Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: What's on your series link?

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Television blogger Paul Casserly plays catch up with some of his favourite shows saved to his PVR.

The Slap is one of the best shows to come out of Australia since Dame Edna and Frontline. Photo / Supplied
The Slap is one of the best shows to come out of Australia since Dame Edna and Frontline. Photo / Supplied

Do you come here often? What do you do for a crust? What's on your series link?

It's only a matter of time before this becomes a replacement for the question, "Where do you live?" or if you're from Christchurch, "What school did you go to?"

I usually ask Londoners the predicable, "What part of London?" even though my London knowledge is largely tube-related. And I've been asked the equally predicable in return: "Oh do you know John? He's from New Zealand too." Sadly, about 50 per cent of time, it turns out I actually know who they're talking about.

Anyway, "What's on your series link?" has started to pop up. Probably because I'm a known TV bore. But it's a good question.

Apart from some cobweb-covered shows that I actually worked on mostly my PVR contains Rialto Channel movies that I haven't yet got round to watching. I find it hard to part with their excellent documentaries in particular. Thursday at 8.30pm is the place to see these. Chances are if they're in this year's film festival, they'll be on here before long.

Digging back I just found an unwatched doco about Brian Tamaki, which must be a couple of years old. The blurb says, "Bishop Brian Tamaki. Family Man? Gay basher? Idiot or genius?" I'm guessing the answer is "all of the above".

It was part of the Inside New Zealand series of docos, which is something else I must add to the list, because it's back - this week it's about tattooing in NZ jails (TV3, 9.30pm, Thursday) Along with that ever-growing list of books I must one day read, my series linked shows are starting to pile up.

The rest of my current list is:

Bored to Death
Coronation Street
The Slap
Louie
Episodes
Neighbourhood
The Soup
Pillars of the Earth
Breaking Bad
The Graham Norton Show
The Sopranos
Jono and Ben at 10
Doomsday Preppers

There's also some residual episodes of Hounds, Girls, The Killing, The GC, Mad Men, Golden and Fareed Zakaria GPS. The latter is by far and away is the best show on CNN. It's on at 11.30pm on Mondays. But for some reason you can't series link CNN shows, so I have to remember that one using my brain. And to think that we used to be able to comprehend the arcane workings of the VHS timer.

The Slap (TV3, 8.30pm, Wednesday) is my new favourite. It's a polarising show - the Herald's Greg Dixon hated it and some friends of mine agree. Of course they're deranged and should probably be put on some sort of list administered by Garth McVicar.

To me this is as good as anything that has come out of Australia, with the exception of Dame Edna and Frontline. I know the book is, as always, way better, but two episodes in I'm hooked. The title refers to an incident at a party where a terribly behaved kid is given the taste of the back of an adult's hand. This old-school method of child-control is the spark that lights the rest of this highly combustible collection of family and friends.

It reminds me a little of the underrated Tangle, which only gained a late night slot here in NZ. The first series of Tangle was enlivened by an incendiary performance by Ben Mendelson, who also turns up in the new Batman movie. It also stars Kiwi Joel Tobeck, who shines, playing a politician on his way to becoming Premier. If you're looking for an engrossing suburban saga, I can't recommend the first series highly enough.

Re: The Pillars of the Earth (Soho, Monday, 8.30pm) It's been an okay methadone for my Game of Thrones withdrawal, actually it's more like nicotine gum - it'll do, but only just. Nearly gave up once or twice but it's a great story and there are some standout performances. But it's patchy.

Re: The Killing. I hung in there for the duration, which turned out to be a mostly great ride that ended kind of badly. Joel Kinnaman as Holder was superb as the 'wigga' detective. But I'll be watching the real thing, the original Forbydelsen which starts it's Soho run this Thursday. The two versions are quite different but from everything I've read and seen the Danish series is waaaaaay better. It's an intricate tale of murder, politics and knitwear - as this (spoiler free) piss-take takes pleasure in pointing out.

Re: Coronation Street. The epic episode that marked 50 years of the soap was, well, epic. So epic that I half suspected the involvement of Batman director Christopher Nolan. After months of increasing tension, and the increasing volume of the passing trains - some top notch sound design at play here - the mayhem on the blood-spattered cobbles was a fitting reward for long-time fans who have put up with the ups and downs of the long running saga. Best Coro ever.

So what's on your series link? What am I missing?

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