Entertainment picks: A lost cause gets you nowhere

By Scott Kara

Television

Notice how Lost went absolutely nowhere? The ending to the first series sucked so badly that you'll be suckered into watching the second series next year. You wait.

The next blockbuster TV series is Desperate Housewives, which starts tonight a few days after it became a frontrunner at this year's Emmy Awards with 15 nominations.

Apparently these two shows are in response to the need for more drama after too much reality TV.

Desperate Housewives is set in the middle of suburbia so hopefully it's not a cul-de-sac like Lost. A sneak preview of the first show reveals it's entertaining, dark, sick and sexy, and the characters and their individual stories actually go somewhere - even if it's just in and out of each other's sordid suburban houses.

And guys, don't scoff, you will be riveted. Teri Hatcher looks hotter than ever at 40-something (although she is a most annoying character).

It's a bit like Melrose Place meets Six Feet Under.

Also tonight is our first look at the final 24 in NZ Idol (7.30pm, TV2) which should prove fascinating.

The mid-winter seasonal changes in the networks carry on this week with the final Third Watch (tomorrow, 8.30pm, TV2) and a new season of Two and a Half Men (Wednesday, 7.30pm, TV2).

Prime shakes up its Wednesday night line-up with the long-awaited arrival of Temuera Morrison's The Tem Show (8.30pm) and Kirstie Alley's Fat Actress (9.30pm.)

On Thursday the three-part Inside New Zealand documentary High Times (8.30pm, TV3) traces our history of drugs from smoking marijuana in the 60s to the party pills of today. It's informative stuff with great archive footage, plus plenty of humour.

Movies

Is Scarlett Johannson trying to demonstrate she's a diverse actress or is she just showing off? First of all this month she shows up as a wet blanket in A Good Woman (nice costumes, shame about the movie). And here she is this week going all-action in The Island. The movie is set in a future where the wealthy can have themselves cloned and use the clones for organ transplants. When one of the clones (Ewan McGregor) starts to suspect the true nature of the place where he was raised he plots an escape with our girl Scarlett.

Christian Bale is getting around, too. After playing a great Batman in Batman Begins, his art-movie The Machinist has him in the more modest role of a lathe-operator dying of insomnia.

Not exactly an action-packed plot but if you haven't slept in a year then spooky stuff is sure to happen.

It's also the last week of the Auckland International Film Festival.

Herald reviewer Peter Calder will continue with some daily recommendations, but here's some from me. Today at 3.30pm the documentary Hell On Wheels takes an in-depth look at the Tour de France - the world's toughest cycle race. The 2005 event is underway as you read this.

Pepe Danquart's film merges present-day footage with archive material and evokes the beauty of the landscape and the tension among the riders.

To round out the festival with a bit of music, how about Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues (Sunday 12.45pm, Village Skycity Cinema). He was country music's first superstar, a born hellraiser who died at 29.

Music

Tomorrow night Blood Brothers bring their Seattle art-rock spasms to town. On Thursday at the Studio on K Rd there's Athlete, the Brit-pop-turned-emotional-rock quartet. Then on Friday - pity it's not Friday the 13th - dress up in your blacks and head for the Kings Arms for the return of Danse Macabre. Never heard of them? Well, I don't blame you if you're under the age of 39, but this local synthesiser-infected post-punk lot will be worth checking out. Also on Friday, but on the dancefloor, Robodisco, with Elliot Eastwick (at the Rising Sun on K Rd) plays off against Ministry of Sound (at the Met and Code).

But both those will probably be beaten by Shapeshifter at the St James, also on Friday. For a bit of exercise, and a lesson in how to drum like a demon, then the St James will be the place to be at the start of your weekend.

Finish up on Sunday night with some reminiscing courtesy of former Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan. His first solo album, TheFutureEmbrace, harks back to the 80s - lots of synthesiser and with Robert Smith from the Cure singing backing vocals on the BeeGees' To Love Somebody.

Whatever will Mr Corgan do next? Grow his hair back? Scary.

 

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