SATURDAY OCTOBER 27
Saving Tuna (Maori, 8.30pm). The plight of the Antarctic toothfish has been highlighted; now here’s another threatened aquatic species, although this one is closer to home. It’s about the New Zealand longfin eel, which is intrinsically tied to our waterways and inland lakes. Its survival is now threatened, making it a reminder of the importance of keeping our waterways clean. The eel breeds only once, at the end of its life, when it leaves New Zealand and swims 5000km to spawn in the tropical Pacific. It’s thought the females lay eggs deep in ocean trenches somewhere near Tonga, and the fertilised larvae drift back to New Zealand on ocean currents. However, as a result of overfishing in the 1970s, pollution of waterways, draining of swamps and damming of rivers, the longfin eel population has been declining. The documentary looks at the eel’s history within Maoridom, and the efforts by iwi, from Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury to Moerewa in Northland, to regenerate stocks. On the Rangitaiki River, for example, a catch and release programme has been going for around 30 years. Meanwhile, Ngati Awa has been working with the Ministry of Science and Innovation (now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) to establish the National Eel Association.
Lewis (Prime, 8.40pm). A case of spy intrigue, blackmail and death by cheese knife in the final episode of Lewis. Cherie Lunghi stars as an “ex-security chief” whose memoir is linked to the death of an Oxford businesswoman. Murders this episode: a bludgeoning, someone is drugged with LSD, and the aforementioned cheese-knife stabbing. Also, a near-fatal arsenic poisoning. They’re having a laugh, aren’t they?
SUNDAY OCTOBER 28
Let’s Get Inventin’ (TV2, 4.30pm). The season finale of this great local kids’ series, and the Mad Butcher is in the house to help choose the winning invention. At stake is a $10,000 patent prize package.
Top Gear Top 40 (Prime, 7.30pm). You know the top 40 countdown with Casey Kasem? Almost exactly like that, but with Top Gear stunts. And why not? Over the years, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have done some crazy stuff that bears watching again: amphibious cars, the Reliant Robin space shuttle, races across cities and continents, etc. The show’s executive producer, Andy Wilman, presents and has some insider information on the stunts.
Work of Art (Choice TV, 7.30pm). The Project Runway of art. It sprang from the same production company in the US, and seems to have had the same trajectory, too: at the beginning, the worst thing to happen to the fashion industry/art world, like, ever. Until, oh, wait, there’s some real skill and talent here. China Chow, the daughter of a restaurateur, architect and art connoisseur who was taught to draw by Jean-Michel Basquiat, is the host and a judge; her fellow judges are New York gallery owner Bill Powers and New York magazine’s senior art critic Jerry Saltz. Art auctioneer Simon de Pury fulfils the Tim Gunn role. There are 14 contestants vying for a huge prize: $100,000 and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. They include installation artist Leon Lim, who is deaf, and whose portrait of Julian Assange was featured in Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year issue.
MONDAY OCTOBER 29
Michael Wood’s Story of England (Prime, 7.30pm). The final episode of this charming series is Victoria to the Present Day. The residents of Kibworth uncover their Victorian past, recreate penny concerts of the 1880s, visit World War I battle-fields and recall the Home Guard, land girls and the bombing of the village in 1940. One relevant artefact is a letter from suffragette Nellie Dean of Smeeton Westerby, who was one of more than 200 women arrested in London in 1912. The letter is written from Holloway prison to her “dearest Tom and precious children”.
British Legends of Stage and Screen (The Arts Channel, Sky 079, 8.30pm). It’s like the best gossip ever – Claire Bloom looks back on her career, which includes starring with Charlie Chaplin in Limelight and in the classics Look Back in Anger and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. She also talks about her relationship with Richard Burton, and her marriages to Rod Steiger and Philip Roth.
Prime Rocks: The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour Revisited (Prime, 9.35pm). A bang-up-to-date BBC Arena documentary that looks back on the furore over the Beatles’ 1967 film. Yes, furore. It might look like a jolly bunch of hallucinatory japes now, but its unfortunate scheduling on Boxing Day between a Petula Clark Christmas special and a Norman Wisdom film caused an uproar. “I think a lot of people were looking for a plot,” recalls Paul McCartney, “and they didn’t get one.” The doco has archive footage and interviews with the Beatles at the time, and Ringo Starr and McCartney today. There are also contributions from cast and crew, film-maker David Lynch and Python Terry Jones.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 30
Go Greek for a Week (Living, Sky 008, 9.30pm). A series that, surprisingly, didn’t cause an international incident between Greece and Britain. Three British families live and work in Greece and enjoy all the tax breaks, pensions and bonuses afforded a native worker. A 54-year-old hairdresser discovers she could have retired at 53 with 90% of her salary because her job is defined as hazardous; a bus driver could be paid almost double the national average salary and receive bonuses for arriving at work early and checking bus tickets; and a surgeon’s disposable income under Greek tax law is transformed. The whole thing seems solely designed to show that the Greeks are lazy tax-evaders whose economy has sunk under a weight of corruption, mismanagement and borrowing. As one headline put it: “Now British Reality TV Is Mocking the Way Greek People Live Their Lives”.
Whale Wars: Viking Shores (Animal Planet, Sky 075, 9.30pm). The Sea Shepherd conservation group continues its campaign to save the whales in Whale Wars: Viking Shores in which the Sea Shepherd vessel Brigitte Bardot heads for the Faroe Islands, where the descendants of Vikings still have an annual whale slaughter. This series is different in that the earnest conservationists go right up against the whalers, who claim a traditional right to eat whale meat. The New York Times described the series as “a combination of social-problem drama and low comedy” and said the dockside clashes between the Faroese and the “more-than-a-little-obtuse” conservationists are “reasonably entertaining”. “To actually have to come face to face and have these conversations, it’s a little bit challenging,” says one crew member.
Parks and Recreation (Four, 10.00pm). New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum recently called Louis CK “the country’s best stand-up” and said his “melancholic, profane and hilarious” self-titled sitcom is “so good I’m afraid to praise it too highly, for fear you’ll be let down”. That was Louis CK winning two Emmy Awards last month, by the way, one for writing and one for a live stand-up special. All this is to say that Parks and Recreation adds to its awesomeness tonight by bringing back Louis CK’s character, awkward police officer Dave. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Dave were dating, and it seems Dave wants her back. Also awesome: Ron Swanson’s musical alter ego Duke Silver makes an appearance.
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 1
2012 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards (Four, Thursday, 8.30pm). Lately, when it comes to television awards, we’ve been a bit rubbish. They might have had a period of stability from the 1970s to the mid-1980s when the New Zealand Feltex Awards ruled supreme, but it’s been downhill since. The infamous 1987 Listener Gofta Awards (to give them their full name, ahem) probably started the slide, but more recently it has been lack of sponsorship and a lack of desire by the networks to even screen the awards that have made them a fraught prospect. This year, the New Zealand Television Awards will take place in Auckland on November 3, and “highlights” will screen on TV1 on November 4. At 10.30pm. Meanwhile, after it was announced that there would be no film awards this year, an alternative has been mounted, called The Sorta Unofficial New Zealand Film Awards. They will be live-streamed on the NZ Herald website. It’s a sorry state of affairs that makes the New Zealand Music Awards look even better. The music industry has been so much more together, especially since the move four years ago to Vector Arena in Auckland, which allows enough room for public ticket sales so it’s not just the usual industry hipsters and their freeloading mates. Unlike the self-conscious television-crowd gongs, the music awards are a much more boisterous affair, which is far more entertaining (not Gofta-level entertaining, we hasten to add). And why shouldn’t musicians have one night to congratulate themselves and have a few drinks? Making television in New Zealand might be difficult, but making a go of music is even harder. The awards are hosted by Ben Boyce (Jono and Ben at Ten) and Shannon Ryan (The Block NZ). There is a red carpet special beforehand from 8.00pm, which may be worth watching if Gin Wigmore turns up in her underwear again. There will be performances on the night from pop princesses Kimbra and Gin Wigmore, and from hip-hop geniuses Home Brew. Also the Black Seeds and Six60. There is a special legacy award for Toy Love, the raucous 1970s post-punk outfit fronted by Chris Knox. Kimbra will probably be the big winner on the night, as she has six nominations, including for best female solo artist and album of the year. Home Brew and Six60 each have five nominations. Other nominees include Annah Mac, the Checks, Hollie Smith, Concord Dawn and Bic Runga.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 2
Unsung Heroes of Maori Music (Maori, 9.30pm). Fascinating episode tonight about the perhaps not-entirely unsung Mary and the Maori Hi Five, a Maori showband that made it big in Las Vegas in the 1960s. Las Vegas was “like a cosy little town” back then, says Mary, but nevertheless, they worked with many of the big stars of the day, including Sammy Davis jnr, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong. Perhaps their biggest gig was with the Beatles in Hong Kong in 1964. In 2009, they were awarded the 40th star on the Las Vegas Strip.