TV picks of the week: Morrison reality check

Pick of the Week: The Life and Times of Temuera Morrison

Temuera Morrison strides into his Hollywood agent's offices, shaking hands with everyone sitting in a cubicle on the way through. There's a slight look of confusion on their faces - who is this guy again? And why does he have a camera crew with him? But affable Tem keeps striding into the office of his rep, Joseph Rice, a man who couldn't look any less like a Hollywood agent.

Tem's supposedly there to talk about getting his US screen career on track. Otherwise, he jokes, he'll be forced into Celebrity Apprentice or Dancing with the Stars in New Zealand ...

Yes, the curious thing about Morrison jesting about his career heading into the reality TV dustbin is that it's taking place in a reality TV show, near the end of the first episode in this fly-on-the-wall series from The GC producer Bailey Mackey.

The Life and Times of Temuera Morrison might have been more tidily named The Tem Show. But that was what his short-lived 2005 chat show was called. Eight years and a few local films later, this show captures Morrison at not so much a career crossroads but a dead-end.

Jake the Muss was a long time ago. Once Were Warriors propelled him towards Hollywood, which gave him a run of supporting roles in bad movies. Internationally, his career effectively peaked a decade ago with the role of Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Rice hopes the forthcoming new Star Wars means they will need Tem's head back as Fett or on the shoulders of the stormtroopers they cloned from him. At which point you might wonder if the guy who voiced Jar-Jar Binks is getting the same spiel from his agent next door.

This opening episode of TLATOTM doesn't start in Hollywood. Its early stages show Morrison celebrating his 53rd birthday at home in Rotorua. We meet his kids, 8-year-old Aiorangi, who is soon flying home to her mum in Wellington, and his son James, 21, a handsome bloke who seems to have inherited his father's screen presence but has no intention of following in the family business though he's happy to go along for the ride to LA.

Also in the mix, but staying at home, is Tem's younger girlfriend Ashlee Howden-Sadlier, who realised their age gap only when she checked his passport, and seems to be angling for an engagement ring.

Other episodes will follow Morrison over six months, including his training for a celebrity boxing match. He also undergoes other coaching - to finally master an American accent.

True, Jango Fett didn't use one when he uttered his famous line: "I'm just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe." But as Tem says, he's rested on his laurels too long.

When: Weds, 8pm
Where: TV One
What: Tem's new reality

Sci-fi pick: Orphan Black

If you're looking for a sci-fi version of 24, then Orphan Black is for you. Called "The most intriguingly entertaining new series of the year" by The Hollywood Reporter, it has a twist, cliffhanger or oh-my-gosh moment every 10 minutes or so, making the cult overseas hit thrillingly addictive.

Orphan Black stars Canadian Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, a no-hoper running from a bad relationship. Then she witnesses the death of a girl that looks just like her.

Assuming the girl's identity, Sarah heads down a wormhole that involves dodgy cops, genetic mutants and clones. Orphan Black can seem a little B-grade in places but stick with it - Maslany's powerhouse performance has seen her win an army of fans she calls the Clone Club.

When: Tuesday, 8.30pm
Where: SoHo
What: Fast-paced sci-fi mystery involving clones

Reality pick: The Incredible Mr Goodwin

Jonathan Goodwin in death-defying climb up a London skyscraper.
Jonathan Goodwin in death-defying climb up a London skyscraper.

Jonathan Goodwin first came into the spotlight when a stunt went wrong on British TV and he was hanged. He survived the incident, with a few rope burns, only to plunge right back into performing even crazier stunts.

A word like impossible is simply a dare for the Welsh daredevil, who takes his inspiration from Houdini, vaudeville performers, and superheroes. Whether he's racing to unlock himself from a rocket-launched car before being dragged off a 60m cliff, fighting to the surface after being buried underground, free-climbing up a towering office block, or attempting a stunt on the London Eye, he's doing his best to challenge the boundaries of the human body - and leave punters madly discussing exactly how he did it.

When: Tuesday, 7.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Escapologist extraordinaire

Mystery pick: Family Secret

David Lomas.
David Lomas.

For the past four years, David Lomas hosted TV3's Missing Pieces, and helped to reunite a variety of families. Now he's turning his journalistic skills to solving family mysteries.

From the real story of New Zealand's involvement in the famous Argo story, to a Napier woman's deathbed wish to find her former boyfriend's killer, Family Secret is looking for some answers. They're hoping to uncover the secrets behind an unsolved murder; find out more about a father who led a double life and abandoned his three young daughters; and find out whether an author fathered a Polynesian love child. It's historical detective work that delves into genealogy, crime, rumours, and often digs up long-buried memories.

When: Wednesday, 7.30pm
Where: TV3
What: Solving mysteries great and small

Drama pick: Luther

Just as he returns in the new Thor movie, Idris Elba is also back as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the third season following the adventures of the troubled genius of a detective who is the chief brain in the London-based Serious and Serial Crime Unit.

The four-episode series has Luther on the trail of a killer targeting young women, but behind the scenes his own colleagues are mounting an investigation into his unconventional methods.

"If you live life the way he does there will be consequences - and our intention is to show that," Elba says. "We stay within the realms of the fantastical - that's what Luther is. In the previous season he was trying to kill himself ... now he's even had a haircut and looks like a proper policeman."

When: Mondays, 8.30pm
Where: UKTV
What: Redemptive third season

- NZ Herald

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