Patrick (History, Sky 073, 7.30pm). It’s that mad time of the year again when the beer turns green, the music goes diddly-diddly, and you’re liable to find a drunk Irishman sleeping it off in the doorway of your local pub (true story). Yes, St Patrick’s Day is today, and if you want to know why, Patrick might enlighten. It’s a look at the priest who brought Christianity to Ireland, and who is said to have used the shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. The documentary explains how Patrick forged an unprecedented synthesis between Christianity and Celtic tradition, and that his influence extended to the western world as a whole through his Irish monasteries’ role in preserving literary traditions. Liam Neeson narrates and Gabriel Byrne is the voice of Patrick, while author Frank McCourt provides commentary on how a foreign evangelical would have interacted with the Irish. Philip Freeman, author of St Patrick of Ireland: A Biography, also features.
Beyond the Cosmos: Quantum Leap (National Geographic, Sky 072, 7.30pm). If your taste leans away from religion and more towards science, this programme explains quantum mechanics, the branch of physics that explains, to the best of our knowledge, the atomic and subatomic realms. It’s presented by American theoretical physicist and string theorist Brian Greene, who has written a number of popular books, including The Elegant Universe, and The Fabric of the Cosmos. The series begins with an explanation of time.
The Jonathan Ross Show (TV1, 9.30pm). Tonight, John Hurt, Christina Ricci, and American elector pop duo LMFAO perform.
Firehouse Dog (Four, 6.30pm). We ordinary mortals get our life lessons anywhere we can: here they come from an A-list Hollywood filmdog that gets lost and winds up at a rundown fire station. Woofully sentimental. (2007) 5 – Diana Balham
World Trade Center (TV2, 8.30pm). Two Port Authority police officers become trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center after the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Now, what would you call this dramatic work? Something to convey the terror, hopelessness and anguish of these men? Would that evocative name be World Trade Center? Probably not, but Oliver Stone’s film – the first feature about the collapse of the towers – is a sight more interesting than its title. This “true story of courage and survival” traces the awful trajectory of America’s most deadly day and how it affected John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, played here by Nicolas Cage and Michael Peña. It’s gripping and well-acted, but one can’t help wondering if Stone felt just the tiniest bit guilty that telling this particular story earned him the biggest opening weekend of his career. (2006) 7 – Diana Balham
The Bourne Ultimatum (TV3, 8.30pm). It’s almost unheard of for a trilogy to get better as it goes along, and there’s not much in it – they’re all riveting to watch. But this, the third instalment, is even zippier, grittier and heart-poundingly busy than the previous two. One reviewer described hero Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) as “an international man of mystery even to himself”. (2007) 8 – Diana Balham
Away from Her (Maori, 9.30pm). A moving Canadian film by first-time director and actress Sarah Polley, who was extraordinarily good in 1997’s The Sweet Hereafter. It’s the story of a couple in their sixties whose relationship is changed forever when the wife, Fiona, is admitted to a hospital after she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Polley wrote the screenplay, based on Alice Munro’s short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain, for Julie Christie, who plays Fiona. (2006) 8 – Diana Balham
Notes on a Scandal (TV3, 10.50pm). It goes against the grain to dislike Dame Judi Dench – she’s like a Wiggle for grown-ups – but she clearly gets a kick out of playing a bitter old cow in this enthralling drama about a retiring teacher with a hold over her younger colleague. When she gets going, Dench’s face caves in with a sort of malevolent mouldiness, which is startling and effective because we’re not used to seeing this from her. Cate Blanchett is equally good as art teacher Sheba Hart: their performances were two of four Oscar nominations for this film. (2006) 8 – Diana Balham
Déjà Vu (TV2, 11.00pm). “Nobody does vapid bollocks as enjoyably as Tony Scott,” said Empire magazine about this time-shifting thriller. Some recommendation. Denzel Washington again teams up with Scott to play a cop who gets to see what happened, via the magic of technology, four days before a terrorist bomb explodes on a New Orleans ferry. It’s some nonsense about string theory and time folding, but the catch is that Washington and a team of nerds can only watch the past in real time (they’ve never heard of a PVR?). Washington begins spying on, and falls for, a woman (Paula Patton), found murdered before the explosion who is somehow connected. Then, after more explanation and warnings about the danger, nerd Adam Goldberg sends Washington back, which is where, if you’re not watching closely, the strings begin to unravel. It’s just as well Washington is reasonably charming, because it becomes hard to tell if he’s coming or going. (2006) 5
An Inconvenient Truth (TV1, 11.30pm). Deeply scary. Al Gore – “I used to be the next President of the United States of America” – puts his heart and soul into this documentary on global warming. As he puts it, our ability to live is what is at stake. A desperately important piece of filmmaking. (2006) 8 – Diana Balham
Saturday Morning with Kim Hill (Radio New Zealand National, 8.10am). Among Hill’s guests today are two clever chaps. British historian and biographer Richard Davenport-Hines is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society for Literature and his new book, Titanic Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew is a timely tome that marks the centenary of the sinking of the most famous ship in history. David Mitchell is an award-winning architect, whose ideas have figured prominently in New Zealand over the past 20 years. He has put his stamp on everything from university buildings, schools and art galleries to apartments and private houses. His works include Auckland’s New Art Gallery, the Tauranga Art Gallery, the Tongariro National Trout Centre and the University of Auckland’s new school of music. Alos today, Maramena Roderick and Julian Arahanga, the producer and director of new Maori TV series Songs from the Inside. Here’s our interview with Anika Moa about the series. – Diana Balham
Poor You Poor Me/Meese, Recorded Live at Roundhead Studios (95bFM, 11.00am and Friday, 2.00pm). Don’t you just love young musos and their fey, flaky way of letting us all know they are original free spirits? Poor You Poor Me describe themselves as “a collaboration of those who love thought and sweet times and lots of noise and more instruments” and their members are “flange, leaf, oskie, the young wall park brothers and their mysterious older brother”. Their influences, by the way, are “every experience had or to be had”. So now you know. Or not. According to certain people who have noticed that the plural of “goose” is “geese”, the plural of “moose” should be “meese”. And that’s the name of the second band in today’s programme. It’s also the name of a four-piece rock band from Denver who disbanded in 2010, but we can assume this Meese don’t know about them. Alternative punky popsters Alex, Sam and Sophie are from Auckland and used to be known as Sidewalk Meese. Urban quadrupeds? Anyway, says Alex, meaningfully: “I can’t stress enough how important it is to not be afraid to sing the shit out of what you mean or what you’re writing, which is your poetry, your art, you know?” Still don’t know. There will be live streaming and podcasts on 95bfm.com and video here after March 17. – Diana Balham
WOMAD Taranaki 2012 (Radio New Zealand National, 4.10pm). The Naki’s biggest cultural event kicks off on March 16 in New Plymouth’s Bowl of Brooklands. Emma Smith is on hand to capture all the best music and dance acts, which this year include West African superstar Baaba Maal, Congolese street musicians Staff Benda Bilili, China’s AnDa Union and Irish accordion queen Sharon Shannon. – Diana Balham