THE GOOD WIFE
Wednesday, October 29, 8.30pm, Ten
As an art form, television offers a number of things no other medium can. For a start, the open-ended nature of serial television provides a rare opportunity for both character and plot development. Soap operas are beloved precisely because they mirror the ongoing, constantly evolving nature of real life. In dramas a little further up the food chain, if you lay your groundwork properly one of the things that keeps viewers hooked is watching key players grow and change and make decisions that take the narrative in unexpected directions (Breaking Bad’s a particularly masterful example). It’s possible, of course, for a writer of fiction to produce a book or a series of books that do a similar thing: allow us to follow a character, sometimes over the course of an entire life. But what no novelist can really do – partly because of the confines of the medium, but mainly because there is only ever one of them – is produce the incredible depth of a well-crafted television series. Of all the written art forms, television is unique because it is almost always collaborative. One person may put their stamp on the final draft, but most scripts are the work of several minds, and several pens. At its best, that enables a huge number of characters and narratives to be managed in a way no single person ever could, creating rich stories and almost endless possibilities. Which brings us to The Good Wife, some of the most exceptional writing on the small screen. Six seasons on, it has established a cast of fully formed characters that now numbers in the dozens. Which means while we’re always going to be checking in on Alicia, in any given episode we’re also able to dip into a whole universe of intertwined people and plot threads, each more satisfying and involving than the last. It’s not the only reason The Good Wife is one of the best things on television right now. But it’s certainly one of them.
Friday, October 31, 5pm, Cartoon Network
At first glance, this doesn’t look much like an Australian co-production. All the accents are American (except for the faux-British villain) and it certainly conforms to familiar US patterns. But it is indeed an Aussie work: commissioned by the Cartoon Network, but made by Melbourne-based animation studio Bogan Entertainment Solutions and with Rove McManus voicing four key characters. (Unsurprisingly, his American accent is excellent.) It also has a pleasantly antipodean flavour, and not just because it’s all about surfing. Uncle Woody owns a beach on Icky Icky Island, boasting the best breaks in the known universe. One problem. Thanks to an ancient curse, it’s populated entirely by monsters. So when brother and sister Jan and Dean turn up for a summer surfing vacation, they get rather more than they bargained for. What follows are the usual messages: accepting difference, finding inner strength, preserving the environment, defeating evil (and rampant capitalism). But it’s all delivered with real wit, both visually and in the script. There are some fabulous musical numbers (provided by Tripod). And someone somewhere along the line has a genuine passion for surfing and endeavours to share that too. The result is a thoroughly entertaining hour-and-a-bit, totally suitable for the eight-and-ups (despite the monsters and a fair whack of gross-out humour) but guaranteed to engage larger persons too.
Series final – Sunday, October 26, 8.30pm, ABC
If anyone was wondering if Australia could produce television equal to the best in the world, The Code should have answered the question resoundingly. It’s been a fabulous piece of work: gorgeous to look at, beautifully written, and with too many wonderful performances to mention. And as it comes to its thrilling conclusion, the good news is that not only does the plot resolve itself in a way that makes complete sense (not a given in a conspiracy thriller), various parties get their reward in a satisfying and convincing manner. All class.
TEEN MOM 2
Sunday, October 26, 5pm, MTV
For every Exes on the Beach – the kind of show that makes you want to knock yourself senseless with the remote control – MTV produces something like this, a reality/ob-doc that could be garishly car-crash but is enlightening and thought-provoking, if occasionally troubling. The series revolves around a number of young women who, having had one baby as a teenager, now have a second – in most cases by a different father. It’s a frank, unsensational look at how they manage it all and if their decision-making is sometimes dubious you can’t help but be impressed by so many hands-on, loving fathers (and step-dads) and so many well-scrubbed, well-fed kids.
WHAT’S THE CATCH
Thursday, October 30, 8.30pm, SBS One
You have to admire Matthew Evans’ energy and commitment. Not content with establishing a sustainable farming practice himself, he’s now tackling something much larger: reforming international fishing practices. Possibly if he’d set himself a more modest brief, this well-meaning documentary series would have worked better. But even the conviction (on the viewers’ part) that he’s on a hiding to nothing can’t detract from the wealth of information here that will certainly influence many people to think twice about their next seafood purchase.
Sunday, October 26, 8.30pm, Seven
For a show in which people are not just constantly dying, but springing back to life, there’s a curiously leisurely feel to Resurrection. And maybe that’s deliberate. Certainly Arcadia is a place not quite of this world, and the pace and the styling both contribute to that vibe. Meanwhile, viewers who were exasperated by last season’s cliffhanger will be more than satisfied with this series return, in which not only is all explained (in a very neat piece of exposition) but a whole new and intriguing narrative is set in train.
GRAND DESIGNS AUSTRALIA
Thursday October 30, 8.30pm, Lifestyle
Proof you don’t need a build to go pear-shaped in order for it to be engaging and entertaining. On the south coast of NSW, a retired civil engineer and his wife have decided to build their retirement dream home on 80 hectares of rainforest. (Not the entire 80 hectares, of course.) Absolutely nothing goes wrong but it’s still quite fascinating to see him and his mates construct the rammed-earth walls, salvage 80-year-old ironbark to frame the feature windows, and develop a skirting-board solution that’s as ingenious as it is beautiful. And the final reveal is a knockout.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.