Q+A (TV1, 9.00am). Q+A returns with new co-host Shane Taurima, the long-time parliamentary reporter who was recently the executive producer and backup host of Te Karere. Paul Holmes returns for another year of interviews and political debate,
Shake It Up (TV2, 4.00pm). Inspirational sitcom for the tweens – with dancing! The Disney female buddy comedy – with dancing! – features best friends CeCe (Bella Thorne) and Rocky Blue (Zendaya Coleman), who are backup dancers on Shake It Up Chicago. “It doesn’t shake up the kidcom formula one bit, but it has something more than the usual shiny-sparkly cuteness,” said People. Did we mention the dancing?
Sunday (TV1, 7.30pm). Tonight: a report on a nuclear strategist training to be a general in the US Air Force who went to teach in a small New Zealand high school. Until it all went horribly wrong. Also, just how bad for us is sugar?
Songs from the Inside (Maori, 8.00pm). If Johnny Cash were alive, we’re sure he would approve ofSongs from the Inside. The title isn’t referring to some self-indulgent musician’s inner musings; in the series, four singer-songwriters are taken into Rimutaka and Arohata prisons to teach songwriting to prisoners. The four musicians are Anika Moa; Ruia Aperahama (who wrote the classic What’s the Time Mr Wolf?); Little Bushman’s Warren Maxwell; and solo singer-songwriter Maisey Rika. Because this is prison after all, the men work with male jailbirds at Rimutaka, and Moa and Rika work with women at Arohata. In the first episode, the four are briefed about going into the prisons, and are taken to meet the inmates. The initial advice is daunting: the prisoners will try to manipulate you, they’re told. Don’t tell them personal details. Don’t tell them where your kids go to school. The motto is “Nothing in, nothing out”. Maxwell admits he feels naive: “Gang members turning up at your kid’s school? Does that stuff actually happen?” Fortunately, that scary impression is tempered by advice from mentors Evan Rhys Davies and Jim Moriarty, and when the musicians meet the men and women they’ll be working with, the welcome is heartfelt and sincere. “Freedom is not on the other side of those concrete brick walls,” says one of the men, Tama. “It’s waiting to be found every day inside of us by choice.” Says Lina at Arohata: “Somehow amongst all of this, we’re going to find a message or a feeling after being so numb for so long.” It’s extraordinary stuff, revealing a little bit of a world that is never seen on television. And over the next 12 episodes, we expect it will be an extraordinary emotional journey too – for real. Click here for our interview with Anika Moa.
Packed to the Rafters (TV1, 8.30pm). Packed adds yet another Kiwi actor to the cast. Camille Keenan – who starred in Aussie series Satisfaction – joins as Coby’s estranged sister, Bree. How many is that now? Three? Four?
Yes Man (TV2, 8.30pm). Jim Carrey is the vessel and self-help comedy is the genre. He gave up telling porkies in 1997’s Liar Liar and here he changes his life by saying yes to everything – body-blading, bungy-jumping, learning Korean … But it’s a toss-up whether I’d rather get my personal transformation messages from Carrey or a scruffy dog (see Firehouse Dog, Saturday). Rhys Darby’s attempt to surf on his Flight of the Conchords popularity has him showing up as an irritating über-Kiwi whose “We’re heving a little git-tigither at moi place” could well make it easier for Americans to understand John Key. (2008) 6 – Diana Balham
Lake Placid (Four, 8.30pm). A croc(k) but at least it’s meant to be funny. (1999) 5 – Diana Balham
Good Night, and Good Luck (Maori, 8.30pm). George Clooney wrote and directed this fine drama about 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist spree and the broadcast journalist, Edward R Murrow, who tried to bring him down. Clooney wisely left the latter role to David Strathairn, but plays Murrow’s producer, Fred Friendly, who also makes himself a sworn enemy of McCarthy. All good Americans were encouraged to fear “Reds under the bed”, but perhaps that should have included Freds and Eds. McCarthy is played by himself, using news footage from the era. The excellent cast also includes Robert Downey Jr, Patricia Clarkson and Frank Langella. (2005) 8 – Diana Balham
Christine (TV2, 10.35pm). Try to imagine your old Nissan Sunny with the same demonic personality as Christine – a 1958 Plymouth Fury. Tricky, isn’t it? This gal is all insanely grinning grille with a piercing double-headlight stare – wearing a blood-red dress, of course. Not Stephen King’s best novel or John Carpenter’s most convincing horror, but you might get a shivery chuckle or two from this twisted tale of a high-school nerd (Keith Gordon) and his all-consuming automotive love. (1983) 6 – Diana Balham
Composer of the Week (Radio New Zealand Concert, 9.00am today and weekdays, and 7.00pm Monday). American composer Philip Glass (b1937) turned 75 on January 31. His thoroughly modern and frequently surprising work includes operas, symphonies and compositions for his own ensemble, and he has collaborated with such artists as Woody Allen, David Bowie, Twyla Tharp and Allen Ginsberg. Born in Baltimore, he began to study music when he was eight, encouraged by his father, who ran a record store. At 15, he enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he studied maths and philosophy, then attended the Juilliard School in New York, where he mostly played keyboards. He then moved to Paris and studied with French composer and teacher Nadia Boulanger. Glass moved back to New York in 1967 and soon became an identity in the burgeoning arts community in downtown Manhattan. He established the Philip Glass Ensemble and his own unique style, which came to be known as “minimalism”. – Diana Balham
Spectrum (Radio New Zealand National, 12.15pm). Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Spectrum, happy birthday to you. Radio New Zealand’s flagship documentary series is 40 years old today: on March 18, 1972, the extremely hard-wearing Jack Perkins first hit the airwaves with Alwyn Owen in a new human-interest series. Together and apart, they ranged through the country with portable tape recorders in hand, gathering everyday and extraordinary stories from New Zealanders. In Forty Years On – Spectrum’s 40th Birthday they recall the early days and replay an important programme in the series: Two Wellington Childhoods, which contrasted the experiences of wealthy Marjory Lees from Bolton St and working-class George Davies, who lived near the Basin Reserve. – Diana Balham