Tuesday, May 8
Composer Elena Kats-Chernin in Artscape: Symphonia Eluvium.
Artscape: Symphonia Eluvium, ABC1, 10.05pm
CONTEMPORARY classical music is often not instantly accessible but - like a lot of modern art - a little backstory can provide a great way in. Here, composer Elena Kats-Chernin talks us through the process of writing Symphonia Eluvium (Symphony of the Flood), which she created in response to the Queensland floods early last year. Intercut with her explanations are the relevant parts of the piece being performed, along with interviews with various performers and with Anna Bligh, plus pieces of archival news footage. It makes for a terrific story that really puts the finished piece in context, from the chaos and discord of the opening movement, through a mournful tribute to the dead, and ending with an uplifting tribute to survival.
Time Team: Newmarket, ABC1, 6pm
TONIGHT the team are looking for the earliest evidence of organised horse racing at Britain's mecca to the sport of kings. And while the science of the process is, as always, presented to us in a delightfully accessible manner, what really astounds the antipodean viewer is how rich that small island is in relics from all ages. Still above ground is a bit of a castle built by Charles II, which is now someone's family home. The team have a 17th-century map that indicates a luxurious stable existed nearby. And sure enough, they remove a bit of bitumen from a car park and there - in trenches that don't look more than half-a-metre deep - is a big slice of Restoration architecture. It's just crazy. We also get the terrific factoids that are this long-running series' stock in trade, from the genesis of the first professional jockeys to how you tell a racehorse skeleton from an ordinary horse skeleton.
Packed to the Rafters, Channel Seven, 8.30pm
COBY gets a turn at narrating tonight, in an ep that's all about lurv. Unsurprisingly, he has a crush on Frankie (Brooke Satchwell, the tough, cheeky new electrician). And in typical Rafters style there are some great small moments, almost entirely buried by ham-fisted moments executed with such a lack of finesse they make you die a little inside. Likewise with Julie's story tonight. I'm totally with her when it comes to the creepiness of her dad dating one of her friends. What I'm totally not with is her wildly OTT reaction that's pretty embarrassing to witness. And yes, all this is obviously working. The ratings for Rafters continue to bring a smile to the faces of the Channel Seven chieftains. But it's also a shame, because both Rebecca Gibney and Ryan Corr, who plays Coby, are better than this. Gibney's class and talent are well established but Corr, too, is capable of real subtlety (and does a lot here with often pretty ordinary material).
Missing, Channel Seven, 9.30pm
ASHLEY Judd may be struggling - with good reason - to convincingly portray a CIA-agent soccer-mum black-ops vigilante. Certainly, after 10 years on the PTA her deadly skills have retained a Jason Bourne-like efficacy. But you have to accept that as just the way this show works, as tonight, in a moment straight from Charlie's Angels circa 1976, she climbs aboard a luxury yacht not only without getting wet but without mussing her evening gown or disturbing her elaborate hair adornment. Then there are the other moments that are more classic James Bond: a speedboat race across the Mediterranean followed by some speedboat cat-and-mouse that as a piece of glossy action totally works. Which is to say, every single thing about this new thriller is ridiculous. But if you accept it on its own terms, it's actually kind of fun.
Baby Hospital, LifeStyle You, 8.30pm
GRUELLING but insightful documentary narrated by Sue Johnston about Liverpool Women's Hospital and the neonatal intensive care unit for sick babies. Amid the pink and blue balloons and fluffy bears, tiny babies with all kinds of health issues teeter between life and death. New parents Laura and Phil watch over Reilly, who almost died during labour, while teenage mum Amy hovers over her newborn son, Charlie, who has kidney failure. Worry is etched in all of their faces as they hold impossibly small hands and hope for the best and, while some babies pull through, others are not so fortunate. It's difficult for the program makers to confront the challenges being faced while respecting the dedication of the families, doctors, nurses and support staff.
Mexican Food Made Simple, LifeStyle Food, 9pm
THOMASINA Miers runs four Mexican restaurants in London, so she's well qualified to host this breezy, colourful and, I'm happy to say, mouth-watering search for Mexican flavours. First is a look at one of the country's favourite ''snacks'', the pork scratching - not those small, tough, pig-flavoured bits in a packet but massive pieces that look like poppadams on steroids. More appealing is Miers' search for the perfect guacamole recipe and when she finds it, we all benefit.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Arena, 8.30pm
Part two of the reunion special.
Vincere (2009) SBS Two, 9.30pm
Giovanna Mezzogiorno (whattascorcher!) stars as Ida Dalser, Mussolini's secret first wife and the mother of his son, Albino. She didn't end up hanging from a lamp-post like Clara Petacci but the former journalist's fate was almost as miserable. Having given up everything to advance Benito's desire for power, she found his sexual aggression a brutal metaphor for his ruthless Fascist ambitions. She was disowned, discarded and driven insane by the necessities of Il Duce's desire to seduce the Italian people - not to mention Mrs Musso No.2, Rachele. Marco Bellocchio's historical drama uses archival footage and sumptuous re-creations to tell the story in an operatic fashion with tragedy and betrayal writ large. Mezzogiorno is scrumptious as the middle-class beauty salon proprietor opposite Filippo Timi offering the very nuanced model of a modern megalomaniac seducer.
Cloud 9 (2008) SBS Two, 11.45pm
''A story of new love in old age … '' After 30 years of marriage, 66-year-old Inge begins an affair with a guy of 76. OK, it's adultery but given her age and justifications it might be seen as a liberating gesture. The question is: does a different morality apply in this instance when, in more ''normal'' circumstances, infidelity would be apparent? Offsetting that discussion is one likely to arise among those who find nudity among the elderly distasteful - which it certainly is in a world ruled by advertising stylists, although viewers who recall the inspiring 1997 doco Gracious Curves will probably have overcome the preset social conditioning that is reinforced every minute of the day by advertisers. And if not that, then there's spontaneous repugnance that seems to attend the thought of one's parents having sex - even though none of us would be here if they had not. This is more about discovery and a sexual awakening at a time beyond the conventional ''use-by'' phase of life. Inge, who could be your grandma, is obliged to grapple with the problems more commonly associated with people in their teens and 20s. She repeatedly insists, ''I didn't want this!'', but Inge probably needed to find the other side of a self hidden by duty and drudgery and sublimated by convention and loyalty before it's too late. Then again, her anguish etches deep into her psyche and, as a consequence, the love is certainly not sublime. Is it ever too late to know yourself? Not if the alternative is to die wondering.