Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Saturday, 8.30pm, ABC
It is certainly an amazing spectacle, but the sound of bagpipes reminds me of a lovesick heifer. Still, millions of people enjoy a good military tattoo and this has to be the best. The setting is the Esplanade of historic Edinburgh Castle. This year the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with much more than just bagpipes. Along with the Massed Bands of the RAF and the Queen’s Colour Squadron, there’s a Bollywood dance extravaganza, the Military Band of the People’s Liberation Army of China, the Changxing Lotus Dragon Dance Folklore Group and bands from the US.
Rugby World Cup 2015 Sunday, 5.45am, Gem (QLD, 4.45am; SA, 5.15am; WA, 2.45am)
They won against Fiji (28-13), then last week they thrashed Uruguay (65-3), now it’s time for the Wallabies to man up against England at Twickenham. God bless the record button for those who can’t get up in time to watch this live coverage. (You can also watch every game of the Rugby World Cup on Fox Sports.)
Sunday, 8.35pm, SBS
Ah, the 1970s — where have the last 45 years gone? The United States vs Richard Nixon, the first of eight episodes, charts the gripping events that led to Nixon becoming the only US president to resign from office. While the nation — and much of the Western world — was riveted by the Watergate scandal, new television formats were evolving. Television Gets Real, the second episode, looks at shows such as M*A*S*H, Mork &
Mindy, Sesame Street and Monty Python’s Flying Circus that enriched our viewing habits.
Prosecuting Casey Anthony
Sunday, 9.30pm, One
On July 15, 2008 — 31 days after her two-year-old daughter Caylee’s disappearance — Cindy Anthony, 22, reported her missing in Florida. Anthony was arrested for murder after the little girl’s decomposing body was found in a wood five months later. In 2011 a jury acquitted her, citing the mostly circumstantial evidence presented. This drama tells the story from the point of view of prosecutor Jeff Ashton (Rob Lowe). Anthony (Elizabeth Mitchelle) became one of the most hated women in the US. As a result of the case, failure to report a child missing within 24 hours is now a crime in some states.
Monday, 8pm, ABC
An excellent choice, as a part of Mental Health Week, this profile of Garry McDonald reveals a side of the actor unfamiliar to many fans. Famous for his Norman Gunston character and as Arthur in Mother and Son, McDonald, 66, has suffered from anxiety for more than 40 years. His career deteriorated until 10 years ago when he underwent therapy. “It gave me a life,” he says.
Monday, 9.30pm, Ten
Former CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) survived years of dodging death on the frontline but flunked at station chief in Islamabad. In
Separation Anxiety, the first episode in season five, she has moved to Berlin with her daughter Franny, taken a job as head of security for philanthropist Otto During (Sebastian Koch) and found a new boyfriend, Jonas (Alexander Fehling), but her past follows her. All 12 episodes in this season were shot in Berlin and include real people and events such as Islamic State, Vladimir Putin and the Charlie Hebdo shootings.
Tuesday, 9.40pm, ABC Two
“The word Broadmoor makes people shiver,” says the narrator. Understandable given it has been home to some of Britain’s most violent criminals (such as the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe) for 150 years. For the first time in the history of the high security institution, this fascinating two-part documentary — part of the ABC’s focus on mental health issues leading up to World Mental Health Day — goes inside to talk to staff and patients. There are 200 patients across 15 wards. “I am quite a nasty person,” says talented artist Alex 24, who has had nine diagnoses by 30 doctors since turning violent 10 years ago. “These people are mentally ill, they’re not stupid,” says a doctor, who points out that with the right treatment many can go back into the community.
Great Continental Railway Journeys
Wednesday, 7.30pm, SBS
Michael Portillo is an entertaining and engaging host of this special travel series. He inevitably discovers hidden treasures and quirky customs most visitors miss. Using his 1913 George Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide, Portillo travels to Warsaw, which he’s surprised to find is in good nick despite the ravages of World War II. The former British conservative MP is not shy when it comes to having a go. Dancing the polonaise with high school students and lunching in a milk bar in Cracow are all part of the fun.
Caught on Dashcam
Wednesday, 7.30pm, Seven
It’s all very well giggling over the weird accidents these CCTV cameras, mobile phones and dashcams capture, but one can’t help wondering what happened to the drivers. Some of the crashes look horrific, such as the truck carrying combustibles that explode on a motorway. Others are very funny, such as the person who accelerates rather than brakes as they enter a car wash. This series cobbles together the best (and worst) bingles from around the world. Once you start watching it’s hard to stop.
Wednesday, 10.30pm, Seven
Set in 1967 Los Angeles, this period drama is written around real events, politics, social issues and music fleshed out by fictional characters and storylines. Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) is investigating the disappearance of a young girl who he finds is living with Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) and The Family. (Remember them? They murdered seven people including actor Sharon Tate.) In Why?, episode nine, Officer Charmain Tully (Australian actor Claire Holt) is compromised after two buddies are shot dead in a cafe by a hooded killer.
Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime
Friday, 8.30pm, ABC
Oh this is great fun. The first three episodes of this six-part drama are based on Christie’s The
Secret Adversary, the second three are based on her novel N or M. David Walliams stars as Tommy Beresford, a businessman whose schemes never make any money. It’s 1952 and he and his wife Tuppence (Jessica Raine) have boarded a train in Paris destined for Calais. Sitting opposite is a nervous woman who goes to the dining car, never to return. The Beresfords play detectives and set out to discover what happened to her.
Mad Dog: Inside the Secret World of Muammar Gaddafi Saturday, 9.30pm, History (611)
When you’re reaping the benefits of US$1bn or so a month from oil production, you can do just about whatever you like, it seems. And that’s what Libya’s president Muammar Gaddafi did until he met his grisly death in 2011 after being found hiding in a culvert. This documentary, made last year, charts some of his many horrific transgressions, from sexually abusing young schoolgirls and torturing opponents to his budding friendship with African dictator Idi Amin. A strong stomach is needed for the graphic bits.
Agnetha: ABBA and After
Sunday, 7.30pm, Bio (133)
It was 1969 when Agnetha Faltskog met her future husband Bjorn Ulvaeus backstage at a gig in Stockholm. The two went on to become part of ABBA, one of the most famous bands of the 1960s, selling more than 370 million albums worldwide. This nostalgic trip back to those days tells the story of how the blonde soprano, uncomfortable with the fame and adulation, retired to her island with her children 30 years ago. Her comeback, in 2004, was a huge success. Now aged 63, Agnetha reveals here how she never wrote songs for ABBA because she considered her skills inferior.
A Place to Call Home
Sunday, 8.30pm, SoHo (114)
Life gets even more dramatic at Ash Park, the property near Inverness, NSW, as the Bligh family lurches from one problem to another. L’Chaim, To
Life, episode two in season three, sees George Bligh (Brett Klimo) return from hospital after being shot, we’re not sure by whom. We know Sarah (Marta Dusseldorp) is pregnant but there’s a problem about the father’s identity. And the truth about baby George’s real mother is beginning to emerge. My money’s on the new maid, Rose. Bet she’s the birth mother.
Monday, 7.30pm, Showcase
Winner of two Golden Globe Awards, this excellent psychological drama revolves around married teacher and author Noah (Dominic West) and married waitress Alison (Ruth Wilson), who are having an affair. They leave their spouses and move in together. Season one, which ended with Noah in custody for the hit-and-run killing of Alison’s brother-in-law Scotty Lockhart, told the story from Noah and Alison’s perspectives. Season two tackles the ramifications of the affair for the rejected partners, Cole (Joshua Jackson) and Helen (Maura Tierney). A bit complicated, but hang in there. It’s worth the ride.
Top Gear: Ambitious but Rubbish
Monday, 8.30pm, BBC Knowledge (612)
Teasers for any series usually cherrypick the choicest moments, but Top Gear delivers every time. In this eight-part series host Richard Hammond sorts through the show’s archives to find some of the most memorable moments of ineptitude. “It’s basically a look back at Top Gear’s design and engineering genius in all its forms … although idiocy might be a better word,” he says. Episode one starts with the boys attempting to turn a people carrier — “Behind the wheel, you feel like you’re drowning in wallpaper paste,” says Jeremy Clarkson — into a convertible. It doesn’t look too bad — until they put it through the car wash, and that’s the end of that idea.
Monday, 9.25pm, BBC First (117)
Hugh Bonneville (Earl of Grantham in Downton
Abbey) is Ian Fletcher, who joins the BBC as head of values in this satirical fly-on-the-wall series about life at the broadcaster’s central London headquarters. One wonders how close to the bone the series is, as the obstacles awaiting him seem, if not familiar, then certainly probable. Egos, scandal, mindless meetings all stop him doing his job — to think big, new ideas.
Kew on a Plate
Tuesday, 9.30pm, Lifestyle (106)
A cooking show of a different kind (yes, it’s possible). London’s Kew Gardens holds a wealth of botanical knowledge dating back 250 years. Here Raymond Blanc and Kate Humble create a vast kitchen garden, then cook the produce and explain the history of our favourite fruit and veg.
The Lady Vanishes
Wednesday, 8.30pm, UKTV (103)
This 1978 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 classic comedy thriller stars Angela Lansbury as Miss Froy, who disappears on a train in Switzerland. Her travelling companion, Amanda Kelly (Cybill Shepherd), sets out to find her, aided by Robert Condon (Elliott Gould).
The Little Couple
Thursday, 8.30pm, TLC (130)
The promos for this series are a bit off-putting, but the series turns out to be an endearing story and certainly uplifting. The Little Couple — both are under 1.2m — is the story of Bill Klein, a successful pet store owner, and Dr Jen Arnold, a neonatologist, and their two adopted children. They are one very happy family — Arnold has a gorgeous smile — with a wise take on life. In this episode from season six, Arnold looks after the children and five dogs while Klein is away on a business trip. Sounds trite, but give it a go.
Thursday, 8.30pm, showcase (115)
In this show, more than 2 per cent of the world’s population has disappeared in what’s become known as the Sudden Departure. One family, the Garveys, survives unscathed. In the first season of this drama series, Kevin (Justin Theroux) is police chief of Mapleton, New York; his wife Laurie joins a cult, the Guilty Remnant; their son Tom falls in with a messiah figure called Holy Wayne; and daughter Jill is your above-average obnoxious teenager. Kevin has a hard time keeping it all together. (As you do.) Here, in the second season, he moves the family to Miracle, Texas, which didn’t lose anyone in the Sudden Departure. But more trouble comes in the form of their new neighbours: ex con John (Kevin Carroll) and doctor Erika Murphy (Regina King) are a family with secrets and demons.
Comic Book Men
Friday, 10.30pm, A&E (122)
Set in Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, a comic book shop at 35 Broad Street, Red Bank, New Jersey, this unscripted reality series captures the daily banter between staff and customers as they search for treasured comics.
Based on the true story of Pablo Escobar, arguably the most violent and successful drug lord ever, this gritty 10-part drama was made for Netflix. Wagner Moura plays the Colombian boss; Boyd Holbrook is the US Drug Enforcement agent Steve Murphy who wages war against the 1980s Medellin cocaine cartel. Season one, 10 episodes long, starts with the pursuit of kids in flip-flops dealing in marijuana and shows how the business expands into one that reaps about US$5bn annually. The series is interlaced with actual news footage and, yes, there is violence, but in short bursts. Season two will begin filming soon.