SUNDAY FEBRUARY 3
The Simpsons (TV3, 7.30pm). Why, you little … beauty. The Simpsons returns to TV3 with a new series – the 24th – and more guest stars than ever. Tonight’s episode features Zooey Deschanel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman and Sarah Silverman. Also returning on TV3 this week: Family Guy (Sunday, 8.00pm), Modern Family (Tuesday, 7.30pm), The World’s Deadliest Roads (Wednesday, 7.30pm), Sons of Anarchy (Wednesday, 9.30pm) and Grand Designs (Thursday, 7.30pm). Top Gear (Prime, 7.30pm). If the guys who regularly destroy perfectly good vehicles are to your taste, you’ll be motoring to your favourite possie when the new series begins tonight.
Sunday Theatre: The Great Mint Swindle (TV1, 8.30pm). Did you hear about the most famous Tic Tac heist in Australian history? It was known as the Great Mint Swindle and it … No, no, no. Question: why is a place that makes coins called a mint? Well, it’s derived from the Latin moneta, meaning money. So anyway, this fact-based drama is about the swiping of 49 gold bars from the Perth Mint in 1982 and the three Mickelberg brothers who were fingered for the crime. It stars Kiwi Grant Bowler (Outrageous Fortune), Todd Lasance and Josh Quong Tart.
MONDAY FEBRUARY 4
Seven Sharp (TV1, 7.00pm). Snappy, bite-sized newsy bits are apparently the current affairs order of the day and here to deliver TV1’s new show are Greg Boyed, Ali Mau and Jesse Mulligan, with different panellists and guests each night. Expect much tweeting, liking and possibly poking as the news gets cool and funky.
Grey’s Anatomy (TV2, 8.30pm).
Like good-looking moths to a flame, those medics at Seattle Grace have again attracted a big, fat disaster for the season finale. Sitting among the mangled wreckage. That can’t be good. Although plane crashes practically only ever happen on TV dramas, Meredith, Lexie, Cristina, Arizona, Derek and Mark have lucked out in the air travel department and, of course, one of them has life-threatening injuries. Good thing they’re doctors and not accountants or landscape gardeners, isn’t it?
The TV3 anthill continues to pulse with new local comedy and this week two complementary shows push off into the world – comedy-thriller The Blue Rose (TV3, Monday, 8.30pm), starring Antonia Prebble and Siobhan Marshall, and sitcom Sunny Skies (TV3, Friday, 8.00pm), starring Tammy Davis and Oliver Driver. (You could play “one of these things is not like the others” and notice that Driver is the only one not to have appeared in 3’s Outrageous Fortune.)
The Blue Rose, created by Fortune’s Rachel Lang and James Griffin, brings the erstwhile West sisters into the CBD, where Jane (Prebble) is a lowly office temp who takes a job at a law firm. It dawns on her that the seat she is warming belongs to a dead woman, not a secretary with the flu. Rose, who will rise no more, was the best friend of Linda (Marshall), who owns a courier company and has a nosy streak a mile wide. They join forces with Ganesh the IT guy (Raj Varma) and Sonia the payroll clerk (Jennifer Ludlam) to get to the bottom of Rose’s apparently fishy demise.
“The idea that office workers (usually female) really run companies has been in our minds for ages,” says Lang. “We used to often joke about the international conspiracy of receptionists, so the idea of little people being powerful did come first. The setting of law firm Mosely & Loveridge came later, but the show is set in two worlds: the rich and powerful – and the rest of us.”
Sunny Skies inhabits an entirely different part of the universe. It’s about two brothers – Deano is a laidback slacker (Davis) and Oscar is an A-type city slicker (Driver) – who only fnd out they are related when their estranged dad dies and bequeaths them a campground and its faithful retainers. Slighted camp manager Nicki (Morgana O’Reilly), maintenance manager Gunna (Errol Shand) and Deano’s tweenie daughter Charlotte (Molly Tyrrell) all stir the pot and contribute to lots of not getting along.
“I created the show, along with Paul Yates, because we wanted to make a smart, character-based comedy for a family audience, says co-creator, director and producer Mike Smith. “It’s really identifi ably Kiwi. It has likeable, funny characters the audience can identify with and the setting, a beachside camping ground, is one we all recognise.”
For now. Depressingly in tune with real life, Oscar wants to sell the prime coastal land and pocket the millions. It’ll be high noon at high tide.
The Americans (TV3, 9.30pm). It’s too soon to know how Americans reacted to this new show, called, er, The Americans because episode one screens there on January 30. The premise concerns that great bogeyman of the 1980s, Russia, and the Cold War, which never seemed so chilly to us in the Pacific. But tensions between the superpowers were at breaking point during Ronald Reagan’s time in the White House, which is when this drama is set. It stars Keri Russell (Felicity) and Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) as KGB agents who are in deep cover in the US posing as a married American couple while they do their spy things. Following a screening at an industry trade show, the Hollywood Reporter gushed that “the pilot episode had enough sex, action, intrigue and sophisticated production values to make attendees think they were watching some European art film”.
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 5
Go On (TV3, 8.00pm). Matthew Perry (Friends) has another crack at emulating his previous success with this new comedy-drama about a sportscaster whose boss sends him to group therapy sessions after the death of his wife. Says Perry: “In my efforts to have a comeback, the characters have progressively gotten nicer. The Showtime show [The End of Steve] was about a terrible guy. I thought it was genius and everybody went, ‘Hee-hee, I don’t want to watch that.’ And then Mr Sunshine, he was sort of down and out. Now this guy, he’s nicer, more well-intended.” Still Chandler Bing, in other words.
Waitangi Ata Marie (Maori, 8.00am). As usual, Maori TV is pulling out all the stops, which presumably makes it unstoppable on our special day. This live breakfast show, presented by Te Arahi Maipi and Stephanie Huriana Martin, will feature music, guests and social commentators, plus crosses to Waitangi. Those putting in an appearance include Temuera Morrison, David Wikaira-Paul and Australian Idol winner Stan Walker, who will talk about their new movie, Mt Zion, and political commentator David Slack, who will sum up the mood of the nation. Batucada Sound Machine, Aaradhna and Tami Neilson will perform. Kapai.
Crack Up (Maori, 8.30pm). There will be plenty of sober analysis today but not here. Crack Up, hosted by Mike King, will bring together 10 leading stand-up comedians – Andre King, Irene Pink, Pax, James Nokise, Mike Loder, Andrew Clay, Jan Maree, Jarred Fell, Alan McElroy and Jamaine Ross – in this Waitangi Day-flavoured show.
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 7
Citizen Khan (TV1, 10.15pm). These days, Birmingham is known as the capital of Pakistan and it’s here the stars of this new BBC series live. Citizen Khan is a very old fashioned sitcom and is pretty laboured in places but what’s new about it is that the Khan family are not peripheral but centre-stage and the only regular non-Muslim character is a ginga (Kris Marshall). Written by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto, it stars Adil Ray, Shobu Kapoor and Maya Sondhi.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 8
7 Days (TV3, 9.30pm). 7 Days used to sometimes feature Jesse Mulligan, who has crossed the divide to talk about real news on Seven Sharp. But seven other funny people will be on hand for the new series of this entirely different current affairs show. Jeremy Corbett is back as head wrangler, with Dai Henwood and Paul Ego whipping along their respective teams. Expect Ben Hurley, Steve Wrigley, Jesse Griffin and Urzila Carlson. Woah! Have you noticed how many of their surnames have seven letters?
The Radio (TV3, 10.05pm). More from cute TV3 mascots Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego: their new series is part-stand-up, part sitcom and all about a fictional radio station’s insane breakfast show. Urzila Carlson, as the receptionist, is more like Godzilla and radio host Vaughan Smith is their eccentric boss. Dai Henwood plays an occasional table. Just kidding.
He’s a British ornithologist and general animal nut who has done what every small undergrowth-poking child dreams of: presenting wildlife documentaries and travelling the world. Wild Colombia (TV3, Waitangi Day, 8.30pm) is just the latest in a breathtaking variety of series Nigel Marven has produced over the years that have seen him pursuing penguins, pandas, jaguars, sharks, polar bears and even dinosaurs.
Now he’s off to Colombia and – quite frankly – it’ll be nice to hear about dangers of this South American nation that aren’t related to drug cartels. Giant blue tarantulas? Yes! Poisonous frogs? Bring ’em on! Marven ventures from the Andes to the Amazon, the Pacific to the Caribbean: this
hugely diverse country sustains more vertebrate species than any other, with more than 160 varieties of hummingbird alone. Yes, but show us some scary stuff.
His delight at spying a 5m female green anaconda is priceless: he leaps on her, grabbing great coils of dappled snake, and she languidly coils herself around his leg, causing him to fall on his bum in the mud. “Absolutely gorgeous!” he cries. “One of the prettiest I’ve seen!” Despite his constant travelling and unfriendly animal encounters, Marven has never contracted a tropical disease, broken a bone or even suffered a nosebleed. He has been admitted to hospital once. We’re guessing bunions.
Royal watching’s a bit like observing animals in the wild. In Wills and Kate: Baby Fever (Vibe, Sky 007, Sunday, 7.30pm), “experts”, “sources” and bona fide historians pick away at the childhoods of the Queen, her children and grandchildren and offer their views on how the heir will fare.
If there will be a world for that child to grow up in: Earth Under Water (Prime, Monday, 9.35pm) looks at what will happen to our planet if CO2 emissions continue to rise at the current levels. Step by chilling step, we can see Earth drown as sea levels rise from between one and 70m.