TV & Radio Saturday February 21by Fiona Rae
Walliams, Cowell, De Vito and O'Briain on Jonathan Ross, and Miss Marple's final mystery. For this series anyway.
Miss Marple (Prime, 8.30pm). The final of this series of Christie adaptations is The Pale Horse, where Miss Marple is given a list of names by her old friend Father Gorman, who is then promptly murdered. Miss Marple investigation leads to an inn run by three “witches”. Marple didn’t feature in Christie’s original novel, but here her protagonist, Mark Easterbrook (played by Jonathan Cake) assists Miss Marple (Julia McKenzie). Nicholas Parsons, Susan Lynch, Pauline Collins, Nigel Planer and Bill Paterson also star.
The Jonathan Ross Show (TV1, 9.30pm). The final in the series. Jonathan chats with Danny De Vito, Simon Cowell, Dara O Briain, David Walliams, and Labrinth.
Around the World in 80 Days (TV2, 8.30pm). I’m sure Jules Verne would think this loud, violent circumnavigation lark, loosely based on his book, was a mess. Moviegoers did, and it became the biggest independently released flop in history. It’s not awful but Jackie Chan (Chinese thief Passepartout) completely upstages Steve Coogan (Phileas Fogg) and turns this into … well … a Jackie Chan action flick. (2004) 5 – Diana Balham
The Wolfman (TV3, 8.30pm). Human-ish creatures are so hot right now. Joe Johnston’s remake of the classic 1941 horror, which starred Lon Chaney and Claude Rains, should sizzle and pop with the firepower of its cast alone: there’s Benecio Del Toro in the title role, with Anthony Hopkins, Guy Weaving, Emily Blunt and young Asa Butterfield, shortly before his amazing performance in Hugo. But, ee by gum, this Victorian England is too much cosy fireside chat and not enough slobbering wolf for its own good. It’s kind of anaemic for a film about insatiable blood lust. Even the howls should have been howlier, with Gene Simmons and David Lee Roth on the payroll. Bite me? Oh go on, nibble me gently, then. (2010) 6 – Diana Balham
Michael Clayton (TV1, 10.30pm). More proof, if it were needed, that “Gorgeous George” Clooney is much more than a pretty face. He stars in this suspense drama as a “fixer” called in by his law firm to exert some damage control in a case concerning a chemical company and a multibillion dollar class action suit. Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson are equally good and this potentially dull work succeeds because it’s got the whole package: this might be writer and director Tony Gilroy’s debut feature, but he enlisted Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella and Steven Soderbergh in the production team and the result is a sharp and clever thriller that never puts style ahead of substance. (2007) 8 – Diana Balham
The Kingdom (TV3, 10.35pm). Jamie Foxx is described as “a whip-smart FBI Special Agent” in this action drama about a team sent to investigate the bombing of a US facility in Saudi Arabia. I have one question: just how smart is a whip? Can a whip calculate pi to 1000 decimal places? Can a whip cure cancer? Should a whip be elected to Parliament (other than as a Whip)? Okay, so Foxx is a very smart whip. And this is a reasonably smart story about rip, shit, and bust operations against The Enemy, with terrific action scenes. It is also heavily leavened with anti-Muslim propaganda – just whose kingdom is it, anyway? (2007) 6 – Diana Balham
Eight Legged Freaks (TV2, 11.00pm). New Zealander Ellory Elkayem earned his creature-feature credentials with the short film Larger Than Life, in which Rebecca Hobbs battles a giant spider. That got the attention of the writing/producing/directing team behind Independence Day and the rest is B-movie history. It’s a fun little romp in the style of Tarantula and Them!, featuring David Arquette as a mining engineer who returns to his hometown of Prosperity and ends up fighting giant mutant spiders in (what else?) a mall. Pre-blockbuster Scarlett Johansson also stars. (2002) 6
Saturday Morning with Kim Hill (Radio New Zealand National, 8.10am). Hill talks to American author and doctor David B Agus, who is one of the world’s leading cancer experts and pioneering biomedical researchers. His latest book, The End of Illness, challenges long-held beliefs about what it means to be healthy. She also meets New Zealand conductor Hamish McKeich, a rising star in the world of waving a baton in front of a musical ensemble. He has worked extensively with the NZSO and other local and overseas orchestras and is chief conductor of the contemporary ensembles Stroma and 175East. Also today: American journalist and contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine Michael Hastings; television producer, director and writer Paul Roy; CEO of Science North in Canada Jim Marchbank; and children’s books with Kate De Goldi. Info and audio here. – Diana Balham
Luckless/compilation Recorded Live at Roundhead Studios (95bFM, 11.00am and Friday, 2.00pm). Luckless consists of “two people who make melodic, neurotic indie rock”, drummer Will Wood and vocalist/guitarist Ivy Rossiter. The pair’s latest single, Hummingbird Heart, is a mini-masterpiece of melancholy, with Rossiter’s gorgeous voice and the song’s woeful vibe belying their strongest influences: Portishead, PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse. Part two is a compilation of tracks by Cairo Knife Fight, Bernie Griffen & the Grifters and the Verlaines that didn’t make it onto the original programmes. There will be live streaming and podcasts on 95bfm.com and video on this website after April 21. – Diana Balham
A Flat City: Voices of Christchurch Music (RDU98.5FM, 2.00pm). The Garden City’s punk and garage musos have their say today, featuring Joseph Sampson of T54, James Harding of the Transistors, Luke Wood of the Grand Chancellors and T’Neale Worsley of Bang! Bang! Eche! – Diana Balham
Around the World in 80 Tunes (Radio New Zealand National, 4.10pm). Nick Dwyer has found Barnie Duncan and today they’re off to Romania, home of gypsy folk tunes. But the Eastern European country also has an active electronic and club culture – known as Balkan Beats. Dwyer meets Aurel Ionitsa of gypsy funk heroes Mahala Rai Banda (guests at February’s Womad festival) and Cosmin TRG, one of the country’s top club music producers. – Diana Balham
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