Sunday February 13by Fiona Rae
Netball (Sky Sport 1, Sky 030, 2.00pm). The ANZ Championship netball season begins - and if you're thinking it's a little early, you're right: a month early, in fact, to give players time to prepare for the World Netball Champs in Singapore in July. The first game today is Aussie teams NSW Swifts v Adelaide Thunderbirds; Kiwi teams are in action tomorrow (Sky Sport 1, Sky 030, 7.30pm), when the Northern Mystics host Southern Steel at Trusts Stadium, Auckland.
Gossip Girl (TV2, 3.00pm). OMG, THYR BCK! The designer clothes, the pop-culture dialogue, the bizarre intrigues. The melodramatic bitchfest begins season four in Paris (pretty dresses! Cute hats!), where S and B (Serena and Blair) are getting over the traumatic events of season three, poor loves. Unbeknown to them, Chuck is recovering in Paris after being shot in Prague. He's calling himself Henry and has a new love interest, a real French girl called Eva. Meanwhile, back in New York, there's a new villain on the scene, who goes on a date with Nate. But what is Juliet's real agenda? Looks like S and B are in for another bumpy ride, x-o-x-o, TV week.
Pretty Little Liars (TV2, 5.30pm). Another series about a clique based on a series of young adult novels; it's described as "Desperate Housewives for teens", as there is a central mystery - what happened to the queen bee of a group of friends. When she disappeared, the clique fell apart, but when her body is found in cement at the back of her house, the group are reunited and begin receiving menacing notes of the I Know What You Did Last Summer variety. Not as subtle as Gossip Girl, believe it or not, and a little less fun.
Martin Clunes: Horse Power (TV1, 7.30pm). Clunes is rapidly becoming a random TV generator: from Men Behaving Badly to Doc Martin, from dogs to islands to ... horses. In this two-parter, he looks into our once hugely dependent relationship with horses - a relationship that continues still in some parts of the world.
Top Gear: Roadtrip USA (Prime, 7.30pm). Once again Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are given fancypants cars and allowed to thrash them. It's a hard life. As the title suggests, they're in the US, driving a Mercedes, a Porsche and a Ferrari up the east coast. Naturally, there are challenges, including trying to find the fastest way into New York. Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.
Offspring (TV1, 8.30pm). It's not that we mind a new Aussie drama from the creators of The Secret Life of Us, and one that stars gorgeous Asher Keddie from Love My Way, it's just that we're wondering what it's doing in the Sunday Theatre time slot when there's a perfectly good Artsville going spare (see page 65). Ah well, who can tell what the television programmers have been reading in the chicken entrails these days? Offspring is about a thirtysomething obstetrician (Keddie) who is successful in her professional life, but less so in her personal life. Slightly unstable ex: tick; slightly crazy sister: tick; fellow doctor love interest: tick. All the boxes covered.
Tangle (TV1, 10.25pm). Oh-kay. See comments above about television programmers and chicken entrails: here's another Aussie drama, straight after the first one. Tangle is possibly the more intriguing of the two as it's darker than Offspring and is supposed to be a reworking of Thackaray's Vanity Fair, as well as the third part of a trilogy that began with The Secret Life of Us. The stories focus on two families, the Kovacs and the Williams, and stars the generally brilliant Ben Mendelsohn and our own equally brilliant Joel Tobeck. The families' lives are shaken up when an older sister returns from 10 years in the UK.
Artsville: Crime Queen - Dame Ngaio Marsh (TV1, Sunday, 12.00am). Time to again rev up your chosen recording device for another arts programme sent to the early hours: Crime Queen goes in search of the renowned author who became one of the top crime writers in the world in the 1930s, and who was as much a New Zealander as she was English. Marsh is considered something of a mystery herself, and to aid in a quest of discovery, actor Peter Elliott takes on the guise of her famous sleuth, the man who features in all 32 of her novels, Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn. This means a bit of talking in a posh 1930s English accent and gadding about in rather nice suits, but also a lot of listening. He meets Marsh biographer Joanne Drayton, who as a child met Marsh after a theatre performance. Drayton's mother described the great dame as "one of those sorts of women", and Drayton thought she was referring to her theatricality. Later, she discovered that Marsh was "rather more difficult to define than I originally thought". The search continues with Rosemary Greene, Marsh's secretary ("I've been typing you for years!" she exclaims to Elliott/Alleyn. "I thought you were a splendid chap!"); they meet at Marton Cottage in Cashmere, Christchurch, which was built by Marsh's father, Henry. There is author John Curran; actor and director Elric Hooper; Bruce Harding, the curator of what is now called Ngaio Marsh House; and Marsh's godson, Jonathan Elsom. The crime writer HRF Keating is revealing about her writing, and by the time we learn about her parents and her painting, her friendship with the Rhodes family (singer Teddy Tahu Rhodes recalls the magnificent Christmases that Marsh put on for her friends' children), and her relationship with the fictional Alleyn and his wife, Troy, some of the crime queen's layers have been pulled back. Good show.
Twilight (TV2, 8.30pm). A phenom is born: the curiously blank Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), sparkly vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob the werewolf (Taylor Lautner) embody Stephanie Meyer's characters and more, and director Catherine Hardwicke covers the movie in a cloak of dark green and teenage longing. Boys, and anyone over 14: you just won't understand. (2008) 7
The Visitor (Maori, 8.30pm). Thomas McCarthy's first movie as a director was The Station Agent, a charmer that managed to be warmly wry even as it was exploring the themes of loneliness and discrimination. He keeps that gentle tone for The Visitor, even as he explores the themes of ... loneliness and discrimination. McCarthy's protagonist is a widowed college professor whose near-silent world is slowly thawed by two illegal immigrants he finds living in his New York pied-à-terre. It's a tender performance from Richard Jenkins (who was a surprise Oscar nominee for the role) and as the changes occur in the character's life - he learns African drumming from the Syrian Tarek, then tries to help when Tarek is arrested - Mc-Carthy allows them to unfold naturally and easily. (2007) 9
To Catch a Thief (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). Grace Kelly never looked more gorgeous, and Cary Grant never more urbane, than in this Hitchcock caper (it was to be Kelly's final film for Hitchcock, as she became Princess Grace of Monaco shortly after). It is very slow by modern standards, however. (1955) 7
Interview with the Vampire (TV2, 11.00pm). Ugh. Bad wigs on everyone, especially Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, and a boring story. You know what? Twilight is better (yes, we said it), because at least Twilight is all, like, metaphorical and stuff. (1994) 2
Shine a Light (TV3, 11.30pm). The Rolling Stones' music has been filtering through Martin Scorsese's work for years - as far back as Mean Streets he had begun including Stones songs, and perhaps in homage, the first song the old rockers tear into in Shine a Light is Jumpin' Jack Flash. This is an exuberant, verging on epileptic concert-movie filmed over two nights at the opulent Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. Scorsese surrounded the band with 18 cameras and captured every swagger, strut and preen as Mick Jagger leads them through the likes of As Tears Go By, Tumbling Dice and Sympathy for the Devil. Guests Christina Aguilera, Buddy Guy and Jack White also tear it up and the whole thing is fascinating, hyperreal and pretty much, given that you will never get this close in real life, better than being there. (2006) 8
Spectrum (Radio New Zealand National, 12.15pm). Jack Perkins rides the slow plane today as he looks back on a slice of our aviation history. On board the DC3 ZK-AZL, Perkins talks to pilots Les Marshall, Dave Starr and Jack Priest about the plane that revolutionised air transport in the 30s and 40s, was a workhorse during World War II and spent 20 years as a top-dresser. Since 1974, the AZL has been on display at the Agricultural Heritage Museum in the Waikato, and at the end of last year enthusiasts launched a trust to conserve the flying machine that Priest remembers was like a "big, slow bird".
The Sunday Feature (Radio New Zealand National, 4.07pm). In the 2009 Massey Lectures, Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis discusses the breadth and wonder of the world's many cultures, and the significance of what could be lost. Davis's lecture series is based on his book The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, in which he explores the diverse first cultures of Polynesia, the Amazon, Australia and Africa. In his first lecture of four, Davis discusses how the planet's cultural diversity is under threat, as illustrated by language loss. Of the 7000 languages spoken today, half may disappear within decades.
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