February 25-March 2: Including The Almighty Johnsons and Terra Nova

by Fiona Rae / 25 February, 2012


Cricket (Sky Sport 2, Sky 030, 1.31pm). After three Twenty20 matches, the Black Caps are into the one-day series with South Africa. Tonight’s match is from Westpac Stadium in Wellington; on Wednesday, the teams meet at McLean Park, Napier; and the final match is at Eden Park on Saturday, March 3.

Terra Nova (TV3, 7.30pm). If you saw our interview last week with Jay Ryan, you’ll know that Steven Spielberg is an executive producer of this big-budget family adventure-style series – and that it has dinosaurs! Cool, exciting, dangerous dinosaurs, which happily also serve to take your mind off the pretty standard plotting, ordinary scripting, and family values straight from the 50s. It begins in 2149, and the world is overpopulated and running out of breathable air. Nek minute, humankind discovers a rift in the space-time continuum that is a doorway to a Cretaceous-era Earth in a different timeline (handy: they’re not changing the present, see?). Jim and ­Elisabeth Shannon (Jason Mara and Shelley Conn), who are in trouble for having a third child, manage to get through the stargate, er, gateway, to start new ecologically friendly lives, although they seem to have brought through some of the plotlines from Little House on the Prairie. Bonus: Kiwi actor Simone Kessell is a regular cast member, and Ryan turns up in episode five. Also, y’know, dinosaurs.


History Under the Hammer (Prime, 7.00pm). New local series in which the history of interesting objects is revealed just before they are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Tonight, a 1929 Douglas motorbike once raced by speedway star Wally ­Kilminster, a beautiful arts and crafts brooch, and a stock whip handle.

All New Simpsons (Four, 7.30pm). Tonight’s guest star: Glee’s Jane Lynch, who plays Homer’s new assistant at the nuclear power plant. Naturally, she is evil.

Top Gear (Prime, 7.30pm). Thank goodness, Jeremy Clarkson has been captured and released back in his natural environment, the petrolhead world of Top Gear. Tonight, Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are testing supercars at Italy’s Nardò test track, which is so large it can be seen from space. Much like Clarkson’s ego. They also drive around the centre of Rome – not for the faint-hearted – and go up against the Stig at the legendary Imola circuit. Now, please, God, do not let Jeremy out again.

The Grand Plan (Prime, 8.45pm). When life gives you lemons, so they say, make a TV show about it (just ask Fran Drescher). Here’s a new series that was first commissioned as a kind of Grand Designs-meets-Jamie Oliver. Cameras were to follow Nick and Sarah Freeman, Sarah’s father, Graham Harris, and their friend Stephen Cohen as they restored Christ­church’s dilapidated Provincial Hotel and turned it into a modern gastro-pub. That was until the first earthquake in September 2010, anyway.

Emma (TV1, 10.30pm). The last of the Austen adaptations before, in 2009, the BBC called a “bonnet moratorium”. Romola Garai (The Hour) is Austen’s exasperating heroine, and Jonny Lee Miller, wearing an excellent set of sideburns, is the kind and moral Mr Knightley, waiting in the wings for Emma to just grow up. This version (in four parts) is played as a comedy of manners, featuring lovely turns by Michael Gambon as Emma’s hypochondriac father and Tamsin Greig as sad, penniless chatterbox Miss Bates. It is a bit syrupy, however, and Miller doesn’t do much apart from stride manfully about, but it is pleasant enough.


The 84th Annual Academy Awards (Sky Movies, Sky 020, 2.30pm). Darn. Why did we cancel Sky Movies in favour of SoHo? This year’s Oscars, live from Hollywood, and only on Sky Movies (no replay on Prime! Boo!). Billy Crystal is back, too, after Eddie Murphy stepped down. It seems the French are taking over this year: The Artist is on a roll, having won Golden Globes and Baftas, although expect strong showings from Martin Scorsese (Hugo), George Clooney (The Descendants) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady). Conchord Bret McKenzie should win for his Muppet movie song, which means he probably won’t. For red-carpet fun, E! channel (Sky 011) has live coverage from noon.

Wish You Were Here: The Making of the Pink Floyd Album (Prime, 9.35pm). A fact journalists sometimes forget is if you want to get a musician to talk, ask him or her about the music. Following that rule, this "making of" album series is a corker, and Wish You Were Here: The Making of the Pink Floyd Album is no exception. The musicians, producers and studio engineers discuss the process of making Wish You Were Here at Abbey Road Studio after the massive success of Dark Side of the Moon, including the now-infamous visit by former band member Syd Barrett, who had physically changed so much no one recognised him. The band wrote Shine on You Crazy Diamond as a tribute to Barrett.


East West 101 (Maori, 9.30pm). A cut above the usual cliché and clunky dialogue of most Aussie cop shows – in fact, one of the finest cop shows in the history of Australian TV, according to the Daily Telegraph. This is because it has the guts to confront racial tensions in Oz, focusing on western Sydney, and has a Muslim as its lead character (the lovely Don Hany from Offspring). And the third season, which starts tonight, tackles the impact in Australia of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – although there will also be stories featuring the Somali, Palestinian, Israeli and Maori communities.


World's Deadliest Roads and Road Madness (TV3, 7.30pm and 8.00pm). Programming for blokes – and why not? Between the housewives who are desperate, the girls who want revenge and the fairy tales, there’s not that much left over for the boys. In World’s Deadliest Roads Lisa, Alex and Rick from Ice Road Truckers are sent to India to haul stuff into the Himalayas. Guess who turns out to be the toughest of all? Yep, Lisa. Sorry, guys. Road Madness is closer to home – comedian and petrolhead Ewen Gilmour presents footage from traffic cameras here and abroad that shows what terrible driving is going on out there as we speak. We shouldn’t be surprised, really.

I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and Peta (SoHo, Sky 010, 7.30pm). Film-maker Matthew Galkin is unflinching in his portrayal of a zealot in this doco about the co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). It is the most recognised animal-rights organisation in the world, probably because Newkirk is known for her high-vis stunts, such as chucking red paint on catwalks and pie-throwing. Celebrity endorsement of Peta's slogan – "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" – has also given the organisation huge amounts of publicity. However, Newkirk is radical and prepared to do almost anything, and she runs Peta as a cult of personality. Galkin (who made the documentary Kevorkian) follows Newkirk in strategy meetings, press conferences and galas and watches as she rubs fake blood over a Jean Paul Gaultier storefront. Interviewees include Pamela Anderson, Bill Maher and the singer Pink.

The Almighty Johnsons (TV3, 8.30pm). After vampires, werewolves, witches, faeries and ghosts, a zombie apocalypse and ordinary people becoming heroes, nothing is unreasonable on television these days – not even Norse gods in Aotearoa. So, welcome back The Almighty Johnsons, our own supernatural – within a budget – series about gods on Earth searching for their bliss. As a metaphor for the common bloke, it’s a good one: the four brothers Johnson are living emasculated lives as ordinary mortals, their powers watered-down and their inner gods kept, well, inner. There’s Mike (Tim Balme), the god of skill and the hunt; Anders (Dean O’Gorman), the god of poetry; Axl (Emmett Skilton), potentially Odin, the god of everything; and Ty (Jared Turner), the god of winter and darkness. The first season was taken up with Axl coming to terms with the whole god thing and then searching for Frigg (not a metaphor), in mythology his wife. This somehow culminated in Ty marrying Eva (Brooke Williams), the goddess of the Underworld. As season two begins, Ty and Eva are locked in a love-and-hate and rough-sex relationship to rival Buffy and Spike’s doomed season six liaison. It’s not going to end well. Meanwhile, the other brothers continue the search, but Axl receives some sage advice, from Michael Hurst no less, that he will first have to become a man. Then Frigg (possibly not a metaphor in this context) will come to him. If there’s one criticism that can be made of this cheerful series, it’s that there’s often a lot of splainin’ to do. The quest, the gods and goddesses, their factotums, the various bits of paper that turn up written in ancient Nordic (or something). But when lines like “I’m Odin, don’t call me an egg” count as exegesis, it hardly seems to matter.


World's Strictest Parents New Zealand (TV1, 8.30pm). Hurrah, another stupid reality franchise is remade here. This is the one where naughty teens get sent to stay with strict families in other countries. Because being sent to live with strangers half a world away while being filmed for a reality TV show is definitely the best parental response to bad behaviour.


The Good Word (TVNZ 7, 9.05pm). New Zealand Book Month is always an exciting time here at Listener Towers (we'll be having some online-only treats during March, say tuned!) and we're happy to see the return of The Good Word, the local book-discussion series. Novelist Emily Perkins presents, and features include a discussion with a studio guest about his or her favourite book; a look at the working habits of various Kiwi writers; a peek behind-the-scenes of some famous New Zealand books; and a book review panel. Contributing are Miriama Kamo, Carol Hirschfeld, Te Radar, Bill Hastings, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Gordon McLauchlan and Steve Braunias.
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