WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 3
The ABC has a terrific track record with these comedy/factual panel shows and the latest iteration doesn't disappoint. There's a general view in the community that the makers of reality TV are all cynical exploiters and the contestants naive cannon fodder. Without whitewashing in the slightest, these discussions explode both those myths, nicely clarifying the demands of making entertaining television, its practicalities, but also the genuine "reality" that underpins the genre. Plus, it's often very funny.
New series ***1/2
Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are both fantastic in this clever, creepy reimagining of the classic Psycho characters, Norman Bates and his mother. The production itself is also terrific: splendidly styled and cleverly shot to create intrigue and menace from the most quotidian moments. (Although there are definitely some less than quotidian moments, too.) There's plenty of gruesome action but, as with the original, what's most compelling is the finely-drawn relationship between mother and son which is as believable as it is disturbing.
BEVERLY HILLS PAWN
New series ***
Normally I can't abide these pawnshop reality/doco series but Beverly Hills Pawn may be the exception. As with every genre/sub-genre there's the good, the bad and the ugly and this high-end romp certainly falls into the former category. As the title suggests, Yossi and his lovely assistants run a very high-end goods exchanger in the heart of Beverly Hills, drawing in both a wonderful collection of characters and some fascinating artefacts – tonight including the bed linen "used in The 40 Year Old Virgin", and a mint 1950s Aston Martin.