Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Shows to watch while pulling a sickie

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Aden Young as Daniel Holden in 'Rectify'.
Aden Young as Daniel Holden in 'Rectify'.

Being sick, sloping off home, watching TV in the daytime, it could be worse.

I want to call it the flu, because it's worse than my last cold, but I'll concede it may be just a very heavy cold.

Firstly I ticked off the box marked, "Shows I've recorded but haven't watched yet."

Rialto's Rectify (Wednesday 8.30pm) is at the top of that list and I can report that it's a goodie. You've missed episode one but don't fret, it's an easy catch up.

What you need to know: A death row prisoner is released.

His small town is thrown into a bit of a tizzy by his return.

It's from the makers of Breaking Bad.

Think Banshee and then dial the knob down to one. This is a slow-moving feast and if Banshee was pure comic book, this is more like a graphic novel.

If I'm rambling, it's because I'm dying!

Like Breaking Bad, the makers of Rectify like to take their time telling a story, so much so that this would not work at all on free to air TV. People simply wouldn't stick with it.

You may recall that The Wire screened on TV2 some years back but no one watched it. We all like to blame the stupid programmers for crap TV but when we're served caviar like The Wire we turn up our noses, probably because it's served with advertising.

News channels are your friend when you're dying of the flu/heavy cold.

American one's more so. CNN, Fox, they actually make sense when you're sweating and snuffling.

Luckily my illness coincided with the George Zimmerman case, the one in which a security guard gunned down an unarmed 17-year-old black dude in a gated community. This made for good TV. Fox has been incensed that it's not a God given right for armed guards to shoot black youths. Like TV3 with Bain, Fox is uniformly convinced that Zimmerman is not only innocent but possibly a hero.

Naturally this meant that Hannity got the exclusive interview with him. The accused gave robotic responses to the largely patsy questions although Hannity did at least ask, "Would you change anything, do anything differently?"

"No" said Zimmerman adding, creepily, "It's all God's plan".

CNN is more measured in its coverage, Piers Morgan doesn't think it's murder, but he wonders if Zimmerman, "Was playing the cop he was wanting to be but wasn't."

His guest, an African American called Brian Copeland, asked: "Can an African-American male walk down a street where he doesn't 'belong' without being shot?"

"Why won't he take the stand?" asked Morgan. "Too risky" said one legal eagle.

"OJ Simpson didn't testify in his criminal case and was acquitted. He did testify in the civil case and he was convicted." The case is expected to conclude this week.

Back on Fox, the third smuggest man alive, Bill O'Reilly was on. He reported a poll that showed 15 per cent of Americans believe that the government adds secret mind controlling technology to television broadcast signals while 15 per cent were not sure.

O'Reilly wasn't buying it, but he knew that it was good fodder for his show which he is increasingly trying to model on The Daily Show. As part of this drive to comedic red-neckery he has employed Jesse Watters who may well be one of the biggest cocks in the universe.

He crashes a red-carpet event to ask the hilarious question: "Do you think the media is biased, to the left?" Hilarity didn't ensue. Still if 75 per cent of the job is simply turning up, he's doing okay. And, as he depressingly points out to the people he is moronically pestering, "O'Reilly is the top rating show on cable".

"Birds do it, bees do it, you do it, and I'll tell you why after the break". So promised Dr Oz - yes I was very, very, sick.

But get this, he did none of those things, and when he came back all he said was: "Yawning has great health benefits, it can even be good for your sex life."

Did he tell us what those were? The feck he did. He did however test two women with the question: "What burns more calories, 15 minutes of sex or 15 minutes of arguing?"

It was the arguing.

Disgusted at myself for watching Dr Oz I turned to CNN who had a story on a cross-dressing ex Navy SEAL, Kristen Beck. Chris had served in some of the most dangerous combat zones in the world in his 20 years as a Seal before becoming Kristen. Ironically his beard was so thick during his years in Afghanistan that he was known as the "cave-man".

Back then he looked like somebody who could bully Willie Apiata. Now he looks like a former netball player. "My body armour now is clothes and shoes." Then we see Kristen, in a tight short dress and high heels as she assembles a machine gun. "The suicide rate among trans-gender youth is through the roof. I want people to know that they are not alone." It's moving stuff, in that weird gun-crazy American way.

The next day, unable to leave my bed for several hours, due to my SERIOUS CONDITION, that is apparently "just a cold" which I should "stop moaning about like a spoiled little pussy", I caught up with Mitre 10 Dream Home via my laptop. I was interested to see how the format stands up against the new fangled pretenders, The Block, and House Rules.

So far, so good, but the programming of House Rules against it will be a telling tussle. Compared to The Block I'd say that it's more pedestrian, but less like an infomercial.

Host Simon Barnett once said that he went on Celebrity Treasure Island because God had told him to, so this show should be blessed with big ratings. Good idea setting it in Christchurch and a great idea having a lesbian couple among the winners, even if they designed a house with no windows.

Same-sex is now well and truly mainstream. How times have changed, although having Barnett back on TV makes it feel like it's the 1990s. But the guy delivers the goods. He even delivered the tears when he had to dish out the bad news to one of the unlucky families. God I almost cried. Must be my meds. I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but I am VERY SICK.

So what was the best thing I saw as I LAY DYING?

"How to make a Long Wharf lobster salad". That was in one of those Fox News Extra segments that seem like training films for people with brain injuries. Looked amazing, I might make one if I ever recover.

For up-to-the-minute entertainment news and reviews, follow the NZ Herald's entertainment section @nzherald_ent on Twitter.

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