Top five TV picks of the week (+trailers)

Check out five shows that should keep you glued to the couch over the coming days.

Craig Parker plays captain and navigator Frank Worsely, the man who saved the expedition. Photo / Supplied
Craig Parker plays captain and navigator Frank Worsely, the man who saved the expedition. Photo / Supplied

TV pick of the week: Shackleton's Captain

The story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition and the subsequent 18-month nightmare for him and his 27 crew remains one of the greatest tales of survival and leadership.

Trapped in a slowly moving ice floe, Shackleton's ship Endurance was eventually crushed and sank. The explorer and his crew set up a winter station on the ice and when it broke up took to three lifeboats and made landfall on the remote and uninhabited Elephant Island.

From there, taking only five others - including the Endurance's captain and navigator, New Zealander Frank Worsley - Shackleton sailed to South Georgia, more than 1000km away. After landing on its southern shore, they traversed the island's mountains to raise the alarm at the northern whaling stations.

It's a story that has been told before on screen. Kenneth Branagh played Shackleton in an acclaimed 2002 telefeature after a run of documentaries including The Endurance, in 2000, and the IMAX film, Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, in 2001.

This retelling focuses on Worsley, whose key role has not been widely acknowledged.

In a combination of interviews with experts, re-enactments of the events, intercut with original film footage and stills by the expedition's official photographer, Frank Hurley, Shackleton's captain tells the tale from a different perspective, giving credit to the seamanship and skills of Worsley, who is played in the dramatisations by Craig Parker.

Made with a $812,500 NZ On Air budget, there are moments in Shackleton's Captain which can feel like an extended version of I Shouldn't be Alive, rather than something for a Sunday Theatre slot. But it's done with great heart and enthusiasm.

The dramatisations were filmed in substitute locations - the Southern Alps replacing South Georgia. And the southern ocean lifeboat scenes come with the help of CGI. But reconstructions are intercut with compelling original images which Shackleton insisted on filming so that they could share the adventure on their return, and interviews with experts give the story context and help bring it to life.

It's not a big-budget Hollywood drama, but it is an instructive, detailed and fresh look at a remarkable story which taps into the Kiwi affinity for the frozen continent.

The documentary's makers say: "The crew looked to Shackleton to lead them, Shackleton looked to Worsley to save them."

When: Sunday, 9.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Docudrama honouring an unsung hero

Awards pick: 2012 MTV Movie Awards

And the best kiss goes to ... Well, you'll have to wait until Monday to find out, but in one of the most coveted of categories at the MTV Movie Awards the frontrunners surely have to be Ryan Gosling and a rain-soaked Emma Stone in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's wedding-day pash in Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1. Then again, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint had to wait seven movies to finally snog in the final Harry Potter film.

The show is hosted by Russell Brand and will feature appearances by Stewart, Stone, Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg. Up for movie of the year are Bridesmaids, Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and The Help.

When: Monday, 1pm
Where: MTV
What: The cool kids' Oscars

Comedy pick: Twenty twelve

A mockumentary about planning an Olympics? Deja vu anyone?

Yes, the BBC deny that Twenty Twelve, starring Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville has any connection to our own John Clarke's The Games, which parodied the preparations for the Sydney Olympics for two seasons in 1998.

Clarke says the show came after an approach was made to the BBC, which brought in Twenty Twelve's eventual writer, John Morton, and who was loaned copies of Clarke's series.

Four years later, without Clarke's involvement, out popped Twenty Twelve.

Says Clarke: "We have suggested that once Mr Morton finds out that repressed memory is not an Olympic event, perhaps he could return the DVDs."

When: Friday, 9pm
Where: UKTV
What: Planning the London Olympics

Comedy pick: Hounds

This new comedy series tells the story of self-centred, 30-something lawyer Will (Toby Sharpe) and the unusual family he is forced to become more involved with when his dad dies.

There is his clever scathing half-sister Lily (Susana Tang), delightful oddball and alcoholic dog trainer Marty (Mick Innes), and the greyhound star whose initial name, Lundybainwatson, sparked a bit of controversy a few weeks ago. The producers have since changed it and his new name will be revealed tomorrow night.

Although the show is from the creators of 7 Days, its acerbic humour is in stark contrast to the show which returns on Friday nights before Hounds, following its comedy festival hiatus.

When: Friday, 10pm
Where: TV3
What: Comedy that's gone to the dogs

Crime pick: CSI

The 12th season of CSI continues its high staff turnover with the arrival of Elisabeth Shue - yes, she who once starred in Leaving Las Vegas - to replace the departed Marg Helgenberger in the squad of forensic scientists.

Shue's character is blood-spatter expert Julie Finlay, who shares a past with that of Ted Danson's recently arrived boss D.B. Russell. He fired her when they were working together in a crime lab in Seattle but hired her after she completed an anger-management course. And just as its not Shue's first time in a production set in Las Vegas, she's also familiar with the labcoat look, having played played doctors and scientists before in The Saint and The Invisible Man.

When: Saturday, 8.30pm
Where: TV3
What: Shue's on the other foot

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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