Top five TV picks of the week (+trailers)

Five TV shows that should have you planted on the couch over the next seven days.

Anthony Hayes as Caesar, Matt Nable as Jock Ross, and Callan Mulvey as Snoddy. Photo / Supplied
Anthony Hayes as Caesar, Matt Nable as Jock Ross, and Callan Mulvey as Snoddy. Photo / Supplied

Pick of the week: Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms

Just when you thought the Aussie prime-time crimewave had peaked here comes another that depicts a true story of gangland violence, Oz-style.

Bikie Wars Brothers in Arms is a six-part miniseries based on the book Brothers in Arms, by Lindsay Simpson and Sandra Harvey, about the battles between two motorcycle gangs, the Bandidos and the Comancheros.

That war led to the Milperra massacre in a Sydney hotel carpark during a public swap meet on Father's Day, 1984. Seven people were shot dead, including a 14-year-old bystander, and another 28 were injured.

The series is not part of the Underbelly franchise but it stars some faces who have done time in it.

They include Damian Walshe-Howling as Chopper and Callan Mulvey as Bandidos president Snoddy.

Director Peter Andrikidis said he did his best to cast fresh faces and steer clear of actors who have had roles in other major Australian-made crime or gangster dramas - a reason why he chose Matt Nable to portray Jock Ross, the supreme commander of the Comancheros, who speaks with a thick Scottish accent.

"Everyone wanted to be in the show once auditions were announced, so there was a wealth of riches to choose from," Andrikidis says. "Matt Nable is an ex-footballer and not Scottish, so he had to learn that accent.

Andrikidis, who directed several episodes of the original Underbelly series, makes no apologies for the level of violence, nudity and sex scenes.

To have anything less would be to self-censor and run the risk of glamorising bikie gangs and what they stand for, he says.

"Those debauchery moments we had to portray. If you soften those events, and that's the Underbelly thing, you tend to glamorise it.

"You need to let the audience decide what's right and wrong . ... otherwise you make a mockery of it."

The show is screening here not long after it screens on Network Ten in Australia, where bikie violence has flared again in recent times.

But it's more coincidence than planning that the $7.8 million production is on screens on both sides of the Tasman this month because Andrikidis had to wait more than a decade to secure the rights to the book.

"The rights were for a feature film which was trying to be made for about 10 years and a year ago the rights expired on that."

When: Wednesday, 8.30pm
Where: TV3
What: Return to gangland.

Music pick: American Idol

It's come down to humble and likeable Georgia lad Phillip Phillips and San Diego's petite powerhouse Jessica Sanchez who ousted howlin' soul man Joshua Ledet in last week's round. And fortify yourself, because it's a typically long show starting at 6pm tomorrow.

At 7pm there is a break for Shortland Street and Naughty Shorty at 7.30pm, which looks at 20 years of bloopers from the long-running soap. It's back to Idol at 8.30pm for the two-hour results finale and a look back at the highs and lows of the "journey".

Sanchez was almost sent home from the top seven but was given a reprieve. If she wins she will be the first "saved" contestant to take the top spot. But first she has to beat the versatile Phillips whose rendition of Bob Seger's We've Got Tonight last week was one of the best performances of the series.

When: Friday, 6pm
Where: TV2
What: The final sing-off.

Farming pick: Country Calendar

Emily Welch is a superwoman of farming. As well as looking after two young children, she and husband Sam run shearing gangs and a successful sheep stud business. She also steps in if her parents need her to help at their cafe and cave sightseeing venture. Oh, and she's a world-record shearer to boot. Sam's no slouch in the shearing shed either, having set a world record clipping ewes.

Emily was brought up on a farm at Waikaretu, near Port Waikato. After studying for a bachelor of science in agriculture she came home to pursue her interests in shearing and farming.

She says the secret to running several family businesses is about everyone pitching in. "My mother believes children are raised by a village and that's how I can do all the things that I manage to do."

When: Saturday, 7pm
Where: TV One
What: A natural agricultural woman.

History pick: Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

The turbulent lives of the British monarchy in the 16th and 17th centuries usually make good dramatic fodder, given all the plotting, powerplay and political manipulation, helped by all those dark castle hallways and tight bodices.

This two-part BBC miniseries concerns the Gunpowder Plot. It is the late 16th century and Elizabeth I (Catherine McCormack), a Protestant, is Queen of England. Her cousin, Mary (Clemence Poesy), a Catholic, returns from France to Scotland and is hailed as Mary Queen of Scots.

So begins a story of family rivalry, murder, deceit, lust and betrayal. Mary's son, James (Robert Carlyle), accedes to both thrones but is faced with growing discontent, culminating in an attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the King.

When: Wednesday, 8.30pm
Where: Prime
What: Mary and Elizabeth engage in historical plotting.

Royal pick: The Diamond Queen

This landmark three-part documentary series celebrates the Queen's 60 years as Head of State of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth. For the first time in modern history a Monarch has reached a diamond jubilee.

To mark the occasion The Diamond Queen presents an analysis of the Queen's reign, examining her history, constitutional role and responsibilities and her impact on the world.

Presented by Andrew Marr, the first episode gives a quick history of the Windsors in the 20th century before presenting some entrancing archive footage of Elizabeth as a young, smiling girl, surrounded by her family.

We get to follow the Queen as she goes about her many day-to-day duties, and The Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York and the Princess Royal offer their own insights.

When: Wednesday, 8.35pm
Where: Sky BBC Knowledge
What: Celebrating the Queen's 60-year reign.

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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