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Weekend pay TV

Saturday, January 19

Justified, FX, 7.30pm

WHILE perhaps it lacks the profile and/or buzz of other American cable dramas such as Game of Thrones or Sons of Anarchy, there is a lot to like about Justified. Set around the travails of enigmatic deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens, in some ways it is a crime procedural - there is a season-long narrative anchored by a ''bad guy'' and often a crime-of-the-week case will pop up. However, The Mentalist it is not. The character of Givens, who has returned to his home town after a stint in Miami, is taken from the novels of Elmore Leonard and the series, set in Kentucky, is suitably well written and put together. The first season was shown in the US in 2010, and although FX began airing it only in 2012, the channel is certainly doing the right thing by fans now. Having caught up to the US schedule, it is airing the show's season-four episodes a couple of hours after they air Stateside, which means no preview for tonight's episode is available. This much we know: Raylan begins unravelling a cold case that echoes all the way to his troubled boyhood, and Boyd finds himself threatened by a Pentecostal preacher. Based on the excellent instalment served up last week, quality control is not an issue here.


The North Pole Conspiracy, History, 8.30pm

In 1909, two Americans each claimed to have reached the North Pole first.

Albert Nobbs, M Masterpiece, 8.30pm


Earnest but underrated Glenn Close drama that was an Oscar contender in 2012.

Sunday, January 20

Bunheads, Fox8, 4.25pm

TERRIBLE title. Terrific show. That about sums up this excellent new dramedy from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman Palladino. For the uninitiated, the phrase ''bunhead'' is the name given to female ballet dancers, who look, literally, like bunheads as they keep their hair up while dancing in class and on stage. The show is centred around the character of Michelle, played by former Broadway actress Sutton Foster, and her move to a sleepy Californian town with some deep similarities to the fictional Gilmore Girls location Stars Hollow. Foster is also deeply channelling Lauren Graham's character Lorelai Gilmore, the spunky, fast-talking protagonist of that show, too. We're now six episodes deep into what has been a very strong 10-episode first season. Michelle is teaching at a ballet school for girls, owned by a woman named Fanny Flowers who - in another connection to Gilmore Girls - is played by Kelly Bishop, who was, of course, family matriarch Emily Gilmore. The two nurture and mentor the school's four key female teenagers and each episode follows both generations and their various issues. Of the four young girls, the obvious star is Brazilian-born actor-dancer Julia Goldani Telles, who plays charismatic, precocious Sasha. It is Sasha who delivers most of Sherman-Palladino's cutting pop-culture references. Sure, on paper it sounds a strange show, but it's actually one of the easiest and most enjoyable hours of drama on television right now. Definitely worth a look.


The Mob Doctor, Fox8, 9.30pm

Fast-tracked episodes of so-bad-it's-good new drama series from the US. Don't enjoy this too much, though - it was recently cancelled by its American network CBS.

1600 Penn, Comedy Channel, 9.30pm

Another fast-tracked American series, this one is a comedy from NBC, and set in the White House. Sounds hilarious. Ahem.