I had read a little about this TOWIE (aka

The Only Way Is Essex

) lot on British tabloid websites. The girls looked like plastic fantastics and in general they sounded like a tacky bunch. So when a preview screener of the first two episodes (Wednesday, 7.30pm, UKTV) came across my desk I was curious. I hate to admit it, but the series is strangely intriguing. And if you're not careful, quite riveting. You've been warned.


For something more intelligent, the latest adaptation of Dickens' classic Great Expectations (Thursday, 7.30pm, UKTV) is a three-part miniseries from the BBC with a cast including Ray Winstone as escaped convict Magwitch and former X-Files star Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham; and over on Four the third season of superhero series Misfits returns on Monday at 9.30pm.

Clint Eastwood shows no sign of folding up his director's chair even at the grand old age of 81. His latest film, J. Edgar, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the contentious FBI director.

Also opening in cinemas today is Like Crazy, about the highs and lows of finding your first real love, then there's thriller-horror Julia's Eyes from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy), and Chronicle is about three high school students who discover they have super-powers.

Also, on Wednesday at 8pm, there are special preview screenings of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 3D with tickets going on sale at Hoyts Sylvia Park in Auckland from midday this Saturday. To celebrate there will be a Star Wars Day at Sylvia Park from 10am-1pm. The film opens in cinemas on February 9.

Now then, though the Doobie Brothers can claim to be the real deal, with founding members Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons still in the band, their tour mates Little River Band don't quite make the grade. Bass player and singer Wayne Nelson, who has been in LRB since 1980, is the longest surviving member of the Australian rockers who formed in 1975. The rest of the band joined the fold throughout the 2000s.

Still, when the veteran band team up with the Doobies for shows at Taupo Amphitheatre on Saturday and Waterways in Whitianga on Sunday, you can be sure to hear hits such as Reminiscing, Help Is On Its Way and Lonesome Loser. For something more like the real thing check out LRB's original singer Glen Shorrock when he tours here later this month.

Also on the gig front this week Ronan Keating and fellow Irish singer Sharon Corr play Vector Arena tomorrow, the Classic Hits Winery Tour - with Gin Wigmore, the Mutton Birds and Avalanche City - kicks off at Ascension Estate in Matakana tomorrow and Saturday, and for some metal done acoustic style, check out Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and John Baizley (Baroness) who team up for a show at the Kings Arms tonight.

OR ...
... take in the sights and grab a bite at the Lantern Festival at Albert Park from 5pm until 10.30pm, from tomorrow until Sunday. As well as the hundreds of lanterns on display, there will also be Asian food stalls, and entertainment on the main stage includes wok steady Beijing reggae band Long Shen Dao, who have a skanking groove combined with a uniquely Chinese sound.