quick bites

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television | Free To Air - Justin Burke

free to air Quan­tico Sun­day, 8.30pm, Seven

Over on pay TV, it’s nor­mal for whole sea­sons to get com­mis­sioned, then writ­ten, shot and pro­duced at the same time. Back here in net­work TV, it’s still de rigueur to pro­duce a pi­lot, then shoot a few episodes and let the rat­ings de­ter­mine whether a full sea­son is de­served. Hap­pily, Quan­tico has just re­ceived a full sea­son pick-up from ABC in the US (so has NBC’s

Blindspot, see be­low). The multi-lay­ered thriller, star­ring In­dian film ac­tress, singer and former Miss World Priyanka Cho­pra as FBI agent Alex Par­rish, is full of twists and turns, se­crets and hid­den agen­das. Flash­ing back to ba­sic train­ing at the FBI’s base at Quan­tico, and for­ward to a ter­ror­ist at­tack on New York’s Grand Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal, no clear pic­ture has yet emerged whether Par­rish is the cul­prit. I’m riv­eted.

The Other Pom­peii: Life & Death in Her­cu­la­neum

Sun­day, 7.35pm, SBS

Ro­manophiles will en­joy An­drew Wal­laceHadrill’s doc­u­men­tary on what life was like in the small Ro­man town of Her­cu­la­neum — only 16km from Pom­peii — mo­ments be­fore it was de­stroyed by the dev­as­tat­ing erup­tion of Mount Ve­su­vius of AD79. The Cam­bridge Univer­sity pro­fes­sor re­veals new skele­tons — the first to be found in the area for 30 years — which in­clude a toddler clutch­ing his pet dog, a two-year-old girl with sil­ver ear­rings, and a boy star­ing into the eyes of his mother as they em­braced in their fi­nal mo­ments. Nearly all the re­mains found in­side the newly dis­cov­ered vaults were women and chil­dren, while those found out­side on the shore­line were nearly all men. This doc­u­men­tary has a sur­pris­ing ex­pla­na­tion why.

The Beau­ti­ful Lie

Sun­day, 8.30pm, ABC

If you missed last week’s pre­miere of this out­stand­ing Aus­tralian-set reimag­in­ing of Tol­stoy’s Anna Karen­ina, do your­self a favour and catch up on­line with ABC iView. Here, in part two of six, Anna (Sarah Snook) can’t get Skeet (Bene­dict Sa­muel) off her mind; Kitty (So­phie Lowe) is sent away; Dolly (Celia Pac­quola) takes plea­sure in pun­ish­ing her un­faith­ful hus­band Kings­ley (Daniel Hen­shall); and Anna’s hus­band Xan­der (Rodger Corser) is crushed when Anna’s af­fair be­comes very pub­lic. Stylish and evoca­tive, it’s a must watch.

Dogs — Their Se­cret Lives

Mon­day, 7.35pm, SBS

Fat dogs: ac­cord­ing to Mark Evans, former chief vet­eri­nar­ian at Bri­tain’s RSPCA, it’s a se­ri­ous prob­lem, though I defy any­one not to chuckle at footage of chubby pugs and sausage dogs that look ready to split. In the first in­stance, Evans sets up mul­ti­ple sur­veil­lance cam­eras to find out why a par­tic­u­lar pup is get­ting so over­weight. It turns out that Nanna, who has de­nied feed­ing him treats, but ac­cord­ing to her fam­ily is likely se­nile, has been do­ing so non­stop. The pup also has trained his owner’s staff to play catch with pork scratch­ings. The ca­nine’s name? Chancer. Fig­ures.

Home­land

Mon­day, 9.30pm, Ten

Usu­ally leav­ing Easter eggs (a hid­den joke or rev­e­la­tion) in a TV show is the pre­rog­a­tive of the showrun­ner. But there was a mi­nor ker­fuf­fle last week when it was dis­cov­ered that Ara­bic graf­fiti in the back­ground of a scene of Home­land, added for au­then­tic­ity by street artists, ac­tu­ally said: “Home­land is racist”, that the show is “a joke” and a “wa­ter­melon”. (The last one ap­par­ently con­notes phoni­ness.) I’m with Stephen Col­bert on the charge of the show be­ing racist: “It might not ac­cu­rately por­tray Mus­lims — but that doesn’t make it racist be­cause the show doesn’t ac­cu­rately por­tray any­thing,” he said. (Lots of peo­ple dis­agree, but it’s that kind of show.) Th­ese aren’t the show’s only coded mes­sages — the up­com­ing episode de­scrip­tions are in­cred­i­bly cryp­tic. In last week’s episode, “Jonas and Carrie re­visit her past” was ac­tu­ally Carrie (Claire Danes) go­ing off her med­i­ca­tion, snort­ing crushed caf­feine pills, drink­ing a bot­tle of vodka, hav­ing sex and talk­ing to the ghosts of her vic­tims while she and Jonas tried to dis­cern who was try­ing to kill her. “Mean­while, Quinn stalks his prey” was the ex­tra­or­di­nary de­vel­op­ment that Quinn (Ru­pert Friend) was ac­tu­ally pur­su­ing Carrie. Other high­lights in­cluded Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Dar Adal (F. Mur­ray Abra­ham) plan­ning regime change in Syria, and Saul’s new re­la­tion­ship with Mi­randa Otto’s char­ac­ter, Allison Carr. In this week’s no doubt un­der­stated de­scrip­tion: “An­swers elude Carrie. Mean­while, Saul and Allison run an op­er­a­tion.” Can’t wait.

Blind Spot

Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Seven

This work­man­like thriller star­ring Aus­tralian ac­tor Sul­li­van Sta­ple­ton ( An­i­mal King­dom, 300: Rise of

an Em­pire, Strike Back) as FBI agent Kurt Weller, does just enough to keep you on the hook. In­deed, the open­ing scenes, which fea­ture a naked Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexan­der, Thor) emerg­ing from an aban­doned duf­fel bag in New York’s Times Square, in front of the most amazed bomb dis­posal of­fi­cer of all time, are im­pres­sive. Jane is also cov­ered in tat­toos, each of which rep­re­sents clues and which no doubt will pro­pel the nar­ra­tive week to week. Un­for­tu­nately, her mem­ory has been chem­i­cally wiped, but it is ap­par­ent she has had mil­i­tary train­ing at the very least. It also stars TV vet­eran Mar­i­anne JeanBap­tiste ( Broad­church, With­out a Trace).

The Ex-PM

Wed­nes­day, 9.10pm, ABC

If you like the com­edy stylings of Shaun Mi­callef, you’ll most prob­a­bly love this show. He plays fic­tional former prime min­is­ter An­drew Dug­dale, now re­tired and suf­fer­ing rel­e­vance de­pri­va­tion in a house full of fools. In a con­cept re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to the an­i­mated com­edy Bojack Horse­man (Net­flix), he is un­able to com­plete his mem­oir, and so wel­comes a young ghost writer (Lucy Honig­man) into his home. The po­lit­i­cal ref­er­ences, pre­sum­ably meant to show au­then­tic­ity, are laid on a lit­tle thick. And the comedic reg­is­ters of all the ac­tors haven’t nec­es­sar­ily aligned. Will it rise to the level of At

Home with Ju­lia? Time will tell. This week, Dug­dale has his sights set on a job as a UN Mid­dle East peace ne­go­tia­tor, but first he and his wife must host a din­ner with­out killing each other.

Amer­i­can Dad

Thurs­day, 10.30pm, 7Mate

It’s amaz­ing that this an­i­mated sit­com, cre­ated in the early 2000s by Seth Mac­Far­lane ( Fam­ily Guy,

Ted), is still go­ing strong. I say amaz­ing be­cause the lead char­ac­ter Stan Smith, a Repub­li­can, CIA agent and all-round pa­tri­otic buf­foon, seemed to satirise the post-9/11 era so specif­i­cally, much like the 2004 film Team Amer­ica: World Po­lice, by South Park cre­ators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. With Fu­tu­rama fin­ished, The Simpsons, Fam­ily Guy, South Park and this show are bit like an an­i­ma­tion oli­gop­oly (though ter­rific shows like

Archer, Bojack Horse­man and Rick and Morty are out there). This week, ev­ery­one is sur­prised when Hay­ley’s hus­band Jeff re­turns from outer space, but slightly dif­fer­ent than be­fore. Mean­while, Steve watches af­ter Snot Lon­stein’s pet ham­ster. Snot is voiced by Cur­tis Arm­strong, who played the char­ac­ter Booger in cult clas­sic

Re­venge of the Nerds. It can’t be a co­in­ci­dence.

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