Revenge, Monday, May 28
Filling in the gaps ... Revenge.
Revenge, Seven, 8.30pm
Well! On the one hand, it's the moment we've been waiting for.
On the other, there's more delayed gratification, I'm afraid.
Tonight we return to the events that opened the series: a gunshot, a bloke in a white tuxedo falling face-down into the sand. Emily in a blood-red dress preparing to mourn the death of her fiance. Is all about to be revealed?
Of course not. Not only are we halfway through the season, first we have to backtrack another 24 hours to fill in the gaps between last episode's thrilling conclusion (Victoria's secrets exposed, Emily's box of secrets stolen) and That Scene. There's lots to catch up on, including things we never expected.
If there's one thing you can count on with Revenge, it's that things will turn out to be not quite what we thought they were. While it's certainly a classic exercise in soap-by-numbers, there's a lot of care taken to ensure everything makes sense in terms of the Revenge universe, that continuity is attended to, and that there are enough misdirects and sleights of hand to keep us guessing. And so it is tonight as several characters make surprise reappearances and others head for the hills.
480: Mabo: Invasion, ABC1, 6.50pm
Next Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark decision in Mabo v Queensland No.2, the High Court ruling that recognised Australia did in fact belong to someone at the time of white settlement. In succinct eight-minute bites, the 480 crew this week recap the history of indigenous land rights in Australia, starting tonight with the permanent arrival of the whitefella in 1788, through to the first stirrings of genuine political action in the mid-1960s.
With great archival footage and articulate, dispassionate talking heads, the series (it continues weeknights until Friday) does a solid job of explaining what the first settlers really found when they arrived here, what the political and legal situation was at the time, and how that situation evolved to first completely quash any indigenous claim to land, and eventually recognise it.
Louie, ABC2, 10pm
Louis CK is not a happy chap. From the bewildered amble through the streets of New York that opens each episode, through his melancholic stand-up routines to the sketches that invariably involve his humiliation, life in the world of Louie ain't easy. He's a worrier and tonight he's particularly worried about his health.
Cue a sketch featuring Ricky Gervais at his most repellent as Louie's old high-school buddy and the GP from hell. Then notorious right-winger Nick DiPaolo has his turn on the stage, depressing Louie even further. Yet despite its bleak tone there's always something sweet, elegiac even, about Louie. That's partly because Louis CK has a beautiful way with words. He also seems to be quietly enjoying his misery - as are we.
30 Rock, Seven, 11.30pm
A real return to form for this clever comedy, packed with great lines and celebrity cameos.
Despite being sacked, Kenneth is still spreading his weird joy throughout 30 Rockefeller Plaza, this time as a janitor. After having her first ''Oscar-winning'' song parodied by Weird Al Yankovic (appearing as himself), Jenna decides to write a song that can't be parodied, with some help from Tracy. And speaking of parodies, as Liz and Jack work on the Avery Jessup telemovie, Billy Baldwin turns up as Lance Drake Mandrell, the actor playing Jack in said telemovie. And doesn't he have a fine time "method acting" the way his real-life brother plays Jack.
We also get a quick two-scener from Cynthia Nixon and her ''Boston accent'', and the lovely Mary Steenburgen reprises her role as Jack's sexy mother-in-law.
It's great fun and, as is so often the case, the most fun is had around the edges, in lines so throwaway you almost miss them and things that have little to do with anything. I particularly enjoyed the promotions for Pride incontinence pads.
Girls, Showcase, 7.30pm
HBO's new comedy series is a strange beast but it's funny and there's plenty to like about it. The shorthand description ''Sex and the City for Millennials'' fits (there are even occasional references to that show). It follows four young female friends - Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Mad Men's Zosia Mamet) - who live in New York (although it's Brooklyn rather than Manhattan). There is also enough sex to go around, even if Girls traffics heavily in ugly ''real'' depictions (depending, of course, on your own definitions).
Plenty of shows have proven that likeable characters are not a prerequisite for success but tight writing is, which Girls has in spades. The characters speak rather implausibly in short, clipped, perfectly timed, culturally metatextual, Sorkinish bites, but what do we want from television - realism or escapism? Girls tries to meld together both and the result is something at once weird, compelling, off-putting, hilarious but difficult to love.
The first two episodes establish a world where people walk around half-formed - their bodies are adult but their brains are still adolescent-elastic. It's a scary and thrilling cusp that a lot of people want to forget and that's where Girls really hits a nerve. Everyone growing up is just doing the best that they can and to see it up so unflatteringly close is challenging. But it's worth sticking around to see how these women turn out.
Not One Less (1999) SBS Two, 10.30pm
In the remote Chinese village of Shuiquan, there is no one to take charge when the local schoolteacher, Mr Gao, is called away on urgent family business. The only person capable of running the dilapidated school is 13-year-old Wei Minzhi, a student who can read well enough to teach and to tutor the class in numeracy. Before he departs, Gao leaves Wei with a stick of chalk for each of the days he will be absent and promises her an extra 10 yuan on top of the 50 she will be paid if, when he returns, the class roll remains steady.
But poverty is ever present in the mountains and with no authority figure to restrain him, the class troublemaker, Zhang Huike, quits school and heads off to find work in Zhangjiakou, the nearest city. Annoyed by his rejection of her control, alarmed by the prospect of disappointing Gao and resolute when it comes to protecting her promised bonus, Wei urges the remaining 26 students to pass around the hat. Having scraped together sufficient funds to enable her to follow Zhang and bring him back, she sets a series of tasks and assignments then hitchhikes to Zhangjiakou where the errant 10-year-old has found that the streets are not lined with gold.
Wei finds him starving and homeless - but can she persuade him to return? His shame at being so comprehensively defeated will destroy his reputation, but if she can't bring him back others will make the obvious deduction, jeopardising the school's future.
Zhang Yimou's film is a winner, not just for the tension of the matters to hand but because it speaks reams for the determination of a youngster to fulfil her duty and see the consequences as they play out upon the bigger picture. Poverty can best be alleviated by numeracy and literacy, so without a decent level of education the village will never thrive. It's the power of one on a scale poised to tip either way. And it's impossible not to hope these cheerful peasant kids will lead more rewarding and productive lives than their illiterate parents.
They radiate youthful energy, enthusiasm and potential, learning valuable lessons in maths as they raise the money to finance Wei's mission.