Hairspray (2007), Channel Nine, 9.10pm
AS BALTIMORE housewife Edna Turnblad, John Travolta isn't a particularly believable woman, but he's a wonderful mother. As with The Producers, Hairspray is the glossy movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical adaptation of the cult film, proving that when it comes to good material Hollywood really knows how to get that stone to bleed. John Waters' 1988 low-budget original, with cross-dresser Divine as the oversized matriarch of a working-class family, was his usual spiky valentine to his beloved home town of Baltimore. Set in the early '60s, the revised story follows Tracy Turnblad (an impressive Nikki Blonsky), the high-school outcast who dances up a storm. Adam Shankman's film is a broad plea for understanding, featuring the most overly art-directed Civil Rights march you'll ever see, but the Motown-inspired pop songs are little more than energetic and Christopher Walken and Michelle Pfeiffer are underused.
Above the Law (1988), GO!, 9.30pm
THE very first Steven Seagal movie - it's a kind of cinematic patient zero for the subsequent infection - is much like the rest: a rogue lawman won't back down when threatened by crooks; it co-stars Pam Grier and Sharon Stone, who should have had their own buddy flick.
Swordfish (2001), Movie Extra (pay TV), 8.30pm
SOMETIMES the measure of a movie star is what they can pull off on camera. In Swordfish, a digitally themed action flick, Hugh Jackman proved his worth to Hollywood by playing a computer hacker who breaks into a well-protected US government databank with the kind of keyboard moves more commonly seen at an Andre Rieu concert. Slamming the buttons and racing through imaginary code, he turns the labyrinthine and mundane into florid drama. The scene is overblown and the finale generally is, too. John Travolta and Halle Berry's rogue US government operatives hire Jackman's paroled coder to assist them in their plans, which involves securing private funding so they can go freelance and target terrorists without government approval. It's an ends-justify-the-means philosophy that the movie shares, with a restrained opening soon giving way to much gunfire and explosions.
FREE TO AIR
Motorway Patrol, Channel Seven, 7.30pm
HYPERACTIVE commentary and a relentless barrage of mundane misdemeanours dilute any sound message of road safety that might be gleaned from this dull traffic-incident show. How it has any entertainment value beyond satisfying a desire for watching confused drivers reprimanded by police is unfathomable. Tonight, a drunk and drugged motorist tries to evade police, dodgy registration calls are made, and a couple of suspicious-looking blokes are questioned beside a classic Ford Falcon Futura model. Yawn.
SCU: Serious Crash Unit, Channel Seven, 8pm
TURNING the car-crash attraction factor up a notch from the previous bumper-car show is this similarly base slice of programming, which features, as its title suggests, actual smashes. The first unwitting star of tonight's horror shows is a mother of three whose car collides with a truck after veering into the wrong lane. Forensic investigators deconstruct the accident, but their undoubtedly interesting work is sidelined by a visual assault of car wrecks with hyperactive commentary.
Psychic TV, TV4ME, late
WITH her tumbling raven locks and beguiling smile, actor Jordana Ashkenazi (Underbelly) is a seductive host of this bizarre home-shopping channel. Live from the mystic call centre, she pushes fortunes and communion with the dead. The ladies who profess a hotline to the ethereal world come in all shapes and sizes, every one a kindly aunt administering tarot and sympathy to the broken-hearted over the phone. As a strange human experiment, the spectacle is intriguing, if mind-numbingly formulaic.
Meteor, Universal, 8.30pm
THE Walking Dead's Michael Rooker is suitably scary as a psycho cop determined to hunt down and kill his former partner's spunky blonde daughter. He even has that distinctive Merle drawl (which might actually just be Rooker's native Alabama drawl). What does this have to do with meteors? Not much. We are indeed in imminent danger from a rogue asteroid, but that end of things is being handled by Jason Alexander, Christopher Lloyd, Stacy Keach, Marla Sokoloff and Ernie Hudson, among others. The fact that Meteor is crammed with actors you know and (mostly) love from very different places helps make this two-part mini-series perfect popcorn-munching holiday viewing. It doesn't hurt that the acting, directing, script and special effects are a cut above those of the average sci-fi telemovie. The fact that it was written by a guy who spent 12 years writing wrestling scripts for the WWE is somehow perfect.
Murdoch Mysteries, 13th Street, 7.30pm
A FINE episode of the genteel police procedural set in 1890s Canada. Tonight everyone in Toronto has been reading Bram Stoker's new novel, Dracula, and a murder at a girls' school starts a vampire panic. The goofy Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris), now a bit too over-the-top, believes vampires could be behind it, but Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) isn't buying. Again, the story grows out of the rapid progress of 19th-century science, and there is a poignancy in the portrayal of a world in which great strides have been made but important developments remain just out of reach.
Kylie Minogue: Aphrodite Les Folies, Fox8, 10pm
Kylie's spectacular concert in London on the last night of her Aphrodite world tour.
Celebrity Wife Swap USA, LifeStyle You, 7.30pm
A five-episode marathon beginning with the one in which Gary Busey and Ted Haggard trade spouses.
Treme, Showcase, 8.40pm