Damien Parer (Matt Le Nevez)_3589abc1.jpg

War torn: Damien Parer (Matt Le Nevez).

FREE TO AIR

Logie Awards, Nine, 8pm

The diminishing profile of what used to be known as the AFI Awards has effectively made the Logies the principal award show for Australian TV. While for some TV's so-called night of nights is all about frocks, razzle-dazzle musical numbers and the sadistic thrill of watching a half-tanked presenter flub their lines, for others it's an opportunity to appreciate and applaud those who have elevated local TV to the generally high standards it now enjoys. Hand in hand with the rising standards of our dramas and reality shows, the Logies' broadcast has also lifted its game from the bowling club fundraiser it once resembled. These days, nominees turn up with prepared acceptance speeches, the flies on men's suits aren't at half mast and, if we're really lucky, the in-jokes will be more Ellen de Generes than Benny Hill. This year, Sonia Kruger and Jules Lund will work the red carpet (from 7.30pm), while the poison chalice otherwise known as hosting duties will be shared among nominees, guest performers and a bevy of network stars.

 

Parer's War, ABC1, 8.30pm

Famed Australian war photographer Damien Parer, whose newsreel Kokoda Front Line! was the first Australian production to win an Academy Award, is the subject of this earnest though unexciting biographical drama. It focuses on Parer's World War II adventures in Papua New Guinea and Palau, marriage and his uneasy professional relationships with Cinesound pioneer Ken G. Hall and plodding war-time bureaucrats. Matthew Le Nevez does a respectable job as the socially awkward, driven yet conflicted Parer, who is seen here as a tragic anti-hero of sorts unwilling to submit to the infinite wisdom of his sweetheart Marie (Adelaide Clemens).

 

Downton Abbey, Seven, 9.30pm

It's been a long wait in Australia for this season-four finale, which aired in Britain on Christmas Day in 2013, though arguably it's the most perfect 90 minutes of Julian Fellowes' drama to date. While Lord Grantham circumvents a scandal surrounding the Prince of Wales, a number of dangling storylines are brought to very satisfying ends. Loyalty, honour, virtue and duty are well-worn themes of the often-sublime drama, though rarely do they find such seamless expression as they do here.

PAUL KALINA

 

PAY TV

Da Vinci's Demons, FX, 8.30pm

These days it's hard not to see every period fantasy gorefest through the prism of Game of Thrones. Tonight Lorenzo de' Medici (Elliot Cowan) is in Theon Greyjoy-level strife in the torture chamber of Neapolitan prince Alfonso (Kieran Bew). Alfonso isn't the ice cold of a Ramsay Bolton, though; he's incandescent with rage because Lorenzo upended his missus back in the day. The torture is merely a prelude to a grotesque and deadly challenge devised by Alfonso's insane dad, Ferrante (Matthew Marsh). Tension? There's not a lot because, unlike in Game of Thrones, the chance of a main character suddenly getting bumped off here is next to nil. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea - sorry, across the North Atlantic - things are getting seriously weird. The sexy heathen priestess, who just happens to speak Italian and know Leonardo's mum, tells Leo (Tom Riley) that the only way he can accomplish his quest is to have sex with her while tripping off his head on ayahuasca. Silly but well-made popcorn-munching fun.

 

Louis Theroux: Twilight of the Porn Stars, BBC Knowledge, 9.35pm

Some strange characters and poignant portraits of lost souls make Louis Theroux's return to the struggling Californian porn industry compelling viewing.

BRAD NEWSOME

 

MOVIES

Cocaine Cowboys (2006), ABC2, 8.30pm

A real life equivalent to fictional works such as Scarface and the Miami Vice television series, Billy Corben's documentary proves that the truth is stranger - and sicker, and scarier - than fiction in depicting how the sleepy, sunshine-laden Florida city of Miami was transformed into a modern day Wild West in the late 1970s and early 1980s by the arrival of the cocaine trade. Edited with the kind of frenetic rhythms and wanton imagery that suggests the subject matter, the pulpy but engrossing Cocaine Cowboys is a study in corruption, excess and murder. Veterans such as pilot Mickey Munday, who pioneered the Medellin, Colombia, to Miami backblocks express flight, ruefully recall a world where crime paid outrageously and everyone was dissolutely happy until gang wars broke out and a Colombian mother of three, Griselda Blanco, had so many people killed that the hit men couldn't keep their invoices in order. It's a film of implausible hysteria, both ugly and fascinating

 

Doomsday (2008), Action Movies (pay TV), 8.30pm

Among the group chosen, in Neil Marshall's apocalyptic action-adventure, by the English government to venture into a futuristic Scotland that's long been walled off following a plague outbreak are characters named Miller and Carpenter. They're nods to George Miller and John Carpenter, whose Mad Max 2 and Escape From New York are respectively major influences on Marshall's picture. Grim, dystopic futures are the norm now, but Marshall went for action and gore, with the unknown Scottish survivors proving to be either mediaeval soldiers or cannibalistic marauders. Rhona Mitra plays the hardened soldier who leads the English team, staking a claim to Angelina Jolie's action crown with a sinewy performance, but the movie turns out to be a succession of chases that are over-edited and not entirely original - George Miller in particular may wonder if he is due royalties for the penultimate vehicular pursuit. What the movie doesn't have is the sly humour that bubbled up through Miller's mayhem.

CRAIG MATHIESON