Saturday, December 15
Hunted, SBS One, 8.30pm
AMBIGUITY, misdirection and mystery are great tools for any drama, particularly a modern-day cloak-and-dagger saga such as Hunted. However, in this fourth episode of Melissa George's corporate spy series, it has reached the point where it's just plain confusing. Not only is there a team of seemingly interchangeable back-up spies who are deliberately vaguely defined in order to keep us guessing as to who the mole is, but the various cohorts and henchmen of the notional villains of the piece have all come straight out of central casting, where the phrase ''balding, caucasian and grumpy-looking'' was the only directive. In short, though it feels like the catch-cry of the middle-aged viewer, a lot of these characters just look the same to me. This isn't an inherent failure; however, in a series in which it is already hard to know who are the real bad guys, it reaches a point of frustration. In addition, tonight's instalment feels a little like story filler as very little is progressed in any of the plot strands.
Rage, ABC1, 12.10am
PREPARE to be Rick-rolled. Rick Astley is tonight's guest programmer on Rage, and the good news is he isn't restricted to his own discography, else the phrase Rick-rolled might be redefined through the sheer repetition of Never Gonna Give You Up, Together Forever and Cry for Help. Instead, the 1980s Stock Aitken Waterman pop idol, now RSL crooner, will reveal what he's been listening to in the decades between recording a chart-topping hit and becoming a YouTube meme.
Goldfinger and Thunderball, Channel Seven, 7.30pm and 9.45pm
CHANNEL Seven proves relevance is no match for ratings tonight after waiting until the non-ratings period has well and truly begun before airing two films that any self-respecting Bond fan wanted to revisit before Skyfall's release almost a month ago.
Young James Herriot, ABC1, 8.20pm
THERE are some topics it's important to handle with delicacy, and top of the list is the rise of Nazism. So when the idyllic country setting of this All Creatures Great and Small prequel had the politics of pre-war Europe thrust upon them, the creative team had to choose how to subtly intertwine these somewhat incongruous themes. The answer was to be as subtle as horse husbandry, as every device from town meetings held to discuss ''our gentleman friend Mussolini'' through to characters extolling the virtues of farmyard eugenics is used to make sure the adventures of young, naive James in the world of rich girl Jenny Muirhead and her fascist family hold a clear message. Animals good, Nazis bad.
Sunday, December 16
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, ABC2, 8.30pm
ALL this time I thought Ozzy Osbourne was speaking in tongues. But it turns out the wobbly, incoherent figure on The Osbournes reality TV show was actually drunk and drugged during much of the filming. The former Black Sabbath frontman is looking and sounding better these days - no subtitles required. This documentary, produced by his son Jack, is close to a hagiography of the heavy-metal rocker. But there's an interesting tale in how John Michael Osbourne grew up poor in Birmingham, sharing a bedroom with five siblings, and became Ozzy. That he made it on stage and screen is a testament to talent, luck, and a willingness to drink until he dropped. Young crowds still clamour to listen to the sixtysomething rocker. Any older and he would have to shuffle on stage using a walking frame.
Shaun the Sheep, ABC3, 4.50pm
BRAVO Shaun the Sheep. For showing us that humans and farm animals can live together in some kind of freaky harmony. For showing us that sheep love sitting on the couch in front of a big-screen TV just like the rest of us. For generously giving of themselves so the farmer can wear a nice woolly jumper. For all of this I say: ''I love ewes all.'' In this sweet and silly episode, there's a traffic jam on the farm and the flock finds novel ways to cope with the mess. It's nice to watch a kids' show that has nothing to teach us, apart from the fact that some animals are more equal than others.
The Pillars of the Earth, ABC1, 8.30pm
GAWD, if I see another heaving bosom or head cleaved in two by a sword I shall vomit up my mead. Herein lies another ''sweeping epic'' from times of yore, where the blood doth flow, the ladies doth bend over and the suckling pig is verily roasted.
This series was adapted from the popular Ken Follett novel about 12th-century schemers and dreamers. It is like Game of Thrones, but without the dwarfs, dragons or gratuitous lesbian sex, and thus not nearly so entertaining. This episode catapults into mediaeval cliche at times, with shots of drunken oafs, street jugglers, plotting priests and head slinging. Speaking of which, Donald Sutherland makes a brief appearance before being summarily dispatched. The director seems overwhelmed by the scale of the plot, jumping in panic from scene to scene like a knight in a swimming pool. Deadwood's Ian McShane does his best playing a man of the cloth, but is waylaid by stilted dialogue and a bad haircut. And why is every man propped up by a more powerful, machiavellian mother? Who would have thought feminism's heyday was in the Middle Ages?
Toomelah, NITV, 9.40pm
''EVERY c--- always in a hurry to go nowhere.'' That could well be the slogan for the former Aboriginal mission of Toomelah, in inland NSW. There's no joy or profit in this forsaken town. Even the local drug dealer lives in a broken-down caravan. Ivan Sen's raw drama follows the sorry story of 10-year old Daniel, who wants to be a criminal but may have too much heart for the job. Most of the actors are untrained, which works for and against this 2011 feature. Some lines are stilted and the interplay distractingly forced. The film works best when Daniel is allowed to stay silent, surrounded by the seemingly impenetrable muck and rot. Sen offers a glimpse of a happy ending, but it's a hard slog. The jittery camera and glacial pace make it a tough commitment. I wondered whether the material would have been better served by a documentary.