Nature on TV is big business these days; in the transformed TV wildlife landscape, it has many guises. Alongside the occasional blue-chip series, epitomised by the BBC’s wildlife specials, there are celebrity travelogues, conservation lectures, and “vets-and-pets” series such as this very popular reality show. Animal Planet’s topperforming series, it follows Jeff Young at his madhouse Planned Pethood Plus clinic, where, with more than 80,000 clients, about 30 surgeries a day, 30 staff, a bustling emergency room, and a far-reaching mobile clinic, Dr Jeff is under constant pressure to keep everyone healthy and happy. A somewhat controversial figure — a tattooed and bandana-wearing selfprofessed “hillbilly from Indiana” — he treats British broadcaster Louis Theroux’s first featurelength documentary was created in collaboration with director John Dower and two-time Academy award-winning producer Simon Chinn. For years his dream was to think he might just be the first journalist to see another, more positive, side to the Church of Scientology, intrigued by its commercials promising enlightenment and techniques that claim to combine spirituality and science with the ultimate aim of a planet free from crime and war. When all his approaches are turned down, he comes up with another method to get inside with the aid of the church’s former second-in-command, Mark “Marty” Rathbun, and a bunch of enthusiastic actors. In a scenario worthy of a Coen brothers comedy — but nastier — it becomes apparent that Scientology representatives are in fact making a film about him, a not unfamiliar tactic. Murder, She Baked Friday, 8.30pm, 13th Street This series is based on the novels of Joanne Fluke, whose titles include Double Fudge Brownie Murder, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder and Plum Pudding Murder. Alison Sweeney stars as a bakery owner who just can’t keep her hands out of the batter when murder stirs things up in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Not for True Detective fans. Jeff Bridges is arguably the most underrated American actor since Robert Ryan or maybe Richard Widmark. Here, in the Coen brothers’ True Grit (Tuesday, 8.30pm, Action), he’s the guileful, duplicitous Rooster Cogburn, the harddrinking ex-lawman hired by 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) to help her find Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who killed her father at Fort Smith, Arkansas. With great photography by Roger Deakins, the movie received Academy Award nominations in a remarkable 10 categories. Another great western is Joe Kidd (Tuesday, 10.30pm, Fox Classics) from 1972, directed by John Sturges, the action specialist who also made Bad Day at Black Rock. It’s written by Elmore Leonard with photography by Bruce Surtees, and stars Clint Eastwood in fine tight-lipped form as an ex-bounty hunter reluctantly assisting Robert Duvall’s evil land baron track down a Mexican revolutionary leader. Maybe the best musical ever, Singin’ in the Rain (Wednesday, 8.30pm, TCM), is directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, it’s also one of the cleverest movies made about the film industry itself.
Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges in True Grit