The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Ian Cuth­bert­son

My Cat From Hell

Satur­day, 7.30pm, An­i­mal Planet Dogs are such hogs when it comes to an­i­mal doc­u­men­taries. So it’s great to see our furry fe­line mates rep­re­sented at last. Meet Jack­son Galaxy, a mu­si­cian by night and a cat be­haviourist by day. He seems to be po­si­tion­ing him­self as the cat lover’s an­swer to Ce­sar Mi­lan in his show The Dog Whis­perer. I’ve had only one cat in my life. Res­cued from a ma­niac throw­ing live kit­tens into a brick fur­nace, Peanuts was af­fec­tion­ate and sweet her en­tire life. Other own­ers are not so for­tu­nate. In the de­but episode of this se­ries you’ll meet a deaf (dumb?) and blind cat that has be­come, un­der­stand­ably per­haps, para­noid and vi­cious. Then there’s a cou­ple liv­ing in a war zone with their dog and cat con­stantly at each other’s throats. Can Galaxy put down his gui­tar long enough to do th­ese poor sods a favour?

My Dirty Lit­tle Se­cret

Satur­day, 8.30pm, CI By now a fa­mil­iar view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for payTV sub­scribers, this se­ries pro­files real peo­ple who have har­boured hor­ren­dous se­crets. Iron­i­cally, it uses ac­tors to bring a di­men­sion of emo­tional re­al­ity to pro­ceed­ings where sub­ject in­ter­views just don’t cut it. Some­thing that makes this se­ries stand out from the herd is the voice over, a sound-alike for Brenda Strong, the woman who nar­rated Des­per­ate House­wives from the grave as Mary Alice Young. Strong took to the vo­cal booth for Dis­cov­ery’s en­tirely sim­i­lar Blood Rel­a­tives, so it wasn’t out of the ques­tion. In fact the al­l­know­ing voice here is by voice over spe­cial­ist Jennifer Server. Ah, but it is the style that counts. In this episode a woman pays the ul­ti­mate price when she finds out her hus­band is se­cretly a not-so-sweet trans­ves­tite.

Paris: The Great Saga

Sun­day, 7.30pm, His­tory Sun­day is Bastille Day, so what bet­ter way to cel­e­brate than with the story of Paris? At more than two hours this cer­tainly is a great saga. Sight un­seen it was on its way to our pick-of-the-week spot. But while it is gor­geous to look at, with many aerial per­spec­tives and a thor­ough and en­gag­ing sense of his­tory, some­one some­where has taken it upon them­selves to re­move the sonorous French spo­ken by the fam­ily in the doc­u­men­tary and re­place it with gee-whiz Amer­i­can voices. I feel that cer­tain lib­er­ties also have been taken with the trans­la­tion, with Amer­i­can col­lo­qui­alisms re­plac­ing any­thing vaguely French or ex­otic. In the end it is like watch­ing Fam­ily Guy goes to France. It made me long pas­sion­ately for sub­ti­tles. Al­though they force you to pay at­ten­tion to words on the screen, at least you keep the orig­i­nal flow and flavour of the ma­te­rial.

The Wild West: Gold Rush

Sun­day, 8.30pm, Nat Geo Wild In dread of yet an­other te­dious out­ing about gold­min­ers, I was pleas­antly sur­prised to find The Wild West: Gold Rush has more in com­mon with David At­ten­bor­ough than those hardy prospec­tors pil­lag­ing Green­land in Ice Cold Gold. ‘‘ Cal­i­for­nia has al­ways been the promised land, draw­ing the hope­ful west­ward,’’ says the nar­ra­tor in cow­boy tones over twangy elec­tric gui­tar. ‘‘ It has lured th­ese gi­ants out of the waves.’’ He is talk­ing about mas­sive north­ern ele­phant seals, but he surely means the bounty of the Pa­cific coast and not Cal­i­for­nia it­self. The de­vice of com­par­ing the the an­i­mal ban­quet of the Pa­cific ocean to the gold that at­tracted set­tlers to the wild west is a bit laboured, but those cow­boy af­fec­ta­tions are fun — for a while. ‘‘ The seals have set up a fron­tier town on this beach,’’ he drawls. ‘‘ Here, tough guys take what they want.’’ He’s re­fer­ring to the habit the gi­gan­tic alpha bulls have of mat­ing with any fe­male they choose. Then there are those brown bears lured by the ‘‘ gold’’ of fresh salmon. You get the idea.

Sons of An­ar­chy

Tues­day, 8.30, FX Don’t get too ex­cited — the new sixth sea­son of this bikie gang drama isn’t due un­til Septem­ber. For rea­sons best known to it­self, the FX chan­nel has de­cided to re-run the fourth sea­son, first shown in 2011. As we catch up with the mem­bers of the mo­tor­cy­cle club SAMCRO (Sons of An­ar­chy Mo­tor­cy­cle Club, Red­wood Orig­i­nal), some have been lan­guish­ing in jail for 14 months. Now re­leased, the boys are back in town, fresh out of the slam­mer. But time changes ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially in law en­force­ment, and the town of Charm­ing isn’t as wel­com­ing for them as it once was. There’s a new mayor and a new po­lice chief and it is made very clear that busi­ness-as-usual is off the cards. In fact nonon­sense po­lice chief Lieu­tenant Eli Roo­sevelt (Rock­mond Dun­bar) heads them off at the pass to de­liver a lit­tle lec­ture about ‘‘ no club cuts on the streets’’ and so forth. When he re­treats, the women and chil­dren are wait­ing to greet the bik­ers, and the in­ti­macy looks to be pretty sat­is­fy­ing af­ter 14 months of sep­a­ra­tion. Mean­while, at the lo­cal law of­fice, Mayor Hale and Roo­sevelt get each other’s mea­sure. Both are de­ter­mined to halt the SAMCRO gun run­ning.

Our War

Tues­day, 8.30pm, BBC Knowl­edge The war in Afghanistan is the most doc­u­mented in his­tory, from its em­bed­ded jour­nal­ists and pho­tog­ra­phers to the troops, pro­filed in this doc­u­men­tary se­ries, who took their video cam­eras with them into bat­tle. Ac­cord­ing to the nar­ra­tor, thou­sands of hours of close-up com­bat footage has been held by the Bri­tish Min­istry of De­fence. Now, the MoD and the soldiers have agreed for their work to ap­pear here so their ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ries can be told. Ul­ti­mately this is the story of a closeknit group of friends at war to­gether in 2007. By the end of their tour, one would be dead and oth­ers in­jured in the defin­ing sum­mer of their lives. The footage is very graphic at times and, as you may ex­pect, soldiers don’t say

‘‘ oh my good­ness me’’ when their lives are on the line and some­thing hor­ri­ble and un­ex­pected hap­pens. A real in­sight into the re­al­i­ties of war.

An Id­iot Abroad

Tues­day, 9.30pm, UKTV Here is an­other chance, should you re­quire one, to see An Id­iot Abroad from the be­gin­ning. I’ve tried to avoid this bizarre pro­gram in which writ­ing part­ners Ricky Ger­vais and Stephen Mer­chant laugh up their sleeves at their pet id­iot, Karl Pilk­ing­ton, as he trav­els the world hav­ing mis­ad­ven­ture af­ter disas­ter. I avoid it be­cause the pre­med­i­tated cru­elty makes my flesh crawl. Even if Pilk­ing­ton the ac­tor is well in on the joke, I fail to see the en­ter­tain­ment value. ‘‘ He is a round, empty-headed, chimp-like manque moron buf­foon id­iot — and he’s a friend,’’ says Ger­vais. Mer­chant com­pares Pilk­ing­ton to a kind of liv­ing Homer Simpson: small­minded and petty, but at his core a good per­son. Mer­chant wants to see if travel can broaden their man’s hori­zons, as it has his own. ‘‘ I want him to hate it for my own amuse­ment,’’ says Ger­vais. ‘‘ Noth­ing is fun­nier than Karl in a cor­ner be­ing poked by a stick.’’ I rest my case.

Con­struct­ing Aus­tralia: The Bridge

Wed­nes­day, 7.30pm, His­tory Though it is from long-ago 2007 when it was tied in with the 75th an­niver­sary of the Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge, the first chap­ter of this re­mark­able se­ries is far more than the ex­pected en­gi­neer­ing yarn. It looks at how close the coun­try was to an emer­gency, al­most a civil war, at the time of the bridge’s con­struc­tion. Beau­ti­fully made tele­vi­sion.

Teen Spirit

Thurs­day, 9.30pm, Stu­dio As you were, Nir­vana fans, noth­ing to see here. Well, noth­ing to do with the band. How­ever, if you like the idea of re­vis­it­ing Tom Cruise in his un­der­pants as he prances and dances to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll in the teen flick Risky Busi­ness, then this is your show. It con­cerns the story be­hind teen flicks, who made them, why they did it, who watches them and what they mean to Amer­i­cans at Bev­erly Hills High School to­day. If all any­one could ever want to know about teen sex come­dies such as Porky’s and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini is not up your street, you’d bet­ter walk on by. SPEAK­ING of walk­ing on by, this is my last se­ries of Quick Bites as I am de­part­ing The Aus­tralian af­ter 10 years, five as TV edi­tor. It has been a priv­i­lege and an ab­so­lute plea­sure to write about the good, the bad and the ugly on TV. I leave you in the ca­pa­ble hands of my col­league Lyn­dall Crisp. In the mean­time, please feel free to say hello on Twit­ter: @cuth­bert­soni.

An up-to-date on-screen elec­tronic pro­gram guide is avail­able to pay-TV sub­scribers. A full 14-day guide is also avail­able at­

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