Quick bites Ian Cuth­bert­son on the best view­ing

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Ian Cuth­bert­son

Bondi Vet

Satur­day, 7.30pm, Ten This is such clever and en­dur­ing tele­vi­sion pos­ing as a sim­ple re­al­ity pro­gram. It fol­lows Chris Brown, an all-surf­ing, shar­ing and car­ing kind of vet who is also strik­ingly good-look­ing. Each week, Bondi Vet in­vites us to join Brown and his team of trusty co-work­ers as they treat wild and domestic an­i­mals. Take the first story tonight about a cheeky pair of Tas­ma­nian devil sib­lings, one of which was in­jured while play­ing. Brown ca­resses the an­i­mal for the cam­era and en­cour­ages the lit­tle devil to tell view­ers what hap­pened. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s one of hun­dreds of such mo­ments that take the pro­gram straight to the hearts of an­i­mal lovers of all ages. Just watch the devil’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to get at­tached to Brown by lodg­ing its teeth in the web­bing be­tween the vet’s thumb and fore­fin­ger, which he man­fully en­dures. Also tonight meet Gypsy, a six-month-old ger­man shep­herd puppy that seems ter­ri­fied of al­most ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially the cam­era. Gypsy has been re­gur­gi­tat­ing her food. The pup proves a most re­luc­tant pa­tient and will not sit still for ex­am­i­na­tions or swal­low test doses of food in the surgery. The next step is en­doscopy un­der anaes­thetic. And don’t get me started on the sweet­ness of a dol­phin that can’t stop kiss­ing Brown. Will what lies ahead test its af­fec­tion for him?

Kevin McCloud’s Man-Made Home

Sun­day, 7.30pm, ABC1 We’ve fol­lowed Kevin McCloud through end­less sea­sons of owner-builder projects ( Grand De­signs), to the streets of Mum­bai where he lived among the poor­est peo­ple in the world ( Slum­ming It ) and through his tra­vails as the ar­chi­tect of more liv­able pub­lic hous­ing ( Kevin’s Grand De­sign). Now McCloud is back with a new se­ries about build­ing a man cave — bet­ter still, a free­stand­ing man cave. As the man says, he has seen a lot of grand projects in his time but has al­ways dreamed of find­ing him­self a beau­ti­ful patch of wood­land. He wants to roll up his sleeves and build a place of his own, a lit­tle bolt­hole in which to es­cape from the mad­ness of the mod­ern world. McCloud will spend a year do­ing it, and film­ing it for our plea­sure. But here’s the rub: he is go­ing to build it with his own hands. There is only one rule: ev­ery­thing in the cabin has to come from the sur­round­ing wood­land and, if it doesn’t, it has to be made from some­one else’s rub­bish. Yes, he’s go­ing to re­cy­cle and re-pur­pose him­self a mag­nif­i­cent re­treat. Bully for him. I can’t help think­ing this would have been much more en­joy­able, though prob­a­bly not so dra­matic, if he had just al­lo­cated a bud­get and built the thing with the lat­est mod cons. But even with his green re­cy­cling cap flap­ping loudly in the breeze, McCloud is ter­rif­i­cally watch­able.

Great Or­mond Street

Sun­day, 8.30pm, ABC2 This won’t be to ev­ery­body’s taste be­cause it’s re­al­ity TV with true em­pha­sis on the real. Each episode vis­its a dif­fer­ent de­part­ment in the Great Or­mond Street Hospi­tal. Lo­cated in the Blooms­bury district of cen­tral Lon­don, the fa­cil­ity spe­cialises in the care of chil­dren. Un­like many hospi­tal-based pro­grams that seek to sen­sa­tion­alise the go­ings-on, there is a quiet dig­nity about Great Or­mond Street that com­pletely by­passes rat­ings fod­der such as the var­i­ous ver­sions of the One Born Ev­ery Minute fran­chise. In A Dif­fi­cult Line, the de­but of the six-episode sec­ond sea­son, we go to the on­col­ogy ward to fol­low the plight of chil­dren with some of the rarest and most com­plex can­cers imag­in­able. Par­ents are in a kind of sus­tained emo­tional agony and doc­tors face chal­leng­ing eth­i­cal de­ci­sions. ‘‘ It’s so un­der­stand­able that you are go­ing to do ev­ery­thing in your power to hunt down the last chance of cure,’’ says an on­col­o­gist. ‘‘ But where that be­comes a fu­tile ex­er­cise is a dif­fi­cult call, a dif­fi­cult line.’’

In­sight

Tues­day, 8.30pm, SBS One On this fo­rum dis­cus­sion pro­gram this week, host Jenny Brockie con­ducts a dis­arm­ingly frank dis­cus­sion about fe­male cir­cum­ci­sion. The two main speak­ers who share the stage with Brockie have had dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the pro­ce­dure. Uba, a So­ma­lia-born woman, went through it like all the other girls she knew, at age six. Fuam­bai, an an­thro­pol­o­gist who grew up in the US, de­cided to re­turn home to Sierra Leone to un­dergo the pro­ce­dure vol­un­tar­ily so she could bet­ter iden­tify with the women in her fam­ily. The preva­lence of fe­male cir­cum­ci­sion in Sierra Leone is es­ti­mated to be above 94 per cent. In So­ma­lia it is es­ti­mated to be more than 98 per cent. Un­like the large, mostly spec­ta­tor-filled and oc­ca­sion­ally dis­rup­tive Q& A au­di­ence, the mem­bers of this fo­rum are care­fully cho­sen be­cause of their skills, ex­pe­ri­ence and point of view. A del­i­cate sub­ject mas­ter­fully han­dled with sto­ries and opin­ions that may sur­prise you from women who have en­dured the op­er­a­tion. Be­cause In­sight is pre­re­corded, you can join the Twit­ter con­ver­sa­tion with the par­tic­i­pants as the pro­gram goes to air.

Vera

Wed­nes­day, 8.40pm, 7Two She is a ter­rific sport, Brenda Blethyn. As if it weren’t enough to take on the role of lumpy mid­dle-aged De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Vera Stan­hope, here Blethyn gets down to a sen­si­ble one-piece in a pub­lic swim­ming pool. This is where we catch up with Vera in the sec­ond episode of her sec­ond sea­son, flail­ing, fail­ing and swal­low­ing half the pool while clutch­ing a pad­dle board with white knuck­les. Mean­while, ex­pe­ri­enced swim­mers glide through the water with the self-pos­ses­sion and ef­fort­less trac­tion of whales. We are here as a kind of coun­ter­point to a mur­der that is hap­pen­ing at the same time in a beau­ti­ful river sys­tem nearby. There, a fit-look­ing blonde ex­e­cutes a beau­ti­ful dive into a nat­u­ral pool. You just know some­thing is go­ing to hap­pen to her but you don’t know what. Will she strike her head on a sub­merged rock? Will she dou­ble up with cramp and in­ad­ver­tently drown? Well, since Vera’s main job is mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, you can ex­pect some­thing more sin­is­ter. This se­ries car­ries many of the hall­marks of tra­di­tional English po­lice pro­ce­du­rals, but the fem­i­nine an­gle, the work­ing-class mother thing (Sergeant Joe Ash­worth, played by David Leon, is her right­hand man and sur­ro­gate son) and a cer­tain de­ter­mi­na­tion to not be glam­orous make the pro­gram dif­fer­ent enough to feel fresh.

Mr and Mrs Mur­der

Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Ten Well, this is cer­tainly new for Shaun Mi­callef. While we are used to the self-bast­ing satire that oozes from him as he mans a faux news desk in pro­grams such as New­stopia and Mad as Hell, here he plays bril­liant if ec­cen­tric cleaner Char­lie Buchanan, one-half of a dy­namic duo of ama­teur sleuths. His wife, Ni­cola, is played by the won­der­ful Kat Ste­wart, last seen as bois­ter­ous Bil­lie Proud­man in Off­spring. The con­ceit is that the pair are in­dus­trial clean­ers who spe­cialise in mur­der scenes. But of course be­ing so close to the ac­tion they quickly be­come de­tec­tives. The noir feel owes a bit to the HBO com­edy Bored to Death, but the show harks back fur­ther to the likes of Mur­der She Wrote (Ni­cola is a great fan of crime fic­tion) and var­i­ous hus­band-and-wife de­tec­tive out­ings, from The Thin Man films to McMil­lan & Wife with Rock Hud­son and Su­san Saint James. Mi­callef and Ste­wart play it rel­a­tively straight but there’s still plenty of room for the wacky hu­mour Mi­callef’s fans so ap­pre­ci­ate. There is no stop­ping him when he needs to im­per­son­ate a Ger­man psy­chi­a­trist or in­dulge in his pen­chant for phys­i­cal com­edy. It’s like a mad Aus­tralian ver­sion of Ele­men­tary, the up­date of Sher­lock Holmes also show­ing on Ten.

Jerusalem on a Plate

Thurs­day, 8.30pm, SBS One Founded more than 3,000 years ago, and re­peat­edly in­vaded and con­quered, Jerusalem has al­ways been a city of im­mi­grants. This is where Mus­lim, Chris­tian and Jewish cul­tures col­lide. Ac­cord­ing to host Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi, the food of Jerusalem is a per­fect ex­pres­sion of this mish­mash of cul­tures. Ot­tolenghi left Jerusalem 20 years ago and now re-cre­ates its food in his epony­mous Lon­don restau­rant. But for this se­ries he has come back to the city. There is a food rev­o­lu­tion go­ing on and he needs to know where it is coming from. He also wants to know how peo­ple are cook­ing and hopes to brush up his palate and seek fresh in­spi­ra­tion for the restau­rant back home. From street food (hum­mus, falafel, breads) to the cut­ting edge of mod­ern Mid­dle East­ern cui­sine, no culi­nary stone is left un­turned by this gen­tle man, a nat­u­ral broad­caster and a to­tal foodie. Well put to­gether, im­mer­sive and with ex­otic food you can al­most taste.

The Christchurch Earth­quake: When a City Falls

Fri­day, 8.30pm, SBS One The dev­as­ta­tion of Christchurch, in New Zealand’s south is­land, be­gan in Septem­ber 2010. The re­gion ex­pe­ri­enced a 7.1-mag­ni­tude earth­quake that mirac­u­lously passed with­out a sin­gle fa­tal­ity. But it was a dif­fer­ent story in Fe­bru­ary 2011, when a 6.5-mag­ni­tude quake struck with its epi­cen­tre vir­tu­ally un­der­neath Lyttelton, the city’s port. Mas­sive de­struc­tion en­sued, with build­ings al­ready weak­ened from the Septem­ber quake vir­tu­ally ex­plod­ing and 185 lives lost. Ama­teur vi­sion here of the quakes and af­ter­shocks, of peo­ple run­ning in­jured from fall­ing build­ings to gather in the streets as the earth moves be­neath them is af­fect­ing and fright­en­ing. Ul­ti­mately this is the story of how nat­u­ral events turned one of the pret­ti­est cities in the world into a war zone.

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