Pay-tv films

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Pay Television -

Right when you think you’ve seen ev­ery­thing comes a re­al­ity se­ries based on a sub­cul­ture you never knew ex­isted: space deal­ers. Here we meet Larry McG­lynn, Torie Var­kett and Cole Som­mers who search for, buy and sell sur­plus NASA kit. De­sir­able items in this trade in­clude the pilot’s seat from Gem­ini XII, an un­eaten as­tro­naut meal pack and a bag Buzz Aldrin took to the moon. Nat­u­rally ev­ery item they find has a story at­tached, each re­veal­ing an episode in the his­tory of space ex­plo­ration. Plus some of the stuff re­quires ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion if its prior pur­pose isn’t ob­vi­ous; ac­cord­ingly they some­times meet the orig­i­nal en­gi­neers and de­sign­ers in­volved in the space mis­sions. Un­usual but com­pelling view­ing. It is ax­iomatic that war is stress­ful, and com­bat­ants re­port­ing strange vi­sions or en­coun­ters are to be some­what ex­pected. This se­ries de­ploys de­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments and mil­i­tary his­to­ri­ans to try to ex­plain or de­bunk some or the weird­est claims, from gi­ant squid at­tack­ing sub­marines to un­ex­plained weaponry. It’s novel, I’ll give them that. An­cient Aliens Thurs­day, 9.30pm, His­tory Some­times you see a fact so strange you can’t be­lieve it’s cor­rect. This is the 10th sea­son of An­cient Aliens? In fact, not only is that cor­rect, de­spite the man­i­festly thin con­ceit, but sea­sons 11 and 12 have al­ready aired in the US. And iron­i­cally this se­ries is also about spot­ting in­ex­pli­ca­ble anom­alies in the an­cient his­tor­i­cal record and hy­poth­e­sis­ing ex­pla­na­tions. Pre­vi­ous episodes have looked at air­craft-shaped trin­kets found as far apart as Egypt and Colom­bia, tested their aero­nau­tic prop­er­ties, and spec­u­lated about their prove­nance. In this episode, the show asks whether an alien civil­i­sa­tion in­hab­ited Earth in the dis­tant past. Later episodes ask where rocket pi­o­neer Wern­her von Braun gained his in­spi­ra­tion. (In­trigu­ingly, an episode next sea­son asks if Aus­tralian Abo­rig­ines might have had con­tact with ex­trater­res­tri­als in the re­mote past.) Given it’s al­most cer­tainly all non­sense, I fully in­tended to mock and/or dis­miss this show but, as I couldn’t stop watch­ing, it re­ceives a qual­i­fied rec­om­men­da­tion. Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch is an ac­tor court­ing se­ri­ous over­ex­po­sure. When au­di­ences see his face, are they likely to think of the long-run­ning BBC pro­duc­tion of Sher­lock? As Khan in the re­booted Star Trek fran­chise? Or his turn in the ti­tle role of 2016’s Doc­tor Strange (Sun­day, 8.30pm, Pre­miere)? The lat­ter is very much an ori­gin story, set­ting up the for­mer sur­geon, now sor­cerer, to par­tic­i­pate in the forth­com­ing Marvel films Thor: Rag­narok and Avengers: In­fin­ity War. It is none­the­less an en­joy­able romp, with Lon­don and Hong Kong join­ing New York in get­ting smashed this time. Check out Kate Winslet in her Os­car-win­ning role as Hanna Sch­mitz in The Reader (Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Mas­ter­piece). Also star­ring Ralph Fi­ennes and Bruno Ganz, it tells a mem­o­rable story of love, war and re­spon­si­bil­ity. With a great cast in­clud­ing Elle Fan­ning, Christina Hen­dricks and Keanu Reeves, and a cel­e­brated young Dan­ish di­rec­tor in Ni­co­las Wind­ing Refn, The Neon De­mon (Tonight, 8.30pm, Pre­miere) looked on pa­per like a sure thing. The re­views of the Los An­ge­les-set psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller weren’t uni­formly bad; in fact they were highly po­larised, which can amount to the same out­come at the box of­fice.

Mads Mikkelsen in Doc­tor Strange

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