Pick of the week:

Downton Abbey

And that, after just eight episodes, is that. The third season of British telly's most popular period drama in an age hasn't lacked for big events. There's been a birth, a death, a non-wedding, a spot of financial ruin, a release from prison, a christening, servant scandals and worries about infertility.

So it's no wonder the series maybe feels the need to amble off rather gently, before its Christmas special and a fourth season expected here next year sometime, with the annual house vs village cricket match and copious cups of tea.


That's not to say tonight's finale is uneventful. There's a new arrival in the form of 18-year-old Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James), the pouty great-niece of the Dowager Countess of Grantham, who's been sent to stay with her country relations. It's also to set up the young character to liven up the forthcoming season with her flapper style and thoroughly modern morals.

There's also the ongoing fallout over the treacherous, scheming - and now apparently gay - Thomas Barrow trying to get it on with fellow footman Jimmy Kent, which head butler Mr Carson wants to deal with discretely. Only his efforts to let Barrow go find opposition from some unlikely quarters, including Lord Grantham, whose tolerance for Barrow's sort harks back to his schooldays.

Besides, Barrow is the best cricketer the house team has and Lord Grantham is tired of losing to the peasants down the road.

At least the game is helping the Earl keep his mind off feeling undermined by his sons-in-law as they try to take charge of Downton's farms and run them more like a business and less like a fiefdom.

Meanwhile, Lady Mary and Matthew's marital happiness seems threatened by fertility issues and Lady Edith finds the London newspaper editor who hired her as a columnist may be interested in more than just her copy. Oh, and Dame Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess gets to deliver some zingers, especially when it comes to dealing with her troublesome great-niece.

The special, expected to screen at Christmas in Britain, has the family heading to a Scottish estate, filmed at Inveraray Castle. There's no word from local broadcaster Prime when the Christmas show will screen here, but 2011's Yuletide one-offs were shown in February this year.

Travel pick: Joanna Lumley's Greek Odyssey

During this four-part documentary-meets-travel series, British actress Joanna Lumley heads off to explore both ancient and modern Greece visiting its most significant historical sites, to find out more about the way Greeks lived centuries ago as well as delving into what makes people tick today.

Lumley visited Greece after the country's financial meltdown and the subsequent multi-billion-dollar bailout. Still, with her booze-hag experience from Ab Fab days, she manages to find an Athens nightclub where they spend up large.

Narrated in that posh Lumley lilt, the first episode focuses on the Ancient Greeks, starting at the 2500-year-old Parthenon in Athens, then on to the stunning 4th-century BC amphitheatre at Epidaurus.

When: Sunday, 7.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Greek history lesson

Comedy pick: Getting On

The pace of this British comedy series takes a little bit of getting used to, but there sure are a few laughs to be had courtesy of the dark deadpan humour.

Starring British comedian Jo Brand, along with her actress friends Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine (the trio also created the series and write it), it follows the drudgery of life on an old people's hospital ward in the National Health Service. Brand plays caring yet devilishly cheeky Kim, Scanlan is Den, the dutiful but dim ward sister, and Pepperdine the scathing and rude Dr Moore.

The third series of the Bafta-award winning comedy picks up with King Edward having closed and the trio transferred to a newer ward just up the road - but job cuts, restructuring and NHS bureaucracy still dominate the daily grind.

When: Thursday, 8.30pm
Where: UKTV
What: Bedpan humour

Family pick: Christmas in the Park

Santa will be there, rubbing shoulders with Australian pop star and X Factor host Guy Sebastian, and the latest Kiwi music phenomenon Titanium - the manufactured boy band who have fired up the charts recently - will also perform at New Zealand's biggest outdoor Christmas concert.

Presented by TV3's Mike McRoberts and Carly Flynn, as well as The Block NZ host and face of Four, Shannon Ryan, the 90-minute TV show brings together all the best bits from the previous night's big bash at Auckland Domain.

Once again, the concert is in support of Surf Life Saving New Zealand. Rising Kiwi music star and confirmed beach bum Jamie McDell, who recently released her debut album, Six Strings and a Sail Boat, also performs on the night.

When: Sunday, 7pm
Where: TV3
What: The country's biggest Christmas sing-along

Reality pick: Ice Road Truckers

You'd imagine the truckie term "breaker breaker", is the last thing the big rig drivers on this reality show want to hear when they are driving across the frozen rivers, swamps and waterways to Alaska's remote Prudhoe Bay oil fields.

And as seasoned veteran Hugh Rowland says, while the driving conditions are dangerous, the money is good and it's a job that appeals to adrenalin junkies.

In series four, Rowland and fellow veteran Alex Debogorski take on each other once again in a rivalry that has been running for a decade. Meanwhile, elsewhere in this season's dash for cash, Jack Jesse looks to defend his title as top driver and Lisa Kelly, one of the only woman truckers, fights to prove herself in the male-dominated profession.

When: Saturday, 7.30pm
Where: TV3
What: Ice, ice, crazy