This illuminating remake of Kenneth Clark’s famous 1960s series Civilisation continues this week with episodes tonight and tomorrow. Last week’s opening episode, which began with historian Simon Schama surveying the damage inflicted by Islamic State on the statuary and architectural bounty of the Middle East, was quite affecting, even though that dreadful organisation is further on its way into the dustbin of history since this first screened in Britain earlier this year. Tonight, Schama explores humanity’s urge to depict nature, beginning with the painted scrolls of the Song dynasty in 10th-century China. His survey extends to America and the photography of Ansel Adams. Tomorrow evening, Mary Beard looks at the intersection of religion and art, Everyone’s favourite weepy wraps up for another season, with the finale of This Is Us sporting the Smashing Pumpkins-esque title The Beginning is the End is the Beginning. This episode promises to reveal the truth about Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) past life in Vietnam and sees Randall (Emmywinner Sterling K. Brown) experience a rare win during his campaign for a seat on the city council in Philadelphia. No doubt new mysteries will emerge to replace each one that’s solved. The show is yet to officially be renewed for a fourth season, but such an outcome seems likely. Vikings Thursday, 9.30pm, SBS As Travis Fimmel’s character Ragnar Lothbrok Vikings recedes further in our memories, other equally interesting ones have entered the narrative foreground of this long-running Viking saga. Katheryn Winnick’s Lagertha is now a deposed queen with a shock of suddenly white hair. Bishop Heahmund (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has returned to his native England to try to convince Alfred the Great (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) of his loyalty. Meanwhile, things continue to go awry in Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgard) dystopian winter wonderland colony in Iceland. There are a number of films with subtle spiritual themes, even if they are officially action movies or comedies. The Matrix is an example of the former; Groundhog Day and I Heart Huckabees (Saturday, 10.25pm, SBS Viceland) are examples of the latter. Jason Schwartzman and Mark Wahlberg belting each other in the face with a giant orange ball might not look like an obvious path to enlightenment, but to each their own. It also stars Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Lily Tomlin, Dustin Hoffman and Isabelle Huppert, with Jonah Hill making his screen debut in the 2004 film. With the Das Boot reboot screening from this Wednesday on SBS (see pages 5 and 27), check out (Saturday, 10pm, 9Gem), starring Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel and (ahem) Jon Bon Jovi. The 2000 film was criticised by then British prime minister Tony Blair for depicting Americans, instead of the British, capturing an Enigma coding machine. For me, the notion of making Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (Sunday, 8.30pm, Seven) is like planning a Young Ones reboot or a Fawlty Towers prequel. But what’s done is done. Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrocks all return for this production.
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