con­firmed sci-fi nut so this pro­gram makes me gig­gle, mostly be­cause it takes it­self so se­ri­ously. It has the kind of sound­track we hear in re­al­ity out­ings such as Race Around the World, all bom­bast and ten­sion strings as three UFO chasers race across Amer­ica in search of ab­ductees, sight­ings and cover-ups. The for­mula goes like this: take one be­liever (James Fox), one scep­tic (Ben McGee) and one un­de­cided per­son (Erin Ry­der), and get them to in­ves­ti­gate UFO phe­nom­ena to see if any­body changes their mind. The prob­lem with UFO sight­ings is that, de­spite kooks and ab­ductees by the truck­load, no one has ever man­aged to filch an alien cig­a­rette lighter, a probe or even show off natty alien surgery that would stand up as ev­i­dence. And that’s all from me for a few weeks. Stephen Match­ett, who cov­ers free-to-air TV this week, and other Re­view writ­ers will be fill­ing in here and in our on­line videos while I’m on leave. See you in Novem­ber.

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