Pay TV: Monday, December 3
The cast of Bunheads, which is well worth a look.
Bunheads, Fox8, 7.30pm
GILMORE Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino hits the ground running with her new comedy-drama series about a Las Vegas showgirl who finds herself teaching ballet to teenagers in a sleepy seaside town. The script crackles with sardonically amusing lines right from the start, and the characters and setting quickly establish a whimsical charm. When we first meet Michelle (Tony-winning Broadway actor Sutton Foster), she's dancing at a casino, complaining about the fact she and her chorus-line colleagues do all the work while the topless dancers who come on for the last couple of minutes get all the applause. We see she's being pursued backstage by a dorky admirer named Hubbell (Alan Ruck), whose affections she doesn't requite. But with her career going nowhere and her life falling well short of a fairytale (she lives in a dilapidated apartment next door to an ageing prostitute who works from home), she drunkenly accepts Hubbell's marriage proposal and wakes up hungover on the road to his quirky little home town. It's there she meets Hubbell's domineering mother, Fanny (a suitably stern Kelly Bishop), and learns that not all the townsfolk are as welcoming as she might have hoped. Seeking refuge from the grown-ups, she checks out Fanny's backyard ballet studio and meets some of Fanny's teenage students. These include the sweet Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins), who is a bit bigger than the typical ballerina and constantly being undermined by the smugly stick-thin Sasha (Julia Goldani Telles, a dancer by training and a real natural in her first acting job). It's immediately engaging fun, and Foster is well cast in the lead, being as likeable as she is adept at delivering lungfuls of rapid-fire dialogue. Tonight's impromptu dance numbers are little feel-good treats, and it's clear there's plenty of dramatic and comedic potential in the set-up of jaded pro Michelle trying to inspire the naive youngsters while educating them about the harsh realities of the dance business. There is also plenty of potential in Michelle's adult relationships, which are to change forever after the shock that ends this first episode. Bunheads comes from the wholesome ABC Family channel in the US, and looks set to be good family viewing. It certainly doesn't pretend that sex and death don't exist, but it handles such things well, being neither lurid nor overly antiseptic. It is well worth a look.
MythBusters: Jawsome Special, Discovery, 7.30pm
THE MythBusters team has done a whole lot of shark-related stuff over the years. Sadly, the conclusions they've drawn haven't always seemed reasonable. Take the experiment that ostensibly tests the notion that dogs attract sharks. Instead of using a real dog, they build a robot one and put that in the water, along with dog urine and faeces. It doesn't attract sharks. But wouldn't a real dog paddle differently? And mightn't real, stinky dog fur make a difference? Before you can comprehensively declare the dog-shark thing a ''myth busted'' - as Adam Savage does here - you really need to repeat the experiment many times with different breeds of real dogs and different species of shark in different places around the world at different times of the day and year. Otherwise, what you're doing is little better than sticking your hand out of the window on a sunny day and concluding that it never rains. Still, there's plenty of interesting stuff here, including tests of reputed shark repellents such as magnets and chilli, and of whether it really would have been possible to kill the shark from Jaws by shooting the scuba tank in its mouth.
My Naked Secret, Discovery Home & Health, 7.30pm
A LOW-KEY but affecting instalment in which a doctor and a psychologist help a British man with the extensive psoriasis that is ruining his life and his relationship.
Rock'n'Roll Nerd: Tim Minchin, Bio, 8.30pm
Feature-length documentary charting the rapid rise of the Australian musician and comedian.
Celebrity MasterChef, LifeStyle Food, 7.30pm
John Torode and Gregg Wallace put British celebs through their paces in the kitchen.
Horizon: Nine Months That Made You, BBC Knowledge, 9.30pm