Gossip Girl (TV2, 2.00pm). It seems like a hundred years since we last saw the Upper East Siders. Life has moved on, hasn’t it? We’ve been too busy shopping for Manolos and attending the latest opening of an envelope to care. So season five had better wow us, frankly, or we’ll be out of here faster than you can say “Taylor Momsen”. Actually, it’s nearly 100 episodes since we last saw the Upper East Siders: that milestone is to come in season five with a suitably big-bang story, including a wedding, and the revelation of the identity of Gossip Girl herself. Yes! Spotted! Elizabeth Hurley guest-stars in the first episode (creepily, she “connects” with Nate), and also our own Zoe Bell.
Jane by Design (TV2, 3.00pm). It’s two hours of teen fun: TV2 follows Gossip Girl with this new ABC Family comedy-drama about a high-school girl who lands herself a job at a hip fashion house after being mistaken for an adult job applicant. The LA Times spun the show as an attempt to wring laughs from “today’s difficult job market”, as Jane (Erica Dasher) is trying to hold onto the house she shares with her loser brother after their dad dies. It’s possibly more about teenage wish-fulfilment in the age of The Devil Wears Prada – Jane becomes the assistant to an imperious fashion designer, played by Andie MacDowell.
The Food Truck (TV1, 7.00pm). Michael Van de Elzen and his healthy takeaways return, although the star of the show is really the truck, a beautiful old Bedford with an excellent paint job and fitted kitchen. Having tackled fatty fish and chips and fried chicken in the first series, Van de Elzen is going to make healthy versions of curries, roasts, ice cream and potato chips in this series.
Sunday (TV1, 7.30pm). Tonight, John Hudson looks back on the rescue of Tamara Cvetanov from the CTV Building; a story about Kiwi Victoria’s Secret model Jess Clarke; and an interview with Lionel Richie.
Spooks (UKTV, Sky 006, 8.30pm). The final series of Spooks. The producers wanted it to go out in its prime, although it’s arguable whether that applies: this is its 10th season. Critical reception was mixed in the UK and ratings were down because poor old Spooks drew the short straw up against Downton Abbey. Peter Firth returns as Harry Pearce, head of “Section D”, as does Nicola Walker as Intelligence Officer Ruth Evershed. However, Richard Armitage departed last season to film The Hobbit, so there are some new cast members, including the gorgeous Lara Pulver (who was Irene Adler in Sherlock) and Geoffrey Streatfeild as a brash new IT guy. Original spook Matthew Macfadyen makes a guest appearance in the very last episode.
Offspring (TV1, 9.30pm). Like many soapy girly dramas before it, Offspring ends the season with a wedding (Billie and Mick) and a choice – who does manic ball of neurosis Nina (Asher Keddie) really want – Patrick or Chris? Hankies at the ready, ladies.
House (TV3, 9.30pm). We’ve always wondered about House’s propensity to throw medication at a symptom before discovering the disease – sometimes it makes the patient worse! And don’t get us started on the psychological manipulation of his team. Finally, in its eighth season, there is a disciplinary hearing into Gregory House’s methods and the brilliant Jeffrey Wright is just the person to do the interrogating. The episode is told in flashback, as Dr Walter Cofield (Wright) questions House, Park, Taub, Adams and Foreman. What, no Chase? Well, there’s a reason for that, and it’s not good.
Boardwalk Empire (Prime, 9.45pm). The upside: it’s on free-to-air telly; the downside: it’s well after the fact and you may have stumbled across vital spoiler details about season two while searching the internets for cute kittehs. Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is in trouble as we head into season two; he’s under federal investigation for vote tampering. Meanwhile, Jimmy (Michael Pitt) has turned his back on Nucky, and is working with his father, the Commodore (Dabney Coleman). There’s a lot of that this season: the various gangs and factions lining up to knock each other down, with the curious figure of Agent Van Elden (Michael Shannon), a man who professes piety while engaging in sin, on their heels. For all its cleverness, season one of Boardwalk Empire was an unengaging affair; perhaps season two can make us care. (Season one of Boardwalk Empire is screening on SoHo, Sky 010, from 9.30pm this Wednesday.)
Into the Storm (SoHo, Sky 010, 7.30pm). The follow-up to the 2002 TV movie The Gathering Storm, which chronicled Churchill’s years as a backbench MP and how he swept back into power when World War II broke out. Now the story continues, with Irishman Brendan Gleeson replacing Albert Finney as Churchill. Gleeson nails Churchill’s unique speech patterns and droopy countenance: he really does look like a British bulldog that’s been sent to the doghouse, and won an Emmy for his efforts. With Janet McTeer as his darling Clementine and Iain Glen as King George VI. (2009) 7 – Diana Balham
Love Happens (TV2, 8.30pm). S— also happens, which is how the main protagonists in this dull treatise meet. He (Aaron Eckhart) is an expert on grieving who lost his wife in a car accident. She (Jennifer Aniston) is a florist who bumps into him at a seminar. We (your name here) will struggle to feel anything for these two as they are swallowed up by an undignified overabundance of quickie self-help truisms and shameless product placement. (2009) 4 – Diana Balham
Arranged (Maori, 8.30pm). Quieter than the average American film, this independent drama shows what can happen when two young women peer across the religious divide and find common ground that makes their differences melt away. It’s the story of Orthodox Jew Rochel (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Pakistani Muslim Nasira (Francis Benhamou), who are new teachers at a primary school in Brooklyn, New York. Both come from traditional families who expect their daughters to fall meekly into arranged marriages. The messages are rather over-simplified but it’s refreshing to see these non-Wasp cultures take centre-stage. (2007) 7 – Diana Balham
Composers of the week (Radio New Zealand Concert, 9.00am today and weekdays and 7.00pm Monday). This week, RNZ Concert focuses on some of the lesser-known winners of the Prix de Rome, a scholarship established in France in 1663, during the reign of Louis XIV. It was sponsored by the king and originally for painters and sculptors only – open to students of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. The successful applicants won a three-to-five-year stay at the Académie de France à Rome, located in the Palazzo Mancini. In 1720, the Académie Royale d’Architecture introduced an architecture prize, then in 1803 music was added, and engraving the following year. Well-known composers who took up the music prize include Hector Berlioz (1830), Charles Gounod (1839), Georges Bizet (1857), Jules Massenet (1863), Claude Debussy (1884) and Louis Dumas (1906 and 1908). Maurice Ravel applied five times and the last unsuccessful attempt, in 1905, was so controversial it led to a complete reorganisation of the administration at the Conservatoire in Paris. The last Prix de Rome was awarded in 1968 but a number of other awards have been created in its place, including one that offers the winner an opportunity to study for up to two years at the Académie de France à Rome. – Diana Balham
Extended Play: the Classic Flying Nun EPs (95bFM, 11.00am). Time to put on a tragic outfit from the 80s that takes you back to your Nun days, if you’re that demographic. This new 22-part series, brought to you by the Listener, looks at “classic” EPs from that era, highlighting the creativity and widely differing approaches taken by each band as they strove to find their sound. First up is the Gordons and Future Shock, which wasn’t initially a Flying Nun release or even issued on the 12-inch format but that became a key record in the label’s history. Two of the three Gordons, Alister Parker and John Halvorsen, talk about their watershed bit of vinyl and why Nun founder Roger Shepherd got so excited about it. Live streaming and podcasts at 95bfm.com. – Diana Balham