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Free-to-air TV: Monday, December 17

Louis Theroux: Law and Disorder in Lagos, ABC2, 8.30pm

LOUIS Theroux has made it his business to explore places that don't appear in glossy holiday brochures. They're often ugly, messy and volatile, and they rarely offer postcard vistas. Here he's in the Nigerian city of Lagos ''finding out how this dynamic and somewhat chaotic city polices itself''. What he discovers is an urban centre ruled by gang lords who use bands of thugs to enforce their will and extort business owners. The local authorities, the KAI (Kick Against Indiscipline), appear both brutal and comical in their efforts to impose order, demolishing unauthorised stalls and sternly supervising environmental clean-up days as corruption runs riot. Theroux is a polite traveller, and it's difficult to disagree with his conclusion that Lagos is ''a city of extremes, in which order and chaos are sometimes hard to tell apart''.

Motorway Patrol, Channel Seven, 7.30pm

LIKE blowflies at the beach, the appearance of this long-running New Zealand-made documentary series is one of the reliable signs of summer. It's used as a filler, to plug holes in the silly-season schedule, as if in admission it's too dull to screen while the main ratings game is on. Its beat is the roads and highways of Auckland, where vigilant police search for dangerous drivers and all manner of suspicious activity. Clearly recognising the frequently low level of drama, the producers use narration to liven up the proceedings, and it's peppered with lame stabs at wit. ''This young man is no stranger to cuffs. It also seems he's taken some puffs,'' is one description offered of a miscreant driver. In this typically banal episode, a car lands in a swimming pool and is extracted by a tow truck as the owner of the house mourns the damage to her rose bushes.

SCU: Serious Crash Unit, Channel Seven, 8pm

ANOTHER cheapie New Zealand-made series that's become a summer staple, SCU also documents police work, following the activities of investigators who come in after accidents and chronicling how they reconstruct the events that caused the crash. In ''Pinewoods'', they receive an emergency call after a Peugeot veers off the road at a campsite and plunges off a 27-metre cliff, killing the passenger in the car. Working against an incoming tide, which could destroy evidence as well as washing toxins out to sea, the team members examine a range of possible factors: the speed the car was travelling, the blood alcohol level of the driver, the possibility of mechanical failure. The work these officers do is important, and their reconstruction of the puzzle of this tragedy is admirable, but it's a long way from must-see TV.

Ben and Kate, Channel Ten, 8pm

THIS brother-and-sister comedy from writer-producer Dana Fox (a producer on New Girl), based on her own experiences, is likeable but uneven. The set-up is a good-natured domestic battle between the boyishly happy-go-lucky and frequently irresponsible Ben (Nat Faxon) and his overly cautious older sister Kate (Dakota Johnson), a single mum to moppet Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones). Ben stays home to babysit as Kate works in a bar and frets constantly about the safety of her daughter while she's in her brother's care. The show has a bouncy pace and an appealing cast, especially Lucy Punch as sassy British cocktail waitress BJ. But it's excessively cute and overstated, weighed down by silly padding that slows the plot and blunts the edges. We get it: as soon as Ben announces, ''Everybody can relax, I've got everything under control,'' things are poised to go pear-shaped.