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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Ian Cuth­bert­son

Death in Par­adise

Satur­day, 7.30pm, ABC1 A sec­ond se­ries be­gins for up­tight, squint­ing, cyn­i­cal and sar­donic English de­tec­tive Richard Poole (Ben Miller, The Arm­strong and Miller Show, The Worst Week of My Life) and the crew on the fic­tional Caribbean is­land of Saint-Marie. The off­beat po­lice pro­ce­dural, filmed on Guade­loupe, de­rives its hu­mour from the con­trast be­tween Poole’s re­pressed and ob­ses­sive na­ture and the laid­back Caribbean way of life. Though in this se­ries he re­mains the English­man abroad, hop­ping about on the sand in his suit and tie, there are small traces in him of a more re­laxed way of be­ing. In this episode, a plan­ta­tion man­ager is found dead with a gi­ant blade in his back. Coin­ci­den­tally, a ner­vous English cou­ple, clearly up to some­thing, turn up late for lunch. Death in Par­adise is still, to some ex­tent, Sher­lock Holmes in the Caribbean with­out the el­e­gance and wit. It’s a good job it’s gor­geous to look at. De­spite all the deaths, it must be do­ing won­ders for Caribbean tourism.

The Block: Sky High

Sun­day, 6.30pm, Nine Five teams from five states ren­o­vate a for­mer ho­tel. As al­ways, tough Nine handy­man Scott Cam is on hand to co-or­di­nate and gig­gle at the con­tes­tants’ mis­for­tunes. ‘‘ Aus­tralia’s tough­est ren­o­va­tion pro­gram just got a whole lot tougher,’’ he says. By press time Nine hadn’t both­ered to put the first episode on its me­dia preview site, so all I can tell you is that it prom­ises to be ‘‘ the dirt­i­est game of all time’’. And you thought Re­venge was tough? No­body ex­pects ren­o­va­tion pro­grams to be clean and tidy, but do we re­ally need tears by the bucket load?

Parkinson: Masterclass

Sun­day, 9.30pm, ABC1 Oh, you didn’t know Parky, now 78, is back from his re­tire­ment? In­deed he is, and in this fifth episode of his new se­ries, the ‘‘ mas­ter’’ (I pre­sume that’s what the ti­tle is all about) chats with Chi­nese clas­si­cal pi­anist Lang Lang. There are no facts read­ers of Re­view won’t al­ready be across, fol­low­ing our fea­ture in De­cem­ber from Tim Tee­man of The Times. Still, it is great to see the pi­anist telling his own re­mark­able story, in­clud­ing his fa­ther’s hor­ri­fy­ing ex­hor­ta­tion to him to com­mit sui­cide with pills when Lang was just nine. Parky man­ages to keep it to­gether with­out bor­ing us or over­whelm­ing his guest.

Re­venge

Mon­day, 9pm, Seven Beau­ti­fully shot and set in New York’s Hamp­tons among the rich, the nasty and the deeply venge­ful, the sec­ond sea­son of Re­venge is barely clear­ing the mil­lion viewer mark each week in five-city metropoli­tan rat­ings fig­ures. That’s good enough to keep it on air, but it does rep­re­sent a de­cline. I can re­mem­ber when, dur­ing the first sea­son, ev­ery­one seemed to be watch­ing it and it was the first thing hair­dressers and doc­tor’s re­cep­tion­ists asked me about. Th­ese days it’s a strug­gle to find any­one who gives a toss. The premise — a woman on a quest to de­stroy a rich fam­ily to avenge her fa­ther’s death at their hands — has been stretched so far it feels as limp as a spent rub­ber band. Though its tal­is­man has al­ways been the in­fin­ity sym­bol, Re­venge has more twists and turns than a dou­ble he­lix. Cen­tral char­ac­ter Amanda (Emily VanCamp) now has a black foster brother who has been in­serted into her child­hood flash­backs with a crow­bar. Like all the oth­ers, in­clud­ing her child­hood sweet­heart Jack (Nick Wech­sler), he doesn’t recog­nise her. Do peo­ple re­ally change be­yond recog­ni­tion in 14 years?

Grey’s Anatomy

Mon­day, 10pm, Seven Good heav­ens, Grey’s Anatomy is still on? Who knew? Last week it was watched by just 271,000 peo­ple. I’m sure those who still watch Grey’s are grat­i­fied by Seven’s rather kindly re­ten­tion of it on air. I heartily commend the net­work’s con­sid­er­a­tion of long-term fans. So what’s go­ing on th­ese days at Seat­tle Grace? Sur­pris­ingly, many of the old faces fa­mil­iar from long ago 2005 when the se­ries be­gan — and quickly be­came the talk of the town — are still there. There’s cen­tral char­ac­ter Mered­ith Grey (Ellen Pom­peo), who was clin­i­cally dead for an un­think­able amount of time in sea­sons gone by be­fore be­ing re­vived and go­ing back to work com­pletely un­scathed about a week later. And this is a med­i­cal show? And there’s old McDreamy him­self, Derek Shep­herd (Pa­trick Dempsey), put there to make hearts flut­ter, still be­ing sex­ily sur­gi­cal. Bossy Mi­randa Bai­ley (Chan­dra Wil­son) is still bossy, and San­dra Oh is still waft­ing about as Cristina Yang. Surely they will all soon qual­ify for med­i­cal pen­sion plans. In this episode, too many or­gan trans­plants have them on the hop. At the same time, the hos­pi­tal faces a trans­plant of ad­min­is­tra­tion. The metaphors!

Jimmy’s For­est

Wed­nes­day, 7.35pm, SBS One Jimmy Do­herty is a fa­mil­iar face from Bri­tish life­style pro­grams ( Jimmy’s Farm, Jimmy’s Food Fac­tory ). For the four-part Jimmy’s For­est, the af­fa­ble English­man spent an en­tire year in an 81ha Nor­folk wood­land. It has loads of wildlife, in­clud­ing bad­gers and breed­ing deer, a stream, a lake and, at the heart of it all, Jimmy’s tree­house base, perched be­tween two ma­jes­tic oaks, with its own lab­o­ra­tory and rough quar­ters. With­out say­ing as much, Do­herty is a bit like Henry David Thoreau. Like the philoso­pher in his sem­i­nal opus Walden, Do­herty goes to the woods to live de­lib­er­ately, as much to find out about him­self as to study the en­vi­ron­ment around him. Sea­son by sea­son dur­ing the course of the year, Do­herty fol­lows the ebb and flow of life in the for­est, be­gin­ning with this de­but episode, Spring. There’s a lit­tle bit of science in the lab, a bit of arm­chair phi­los­o­phy, a touch of man in the wild and quite a lot of stun­ning vi­sion of an English for­est in spring.

Law & Or­der: SVU

Thurs­day, 8.30pm, Ten Le­git­i­mate Rape is a strong, en­gag­ing episode of the Law & Or­der Spe­cial Vic­tims Unit fran­chise. A fe­male tele­vi­sion sports re­porter is be­ing creep­ily stalked by a cam­era­man she works with al­most ev­ery­day. She claims he raped her in her ho­tel room six weeks be­fore she first pre­sented to the SVU. The plot thick­ens when it turns out the re­porter is hav­ing an af­fair with a mar­ried sports an­chor on the net­work. Why did she wait so long to come for­ward? Why didn’t she men­tion the af­fair with the an­chor un­til well af­ter the team was on the case? Looks like it’s time to bring the cam­era­man off the set and into the pen, but is he re­ally the one who has been in­stalling cam­eras and send­ing lurid pho­tos and videos to th­ese com­pro­mised TV peo­ple? Only the next 42 min­utes will tell.

Celebrity Splash!

Thurs­day, 8.45pm, Seven In which var­i­ous celebri­ties get into swimwear and throw them­selves off div­ing boards into pools. On de­but a fort­night ago, the pro­gram, hosted by Larry Em­dur and Kylie Gil­lies of The Morn­ing Show, drew an en­tirely re­spectable 1.3 mil­lion metropoli­tan view­ers. Up against Nine’s block­buster tal­ent quest The Voice, that was a valiant ef­fort. That’s also what we have to say about some of the less ath­letic con­tes­tants, such as Melbourne ra­dio host and co­me­dian Adam Richard, who de­served all the courage points he got for get­ting his kit off and throw­ing him­self into the com­pe­ti­tion — and the pool — with gusto and a cer­tain Kylie-ish flair. Must have been the gold lame hot pants. While the for­mat is sort of The Voice in the pool, with men­tors, judges who are pro­fes­sional divers (Greg Louga­nis and lo­cal boy Matthew Mitcham) and pre-dive chats with ner­vous con­tes­tants, it does all seem a bit point­less. And once the perve fac­tor has worn off there isn’t that much to bring you back. Per­haps that’s why this hastily reshuf­fled two-hour ex­trav­a­ganza ends it.

Cit­i­zen Khan

Thurs­day, 9.10pm, Seven I’m not en­tirely sure what to make of Cit­i­zen Khan. While the idea of a sit­com about a fam­ily of Pak­istani Mus­lims liv­ing in Birm­ing­ham is dar­ing, the jokes are as old and pre­dictable as the hills. Though he is nowhere near as big­oted, daffy lead char­ac­ter Mr Khan (Adil Ray) re­minds me more of Alf Gar­nett in Till Death Us Do Part than any kind of mod­ern Mus­lim comic in­car­na­tion. The pro­gram has been con­tro­ver­sial, with some Bri­tish Mus­lims af­fronted by its jokes at the ex­pense of their faith, and oth­ers claim­ing th­ese crit­ics should lighten up and stop be­ing so de­fen­sive about them­selves and their cul­ture. I sup­pose I feel un­der­qual­i­fied to comment on the is­sues of faith and sub­se­quent of­fen­sive­ness. I can tell you, though, that some of the jokes here, es­pe­cially those con­cern­ing the young adult daugh­ters in the Khan fam­ily, wouldn’t be out of place in Man About the House. The self­satiris­ing South Asian thing was done so much bet­ter in The Ku­mars at No 42.

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