It’s time for ratings…and time to cry

It’s a tough call on Sunday night with the first night of the official ratings year bound to lead to some squabbles over the remote.

Seven is going for the heart-strings at 6.30pm with its special on separated conjoined twins Trishna and Krishna: the Quest for Separate Lives. Then it’s on to Airways, Bones and Castle – a pretty solid line-up.

Nine’s hand is forced by the cricket and the forthcoming Winter Olympics, so we get the movie Mission Impossible III at 9pm. Yawn.

Ten has the enviable line-up of The Biggest Loser at 6.30 followed by its multi-generational hit quiz/panel show Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation in its new home at 7.30pm. Oh and it’s in 3D, apparently, so get your goggles from this week’s TV week.

At 8.30pm is where the trouble starts and where you might need to crank up the PVR, DVDR or VCR if you still have one.

Ten has the series premiere of The Good Wife, featuring Julianna Margulies in her Golden Globe winning role.

Since leaving ER (she was Nurse Carol Hathaway to George Clooney’s Dr Doug Ross), Margulies hasn’t has much luck on the small screen; her last series Canterbury’s Law didn’t even screen in Australia to the best of my knowledge.

Margulies is Alicia Florrick, the good wife in question, who is forced to return to work as a lawyer after her husband, former state’s attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) is jailed over a political corruption and sex tape scandal.

Alicia has plenty on her plate – the humiliation of sex tapes revealing her husband had sex with prostitutes, raising two children and returning to work in a law firm where she has to compete to keep her position against a cocky and conniving junior, Cary.

Margulies is a bit stiff in the pilot but that’s almost to be expected as Alicia tries to keep it together in public and private.

Chris Noth, aka Mr Big from Sex and the City and Detective Mike Logan from Law & Order and Law & Order: CI, is well-cast as her adulterous husband Peter.

Noth’s not in it a lot and most of that he’s in jail or but his presence is important.

What I enjoyed most about the first few episodes is the multi-layered plot. This isn’t just another legal drama.

Alicia is struggling to fit back into the workforce while raising her teenaged children with the help of her mother-in-law.

Meanwhile, Peter thinks everything will be fine once he is released from prison and he misguidedly tries to steer clients and information Alicia’s way.

Bubbling along below the surface is the truth about Peter – is he really guilty of corruption and infidelity or could he have been set up?

 Alas, there’s also a compelling documentary on at exactly the same time as The Good Wife (and episode three of House).

Forget the tears and sob stories of The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance: I cried more than I have in years watching Inside the Firestorm.

Inside the Firestorm, image courtesy ABC Publicity

To commemorate Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires of February 7, 2009, the ABC will screen this feature-length documentary at 8.30pm on Sunday.

Heart-breaking in the extreme, it follows events as they unfolded, using a single narrative to create a compelling drama where the audience is at various times left not knowing the fate of  the various participants.

The horrific heatwave weather conditions, a breakdown in fire alerts and a monster fire that did not play by the rules resulted in 173 deaths.

Families that should have been safe perished. Fire-fighters saved people’s homes and businesses but lost loved ones. People who fled their homes and shouldn’t have made it somehow survived. Courage and despair, hope and tears, bravery and battles lost. It’s all there. This is must watch TV.

Many Australians have become complacent about the dangers of bushfires. This is the sort of program that needed to be made and needs to be seen.

Hats off to director Jacob Hickey, all the brave survivors and narrator Hugo Weaving for his compelling and important piece of work.

 For more of an insight into the making of Inside the Firestorm, visit the ABC website.


Hot off the press…another new TV show

Seven has just announced another new light entertainment show for 2010.

The White Room will be a new comedy game show “that celebrates everything Australians love about television” (hmmm – very broad statement that is!)

It’s an original format developed by Seven and will feature ” two teams of well-loved TV faces, established comedians and some of Australia’s best emerging comedy talents”. Let’s hope they are not the same dozen or so we see on the Ten panel shows…

Contestants will be quizzed, challenged, poked and prodded about TV shows and TV stars. Hey, that’s my forte. I wish I was a celebrity, then I could enter 🙂

It will be hosted by comedians and broadcasters Tony Moclair and Julian Schiller. Who?

Tony and Julian have according to the Seven news release “worked together for over 15 years on television and were the force behind radio programs The Crud Show and Restoring The Balance”. Oh yes, those show. Huh?

The release continues “Julian is currently the host of the number 1 FM breakfast show in Adelaide, on Nova 919, and Tony is appearing on the Hot Breakfast team on Triple M in Melbourne.”

Actually, I do know Julian – he has been one of the better regulars on Ten’s 7pm Project. Not for much longer I suspect.

Anyone else think this sounds a wee bit like Talkin’ About Your Gen?

Where to for MasterChef Australia Final 6?

Ten’s smash hit TV series of 2009 comes to an end tonight with many tipping the final cook off between Poh Ling Yeow and Julie Goodwin could crack the magic three million viewers.

My educated guess is around the 2.6 to 2.8 million. Now that I have typed that I am bound to be way off mark.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to MasterChef judge and internationally acclaimed food critic Matt Preston for a MasterChef feature story that appeared in The West Australian on Friday July 17. Alas the story is not online.

As we all know Matt is passionate about food and boy, can he talk!

He had so much to say it seemed a crime not to use some of the leftovers from the story here.

Matt Preston on the career prospects of the MasterChef Australia final six:

“They all have potential; it’s a matter of them weathering the hysteria because when they come out of that house it is insane world out there in terms of how many people know them.

 “It will come down to how they weather that and how they focus on their core goal of what they want to do rather than endorsing this or that…”


Lucas: “He’s an incredible, likable down to earth bloke and that works very, very well on TV. He could be the next Stuart MacGill, like a foodie Stuart McGill.”

Julia:  “An amazing palette and restaurant cook; I could potentially see her writing recipes, doing cookbooks, stuff like that.”

Chris: “Will do the beer bar no doubt about that.”

Poh: “I think the Malaysian cook book will be a monster seller both here and internationally; there aren’t many good Malaysian cookbooks about. She has a great engaging personality and there aren’t that may young women out there doing food.”

Justine: “She’s such a beautiful cook I hope she will go and cook somewhere; I know there are at least four chefs she cooked for who will give her a job, so I don’t think she will have a problem landing herself in a restaurant. I think she will probably end up in a restaurant but I can also see her being in demand for TV for obvious reasons. She’s a good performer; all these guys have become very good performers.”

Julie: “Wants to do a family restaurant on the NSW coast. I think this cook book she wants to do, family cooking from different families and how they celebrate using food –  and how she wants to leave the last six pages blank so you can stick own pictures of own family and recipes – is a lovely idea.”

For the legions of Matt Preston fans lamenting his departure from our screens tonight, fear not. He has put his hand up to judge on the celebrity version of MasterChef  tipped to screen in September and has also filmed guest spots for Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader for Ten, First Tuesday Book Club for the ABC and history quiz AD/BC for SBS.


Masterchef Australia final 6 2009

Masterchef Australia final 6 2009