Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: New season nuggets

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Al Pacino in Phil Spector, Soho, 8.30pm. Tuesday March 26
Al Pacino in Phil Spector, Soho, 8.30pm. Tuesday March 26

Late February is always a good time. The water is warm, black doris plums are plentiful and the roads are still free of Uni students. I'm always sad when it's over. Luckily March brings a harvest of new season TV.

Here are 10 things that shouldn't suck.

1) 3rd Degree
TV3, 8.30pm. Starts Wednesday March 6
Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner reprise the roles that made Jack Klugman and Tony Randall famous, in this faithful update of The Odd Couple. Actually it's TV3's new current affairs flagship show, which is playing out in the peak of prime-time.

Just like in the old days. How did that happen? Also featuring former 60 Minutes journos, Paula Penfold, Sarah Hall and 2012 Journalist of the Year, Melanie Reid. So it's basically 60 minutes with Garner, although the promo seems to be promising something more.

Here's a lovely spoof of the promo.

2) Exile
UKTV, 8.30pm. Starts Monday March 4

TV rule No 14. Jim Broadbent is always worth watching. ALWAYS. In this highly-rated BBC psychological thriller he plays a father with Alzheimer's. His son, played by John Simm, (Life on Mars, State of Play) is trying to unravel a mystery but needs dad's help. You can see the problem right there. From the makers of Clocking Off and The Street.

(Broadbent also pops up as Dennis Thatcher in The Iron Lady (Rialto Channel, Saturday March 30)

3) Killing Lincoln
National Geographic, 7.30pm, Sunday March 10

Based on the book written by that Bill O'Reilly, and narrated by that Tom Hanks, it bodes shit, but is actually rather good.

Ridley and the late Tony Scott also have their names attached and it stars the guy who played the mayor from the American version of The Killing as Lincoln. Even though playing the great President after Daniel Day Lewis is one hell of a hospital pass, it doesn't really matter here because this is not strictly a drama. It's a history lesson crossed with Law And Order and it's a pretty damn good.

4) Nothing Personal
CI, 8.30pm. Starts Monday March 4

Soft-core murder porn has never been so entertaining. Big Bobby Baccalieri from The Sopranos (Steve Schirripa) is the host of this true crime series in which relatives and close friends murder their victims by proxy, i.e. they hire some dude to do their dirty work and it always comes unstuck.

It's a great watch. Schirripa factoids: Tony Soprano once called him a "Fat F**K" to which Bobby muttered under his breath "take a look at yourself you insensitive f**k". He decided he wanted to become an actor after taking an unaccredited extra role in Scorsese's Casino.

You can see Steve being interviewed by two people I would happily pay to have killed, here.

5) Rake
Rialto Channel, starts Wednesday March 6

Australian legal drama in which the protagonist, Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh) is a drug-addled problem gambler who can't keep his dirty ocker paws off the ladies. Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths also star along with kiwi imports, Roy Billing, Sam Neil and Robyn Malcolm.

It's not subtle but it is fun. Greg Kinnear is tipped to play the role in the US remake currently underway.

6) Phil Spector
Soho, 8.30pm. Tuesday March 25
The HBO film of the murder trial of the murderous music producer, written and directed by David Mamet. In case that's not enough for you, I'll throw in Al Pacino in a comedy wig and Helen Mirren. So unmissable really.

Sample dialogue: "The first time you got felt up you were listening to one of my songs."

7) Top Of The Lake
UKTV, starts Monday March 25

This should be the best TV drama ever made by a New Zealander, if we can still call Jane Campion one of those. She's best known for her films of course, Sweetie, The Piano etc, but she's made TV before, most notably An Angel At My Table.

According to a glowing review in The Guardian, "on the evidence of the hour-long first installment, Campion has adjusted well on her return to the medium."

A thriller with an international cast that includes Elizabeth Moss, (Madmen) Holly Hunter, Lucy Lawless, Jay Ryan (Go Girls, Beauty And The Beast) and NZ's champion John Campbell impersonator, Cohen Holloway.

8) Treme
Soho, 9.30pm. Wednesdays
Series 3 is already underway and it's a thing of beauty. Warning: it will make you want to drink and smoke and crave soft shell crab.

9) Undefeated
Rialto Channel, Thursday March 28

See the documentary film before the Hollywood remake. The story of an American high school football team who can't stop losing rates a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a very good sign.

10) Seven Sharp and Campbell Live
TV1 and TV3, 7pm weeknights

Ok so SS looks like Good Morning and JC won't shut the flip up about Novopay, but the battle for 7pm has never been as tight or as interesting.

*You'll have to wait till April for the new seasons of Game Of Thrones, Madmen and Veep.

-nzherald.co.nz

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