X Factor Live Show, Sunday TV3 at 7pm / Xtra Factor immediately after on FOUR
Ratings are down, and the show has certainly dawdled a little over its first month. But live shows - the actual competition - are upon us. We know who our 12 core contestants are, and have their narratives firmly embedded in our skulls. What we know is that while they might not all sing too good, they are a motley enough cruë that the quality of the television should pick up markedly.
At an X Factor launch event on Wednesday evening we met the contestants and they let slip an interesting wrinkle. The boys, girls, and sibling folk trio Fare Thee Well (ie those likely to be there until the late rounds) all stay in a giant inner city flat, rather than at Sky City as per last season. While they are all lovin' it so far, it won't be long until they start irritating the hell out of one another, which should be great for Big Brother-esque blowups, with a little light bedswappery.
All that, plus the live shows are followed by the Xtra Factor, a pro sports-style analysis show which follows immediately after each episode. Hosts Guy Williams, Sharyn Casey and Clint Roberts have been told to be merciless - it should be brutal, and a lot of fun. / DG
Space Jam, Saturday FOUR at 6.30
This movie has everything you could ever want. Cartoon characters. Michael Jordan. Bill Murray wearing a large umbrella hat. This 1996 slam dunk blurs animation and live action with comedy and sports genres to deliver one of the greatest family flicks of the '90s. The basic premise is that The Looney Tunes enlist the help of Michael Jordan in order to beat a bunch of bad aliens who want to enslave them to work forever at Moron Mountain. Jordan gets on board, and the team try to shape up against unbelievable odds (have you seen how small Tweety is?).
For the savvy minded viewer, this film also provides hoops full of sly digs at other aspects of the cutthroat cartoon industry. Count the number of times Disney gets fouled, and be sure to keep an eye on the astronomical levels of product placement, clearing ripping to shreds the frequent use of sports films as pure sneaker vehicles. I'm particularly fond of this line, "come on Mr Jordan, put on your Hanes, lace up your Nikes, sip some Gatorade and we'll grab a Big Mac on the way over." It's smart and bloody enjoyable. Come on and slam, and welcome to the jam. /AC
Bingewatch: Mataku on Lightbox
Rightly pitched as a Maori Twilight Zone, Temuera Morrison fronts this exceptional anthology series which deploys Maori mythology in contemporary settings. Smartly the monsters are rarely sighted, and Mataku instead relies on dark corners, pared back FX and the chilling combination of solemnly delivered Te Reo and the naturally maze-like bush for chills.
The scripts and performances are pleasingly naturalistic, and the show's settings familiar yet slightly disturbed, helped by a killer score featuring traditional instrumentation. The show played well both within and without of New Zealand, and is something of a landmark for New Zealand television: bilingual, immaculately executed and both faithful to its mythology and artful in its deployment. / DG
Cause of Death - Unknown, Friday Heartland at 5.30pm
It's Friday 13th, so what better way to quash any superstitions you might have than to watch a show about people who have died for freakish reasons, sometimes remaining unexplained. It's hardly likely you'll be doing your daily 'stand under a ladder routine and spill salt on a black cat' routine, so I would highly recommend cruising home in the afternoon to the safety of your underground bunker to watch this show. In the New Zealand series, each episode follows a multi-level investigation into some of the more bizarre deaths that have happened in our little lucky patch of the world. There's a death from a single stab wound, a boat floating in a harbour with one man dead, one man critically injured - and no explanation.
Sit tight as the investigative teams use photo evidence, forensics and undoubtedly hilarious re-enactments to get to the bottom of these cases. If having Shane Cortese narrate over some of the weirdest deaths to happen in New Zealand doesn't complete your Friday 13th, I don't know what will. /AC
Four Weddings USA, Saturday TV1 at 2pm
With The Bachelor coming next week, I think it's time for New Zealand to really consider the next logical television step after the reality TV wedding bells (hopefully) ring throughout our fair nation. If our mystery Bachelor ends up marrying his Bachelorette, I implore MediaWorks to check out the stunning format as seen in Four Weddings USA. That's right, a reality show featuring four weddings and no funeral (apart from the swift death of romance).
Within the show, four eager brides open up their wedding days to one another, and score the ceremonies accordingly. The highest scorer gets a luxury honeymoon. It's a little bit like Come Dine With Me, just with more wedding cake and a lot more tulle. With the Bridezilla archetype chewing up TV alive a long time ago, it's good to see that the powers that be have found a new way to get crazed newly-weds ons creen. I'm looking forward to Four Biggest Loser Fat Gypsy Weddings and the inevitable I'm at a Funeral, Get Me Out of Here! Isn't television just the best? /AC
• Duncan Greive submits his preliminary X Factor Power Rankings, placing his bets as to where our Top 12 may fall
• Calum Henderson lovingly looks back at the 1992 Cricket World Cup coverage
• Our First Home has taken a dive, in more ways than one (video)