January 26-February 1: Including Agent Anna and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

by Diana Balham / 17 January, 2013
Robyn Malcolm is back, plus, a life reboot with a juicer.
The Reckoning
The Reckoning, Sunday


NZ Post Waka Ama National Sprints 2013 (Maori, 3.30pm). “Sprints” and “lake” are two words not traditionally associated with outrigger canoes but these days it’s a growing sport. Here are highlights from the nationals, held at Lake Karapiro, Cambridge, from January 15-19.

CSI: Miami (TV3, 9.25pm). The TV show named the world’s second most popular (after NCIS) in 2006 finally gets a taste of its own medicine tonight. After 10 seasons, the police procedural was hit on the head in April in the US, and now that last episode is playing here. It opens with Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo) lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood. When he comes to, he sees the body of Assistant State Attorney Joshua Avery (Ryan McPartlin) and becomes a suspect in the murder. So, where now for Horatio and the gang? They say you can’t raise a Caine back up when he’s in defeat.


Sunday Theatre: The Reckoning (TV1, 8.30pm). This week, a nice nurse faces A Moral Dilemma so perplexing it really does need capitals. Sally (Ashley Jensen) is a struggling single mother (are there any flourishing single mothers in TV land?) with a teenage daughter who has a brain tumour and will soon die unless she has radical – and expensive – surgery. Then Sally is summoned to a solicitor’s office and told she has been left £5 million by an anonymous benefactor – on the condition that she kills someone who deserves to die. UK critics were divided about the far-fetched plot, with Brian Viner of the Independent saying there were “clear echoes of [Dostoevsky’s] epic novel Crime and Punishment” and “some decent performances, in particular by Jensen, turning what could have been an exercise in unadulterated daftness into a pretty gripping thriller”. The Daily Star just called it nonsense. (Click here for our interview with Ashley Jensen.)

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Sunday

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (TV1, 10.30pm and next Sunday). The latest in the “world’s fattest” freak-of-the-week genre, award-winning two-part documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead goes the extra mile – and then keeps going. It’s the story of Joe Cross, a 40-year-old financial trader from Sydney who lived on junk food, weighed 140kg and was suffering from an auto-immune disease that had him popping pills like a junkie and just getting sicker. Professionally successful but physically bankrupt, he decided to take control of the situation, pledging to lose weight and get healthy – to reboot his life, as he put it. Cross travelled to the US, bought a truck, a juicer and a generator to operate it and vowed to drink only fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days as he roamed America, talking to more than 300 locals about what they did and didn’t eat and sharing his story – like a Pied Piper who doesn’t eat pies. But why make his problem so public? “It occurred to me I was not alone,” he says. “Yes, my disease was very rare – but lots of people are sick. Like lots of people, I had been outsourcing my health problems to doctors, but no one had been able to fix what ailed me. “What if I could take control of the problem, and my own role in creating the situation? What if I could document the experiment and share it with people? That’s when I decided to make a movie about my journey. I knew it would keep me honest and focused on ‘doing’ and not just ‘saying’. Because let’s face it, it’s a lot harder to cheat when there are three guys filming you falling off the Big Mac wagon.” At a truck stop in Arizona, he met Phil Staples, a driver who weighed 195kg and suffered from the same rare condition as Cross. Staples’s story so moved Cross and the film crew that they doubled the shooting time of the documentary and followed his physical transformation as well. “After 60 days of consuming juice and another 70 days of eating just fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds, I was 45kg lighter and off all medication,” says Cross. “I’ve been that way ever since.”


The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (Sky Movies, Sky 020, 2.00pm). Ladies and gentlemen, we present, from Los Angeles, live coverage of the charmingly named SAGs (replaying at 8.30pm). Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, the film version of Les Misérables and the romcom Silver Linings Playbook are the movie frontrunners, with four nominations each, and Modern Family leads the way for television, also with four nominations. Dick Van Dyke is up for the lifetime achievement award. So, with the awards season in full swing, there’ll be plenty of, “Oh! Gasp! I don’t know what to say! I just want to thank my mom, my dad, my 475 very best friends, my life coach, my personal trainer, my dog’s life coach …”

QI (Prime, 9.05pm). Because we’re not Stephen Fry, here’s some prep you can do to get up to speed for tonight’s show, which is about parts of the body that begin with the letter
“H”. Good luck to Alan Davies, Sue Perkins and Bill Bailey.

Private Practice (TV2, 9.30pm). Over The Reckoning yet? Here’s another chance to test your ethical skills with Another Moral Dilemma that has more than a serving of blame attached. In tonight’s final, brilliant but damaged Amelia is about to give birth to a baby without a brain – she calls him her “unicorn baby”. Amelia, you’ll remember, might be a neurosurgeon (and Addison’s ex-sister-in-law) but she’s also an addict with a propensity to go on benders that last longer than an awards acceptance speech. Amelia needs to convince the medical staff at Ocean Wellness that it’s okay to donate her baby’s organs. The problem: there can’t be a declaration of brain death in a baby without a brain, but if they wait for the boy to die naturally, the organs will no longer be viable. The surgeons will have to end his life in order to save others. Makes you grateful for a quiet life.

30 Rock (Four, 9.30pm). What do you get when you add Florence Henderson (Mum from The Brady Bunch), Kermit the Frog and Oprah’s BFF Gayle King to 30 Rock? You get a star-packed episode about surprise weddings and an even more unexpected funeral. Apparently Kermy was by far the most demanding guest. He insisted his trailer be redecorated with moss and ferns, demanded green mineral water and green food: in particular, a waterfall that rained green M&Ms. It isn’t easy …


Agent Anna (TV1, 8.30pm). Robyn Malcolm is back, playing a character as different from Outrageous Fortune’s Cheryl West as “real” is from “real estate”. In this new comedy, she plays Anna Kingston, a perfectly respectable Mt Eden matron who turns to selling houses when her husband runs away to Australia after his latest business venture goes belly-up, leaving her with a mortgage and two teenage girls at private schools. Joining her is Roy Billing (The Suspects), as her unscrupulous boss Clint, and Theresa Healey (Go Girls) and Adam Gardiner (Tangiwai) as her co-workers Sandi and Leon.


Rugby Sevens, IRB World Series (TV1, Sky Sport 1 and the Rugby Channel, Sky 0030 and 037, 12.30pm). Why is it that, in Wellington, rugby sevens attracts the sort of fancy dress normally reserved for stag dos and Halloween, when a bloke would be strung from a goalpost if he came to a 15-aside game in anything other than jeans and a T-shirt? This is one of life’s mysteries. Here’s live coverage of day one of the fourth leg of the 2012/13 world series from Wellington, featuring teams from 16 countries and continuing tomorrow.

The Block Australia (TV3, 7.30pm). Blockheads will already have decided who they think should claim the newly reno-ed Melbourne property before tonight’s final. We can reveal that after the auction, one of the winners said, with true Aussie finesse, “I think I’m gonna spew!” His partner then did just that.


If he wasn’t such a Scottish charmer, we’d be starting to think Ewan McGregor’s do-gooding was getting a bit Bono-ish. McGregor has done several Long Way motorbike trips in support of Unicef, and in the two-part series Ewan McGregor: Cold Chain Mission (Living Channel, Sky 008, Sunday, 8.30pm), he travels by motorbike, boat, plane and on foot to deliver vaccines to children in remote parts of India, Nepal and the Republic of Congo, also as a Unicef ambassador. The title refers to the routes vaccines travel to save the lives of vulnerable children.

Simon Callow: Being Shakespeare
Simon Callow: Being Shakespeare, Monday. Photo Stephanie Berger.

Those Scots. The fabulous Simon Callow, who isn’t but nearly turned Caledonian prancing into an Olympic event in Four Weddings and a Funeral, talks about his one-man show on the life and work of the Bard in Simon Callow: Being Shakespeare (Arts Channel, Sky 079, Monday, 8.30pm). This programme follows Callow and his team from the Soho cafe where the idea took flight to the play’s launch in London’s West End. Built around Jaques’s “Seven ages of man” speech from As You Like It, the show (written by Jonathan Bate) presents Shakespeare’s life interwoven with fragments from his greatest plays. The result, said the Guardian, is “a memorable multidimensional picture of Shakespeare, steeped in scholarship and love”.

Documentary is a broad church, but this new series almost slips the bonds into something stranger. In Freak Like Me (TVNZ U, Wednesday, 8.00pm), comedian Russell Kane chivvies out the weird and freaky habits and obsessions of some of the UK’s oddest bods. They include a body piercer who loves to eat stale food, a couple who like to chew their fingernails all day, a girl who can’t stop sequestering herself in small spaces and a heavy metaller who loves to dust. In the vox-pop section, members of the public debate such issues as where it is acceptable to urinate and what you should do with your fingernails (other than chewing them).
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