Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Six of the best

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Mark Sainsbury with his replica Muppet. Photo/Richard Robinson
Mark Sainsbury with his replica Muppet. Photo/Richard Robinson

If you only watch six shows this week...

1) Spike Lee's highly rated Michael Jackson film only debuted a few months back at the Venice film festival but it already gets an outing (Monday 26th, 9.30pm) on Prime's best slot, the reliable Monday night treat, Prime Rocks.

Bad 25 is a musical trainspotter's wet dream; a track-by-track analysis of Jackson's monumental 1987 album.

Spike Lee has rounded up all the players, from the likes of Quincy Jones, Martin Scorcese and Stevie Wonder, to the lesser known, but equally important people who helped create the album and the videos, like director and choreographer Vince Patterson.

Naturally there's also 'never before seen footage' and some of this is a revelation.

Lee doesn't spend much time dealing with the madness of the Jackson world, or the alleged kiddie fiddling, rather this is a celebration of a great artist and an archaeological dig into one his great works.

The film is followed by the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring none other than Spike Lee.

The only excuse you can have for missing it is that you are a neo-nazi who just can't resist The History of the SS which is on the History Channel at 9.30pm.

2) So is Jimmy Savile just a misunderstood inappropriate uncle? Or is he devil himself? Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile (Tuesday, 9.40pm) presents the case for the prosecution and describes him as "one of the most prolific sex offenders ever to be uncovered."

It's kind of the opposite of the approach that Spike Lee takes with Michael Jackson, but is unmissable all the same.

Writing in The Guardian, Mike Lawson commented on the "sense of poetic justice in television being the instrument of exposure. As in an opera about Mozart or a poem concerning Sylvia Plath, Savile was being judged through the medium that made him."

Because of the disturbing nature of the content it screened after 11pm in the UK - the so called graveyard slot.

A fitting time perhaps for his television career to finally be buried once and for all.

Still, I'm a little uneasy with the fact that I'm happy to forgive MJ and then find myself lining up to watch the flames lick around the corpse of JS.

3) Inside Child Poverty (Tuesday, TV3, 9.35pm)
The controversial Brian Bruce doco that caused a fuss when it first screened, just before the last election. Don't let the low-fi production values put you off, it's a strong piece of work that advocates for kids with sweet FA. And how often do you see that in prime time?

4) The Hobbit Premiere (Wednesday TV3, 4pm, TV1, 4.55pm, live stream here). It's always fun to watch Kiwis go all Hollywood. Like dad at a wedding or aunty Mary after one too many dry white wines, it will be embarrassing and fun at the same time and probably really windy.

5) A Night At The Classic (Thursday, TV1, 10.05pm). This is series two of the local comedy that features Brendhan Lovegrove, one the few comedians to have somehow escaped capture by TV3.

With nods to Louie and Extras it's a mix of stand-up and behind the scenes shenanigans at Auckland's Classic Comedy club.

As Diana Witchel wrote in The Listener:

"The best mockumentaries thrive on characters who are slightly delusional narcissistic attention-seekers. Where better to find those than onstage at a comedy club? ... I like."

6) Close Up (Friday, 7pm, TV1). The end of another era as Mark Sainsbury exits the 7pm stage. Expect a selection of memorable moments from Mark's six years at the helm and I have it on good authority that there will be some truly shocking footage involving a Buddhist monk who does a party trick with his 'how's your father'.

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