Friday, December 7
Free to air
2,5 Eleven, 6.30pm
It's the final episode of the season and Erinsborough's women are emptying their wombs in celebration. Babies are popping out like champagne corks. Vanessa miraculously gives birth to a two-month-old, freshly bathed child. Sonya is not sure whether she wants a baby or a long bath. Given Jarrod expects a jellyfish to slide down the birth canal, you can't fault her indecision. "This is weird," says young Callum.I'm with you mate.
Meanwhile, Christmas is coming and Sheila is tarting up a hatstand with tinsel (I blame budget cuts at Channel Ten). Make Me a Supermodel winner Rhys Uhlich makes an appearance as a coffee table. "Local hottie" Kyle looks longingly at goofy Georgia, who's not even sure what month it is. Special mention in the closing credits goes to "clapper loader" David Cassidy for proving there is life post-The Partridge Family.But what kind of life is this?
Trevor McDonald: Mighty Mississippi
3,5 SBS One, 7.35pm
In the song Ol' Man River, the black dock workers toil while the white folk play and the water keeps rolling along. I wondered what had changed while watching this documentary. There's footage from New Orleans of white girls in debutante dresses in their white mansions on the Mississippi. And black crosses still on houses in the poor suburbs ravaged by hurricane Katrina in 2005, which mark the number of bodies found inside.
Perhaps such contrasts are laid on a bit thick in this series by veteran Trinidadian-British newsman Trevor McDonald, who is travelling the length of the mighty river. The show threatens to lurch into Lonely Planet cliches of black jazz singers, Baptist preachers and alligators (including one with a taste for marshmallows).
McDonald struggles to get the best from his ambitious subject matter, but there's enough colour and movement here to entertain.
Martin Luther King: The Assassination Tapes
5,5 SBS One, 8.35pm
Watching Martin Luther King jnr speak you are struck by his poise and patience. Fires burn around him and the TV news reports that "Negro youths are smashing windows". Yet King never seems shaken, lingering on his vowels like a country preacher: "I've seeeeeen the promised land."
One of the sheer marvels of this program, and there are many, is hearing the civil rights leader preach peace to the Memphis crowds. But this is 1968 and there's blood on the streets. King's final days are captured through a seamless compilation of contemporaneous TV, radio and print reports. We watch him marching in support of striking garbage workers, who were predominantly black and underpaid. We see him walk up the steps of the Lorraine Motel moments before he was shot on the balcony. Striking black-and-white photographs complement the footage, placing King at the eye of a racial storm rocking the nation.
This documentary is a reminder of the power of raw footage that is unmediated by pontificating experts and narrators.
0.5,5 ABC2, 9.30pm
There are, apparently, about 20,000 luckless men in the US and western Europe seeking love in Ukraine. Exactly why they have turned to the Slavic hinterland is never made clear in this program, which is as excruciating as a bad first date. The documentary starts and ends with a middle-aged man in a bad sweater sitting alone in front of his computer. All we learn in the intervening hour is how a good story can be squandered by bad editing, a horrid soundtrack and an inability to understand your protagonists. Bathing in battery acid would be more entertaining.
A sad sack of single men travel to Odessa in pursuit of a fantasy: will-o' -the-wisp women who dress like hookers and play house like ladies. Hearing one loser say "my heart will never leave" Odessa will have you vomiting into your borscht. Lost in translation? Someone shoot the translator.
Three Men in a Boat
(1956) ABC1, 12.30pm
The problem with Jerome J. Jerome's charming and funny novel Three Men and a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), about three men rowing up the Thames to Oxford, is that it isn't charming and funny enough. One has to keep reminding oneself that
it is a classic and one should be enjoying it more. Ken Annakin's film adaptation unwisely jettisons most of the novel and moves the action forward two decades to Edwardian times. It has a notable cast, led by the underappreciated Laurence Harvey, but the actors are left to bumble around in a plot that aspires to little. Jerome's Arcadian nostalgia trip becomes an abject lesson in how cinema can sometimes get things so terribly wrong.
(2008) Channel Nine, 8.30pm
What you don't want to do when excavating treasure from the bottom of the ocean is accidentally scuttle your salvage boat. But Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) and his Ukrainian mate (Ewen Bremner) are stronger in the passion department than brain power. Which is why Tess (Kate Hudson) has dumped Finn and filed a divorce petition. Not unexpectedly, Finn arrives late for the court proceedings and loses everything, which is a pity because he knows where the fabled Queen's Dowry, lost in a 1715 storm, lies untouched. After the successful pairing of Hudson and McConaughey in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, it was inevitable they would be teamed again. With dispiriting caution, Hollywood decided on another battle-of-the-sexes comedy. But whereas in Lose a Guy the characters fall in love before the perverse sex-role games begin, here we begin with a divorce, which doesn't allow the actors any chance to convince us their characters once had the hots for each other. However, there are several fine sequences, including the hilarious opening disaster. And, while it takes a while to accept Canadian Donald Sutherland as a millionaire British businessman - his accent is a bizarre version of the one he used as Mr Bennett in 2005's Pride & Prejudice - he is such a commanding actor that he manages to engineer some tender moments with his consumer-mad daughter (Alexis Dziena). There should have been more main-character romance and less slapstick.
Big Bash League
Fox Sports 2, 7pm
Shane Warne's Melbourne Stars take on Muthiah Muralidaran's Melbourne Renegades as the hit-and-giggle season begins at the Docklands stadium. Warne's squad boasts the likes of Sri Lankan quick Lasith Malinga and Australians David Hussey, Brad Hodge, Cameron White and Matthew Wade. The Renegades' list includes West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels and Fawad Ahmed, who was recently granted permanent residency in Australia after Islamic extremists forced him to flee Pakistan. Commentary will be handled by Fox Sports's fine team of Brendon Julian, Mark Waugh, Damien Fleming, Greg Blewett and Allan Border. There's also a pre-game show, Before the Bash, at 6.30pm
Black Cab Sessions
This series is ostensibly all about having musicians perform songs in the back of a London cab. In Philadelphia tonight, though, far too much time is wasted on repetitive talk from non-musicians about how the Rust Belt city's cheap rents and empty warehouses have produced thriving, collaborative indie and hip-hop scenes. The musicians, who only get to perform in short snatches, run the gamuts from folk to hipster folk and from rap to super-ironic hipster rap. Highlights - if indeed the clips are long enough to qualify as such - include Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio) and rapper Freeway. In tonight's second episode the cab heads to New Orleans, where the performers include Byron Bay Bluesfest favourite Trombone Shorty. Black Cab Sessions isn't great but it does provide some starting points for your own YouTube sessions.