Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: What would Jesus watch?

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Stephen Mangan stars in Dirk Gently. Photo / Supplied
Stephen Mangan stars in Dirk Gently. Photo / Supplied

It's probably easier to ask what Jesus wouldn't watch. I think the E! Channel would give him hives and may lead to an early rapture.

I can just hear him saying (Judges 10:14), 'Go and cry to the gods you have chosen, let them rescue you in the time of your torment'. So scrub that, and there's no point watching the Weather Channel, he controls that stuff anyway.

Thanks, by the way, for the awesome summer.

No need for him to watch American Pie (Sky Movie Greats, Saturday, 6.50pm) either, as he's already seen it several times and "really liked it".

I doubt he'll be into John Lennon: Imagine (Arts, Saturday, 1.25pm). I'm sure the son-of-God shares a lot of politics with Lennon but he probably hasn't been able to let go of that that whole 'Bigger than Jesus' thing.

Good Friday, April 6

They say everyone has a doppelganger. Disturbingly I have been asked on several occasions: "Are you that comedian?"

I get blank looks when I explain that all my comedy is generally of the unintentional variety, but I fear that they may be mistaking me for that unshaven, bald-headed funnyman known as Brendan Lovegrove, who is, I must point out, at least three-feet shorter and a decade my senior.

If he lived in England I bet Wallace Chapman would get mistaken for the star of Dirk Gently (Friday 8.30, UKTV), Stephan Mangan.

If you were lucky you may have seen Chapman's excellent documentary The Freedom Flat, in which he revisited his Dunedin student accommodation and told the story of the freaks who lived there.

It was New Zealand's first conceptual flat. You may recognise him from Back Benches (TVNZ 7, Wednesday, 9.05pm) but did you know he was the unofficial spokesman for the ill-fated campaign to bring back butter conditioners?

It's fair to say he has a nostalgic heart, which bodes well for his new undertaking The New Old which starts this Friday (TVNZ 7, 9.30pm). It's a show about people doing things that our parents or grandparents did, ordinary things like baking, knitting, playing lawn bowls and praying to God.

The idea is that, like tight pants and bikes with no gears, everything eventually comes back - just like Jesus.

Episode one takes us into the world of the craft brewer, one of who tries to recreate the original ale that Captain Cook served on the Endeavour. It's a satisfying watch, a little like an urban version of Country Calendar.

Sharing Good Friday with Wallace is his double, the aforementioned Dirk Gently, (Stephan Mangan). He could be Chapman's manic older brother and he should be familiar to New Zealand audiences from his role in the Scrubs-like hospital-comedy The Green Wing in which he was superb.

Mangan did well on the British Celebrity Mastermind where his specialist subject was The Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy, which like Dirk Gently was based on the work of Sci-fi author Douglas Adams.

Dirk Gently runs a Holistic Detective Agency and uses random chance as a technique for solving mysteries. Fans of Doctor Who and Sherlock should feel at home.

And just to confirm that he's wacky with a capital W, Gently drives an Austin Princes car, and - this really is freaky - so does real-life Wallace Chapman.

Saturday, April 7

It's not all Nazis and Romans on the History Channel. At 5.30pm on Saturday, Ken Burn's ground-breaking series on The Civil War continues yet another re-run.

It's the kind of show that should be re-run forever. If you're a fan of non-fiction you need to see it - it's a goddamn benchmark. Unlike most World War II docos there's no footage to speak of, but Burn's use of photographs and letters brings the history to life in an incredibly emotional way.

Like many others, the letter of Sullivan Ballou will no doubt bring a tear to your eye while making you nostalgic for the days when people could actually string together more than 140 characters.

Our other civil war continues all day long on Sky Sport One beginning at 12.30pm with a replay of the Hurricanes v Sharks, and at 7.30pm with the Highlanders v Stormers and Crusaders v Bulls at 2.55am.

Easter Sunday, April 8

Arise to Praise Be (TV1, 8am) if you're religiously minded or perhaps still up and mashed as a potato from the night before.

Remarkably the show is in its 26th year and has been the biggest cause of complaints to NZ On Air, not because of sexual content or an inappropriate hymn, but because it was cut from one hour to just 30 minutes. The show's fans are not to be messed with.

But how to keep yourself awake till the Shortland Street omnibus at 10.35am on TV2?

Well, 9am on TV One is looking good this week. Q+A has actually become more watchable since Paul Holmes had his much publicised Maori-bash in the Herald on Sunday.

I keep waiting for him to have some sort of Cheeky Darkie eruption on Q&A. He'll be on his best behaviour today though as his guest is that highly intelligent and extremely respected Fareed Zakaria, editor of Time magazine and a brilliant CNN contributor.

There's no doubt that Q&A is missing Guyon Espiner, who's now resident on 60 Minutes (TV3 7.30pm).

Last week Guyon presided over a well executed take-down of Sky City Casino and Government Minister Steven Joyce over Sky City's controversial extension plans.

Thanks to Guyon we now know that while clubs and pubs have to pay 37 per cent of their takings from gaming machines to charity, Sky City only has to pay around 2 per cent and that the government is effectively making a deal with Sky City that gives them 500 new pokies in return for building a convention centre.

Not exactly the sort of deal Jesus would entertain.

Monday, April 9

Just for the hell of it why not watch eight hours of Jersey Shore starting at 9am on MTV? Go on, I dare you. You might think Jesus would hate this stuff but remember he did have a soft spot for Romans and prostitutes.

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