Free-to-air TV: Wednesday, November 7
A Moody Christmas, ABC1, 8.30pm
HAS there ever been a sitcom that didn't do a Christmas episode? That's a genuine question for anyone who wants to write in. The twist from Review with Myles Barlow creators Phil Lloyd and Trent O'Donnell is that this mini-sitcom is all Christmas, six years of awkward alcohol-soaked lunches and annual grudge matches. But second episode in, the show strains to fill in the backstory for the Moody family. Resentments don't simmer unspoken; they are blurted out in finger-pointing exposition. Most of the suburban panto is played broad, such as the henpecked brother-in-law, the growling patriarch or the mum in search of harmony. But like a Christmas lunch, among the slabs of ham are some highlights - the single mum's whirlwind of fighting boys, and the genial patter of the lonely uncle chatting up the homeless woman invited to make amends.
Al-Qaeda Confidential, SBS One, 9.30pm
The cast of A Moody Christmas.
HE HAS the pensive, pudgy face of a spoilt toddler, but Nasser al-Bahri, Osama bin Laden's bodyguard from 1994-2000, probably got his nickname, Abu Jandal (''the killer''), for whatever gave him his dead-eyed stare. One of few bin Laden confidants not in hiding or jail, Nasser serves as tour guide for this documentary about his late boss and crew in the years leading up to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Currently under house arrest in Yemen, Nasser never truly disavows the violence he helped unleash: he is sentimental about a blanket bin Laden gave him to keep out the Tora Bora chills, and practically boasts of training hijack leader Mohammed Atta. The most fascinating footage shown here is definitely not the still-sickening images of those planes but a clip of Atta sitting companionably with fellow hijacker Ziad Jarrah, who would pilot United Airlines flight 93. Interviews with a Lebanese-American special agent for the FBI (pixelated) and the CIA's Michael Scheuer (front and centre) don't confront the inter-agency squabbling that contributed to this mess, but they do prove life can be almost as weird as Homeland. ''We knew when they were playing volleyball,'' Scheuer says.
USA Votes 2012, ABC News 24, 10.30am
YOU can time shift everything else on the grid today but you have to watch this cliffhanger live. Log into Twitter, keep refreshing The Age's online coverage and park yourself in front of ABC News 24's all-day ''pollapalooza'' as if your laser-like focus might in some way affect the result. John Barron is the pick of the panel, after his shrewd wonk work from Planet America's cheap seats, though I'm less hopeful of blistering insights from former pollies Alexander Downer and Stephen Loosley. But whether you barrack for Barack or root for Romney, you'll want to be there when psephologist extraordinaire Antony Green discerns the choices of the prevaricating ladies of Tampa, Florida, and thus the fate of China's biggest market.
Red Dwarf, ABC1, 9.30pm
THIS may be a new episode of a 10th-series reboot, but it feels wrong to watch something with charms this dated on a laptop, rather than some boxy, static-crackling early-'90s curved screen. True believers who loved this British sitcom's daggy charms (ripped off wholesale from Douglas Adams) can be reassured: nothing's been revamped. Even the faces of the original cast have aged in real time. This is a sci-fi cosy, with sets that look like second-hand job lots from the pre-revamp Doctor Who, and droll jokes pitched like it's open mike at the pub (''Your brain is smaller than the salad section of a Scottish supermarket''). Yes, it's set on a giant spaceship 3 million years in the future, but it's really an office comedy. The plot centres on the exam the officious one, Rimmer, needs to sit before he rescues his more successful brother. The show's wiki tells me this character is a hologram of someone dead for millenniums, but it's too late for me to catch up. Criticising this show is like judging a Phish concert - irrelevant. The show's built for and powered by fans now.