Tuesday, January 1
Kardashians: Dishing It Out , Tuesday, E!, 9.30pm
FOR too long the Kardashians have been denied an opportunity to present their thoughtful, important views unmediated to a knowledge-hungry public. So it's great that in this hour-long special Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kris, Rob, Bruce Jenner, Kourtney's boyfriend, Scott, and one of Kris and Bruce's younger daughters (Kylie? Kendall?) finally get a chance to have their say about the year that was. It's just the eight of them, sitting together on couches with nothing to distract them apart from loads of footage of their non-stop exotic holidays, their contrived pranks and their general attention-seeking narcissism.
Celebrities are thrown into difficult natural environments in Alone in the Wild.
Some of this footage has never been shown on television before - including the scene in which Rob goes in for a colonic irrigation or something and you actually see lumps of his faeces travelling up a transparent plastic pipe. That's what television has come to, but what has the world come to?
Well, you'll see that a public appearance by Kim sparked something akin to Beatlemania in Dubai. And then there's the footage of clan matriarch Kris ogling random strangers' penises on Chatroulette. It's here that Jenner (whose bad cosmetic surgery has left him looking like dried skin stretched over a toothless chimpanzee skull) spits the dummy and denounces Keeping Up with the Kardashians for its unabashed prurience and smut. It started out as a family show, Jenner protests, there are lots of kids watching, and besides there's a 15-year-old girl sitting right here on this sofa. Will Jenner's indignation bring about change? Tune in next season to find out. Or, better still, don't.
Thelma's Gypsy Girls, LifeStyle You, 9.40pm
Dressmaker Thelma Madine tries to give Irish and Romany traveller girls a future outside the home by training them as seamstresses.
The Hotel Inspector, LifeStyle, 9.30pm
Alex Polizzi tries to help struggling British hoteliers improve their sub-standard accomodations.
Top 100 of 2012, Channel [V], 10am
[V] counts down the top 100 tracks of the year that was.
FREE TO AIR
Alone in the Wild: series premiere, ABC2, 8.40pm
EIGHT "stars of sport, television and film embark on an extreme adventure" in this mildly engaging British series. The game participants are deposited in remote places with meagre supplies and a self-operated camera to observe how they cope with fear, thirst, hunger and isolation. The first star off the beaten track is former cricketer Freddie Flintoff, who's deposited for a week alone in Botswana's Okavango Delta following a three-day crash course in survival skills. The former England captain and more recent professional boxer copes pretty well with the African bush and his intensifying hunger, and is suitably gobsmacked when he gets to see some of the wildlife up close, although an elephant herd thinks he might be a little too close. The opener for this low-budget series certainly has its moments and an inherent suspense: there's good reason for Freddie to be wary of things that go bump in the night.
Wild Vets, Channel Seven, 7pm
ANOTHER in the batch of New Zealand-made programs filling our screens this summer, this documentary series chronicles the activities of several vets working with animals in the wild and in zoos around the country. Here they're dealing with an injured kiwi, an albatross blown off course during a storm, an aged female lion with hormone issues and a baby capuchin monkey who's been rejected by his mother following his kidnapping by another member of their troop. The vets and those who assist them are seen as capable, dedicated and unflappable, taking the treatment of ailing and injured animals in their stride. It's hard not to admire what they do, even if this modestly made series is fairly pedestrian.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, ABC1, 8.30pm
THE dark presence of choirmaster John Jasper (Matthew Rhys) hovers over this movie-length adaptation of Charles Dickens' last novel. Set in the town of Cloisterham, it's full of dark doings in and around the cathedral, from where the opium-addicted Jasper feverishly eyes the object of his desires, pretty 17-year-old English rose Rosa Bud (Tamzin Merchant). The rather callow and wealthy young man to whom she is affianced, Edwin Drood (Freddie Fox), is also Jasper's nephew. The story features the customarily extensive Dickensian tangle of characters woven into a plot that includes several orphans and a number of murky secrets, as well as questions of paternity, identity and inheritance. Characters appear and disappear unexpectedly, and there's an array of colourful types on the margins, such as the drunken Durdles (Ron Cook), who has keys to all the hidden rooms of the cathedral and reckons he knows its many secrets, and Princess Puffer (Ellie Haddington), who runs the opium den where Jasper retreats for solace but suffers nightmares. Everywhere director Diarmuid Lawrence turns his camera he finds gloomy shadows to suggest darkly obscured motivations. Dickens' novel was unfinished when he died in 1870 but this 2012 BBC-Masterpiece co-production, with a screenplay by Gwyneth Hughes, ties up the loose ends. However, the set-up is more interesting than the resolution.
The Band's Visit (2007), SBS One, 11.50pm
IN ISRAELI writer-director Eran Kolirin's fine film, the Alexandria Police Orchestra, an Egyptian ensemble, arrives in Israel to play at the opening of an Arab cultural centre, but becomes stranded in a small hamlet in the desolate Negev Desert. Framed in their uniforms against the bare, monochromatic settings, the musicians are aliens in a country their nation has been in conflict with several times in the past six decades. But their evening in Bet Hatikva is marked not by political debate or grand rapprochement, but intimate, unexpected encounters. The film's key relationship is between the orchestra's leader, the rigid officer Tawfiq (Sasson Gabai), and the owner of the local cafe, the blunt, unassuming Dina (Ronit Elkabetz). Matter-of-fact about her situation, the Israeli woman initially overwhelms the Egyptian man, but it's an assault born not of confidence but despair. Dina's desperate to make a connection with someone, and only with that realisation does the martinet reveal the man behind the epaulettes.
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Channel Seven, 8.30pm
THE pithy, pleasing adaptation of Helen Fielding's novel, with Renee Zellweger as the accident-prone young woman caught between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.
Pride & Prejudice (2005), Channel Ten, 1.30pm
IT IS a truth universally acknowledged that a period piece in possession of a good story must be in want of a modern remake. That's certainly the case with Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, first published in 1813 and reconfigured for the screen numerous times. Opening with a tracking shot that gives us a Bennet family household where pigs wander the yard, the kitchen is the centre of social interaction and unmarried daughters lurk at every turn, English director Joe Wright's 2005 version is delivered with gusto and a measure of grit. It is an approach that suits his star, Keira Knightley (the pair subsequently reunited for Atonement and the coming take on Anna Karenina), who covers her then lack of ambiguity with a vivacious attitude. Her nemesis turned love, Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), is made of sterner stuff - there's barely a smile to be had and he never emerges dripping wet from a body of water as Colin Firth famously did in the 1995 BBC mini-series.