Teen pressures: <i>Sex on Fridays</i>.

Teen pressures: Sex on Fridays.

FREE TO AIR

American Idol, Eleven, 8.30pm

In Australia, this singing contest fizzled out in 2009 after eight seasons. But in the US, where it's into its 13th series, Idol still acts like a winner. It kicked off the season with a lavishly refurbished arena set and new judge Harry Connick jnr joining Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez. Between Urban's earnest nice-guy manner and JLo's pep talks, standing ovations and declarations of getting "goosies" when some contestants sing, there isn't a nasty note on the bench. The newest judge can only be accused of being a little undemonstrative, rarely leaping to his feet and only occasionally signalling approval with the slightest of smiles. Nevertheless, if the frequent interludes depicting the other judges clapping, audience members cheering and contestants crying were edited out of the mix, the episodes probably would run for half the time, which might be a blessing.

The Biggest Loser, Ten, 8.30pm

Eleven weeks in, five competitors remain and one of them won't make it to the finale. First, Craig, Katrina, Sharon, Toni and her hubby Kerry must repeat one of their early challenges - the Sydney Opera House test involving 10,000 steps - and show how far they've come in their levels of fitness. But then comes the weigh-in session to determine who will face elimination. Though the ratings for this ninth season have been slim, the last elimination round is shamelessly padded out: repetitive, ridiculously protracted, straining to extract every ounce of emotion. Meanwhile, the coaches look on smugly, mouthing platitudes that they've voiced so many times before.

Sex on Fridays: Diary of a Teenage Virgin, ABC2, 9.30pm

Made for Channel 4, this fairly rudimentary documentary questions English teenagers about what they see as the burden of their virginity. "I just wanna get it over and done with," declares 15-year-old Ellis about the problem of losing it, as she contemplates taking the leap with her new boyfriend. The film follows the adolescents through a summer, eavesdropping on conversations. Narrated by Greta Scacchi, it does illustrate how the pressures long associated with adolescent sexuality are now exacerbated by the expectations generated by online porn. Beyond that, though, it raises age-old questions and fails to address them with much finesse.

DEBI ENKER 


PAY TV

Game of Thrones: Ice & Fire - A Foreshadowing, SoHo, 7.40pm

This fun little special will add to the giddy excitement that Game of Thrones fans are feeling as they wait for the new season to begin. Here series creator David Benioff promises that ''some of the most shocking and most mind-blowing scenes in the entire series come at the end of this season'', but he's not giving much else away. He and the many stars of the show (who are interviewed on set and in costume) talk mostly about the characters and life on set, and answer questions sent in by fans. Last season's big shocker was the Red Wedding. Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth, says: ''I knew it was coming, but it ripped me up inside.'' Even the rugged Rory McCann, who plays Sandor ''the Hound'' Clegane, admits to having shed a tear. Elsewhere, Kit Harington (Jon Snow) reveals that his favourite character is the swaggering mercenary Bronn, but Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) prefers the wicked Queen Cersei.

Freddie Flintoff: The Hidden Side of Sport, BBC Knowledge, 10pm

An interesting and poignant documentary in which the former England cricketer interviews sportsmen including boxers Ricky Hatton and Barry McGuigan and his old teammate Steve Harmison about their experiences with depression and anxiety. (Help is available; call Lifeline on 131 114).

BRAD NEWSOME


MOVIES

12 Monkeys (1995) 7Mate, 10pm

It was no mere act of brazen commerce to remake Chris Marker's 1962 touchstone - a 28-minute short composed almost entirely of black-and-white stills that served as a requiem for the 20th century and a meditation on the vagaries of love - into a Hollywood blockbuster. While Terry Gilliam's remake may lack the austere resonance of the original, his version reimagines the idea and draws both astute entertainment and some pathos from it. Sent back from a ruined future where humanity has fled underground, James Cole (Bruce Willis) finds his quest to alter history intermingling with his own childhood memories. Gilliam plays with the concepts of reality and sanity, opposing one with the other, as James tries to convince a kidnapped shrink, Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), that he's on the level while pursuing Brad Pitt's loopy scion. Willis delivers a flinty, haunted turn. Best moment - hearing Blueberry Hill on the car radio, as he winds down his window and ecstatically howls: ''I love the music of the 20th century!''

Elles (2011) World Movies (pay TV), 8.30pm

The expectations of how men and women relate, not to mention the conventions of silver-screen couples, are subtly upended in Elles, a Paris-set drama from Polish director Malgoska Szumowska. Anne (Juliette Binoche) is a magazine journalist researching a story on female university students who support themselves by working as escorts. The more she inquires, hearing the answers of Charlotte (Anais Demoustier) and Alicja (Joanna Kulig), the more she begins to question her supposedly acceptable life with her husband, Patrick (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), and their two sons. The transference from the two younger women to the older is played with uneasy candour by Binoche, an actor who instinctively finds her character's concerns, and the filmmaking cuts between the three women so that their lives intermingle. There are several explicit sex scenes, but what endures is the women's attitude to them, stripped of male expectation and simplistic labels.

CRAIG MATHIESON