Any normal police chief-slash-mother really should take the discovery of a car with gravity-defying interior and the liquefying bodies of people who claimed to be the girl’s parents as a sign Piper isn’t a good candidate for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, but despite the fact death follows the child like a tail on a dog she still lets her sleep in her daughter’s room. A storyline asking the audience to suspend disbelief should really sweat the small stuff better than that.
Possibly not what guardians of Australian culture have in mind when they argue for quotas, Drunk History is nonetheless a distinct take on local stories told by local people that also stands as proof that Australians are getting better at adapting US hits in our own voices. Six episodes streaming on 10play feature a motley crew of drunk comedians-slash-“personalities” telling the stories of famous Australians, which are simultaneously acted out by another bunch of recognisable faces.
But is it funny? Hell yes – particularly Anne Edmonds recounting the life and times of Dame Nellie Melba (“Bullshit, I’m ‘ere, here’s ya divorce papers” may not be historically verifiable quote) and James Mathison on Whitlam’s dismissal with Stephen Curry as Gough.
SBS came in for a roasting over encouraging unhealthy attitudes to alcohol when it screened the American series in 2014, and the question mark hanging over this reboot is the casting of footy lout Brendan Fevola, a man who’s no stranger to behaving like a larrikin.
It’s safe to say the world can be neatly divided into two camps: those who are terribly excited about the collecting of rusted old oil tins and those who are not. Nigel Quick is firmly in the first category as he drives about Western Australia exclaiming over the miscellaneous curios that become obsessions for his fellow collector travellers. Originally made for Foxtel, this low-low-low-budget outing makes up in heart what it lacks in production values, but it really ought to come with a trigger warning for anyone suffering an irrational fear of dolls.
Richard Leplastrier: Framing the View
He’s not a household name in the way of Robin Boyd or Roy Grounds; in fact, it’s likely to be only devoted architecture aficionados to whom the name Richard Leplastrier means anything. But the hour spent luxuriating in the minimalist but utterly distinctive aesthetic of the now-81-year-old architect – in the company of the fascinating guy himself, no less – could very well change all that.
Internalising the method of Jorn Utzon, with whom he worked on the Sydney Opera House, and a formative period spent in Japan, Leplastrier’s homes are like no other, best personified by his bushland-nestled house overlooking Sydney’s Lovett Bay. With an outdoor kitchen (chilly!) and eschewing glass and most conventional things for an “active living” approach, the pavilion-style bolthole is as much a statement about a way of life as much it is a stunning idyll.
It’s the season finale, which means the ballad of Hugh and Penny is about to reach its crescendo. Will the hapless Penny (Hayley McElhinney) find anything approaching closure over her mostly unrequited love for the bad boy of medicine? Will Hugh (Rodger Corser) stop being a self-centred dickhead for long enough to realise that she’s the one for him despite the fact she’s newly married to the joyless mine manager Jarrod? Meanwhile the world’s chastest girlie bar causes a stir in the marriage of Hayley and Ajax but seems just the thing to liven up the town of Whyhope. Until next time, doctor.
Ex-cop Pav has been holding out for his workplace injury compensation claim for so long he’s gone from being played by Marcus Graham in series one to Rupert Reid in second two. Bad news has arrived, however, with a paltry payout pushing the reinvented small-time drug dealer into the grim arms of PAYG employment. Meanwhile a teachable moment dressed up in a Mean Girls-slash-The Hunting plot envelops pretty much the entire young crowd of Arcadia Heights as an ostracised Sabine learns the lessons of doing unto others…
The Heights‘ more serious conversations might take place in the housing commission building’s communal laundry rather than Lassiter’s front bar, but it’s still refreshing to see a multicultural cast getting stuck into the froth and bubble of Aussie suburban life.
Best of The Bold and the Beautiful
The BATB face-slap has become a meme in its own right, and there promises to be a quorum of palms thwacking dewy cheeks as the 33-year-old soapie gets the best-of treatment on 10Play. The Forrester family and their fashion business has had more ups, downs, marriages, affairs, plastic surgery, car crashes, illegitimate children, unfortunate endings, accidental pregnancies, uncertain paternities, terrible timings, overheard conversations and men named Ridge over the past three decades than any other show, and if you thought the convoluted plots too ridiculous these just-add-water best-ofs will prove you absolutely right. That doesn’t mean it’s not a whole lot of diverting fun.
If you ever wanted to get a foot in the door of the international drugs trade, this glossy, globe-trotting eight-parter that had its premiere at last year’s Venice International Film Festival is both primer (it’s helpful to own a shipping company) and cautionary tale (the shipping boss played by Gabriel Byrne cops a bullet in the first few minutes).
Moving between Mexico, the US, Italy and northern Africa, the show takes a multiple-perspective approach treading a similar line to Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning film Traffic. There’s a big shoot-em-up set-piece wrecking bloody havoc through Mexico’s Monterrey but the family dynamics of the American Lynwoods – Byrne’s pater familias Edward, his daughter and anointed successor Emma (Andrea Riseborough) and son on the outer Chris (Dane DeHaan) – prove more intriguing.
Live PD: Police Patrol
SBS Viceland, 9.20pm
In this Cops variant, the gimmick is that these American law enforcement encounters are seen through the voyeuristic live feeds (on delay) of working police officers, with on-the-spot analysis and commentary via studio correspondents. That said, this double bill is from 2016’s first season, so there are drunk drivers in South Carolina, a high-speed pursuit in Arizona, and a bull on the loose in Texas, but nothing that feels of this distinctive moment.
The Dog House
Thankfully the name is accurate. Instead of being a flatulent comedy about some misbehaving bros, The Dog House is actually about a home for dogs – specifically The Wood Green Shelter in Cambridgeshire – where the four-legged creatures are matched up with potential human friends. It’s the shiniest, sweetest animal shelter you’ve ever seen, bustling with staff looking to make the perfect canine match, but I suspect veracity is a distant second to wish fulfilment in this British reality series.
Potential owners and possible dogs are auditioned as the staff watch on, with taste, back stories, and chatty interviews filling in the blanks. It’s lightweight, but watching nervous applicants greet and cuddle a four-legged candidate is better than any dating show.
Call the Midwife
It’s 1964 and William Hartnell’s original Doctor Who is on the communal black-and-white television, dividing the nuns – but for the midwives in East London’s Poplar neighbourhood there’s a fitness jamboree looming, complete with hula-hoops. The cheery surface outlook that permeates the BBC’s now long-running period drama can skirt satire, but the series remains unafraid of social commentary. This episode – like several in the current eighth season – has a plotline involving abortion, which was not legalised in the United Kingdom at the time, and it doesn’t hold back from emphasising the risks that fall on women denied their reproductive rights.
Grand Designs New Zealand
Like a pre-built module assembled off-site and shipped in, the format for Grand Designs is adaptable for any territory where homeowners have plans that push either budget or builders’ patience. In this episode of the Kiwi edition, hosted by Wellington architect Chris Moller, a sandy seaside site in the small South Island town Little Brighton, outside Dunedin, is the locale. Two connected pavilions form the home, with client and builder Zac Williams (supported by Tasmanian girlfriend Tess) juggling jobs. Holding back the ever-encroaching sand is a Sisyphean task – in a low-key New Zealand style – with the familiar issues of budget, deadline, and finessing the finishes following close behind.
*Nine is the owner of this masthead.
Larissa is a writer and reviewer
Craig Mathieson is a TV, film and music writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.