Illusionists have been with us since TV began, part of its rich show-business tradition. I can still remember the Great Franquin on the variety shows of the late 1960s and his exhibitions of mesmerism and hypnotism that had people plucked from his vast audiences playing imaginary xylophones, swimming for their lives and being held up by gunmen in nightclubs. In this more contemporary TV format, Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller sit in the audience and watch as aspiring magicians try to impress them with a trick the famous illusionists are unable to duplicate. If a magician successfully hoodwinks the legendary duo with a trick, that person wins a trip to Las Vegas to perform as an opening act in Penn & Teller’s show at the Rio Hotel & Casino. You might have noticed the return of this splendid ABC programming slate. The prime space celebrates the art and craft of some of the cinema’s most confronting and entertaining feature documentaries. It’s a fascinating way to explore the way filmmakers working in nonfiction are exploring those increasingly blurred lines between reality and agenda documentary cinema. And this one is a real-life thriller, unfolding by the minute and giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the US National Security Agency. You will never trust your phone, email, credit card, web browser, or social media profile ever again. Opening Shot: Candidate Games Wednesday, 9.30pm, ABC Two This is the fourth instalment of five half-hour Bought a Zoo We documentaries from Australia’s next generation of documentary filmmakers; films that bring a fresh perspective to some of the big issues facing younger Australians. Sam Bodhi Field’s doco follows an explosive postal election, in which three candidates — a 28-year-old, an entrepreneur and a popular two-term incumbent — will go head to head. After all, with an annual council budget of $200 million after the mining boom, the role of lord mayor of Perth is a tempting prize. What We Do in the Shadows (Saturday, 8.30pm, SBS)(1.25am, WA) written, directed by and starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, this very funny mockumentary explores the comic misadventures of four vampire roommates who reveal the hilarious details of their nocturnal life in present-day Wellington, New Zealand. Inspired by the life of Benjamin Mee, a British writer who rescued a failing zoo while coming to terms with life as a widower and single father, Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo (Sunday, 7.30pm, Ten) is quirky and endearing. Matt Damon is a Los Angeles newspaper columnist and adventure writer struggling to raise his two young kids after the death of their beloved mother so, to lift their spirits, he buys a zoo called the Rosemoor Animal Park, where Scarlett Johansson’s Kelly Foster is the head of the animal keepers. Emile Ardolino’s period teen movie classic Dirty Dancing (Wednesday, 8.30pm, Ten) retains its charm nearly three decades on. It’s the story of headstrong 17-year-old Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey), who gets lessons in dance and love at a sleepy resort in the Catskills from dance instructor Johnny Castle, a role that catapulted Patrick Swayze to stardom.
Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon in