<i>When We Left Earth</i> combines a tribute to the space pioneers with self-congratulation.

When We Left Earth combines a tribute to the space pioneers with self-congratulation. Photo: Reuters

When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, SBS One, 8.30pm

STRAP yourselves in for a Mach 10 race to the stars, a journey powered by nostalgia and US exceptionalism, where the only theme is mankind's triumph over the ineluctable wastes of space. This six-part series documents American human spaceflight, beginning in the late 1950s and continuing to construction of the International Space Station. The archival footage is spectacular and sobering, and the interviews with the surviving astronauts and flight directors are engaging. But the jingoism and bombast is unbearable. With its orchestral soundtrack and Mission: Impossible-style narration, the program comes across as a US government newsreel from the 1950s. There's no concession that the space race may just have been a chest-thumping exercise, and certainly no hinting at the myriad more fruitful ways this money might have been spent - on, say, universal healthcare.

So You Think You Can Dance, Channel Eleven, 7.30pm

YOU know what happened last week on this show? Well, it's pretty much the same this week, only with a slightly different bunch of dancers and some marginally different music. Yes, the dancing is technically brilliant, which is a shame because as anyone who has been at an office Christmas party at 3am knows, bad dancing is the essence of great entertainment. But as with most talent shows, this British show is really a case of same bum-wiggle, different day; a procession of strutting and crotch-grabbing by contestants with luminescent smiles. If you have daughters aged two to 13, they'll love it. If not, it would probably not even strike you to read this preview.

How to Go to War, SBS One, 9.30pm

AMERICAN General George C. Marshall once described the jeep as the US's greatest contribution to modern warfare. Coming from the country that invented the atomic bomb, that's some claim. But Marshall had a point: winning wars has throughout history had less to do with battlefield bravery than with the bare bones of logistics. As Professor Saul David, the host of this fascinating documentary, explains, ultimate victory swings on the nuts and bolts of how you house and feed your soldiers, and how you move them and kit them out.

Downsize Me! 7Two, 11pm

DAVID Eades is 39 years old and works as a company director in New Zealand. He may be a really lovely guy underneath all the fat, but physically he has issues, being a self-confessed binge eater whose best friend is the fridge. As a result, Eades has bad breath, flatulence and mood swings. Now, however, he is downsizing, with help from nutrition guru Damian and trainer Lee-Anne. While it's not pretty to watch, this show will make you feel good about yourself - no matter what shape you're in.