Tele­vi­sion Lyn­dall Crisp on the week’s best view­ing

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Lyn­dall Crisp

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Mid­somer Mur­ders

Satur­day, 8.30pm, ABC1 The rat­ings sea­son kicks in on Fe­bru­ary 9, and not a minute too soon. Un­til then, more re­peats. At least this soft po­lice drama is easy on the eye. Based on books by Caro­line Gra­ham, the se­ries launched in 1997. Tonight De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor John Barn­aby (Neil Dud­geon) looks into the case of a cou­ple who tried to elope one night a year ear­lier. He dis­ap­peared and she’s just wo­ken from a coma.

Es­cape to the Coun­try

Sun­day, 8.30pm, 7Two Given what you get for your money, idyl­lic coun­try cot­tages in Eng­land aren’t so ex­pen­sive. But the av­er­age price of a prop­erty in the Cotswolds is 45 per cent above the na­tional av­er­age. And no won­der. Its 2000sq km boast hand­some mar­ket towns, beau­ti­ful ar­chi­tec­ture and out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty. Fi­nan­cial ex­pert Mark and chem­i­cal engi­neer Lu­ciano want to es­cape their tiny ur­ban flat for a big house with a big gar­den. Host Alis­tair Ap­ple­ton sees what he can find them for £700,000 (in 2010).

Thelma & Louise

Sun­day, 8.40pm, GEM What a cast. Geena Davis plays pas­sive house­wife Thelma, Su­san Saran­don is head­strong wait­ress Louise, Brad Pitt is hitch­hiker JD, and Har­vey Kei­tel is De­tec­tive Hal Slocumb. The girls go on the run af­ter Louise shoots dead a man try­ing to rape Thelma. They cross sev­eral states in Louise’s 1966 Ford Thun­der­bird con­vert­ible in a wild stand­off with po­lice. Things go from bad to worse when JD steals their money and they have to rob a store. Fi­nally cor­nered by FBI agents in the Grand Canyon, they make a des­per­ate choice. Re­leased in 1991, the film won an Academy Award for best orig­i­nal screen­play.

Amer­ica in Prime­time

Sun­day, 10.15pm, SBS One This fas­ci­nat­ing four-part se­ries (yes, another re­peat) tracks the evo­lu­tion of Amer­i­can prime- time TV se­ries. Us­ing in­ter­views with ac­tors and writ­ers and clips from shows go­ing back 50 years, it looks at how themes and char­ac­ter archetypes changed in tan­dem with a chang­ing so­ci­ety. Part two, The Cru­sader, ex­am­ines the mod­ern hero. Many are deeply flawed — think Dex­ter, Luther and Car­rie in Home­land — yet their fight against evil seems to jus­tify their un­ortho­dox meth­ods. Gone are the days when bad­dies were bad­dies and the good guys were usu­ally clean-cut cham­pi­ons of the law.

Per­sons of In­ter­est

Tues­day, 8.30pm, SBS One The ma­te­rial for this four-part doc­u­men­tary comes from old ASIO files. It shows how var­i­ous peo­ple be­came the sub­ject, rightly or wrongly, of sur­veil­lance by the se­cu­rity agency. This sec­ond episode looks at Michael Hyde, who 40-plus years ago was a rad­i­cal un­der­grad­u­ate at Monash Univer­sity. A Maoist and com­mu­nist, he helped or­gan­ise the anti-Viet­nam War mora­to­ri­ums in 1969-70. ASIO tracked his ev­ery move­ment be­tween 1967 and 1974, col­lect­ing ma­te­rial that filled 13 files. ‘‘ It’s al­most as though I had a per­sonal re­search as­sis­tant fol­low­ing me around. I don’t think it’s all that bloody funny,’’ the au­thor of the mem­oir All Along the Watch­tower once told a reporter. Abo­rig­i­nal ac­tivist Gary Fo­ley and com­mu­nist au­thor Frank Hardy will fea­ture on Jan­uary 21 and 28.

Or­phan Black

Tues­day, 8.30pm, SBS Two This is the first episode of last year’s Cana­dian sci­ence-fic­tion se­ries that’s won sev­eral awards and a huge fan base. Ta­tiana Maslany stars as sev­eral iden­ti­cal women (10 in all) who turn out to be clones of her. In Nat­u­ral Se­lec­tion, Sarah, a streets­mart mere­trix, wit­nesses the sui­cide of a stranger who re­sem­bles her. Sarah as­sumes Beth’s iden­tity and steals her sav­ings and boyfriend. But Beth was caught up in a deadly con­spir­acy and Sarah be­comes a tar­get. In the sec­ond episode, In­stinct, at 9.20pm, Sarah wants to dump Beth’s body but there’s an as­sas­sin on her tail. Wher­ever it has been aired, the se­ries has ig­nited fresh de­bate on the ethics of cloning. Hostages

Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Nine At last we dis­cover how Wash­ing­ton DC sur­geon Ellen San­ders (Toni Col­lette) wrig­gles out of killing the US pres­i­dent while he’s on her op­er­at­ing ta­ble. For 15 ag­o­nis­ing episodes, we’ve lived her dilemma. Her fam­ily is be­ing held hostage by a team of no-good­ers, each with their own mo­tive; she swings be­tween hu­mour­ing and try­ing to out­smart them. Her fam­ily’s lives are at stake, a lot of peo­ple die along the way, but not the pres­i­dent (so far). In Endgame, the first lady con­fronts Ellen, who blurts out the as­sas­si­na­tion plot. There are a lot of ends to tie up in this fi­nale, not least Ellen’s re­la­tion­ship with her two-tim­ing hus­band, Brian. Here’s hop­ing she gives the dork the flick.


Wed­nes­day, 9.30pm, SBS One Noth­ing would make me miss this bril­liant po­lit­i­cal drama. And the good news is there’s a third (but, sadly, the last) se­ries on its way. Last week, in the first of a two-parter, Dan­ish PM Bir­gitte Ny­borg of­fered to bro­ker a peace deal be­tween North and South Kharun in Africa. Here she nav­i­gates sev­eral po­lit­i­cal landmines and turns a po­ten­tial dis­as­ter into a so­lu­tion. But her daugh­ter Laura de­scends into a black hole as her panic at­tacks take hold. A night­mare for her sin­gle mother.

In­spec­tor Rex

Fri­day, 1.30pm, SBS One The fact that Kom­mis­sar Rex can out­smart crooks comes as no sur­prise. This lov­able ger­man shep­herd has been sniff­ing them out and round­ing them up since 1994, al­though in 2009 he re­lo­cated to Rome from Vi­enna. In Class Strug­gle, Rex is dis­tracted from steal­ing his po­lice col­leagues’ lunches when a stu­dent’s body is found be­neath her ho­tel bath­room win­dow. At first it ap­pears to be an ac­ci­dent, but Rex knows bet­ter. Us­ing his con­sum­mate skills, he helps un­cover the truth.

David Starkey’s Mu­sic and Monar­chy

Fri­day, 8.35pm, SBS One Han­del and Henry Pur­cell are just two of the com­posers whose works are per­formed in this mag­nif­i­cent pro­gram, which ex­plores the link be­tween monar­chy and Bri­tish mu­sic. In Rev­o­lu­tions, the sec­ond of the four-part se­ries, Starkey, a con­sti­tu­tional his­to­rian, looks at how re­li­gious con­flict threat­ened mu­si­cians and mon­archs in the 17th cen­tury. He in­tro­duces the West­min­ster Abbey choir, which sings some of the mu­sic heard at early Bri­tish coro­na­tions, and the Band of the Life Guard plays pieces Charles I used in bat­tle. Starkey also ex­plores how Pu­ri­tans and Roy­al­ists fought over mu­sic, with the church or­gan prov­ing a sur­pris­ingly bit­ter source of con­flict.

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