MasterChef New Zealand (TV1, 7.30pm). There are just 11 contestants left, or should we say onze, because tonight is French night. The MasterChef 11 receive a hamper of French food and wine, but it’s no picnic: they’ll be cooking a three-course meal for 100 guests at Auckland bistro La Cigale. The two winners will receive a trip to Australia for a masterclass with chef Alla Wolf-Tasker. Wolf-Tasker opened Lake House in 1984 and it is regarded as one of Australia’s best country restaurants and boutique hotels.
Target (TV3, 7.30pm). Brooke Howard Smith-Shouty and new presenter Carly Flynn share the consumer advice: tonight it’s model agency scams; cleaners scrutinised in the hidden camera house; and what’s really in frozen stir-fry vegetables.
Suburgatory (TV2, 8.00pm). The Thanksgiving episode of Suburgatory, in which Sheila Shay makes her family dress up as pilgrims. Horrifying. Lisa rebels. Meanwhile, on a trip to New York City, Tessa and Dallas see George kissing a woman. Both feel let down.
New Girl (Four, 8.00pm). The Christmas episode of New Girl, and the cuteness continues with more Justin Long, who says something that Jess isn’t ready to hear. Elsewhere, the guys attend Schmidt’s company’s Christmas party. Schmidt is such a douche (that’s his character description), but somehow Max Greenfield keeps him just on the side of loveable. Check out his funny “online dating video” here.
Go Girls (TV2, 8.30pm). Go Girls is kind of fun and all that, but where is it going? Perhaps backwards: Olivia (Esther Stephens) is reunited with former flame Joel (Johnny Barker) tonight, and Leo (Leighton Cardno) is het up about his scary ex-girlfriend Ellie. Writer Kate McDermott blogs about last week’s “sliding doors” episode here.
The Wire (SoHo, Sky 010, 9.40pm). Only one of the best TV series ever, so it’s time to find out why if you haven’t already bought the box set. Season one concerns the Baltimore Police Department (including Dominic West and Wendell Pierce) versus the Barksdale drug empire (including Wood Harris and Idris Elba). The language and the sheer number of characters can be disconcerting; but just as with David Simon’s latest series, Treme, you have to be patient.
The Smartest Machine on Earth (TVNZ 7, 10.05pm). Big Blue takes another leap in The Smartest Machine on Earth, in which an IBM computing system is built to compete against humans on the game show Jeopardy! The documentary examines the four-year process of building “Watson” (it is named after IBM founder Thomas J Watson), which has a brain size of 2400 home computers and a database equivalent to 10 million documents. It’s all about the Holy Grail of Artificial Intelligence, although we might like to ponder the fact that Watson needs “10 million refrigerators’ worth of hardware” and “a million lines of new code”, according to team leader David Ferrucci, to pick categories and answer such questions as: “It’s a four-letter word for backtalk.” All a human needs is a brain. However, Jeopardy! was the challenge, not the end goal, Ferrucci says on the PBS website, and Watson’s ability to look at huge volumes of text and pull out the precise information is the exciting thing. “We’ve already started looking at applying this technology to a number of different areas,” he says, “including medicine and healthcare as well as text support, publishing and finance.”
Dracula (UKTV, Sky 006, 10.20pm). The 2006 BBC adaptation of Bram Stoker’s story in which Marc Warren (Hustle) is the evil Count and Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey) is the syphilis-ridden Lord Holmwood. In his desperation to find a cure before he marries the lovely Lucy (Sophia Myles), he unleashes Dracula. David Suchet as Abraham Van Helsing is then roped in to help catch the horror.
Brüno (Four, 9.30pm). Take a deep breath and remember that only in a country like the US could people actually believe that fey fashionista Brüno would really swap his baby for an iPod. Sacha Baron Cohen continues his quest to find the embarrassment threshold of the world. (2009) 7 – Diana Balham
Love Like Poison (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). A French coming-of-age drama in which director Katell Quillévéré draws from her own early devout Catholicism. A young woman (Clara Augarde in her debut role) returns home from boarding school and finds that her father has left, her mother is enamoured of the local priest, and her beloved grandfather is dying. On top of all that, she crushes on a free-spirited choirboy. It’s “deceptively intelligent” said the Lumiere Reader’s Steve Garden last year. (2010)
Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan (Radio New Zealand National, 10.06am). They breed ’em tough in the South Island, but Ryan’s guest this morning might be an entrant into the category of Southern Woman. Iris Scott is a high-country farmer and vet whose mettle and very substance were tested in 1992 when she was widowed. With three children to raise by herself and an 18,000ha station and a busy veterinary practice to run, she had to call on finely honed farming skills and tap into a vein of true courage to survive. But survive she did and now Scott has released a book about her experiences. High Country Woman tells her story: how she was one of the first female graduates of the Massey University veterinary science degree and went on to take over the 150-year-old Rees Valley Station at the head of Lake Wakatipu with her husband, Graeme. Together they established high conservation and land-guardianship standards that she maintains to this day. – Diana Balham