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.
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.
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 www.foxtel.com.au.