Free-to-air TV: Tuesday, February 12
Marisa Ramirez and Rachel Carpani satr in Against The Wall.
Against the Wall, Channel Seven, 11.15pm
SO POLISHED is Rachael Carpani's performance as Detective Abby Kowalski in this standard American glamour-sleuth series, you'll have to squint to see a remnant of the sun-kissed young McLeod daughter she played for most of the previous decade. Flaxen curls waxed into a springy mane as tightly wound as her character, her accent faultless, Carpani is every inch the street-smart, world-weary working woman in a bad man's world. In tonight's episode, she's on the trail of a white supremacist firebug, dodging bullets in her complicated personal life and kicking workplace sexual harassment spectacularly to the kerb. This is a solid police procedural with a Greek tragedy of a sub-plot, with Hollywood veteran Kathy Baker as a murderer's mother locked in a dangerous liaison with her son's victim.
The Office, Channel Eleven, 8pm
IF RICKY Gervais' original idiotic middle manager was a hard act to follow, his American counterpart's has proved even harder. In Andy Bernard (Ed Helms, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), the hapless staff of paper company Dunder Mifflin have a boss with all the unpleasant quirks of outgoing tyrant Michael Scott (Steve Carell), but little of the subtlety with which Carell's interpretation echoed the British archetype. It's a rewrite that permeates the entire script, with gross-out gags hammered home, and laboured explanations of one-liners that would have been better left hanging. British comedian Catherine Tate, presumably recruited to inject a bit of long-gone original flavour, is criminally underutilised in this episode as acerbic clerk Nellie, with little clues given here as to why she is the target of Andy's hatred. The result is that his extreme bullying tactics appear inexplicably cruel. The saddest story arc continues to be the pairing of office sweethearts Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski). Without the unrequited love that fluttered awkwardly between the original Dawn (Lucy Davis) and Tim (Martin Freeman), Pam and Jim are left to make cracks about their own dullness as they descend into the tedium of their married life with children. Unwitting office clown Dwight (Rainn Wilson) soldiers on with desperately ridiculous stunts that are also losing more than a little something along the way.
My Kitchen Rules, Channel Seven, 7.30pm
WHERE MasterChef inspired many a real-life dinner party menu with its celebration of food and the home cook, to the point where it famously caused a national shortage of croquembouche, My Kitchen Rules makes cooking for people seem an exhausting, pointless exercise in humiliation. All notion of the dinner party is lost in the tired reality format, the forced melodrama designed to bring out the worst in the contestants. Instead of basking in their guests' enjoyment of the fruit of their labours, the trembling hosts serve their favourite recipes to snarling guests and sneering judges, who routinely declare their offerings disgusting. Merry dinner table banter is replaced with sniggering and bitching, the allure of the catfight exploited to the hilt with this season's mother-and-daughter beauty-queen team, Lisa and Candice, pitted against pretty young airheads Jenna and Joanna. Tonight's sorry affair takes place at the Hobart home of Ali and Samuel, where the miserable gathering picks at Thai food in an Alice in Wonderland-themed setting, while the bickering hosts break down in the kitchen. Anyone for takeaway?
NCIS: Los Angeles, Channel Ten, 9.30pm
WORKING with the well-worn premise that secret armies of Russians are at work under our noses to destroy the US and life as we know it, this thoroughly macho spinoff of the original naval cop show presents yet another terrifying scenario for detectives Callen (Chris O'Donnell) and Hanna (former rapper L.L. Cool J) to sort out. When an elaborate sting held simultaneously across various cities and streamed live to diminutive she-boss Hetty (Linda Hunt) yields an unexpected stiff, the heat is on to stop the baddies in time to save the planet.