Worst Year Of My Life Again episodic

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Groundhog Day for teens: The Worst Year of My Life, Again. Photo: sellis@fairfaxmedia.com.au

FREE TO AIR

The Worst Year of My Life, Again, ABC3, 6pm

Alex has had a rubbish year at school. His life has been made a misery by Parker, the school bully, and the most popular girl in school doesn't know he's alive. Thank God that year is over. Or is it? When he wakes on his 15th birthday, he has a strange feeling of deja vu and realises he has to live the same terrible year over again. Only this time, will he get a chance to make it work for him? A joint production between the ABC, Screen Australia and The Australian Children's Television Foundation, this is Groundhog Day for kids, in 13 parts. Fun, silly and perfectly timetabled for younger audiences after a good laugh.

 

Robin Hood, 7Two, 6.30pm

It's England, 1192, and a man caught killing a deer in the woods around Nottingham is captured and told to prepare to lose his hand as his punishment. Before the mean soldiers can bring down the axe, out steps Robin with his quiver of arrows and his bag of tricks. Quite how many times we need to be told the story of the forest-dwelling hero of the poor is unclear, and yet here we are again. New Robin, Marion, and Sheriff.

 

Death in Paradise, ABC1, 7.30pm

Crikey, it's action from the opening seconds in this Caribbean drama, when a woman delivers a terrific right hook to her husband. He's Jacob Doren, commerce minister for the island of Saint-Marie, and fresh from a fling with an intern at a conference in Mexico. With a scandal about to ensure he loses his job, he decides to resign first. We watch him walk into the office of his idyllic island plantation house to write his resignation letter, then gunshots ring out. Then that bloke from Love Actually, who always plays idiots, appears as Detective Inspector Goodman, the cop leading the investigation into the apparent suicide. He's playing a bit of an idiot again - he can't find his trousers or his phone. But it's soon evident he is actually more than competent and he gets to the heart of the matter immediately - a sort of idyllic Caribbean cop version of Doc Martin. The script races along at a cracking speed, as each conversation reveals more and more clues. Like a classic Agatha Christie tale, all the suspects are there - the bitter wife, the angry son, the snubbed mistress, the trusted adviser. But who pulled the trigger?

KATE DUTHIE

 

PAY TV

Joe Rogan Questions Everything, Discovery Science, 3.30pm

Most of the time, shows that purport to be sceptical, scientific investigations of the paranormal turn out to be simply mystery-mongering, but occasionally they are earnest endeavours that fall down because those involved don't have the necessary background knowledge. Real scientific scepticism requires knowledge of the science that is being abused to support a particular claim, the ability to identify logical fallacies deliberately or unwittingly employed by those making the claim, and a familiarity with the history of the subject (many paranormal and pseudo-scientific claims have been comprehensively and repeatedly debunked over the years, so a little background reading can save everyone a lot of time and embarrassment). There is no shortage of scientific sceptics who have many years' experience in this stuff, but they never get the chance to make their own TV show. In this one, United States comedian Joe Rogan takes what seems to be a sincerely sceptical approach to matters tinfoil and paranormal, but it remains to be seen whether he has the tools for the job. Tonight it's Bigfoot, so Rogan travels around the US, meeting true believers. He frequently expresses scepticism but he accepts too much at face value and fails to pose pertinent questions. In future episodes he tackles the chemtrails conspiracy theory, UFOs and psychics.

BRAD NEWSOME

 

MOVIES

Kokoda (2006), SBS One, 8.30pm

In Alister Grierson's debut feature, set in the mountainous jungles of Papua New Guinea during the Japanese invasion of 1942, the soldiers struggling through the mud are resolute but laconic, determined to do their duty but loath to pledge fealty. They are, in other words, Australian. Sent forward along the Kokoda Trail, a squad is soon overrun. Their lieutenant is the first to die and their corporal flees - the fighting is brief but confusing. The film never establishes a geographic perspective, so you feel as lost and cut off as the infantrymen. Those alive struggle to make it back to the battle, torn between the forceful Darko (Travis McMahon), who wants to leave the wounded behind to speed their journey, and Jack (Jack Finsterer), who wants to transport everyone. Visually, the movie bears a debt to a previous Pacific War drama, Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, but it falls to William McInnes' officer to eulogise the ultimately victorious Australian forces.

 

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), Premiere Movies (pay TV), 8.30pm

In his uneasily long but often arresting third feature, American filmmaker Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) uses mythic drama and iconic imagery to permeate the decades - it's a multi-generational epic about the unknown binding of family that doesn't try for stability but instead touches on the ways we become images to others, however untrue they may be. From a charged opening where a motorcycle stunt rider at a circus, Luke (Ryan Gosling) risks his life with the camera right next to him, the film explores the destructive bonds that link men and trouble their sons. Staying in an upstate New York town to be near his infant son and the boy's mother, Romina (Eva Mendes), Luke takes up bank robbing at the suggestion of Robin (Ben Mendelsohn, remarkably affecting) and finds his path crossed with that of Avery (Bradley Cooper), a young police officer who pursues Luke and success.

CRAIG MATHIESON