TV picks of the week: Same sin in new beds

The US Mistresses stars Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes, Jes Macallan and Alyssa Milano.
The US Mistresses stars Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes, Jes Macallan and Alyssa Milano.

Pick of the week: MISTRESSES

American networks generally don't have a good track record for adapting British TV shows for the US. Getting lost in translation even became the background joke to the Matt LeBlanc comedy Episodes. But fans of the BBC series Mistresses shouldn't feel cheated on by the Stateside version. The show, starring Alyssa Milano (Charmed), Yunjin Kim (Lost), Jes Macallan and Rochelle Aytes, follows four women's experiences of adultery - and it remains faithful to the original's soapy storyline. It's less dour, and the bright lights of LA, spray tans and designer shoes add to the air of temptation.

"I think that, tonally, the show is different. Even though there are a lot of great things from the BBC version, there's lightness and fun to what we've tried to set out to do," says Milano.

Says executive producer, Rina Mimoun: "Having Los Angeles as our backdrop immediately glosses everything up. I think that helped make it all feel a little less dire and a little more like, 'Yeah [cheating] happens.

This happened to you, this happened to me, this happened to my mum."

Jason George, of Grey's Anatomy fame, plays the lawyer Milano's character cheats on her husband with. The former soap star says US culture condones cheating - and examples of infidelity go all the way to the top.

"Where we are, as a nation right now, we're in a spot where as long as you own your mistakes publicly, and try to atone for them, we'll forgive you as a nation. The President, the Secretary of Defense - take your pick," says George.

Korean star Kim says that playing Karen, a psychiatrist who has an affair with her patient, has made her more compassionate about people who cheat.

"I guess you don't choose who you love and Karen pays for her mistakes throughout all of season one," she says.

US TV networks approached Mistresses with trepidation, fearful of the conservative viewers' reactions. Aytes starred in a 2009 Lifetime pilot of the show that never made it to air, and ABC sat on their pilot for over a year before the show ever screened. The producers trod cautiously, the love scenes are tame - the strict rules of network television mean female characters have sex with bras on. It's the male cast members who bare more and feel more pressure to look sexy.

"In my storyline, mostly the guys are naked," says Milano."You're allowed to show almost all of a guy, and I'm in a modest slip."

Adds George: "While filming, my wife would reach over and grab a bag of chips out of my hands and go, 'We need to pay the mortgage. Put it down'."

When: Thursday, 8.30pm
Where: TV2
What: From Brit-soap to LA spray tan

Horror pick: THE WALKING DEAD

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in the new series of The Walking Dead.
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in the new series of The Walking Dead.

We've heard rumours of a spin-off series for The Walking Dead, but in the meantime, fans can check out season four just 32 hours after it screens in the United States when new episodes begin on Tuesday.

At the end of season three Rick Grimes and his band of survivors successfully defended their prison home against The Governor. Season four sees them once again trying to keep the walkers out of their enclave, and trying to figure out how to sustain their group and survive. As the prison becomes more populated with survivors (including the arrival of Bob Stookey, a former army medic, played by Larry Gillard jnr from The Wire), it seems the walkers have evolved to become even more terrifying. There's also a new threat - one they can't stab in the face.

When: Tuesday, 9.30pm
Where: TV2
What: Endangered humans

Wildlife pick: WILD PLANET: NORTH AMERICA

This new wildlife series leaves behind the exotic creatures to be found in the far-flung corners of the earth, and instead chooses to concentrate on one continent - North America.

The Discovery Channel has taken its cameras to the more hostile, untamed, rugged areas of the United States and Canada, along with Mexico and Costa Rica which, although not strictly in North America, are included nonetheless.

The team documents the more dramatic life events of various animal species, from mountain goats to whales, turtles to wild mustangs, all doing their best to keep their place in the ecological chain and survive predators.

And those deep, fatherly tones telling their story? That's none other than Magnum PI himself, Tom Selleck.

When: Tuesday, 8.30pm
Where: TV One
What: From grizzly bears, to prairie dogs, to spadefoot toads

Food pick: TESTING THE MENU

Nic Watt on Testing The Menu.
Nic Watt on Testing The Menu.

There might be more sushi joints to the square metre in central Auckland than anywhere outside Japan, but that's far from being all there is to Japanese food.

In this new series, Kiwi chef Nic Watt, who has worked in some of Japan's best restaurants, as well as opening his own robata restaurants in London, Macau, Hong Kong and the US - is opening a Japanese restaurant, called Masu, in Federal St.

Before he opens the doors on Monday he wants to see if local diners will enjoy his fusion ideas. Each week, Watt will create his Japanese take on a New Zealand favourite, whether it's fish and chips, roast lamb, spag bol, or the good old Kiwi barbecue, and and test them out at various locations. Watt hopes to convince Kiwis that cooking Japanese isn't as hard as we think.

When: Saturday, 7pm
Where: TV3
What: Blending Japanese cuisine with local taste buds

Wildlife pick: ATTENBOROUGH'S ARK

It's a big week for natural history on primetime (see the Wild Planet North America highlight) and this latest doco by Sir David Attenborough is preceded on the same channel by Great Barrier Reef (Monday, 7.30pm, Prime), which delves into the watery world of our planet's largest living structure - and the inspiration for Finding Nemo.

In Attenborough's Ark, Sir David ponders what he would do if he had to play Noah and his rescue ship were the only hope for 10 endangered species.

The show's must-save list includes the black lion tamarin, the Sumatran rhino, and Darwin's frog. And also on the list are a bunch of creatures - like the solenodon, the olm, the quoll and pangolin - which, if nothing else, may live on as pub quiz questions asking: "What on earth is a ... ?"

When: Monday, 8.35pm
Where: Prime
What: Sir David's endangered list

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