When I was a young lad working on my uncle's farm during the school holidays, I sometimes found myself dagging more than my fair share of ewes. I tell ya, that was hard enough, let alone having to shear the whole sheep. So my pick on the box this week is

Shearing Gang

(Tuesdays, 9.35pm, Prime), a new 10-part series that follows the hard-working and hard-partying characters who do the rounds of the big sheep stations in central Otago.


Also worth watching this week is the eagerly anticipated two-part Downton Abbey Christmas Special (Wednesday, 8.30pm, Prime), which follows the murder trial of Mr Bates, among other things; and Kelsey Grammer (the actor formerly known as Frasier) plays ruthless Mayor of Chicago Tom Kane in Boss (Wednesday, 9.30pm, Soho).

As well as the remake of that well-known Swedish black comedy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, opening this week, Charlize Theron stars as repugnant writer Mavis Gary in Minneapolis-set black comedy Young Adult, which is from writer Diablo Cody (Juno) and director Jason Reitman (Up In the Air). And for those wanting a bit of a laugh, and possibly a tear or two, George Clooney stars in The Descendants, which won best film (drama) and best actor (Clooney) at the Golden Globes recently. On a musical movie note, a Chemical Brothers' concert is as much about the visuals as the music and that is brought to life in concert film Don't Think, which was filmed at Japan's Fuji Rock Festival last year (scan the photo and get a taster on the TimeOut App). Don't Think opens today at St Lukes (7pm), and on February 3 at Albany, Queen St, and Chartwell in Hamilton. For more film reviews see page 9.

Starting out in the early 70s, Hall & Oates' unique pop take on Philly soul got them noticed, but it was in the 80s with hits such as I Can't Go For That (No Can Do), Kiss On My List, and Maneater that made them stars. They play, along with Australian synth-rockers Icehouse and recently reformed locals Goodshirt, at the A Day on the Green concert at Villa Maria Estate on Sunday (and at Napier's Church Road winery on Saturday).

On a more extreme note, local instrumental trio Kerretta play the Kings Arms on Friday before heading off on a European tour. Festival-wise it's a busy one with Christian music bash Parachute at Mystery Creek from tomorrow, Rotorua's Raggamuffin is a two-day affair this year also starting tomorrow, and on Auckland Anniversary Monday Laneway is back bigger and cooler than ever for its third year.

My Laneway picks are three acts in a row on Park Lane stage: trippy Toro Y Moi (6.20pm), fruity electronic soul man Sbtrkt (7.40pm), and then this new local lad Shayne P. Carter (9pm).

simply take a load off on Monday and enjoy the first of your hard-earned statutory holidays (okay, not counting the day after New Year's Day) of the year. If you're in Auckland, that is.