December 29-January 4: Including Moone Boy and the ASB Classic

by Fiona Rae / 20 December, 2012
Chris O'Dowd relives his youth, and the women's tennis gets under way in Auckland.


Moone Boy, Thursday

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (TV1, 5.00pm). Are we sick of Jamie yet? He’s back with another series in which he tries to change eating habits in American schools – this time in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he is even less welcome than he was in Huntington, Virginia, the location of his first series. He is initially forbidden from filming in schools and has to set up elsewhere. Nevertheless, changes to school menus took place after the programme, including a ban on flavoured milk, which is more sugary than soft drink.

With Strings Attached (TV1, 9.35pm). Listener cover boy Jason Kerrison takes his band Opshop into the gothic setting of Old St Paul’s, Wellington, the beautiful historic former cathedral made from native timbers. Opshop collaborate with members of the NZSO – as the title suggests, the string section – and have reworked some of their hits, including One Day and Maybe. In addition, there’s behind-the-scenes footage from the six-week rehearsal period.


Joanna Lumley’s Greek Odyssey (TV1, 7.30pm). It’s been a lovely journey, and in the final episode, Lumley climbs Greece’s highest peak and home of the 12 Olympian gods, Mt Olympus.


Tennis (Sky Sport 3, Sky 032, noon). The start of the new year means ASB Classic tennis in Auckland. The tournament boasts three former world No 2 players – Vera Zvonareva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Agnieszka Radwanska (who is now ranked No 4). Last year’s winner, Zheng Jie, is returning, and the field also includes Yanina Wickmayer and Julia Goerges. New Zealander Marina Erakovic is No 17 on the list.


Revenge (TV2, 10.35pm). Soapy, melodramatic Revenge is a lot of fun, so if you want to catch up on season one before season two starts, here’s your chance. TV2 is screening episodes Monday-Thursday, so in theory, it will be a short five-and-a-half weeks before Emily/Amanda’s plots begin afresh.


Inside the Actors Studio (SoHo, Sky 010, 7.30pm). Is it a sign you’ve made it when James Lipton comes calling? Most likely. The long-running series is now in its 19th season – first guest Paul Newman in 1994 – and is still one of the best explorations of the craft of acting (and directing). Today’s episode is the 2009 interview with Judd Apatow, the director who changed romantic comedy forever with films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.

Hamish & Andy’s Caravan of Courage: Australia vs New Zealand (TV3, 8.30pm). Basically, just an excuse for Aussie radio hosts Hamish Blake and Andy Lee to participate in crazy stunts. They are travelling the length of New Zealand and the breadth of Australia in this two-part series, and are going to pick a “winner”. In New Zealand, they check out a Captain Cook re-enactment group, a bee beard, the world’s steepest street, a nude rugby club, and a home-made hovercraft.

Conviction Kitchen (Prime, 8.30pm). An Australian reality series perhaps inspired by Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” concept – giving unemployed kids a chance, etc, except these kids have been in a bit more trouble. Chef Ian Curley trains 12 young convicted crims in the ways of the restaurant. Curley reportedly turned down the show’s producers, but changed his mind because in his youth in Coventry, he got into trouble and spent six months in a juvenile detention centre for aggravated assault. Afterwards, his life was changed when he started cooking in a canteen, “There was a guy there who said to me, ‘If you want to work, just learn to cook. You can travel the world,’” he told the Sydney Morning Herald, “and luckily, I enjoyed it and I have travelled the world.” He is now the executive chef of the European Group of restaurants in Melbourne.

Watson & Oliver (UKTV, Sky 006, 8.30pm). Two female British comedians who get a comedy show are bound to be compared with French and Saunders at some point – and in this case, the reviews are complimentary. Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver became known for their “erudite, wonderfully daft and often surreal” Edinburgh Fringe shows (said the Independent) and were subsequently snapped up by the BBC. The series has a classic sketch-show format, including an intro routine, but the sketches are “inventive and unusual”.

Moone Boy (UKTV, Sky 006, 9.00pm). Chris O’Dowd has charmed everyone from Americans to Australians in Bridesmaids and The Sapphires, but in Moone Boy, he goes back to his Irish roots. O’Dowd recreates his 10-year-old self in the form of Martin Paul Kenny Dalglish Moone (David Rawle), an unusually optimistic child growing up in Boyle, County Roscommon. It is 1989, he has a mum and a dad and three older sisters – and an imaginary friend called Sean, played by O’Dowd. To call it whimsical is to sell it short, but Moone Boy is so delightfully non-cynical it’s like an antidote to every sitcom that ever featured a preternaturally mature child. Even O’Dowd as the imaginary friend is Martin’s subconscious, rather than a device for offering clever advice. Don’t worry about sicking the school bullies onto the new kid, Sean tells Martin, “sure, it’s really Trevor’s fault for being new”. “You are so right,” agrees Martin. Kids. O’Dowd co-wrote the six-part series with his long-time collaborator Nick Vincent Murphy, and told the Sun it was made on such a tight budget that he “got changed in the toilet and slept at my parents’ house”. It is made by Steve Coogan’s production company, Baby Cow, and Coogan makes a guest appearance in episode two. He and O’Dowd are the only familiar faces, however, and the production is realistically tatty, but feels current rather than nostalgic. O’Dowd told the Telegraph he hates nostalgia – that is, “things set in the recent past where everything is shiny and new. “Every period car is the sexiest period car you’ve ever seen and that seems wrong to me. In Moone Boy I wanted the wallpaper to look like it had been pasted on at the end of the 70s. This is a family that doesn’t have enough money to be constantly redecorating.” It wasn’t painful going back to his past, even though Martin gets bullied in the first episode and hatches an ill-fated plan to get protection from the school fixer in exchange for a feel of his sisters boobs. “I can recall it like it was yesterday. There’s something about being 10 years old. That’s a very spongy period in my brain.” Like Martin, O’Dowd grew up with lots of older sisters; clearly, he had a fertile imagination, too (in Moone Boy, Martin’s drawings come to life). It’s a treat to see such disarming, life-affirming television.

Red Dwarf X, Friday

Chuck (TV2, 10.30pm). Goodbye to the spy-fi series that made nerds happy with its many, many nerdisms. Against the odds, and with a lot of help from a certain food franchise, Chuck managed five seasons, but Team Bartowski are now on their last mission. They’re up against rogue spy Nicholas Quinn (Angus Macfadyen): Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) has had her memories of her relationship with Chuck (Zach Levi) erased by him. There’s a final hurrah for “Jeffster” – Jeff and Lester’s crazy synth-pop duo – and everyone makes decisions about their futures.


The Graham Norton Show (TV3, 8.30pm). Baking is so hot, so to speak, and Graham has huge stars Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bake Off on his couch for a New Year’s special. There are also some guys called Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman and Billy Crystal, as well as comedian John Bishop, and singer Pink.

Red Dwarf X (UKTV, Sky 006, 8.30pm). Let us begin the year the way we mean to go on – with a laugh. The classic British sci-fi sitcom gets a new series, its first since 1999. The characters of Lister (Coro’s Craig Charles), Rimmer (Craig Barrie), Cat (Danny John-Jules) and Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) are so beloved it hardly matters what they do, and although Doug Naylor’s creation lost its edge over the years, this series has enough clever jokes to be a return to form. In the first episode, Lister tries to buy a “stirmaster” to stir his coffee, and hologram Rimmer crashes because of stored-up resentment.


Rod Stewart: One Night Only, New Year's Eve

Providing the Earth is still spinning on its axis after December 21, one thing’s for certain in 2013: there will be weather. There may also be more extreme weather events of the kind we saw in 2012 and we love that the Country channel is putting it all in perspective with Weather 2012: The Year in Review (Country 99TV, Sky 099, New Year’s Eve, 8.00pm). That’s right, a look-back on the year’s weather on New Year’s Eve. What a way to go. Not to be outdone, When Weather Changed History (History, Sky 073, Thursday, 8.30pm) is a whole series about major events that were affected by the weather, including the Challenger space shuttle explosion and Hitler’s offensive against US troops in Belgium.

Prime is in party mode – the only one, it seems – seeing in the New Year with a repeat of Duran Duran: One Night Only (Prime, New Year’s Eve, 10.00pm), a performance at ITV’s London studios, as well as archive footage and interviews. It is followed by Rod Stewart: One Night Only (Prime, New Year’s Eve, 11.00pm), a concert performance in which the rocker sings some of his biggest hits, including Maggie May and I Don’t Want to Talk About It. Welsh band Stereophonics are on stage for Handbags and Gladrags, from Stewart’s 1969 debut album.

The Arts Channel is also rocking out with Queen: Rock Montreal (Arts Channel, Sky 079, Sunday, 8.30pm), the only concert shot on film of the British band. It was made on Queen’s 1981 world tour, and they arrived in Montreal in fine form after playing for huge crowds in Japan and Latin America. The film has been digitally restored and the sound remastered.

Speaking of 80s singers, Annie Lennox, once half of the Eurythmics, is the subject of Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC Knowledge, Sky 074, Thursday, 7.30pm). The Aberdeen-born singer’s research takes place entirely in Scotland, and she uncovers stories of poverty, both urban and rural.
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