Free-to-air TV: Thursday, July 5

Free-to-air TV: Thursday, July 5

The team from Before the Game: Mick Molloy, Lehmo, Dave Hughes, Samantha Lane and Andrew Maher.Before the Game, Channel Ten, 8.30pm

MOVING from Saturday to Thursday was always going to be a risk for the much-loved footy chat show Before the Game. It now finds itself going head-to-head with Nine’s dinosaur Footy Show, which for the next few weeks can thank Hamish and Andy’s Euro Gap Year – like Before the Game, a show pitched at a comedy-loving younger demographic – for an extra leg-up. Based on its first week in its new slot, however, the move hasn’t damaged the panel show, which lifted its viewership by 20,000. It’s the same mix of informed yet breezy discussion, which can often be funny and serious in the same breath, interviews, mash-ups and comedy, which is good news for the show’s modest but devoted audience.

Hamish & Andy’s Euro Gap Year, Channel Nine, 8pm

SO FAR, we like what we’ve seen of Hamish Blake and Andy Lee’s new comedy, in which the popular duo unleash their good-spirited humour in famous – and, occasionally, unlikely – hot spots of the European vacation circuit. There was an entertaining race through London’s clogged streets, in which the tourists, armed with a Ferrari and a GPS, tried (and failed) to beat a pair of old-school London cabbies; plus an amusing visit to Lapland, where a Viking took the pair reindeer racing and dipping into Arctic waters beneath the ice. While many of their pranks won’t come as a surprise after last year’s similarly styled US travelogue, they’re delivered here with considerably more confidence and a better pace. The narration, delivered by a cockney lad who sounds like the spiritual godchild of a Guy Ritchie film, is a nice touch, but it’s Blake and Lee’s ability to have fun with the otherness of foreigners and their cultures without being patronising, smug or exploitative that is most appealing.

Law & Order: SVU, Channel Ten, 9.30pm

EARLIER editions of the Law & Order franchise at least had some pulpy charms with their ripped-from-the-headlines plots, street-smart banter and glib moral lessons, invariably centring on wealthy, successful but rotten-to-the-core New Yorkers. With its po-faced detectives, clumsy and exposition-heavy dialogue and, frankly, ludicrous storyline, ”Strange Beauty” is an example of how tired what was always the least satisfying spinoff has become. And should we add tasteless? Rollins (Kelli Giddish) leaves a bar where a former colleague makes his feelings for the fetching detective known, only to witness what appears to be the kidnapping of a woman (subtle, this show isn’t). The victim turns out to be a troubled teenager whose disappearance coincides with the appearance of dismembered corpses. That’s the detectives’ entree to the underground world of body modification in which a brotherly pair of upscale Manhattan professionals (natch) are involved.

Island Feast with Peter Kuruvita, SBS One, 8pm

THE late Keith Floyd used to make a mockery of a staple cooking-show cliche by attempting to whip up meals in impossible settings. Sydney-based restaurateur Peter Kuruvita takes Floyd’s feats to a new level when he climbs an active volcano and prepares a meal in the wild. His only utensil seems to be a knife, banana leaves doubling as a preparation bowl and discards of a recent lava deposit as a mortar and pestle. Tonight he’s at Mount Yasur and later in a traditional village in Vanuatu, where in between a couple of cooking demonstrations he helps prepare a feast (suckling pig with vegetables cooked in coals in a pit in the sand) and shares kava with the village men. By his own admission, Kuruvita comes close to over-romanticising the remote islands of Melanesia in this undemanding food and travel series.

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