Sunday March 13

by Fiona Rae / 12 March, 2011


U Live (TVNZ U, Sky 016 and Freeview 6, 4.00pm). TVNZ6 is a goner, replaced by TVNZ's new channel for the 15-24 demographic, U. There seem to be all sorts of tie-ins with this internet thing that the kids have these days; U Live uses Facebook to try to get the young folk commenting and interacting. What is it with all this social media? In our day, we were moody and lonely and no one understood us and we liked it that way. But we digress. Other shows on the newly minted channel are Kings of Nitro, a reality show about bike-building drag racers trying to become European drag racing champions; The Buried Life, a reality show about four guys with a youth bucket list; and G Girls, an, er, reality show that follows the young Carrie Bradshaws at British fashion magazine Glamour.

Cricket (sky Sport 2, Sky 031, 5.00pm). Only two more games left in group play at the Cricket World Cup, and today's match against Canada in Mumbai shouldn't present too much of a problem. The Black Caps are currently second equal on the table with Pakistan; the final game is on Friday against Sri Lanka.

All New The Simpsons (Four, 7.30pm). Guest star alert! Then again, on The Simpsons, that's hardly news. There are two tonight: British actress Rachel Weisz appears as an unusual therapist who treats Bart and Santa's Little Helper; and Homer has a fantasy featuring Nascar driver Danica Patrick. To give you an idea, the headline on the Yahoo Sports page was: "Like many men, Homer Simpson dreams of Danica Patrick fighting his wife."

Top Gear (Prime, 7.30pm). The recalcitrant Top Gear manboys are in Albania, where they are testing a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley and a Mercedes, which is just mean: Albania is not one of the richest countries in Europe, but there are some very new highways to be explored. Jonathan Ross is the star in a reasonably priced car.

Life (Prime, 8.45pm). Tonight: mammals, including reindeer, aye-ayes, elephants, fruit bats, hyenas and humpback whales in the nursery and mating ground around Tonga. Awesome.

The Good Wife (TV3, 9.30pm). At a time when television schedules are full of programmes that are designed like pinball machines - flashing lights, loud sounds, bonus rounds if you keep watching - we'd like to thank The Good Wife for being so grown up. Sure, there are other grown-up programmes on TV: Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, for example. But Mad Men is grown up in the 60s, and Empire is set in the 1920s. The Good Wife is here and now, the age of 24-hour rolling news, talkshows, complex political campaign funding, and especially the internet, where a politician's indiscretions are not only played out in public, but are played over and over again and turned into funny videos on YouTube. It is this complicated environment that Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is navigating. In the first season, her husband Peter (Chris Noth) was in prison for political corruption and she was in the humiliating position of starting on the bottom rung of the ladder at a law firm. As the second season begins, she is successful at work, and Peter, now out of jail, is launching his campaign for re-election as State's Attorney. But there is not enough room to describe the many undercurrents and relationships and subtleties of grown-up human interaction here. If you're a fan, you'll know that The Good Wife keeps its cards close: people are complex, they have history, baggage. Alicia is torn by her attraction to Will (Josh Charles), her boss, and her duty to her redemption-seeking husband and her children. Outwardly composed, she exemplifies the saying still waters run deep. Margulies's restrained, compelling performance has quite rightly won her a Golden Globe, but there are brilliant performances also from cast members Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi as the mysterious Kalinda. So grown up, it's scary.


Norbit (TV2, 8.30pm). Someone should tell Eddie Murphy (and Martin Lawrence, for that matter) that it's not okay: here, he denigrates in equal measure nerds, the overweight and the Chinese. And we thought Bride Wars was bad. (2007) 1

The Alpha Diaries (Maori, 8.30pm). A kind of Israeli Generation Kill: director Yaniv Berman took his camera with him while on mandatory service in the Israeli army. He captures the story of Alpha Company as they patrol the Palestinian territories. "This is our contribution to our country, our democracy," he writes on IMDb. "It's a tax we pay for Israel, to be like any other Western culture where people can sit at home and watch TV, like in Europe, or like in faraway America. This is the story of the burden, the guilt and the sorrow we have to carry with us." (2007) 8

One Missed Call (TV2, 10.35pm). Snobby horror fans will always say that remakes of Japanese horror movies are not as good as the original, but in this case, it's true: the 2003 J-horror Chakushin Ari is given an uninspired American spin by French director Eric Valette. It's a little like The Ring with cellphones - kids start getting cellphone voicemails from their future selves that include the date and time of their deaths. Student Shannyn Sossamon and detective Ed Burns go through the motions; the only cast member who comes out looking any good is Ray Wise, who is fantastically unhinged as a TV producer who films one of the scheduled deaths in a church. (2008) 3


Spectrum (Radio New Zealand National, 12.15pm). The Wellington cable car service is now 109 years old and Jack Perkins takes a one-in-five gradient ride to uncover its history for today's Spectrum. Incredibly, the first cars, made in Switzerland, had outward-facing uncovered side seats, exposing the riders to the bracing Wellington southerly - and allowing them to kick the tunnel walls as they went through. That cable car was nicknamed the "Red Rattler", but the new cars purchased in 1979 are a smooth ride - and somewhat warmer.

The Sunday Drama (Radio New Zealand National, 3.04pm). British playwright Katie Hims cleverly weaves together the stories of apparently unrelated Malawians until we realise what they have in common. A schoolgirl, a primary school teacher, a policeman and a mother appear in her drama Why Is the Sky So Blue?, which was written for this year's International Women's Day on March 8.

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