October 20-26: Including Episodes and Boardwalk Empire

by Fiona Rae / 20 October, 2012


The Native Diet (Maori, 4.30pm). We assume that kereru and kiwi are off the menu, but that there’s still kai moana to be had in this series in which a group of game souls eat and exercise like their tipuna. No doubt it is healthier, although a similar BBC programme, called Man’s First Diet, concluded there’s rather a lot of … roughage. In some rather cruel programming, Maori TV is repeating the lovely Anne Thorp cooking series, Kai Ora, straight afterwards.

Rugby (Sky Sport 1, Sky 030, 9.55pm). A dead rubber, as they say, but nevertheless a Bledisloe Cup match. The All Blacks play the Wallabies at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium today, and then it will be off on their European tour, with the first game in Scotland on November 12.


Netball (Sky Sport 1, Sky 030, 3.30pm). The Silver Ferns have two games in the Quad Series this week: today against the Diamonds at Allphones Arena in Sydney, and then they will play England on Thursday at the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington (8.00pm). The latter game is preceded by the Diamonds vs South Africa game at the same venue.


Best of QI (Prime, 7.00pm, weeknights). Why we can’t see the latest series is a mystery known only to Prime’s programmers, especially because Kiwi comedian Cal Wilson has just appeared on the show (“New Zealand’s perhaps greatest stand-up comedian,” according to presenter Stephen Fry). However, here’s a series of best-ofs of the world’s most erudite panel show.

The Block Australia (TV3, 7.30pm). Like a Bruce Willis movie, renovation seems to have returned to our screens with a vengeance, although presumably interest in this Aussie iteration of the competition makeover show won’t be quite as high as in the local version. The show starts with eight couples in an elimination challenge, before the real work starts on four dilapidated terraced houses in south Melbourne. The series is soaking up TV real estate, too – it screens tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday for the next 10 weeks.

Boardwalk Empire (SoHo, Sky 010, 8.30pm). Season three, and showrunner Terence Winter has done a Breaking Bad. He’s turned Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson into a full-time bad guy after the Oedipal tussle with Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) finished with Darmody suffering a career-ending shot to the end. New on the scene is Bobby Cannavale, who plays a volatile Sicilian mobster from New York City who is trouble with a capital T. More real-life mobsters will be represented this season, including Bugsy Siegel and the so-called “Mob’s Accountant” Meyer Lansky.

Prime Rocks: Fleetwood Mac (Prime, 9.35pm). With a 2013 tour likely, a Fleetwood Mac lore refresh is timely: their start playing blues in the late 60s, the line-up changes and mainstream hits of the 70s and 80s, the off-stage love affairs, and the further line-up changes of the 90s.


Fair Go Ad Awards (TV1, 7.30pm). Apologies for our earlier confusion – this is the real Fair Go Ad Awards, bigger, bolder and with all-new ingredients! That last part might not be true! The Fair Go team present the best and the worst television ads of the year, as voted by you, and there’s the result of the school ad awards. Yes, there will be the traditional ad spoofs, although it’s difficult to see how they could top last year’s flashmob.

Shakespeare, India and Me (Vibe, Sky 007, 9.30pm). British actress Felicity Kendal returns to her roots to explore not only that vast country’s continuing love of the Bard, but her own family’s role in keeping it in their hearts. Kendal grew up in India, the daughter of actors Geoffrey and Laura, who toured India with their company Shakespeareana. Her first stage appearance was at nine months in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and later she starred, with her father, in the 1965 Merchant Ivory movie Shakespeare Wallah, which was loosely based on their lives as touring Shakespearean players. (As an aside, the movie also starred a young Madhur Jaffrey.) Kendal explores the many ways Shakespeare is still in evidence in India, despite the British yoke having long been cast off. The plays came to India via the East India Trading Company, and Othello was the first to be performed in 1780. It took another 100 years before an Indian was cast in a role – Othello again – causing a sensation. Kendal’s parents first arrived in India as army entertainment during World War II, and returned afterwards with Felicity and her older sister, Jennifer. From there, it was an itinerant actor’s life, including a performance for the king in the palace at Udaipur. Kendal makes a grand return visit to speak to the current king, who remembers Shakespeareana’s visit during the time of his grandfather. There are other Shakespearean connections for Kendal, including the theatre in Mumbai built by her sister and her Indian husband, and now run by her niece and nephew. Kendal finds Shakespeare being performed by prisoners in a high-security jail, by schoolchildren, and by villagers in a small southern town. An expert in traditional Indian dance performs, and changes, Shakespeare’s stories. And, of course, there’s Bollywood – the Bard may well have been amazed to see Othello with a dance sequence, but we’d like to think he would approve.


Rescue Me (SoHo, Sky 010, 7.30pm). The seventh and final season of the drama that began as a post-9/11 examination of firefighters and flawed heroes. Perhaps inevitably, it strayed from that path over the seasons, but in the end swings back around – because Denis Leary’s firefighter, Tommy Gavin, and his comrades-in-arms, can’t move on. The season opens a few months before the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and Tommy and some of Ladder 62 are visiting Ground Zero. But 9/11 isn’t the only thing they can’t let go: their lives are in a loop, and you have to wonder if it’s worth following them around.

Rove LA (TV3, 9.35pm). We wouldn’t have said Rove McManus’s American sortie had been entirely successful, but points for trying. Presumably it also serves as pre-publicity for anyone touring Downunder, so tonight’s second season opener features Russell Brand, who is in Auckland next month (a British comedian interviewed by an Australian in the US – entertainment is certainly global these days). Singer Adam Lambert and comedian Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords, 30 Rock) complete the set.


Rev (UKTV, Sky 006, 8.30pm). The traditional British comedy series featuring a priest is given another go-around and, funnily enough, was a surprise UK hit – so much so that Ralph Fiennes, Lord Voldemort himself, wanted to have a guest role (and appeared in the first episode of season two. Guardian critic Euan Ferguson, meanwhile, said he’d like to see a walk-on part for Richard Dawkins). Tom Hollander, whom you may recognise from Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride and Prejudice, plays Rev Adam Smallbone, who leaves a small Suffolk parish to become vicar of an inner-city London church. The series won a Best Sitcom Bafta and pop singer Lily Allen famously tweeted “I love Rev”. “Lovely,” said the Guardian. Olivia Colman and comedian Miles Jupp also star.

Episodes (TV1, 11.00pm). When you write a satire about making television in Hollywood, everything becomes ironic, and the irony of Episodes is that its creators were given as much freedom as they wanted to make everyone in Hollywood look awful. It helps that Americans David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik work on their Brit-US co-production in the UK, where it is expected that writer-creators will practically kill themselves writing every episode of a series. Probably, the only other American doing that is Aaron Sorkin (who wrote every episode of The Newsroom). “Ironically, our experience on Episodes was the exact opposite of the one we’re depicting on the show,” Klarik says in an interview on the BBC website. “While we were making it, we talked to friends who were doing pilots back home and hearing the horror stories.” Here’s something else that seems like a meta-television comment: due to low ratings, TV1 pulled Episodes after season two’s second episode. We return this week at episode three in which the fictional series Pucks! is in ratings freefall. Episodes is indecently brilliant. Green Wing’s Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan play British writers Sean and Beverly Lincoln who win a Bafta for their History Boys-style TV series and are lured to Hollywood by the promise of creative freedom and a big payday. It’s a Faustian deal: their baby is turned into a broad sitcom set in a high school starring Matt LeBlanc as a hockey coach. For Greig and Mangan, this sort of comedy is in their DNA, but the revelation is LeBlanc, who plays a shallow, manipulative actor called  …  Matt LeBlanc. At the end of season one, he slept with a drunk Beverly, who thought Sean was cheating on her. To catch up to where we are this season: Sean and Beverly have broken up, and Matt is sleeping with the blind wife of the studio boss. The role puts Friends’ doofus Joey Tribbiani firmly behind LeBlanc, and it won him a Golden Globe, after three nominations for Friends and Joey. “We were excited about playing with everyone’s perception of who Matt is,” says Crane. “When people meet Matt, they expect Joey Tribbiani. They assume he’s the dimmest bulb on the tree. But he’s nothing like that. It’s just a reflection of what a good actor he is.”
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