Thursday, July 5

Thursday, July 5

Free to air

Hamish and Andy’s Euro Gap Year, 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 holiday circuit. There was an entertaining race through London’s streets in which the tourists armed with a Ferrari and a GPS tried (and failed) to beat a pair of London cabbies, and a very amusing visit to Lapland, where a fearless Viking took the pair reindeer-racing and dipping into Arctic waters.

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.

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 to prepare a meal. 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.

Later in a traditional village in Vanuatu, he helps prepare a feast (suckling pig with vegetables cooked in coals in a pit) and shares the legendary kava drink 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.

Law & Order: SVU, 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, tonight’s episode 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’ entry to the underground world of body modification in which a brotherly pair of upscale Manhattan professionals are involved.

Stephen Fry’s 100 Greatest Gadgets, ABC1, 9.30pm

I don’t suppose you can blame Stephen Fry for taking any work that’s offered but this superficial two-part series does him few favours. Tonight, we rush through the final 40 gadgets at whirlwind pace, accompanied by jaunty music, old television ads and various British celebrities – most of them strangers to Australian viewers – trying too hard to be funny in the manner of Grumpy Old Men/Women. Fry phones in his performance, presenting just a handful of the segments with a kind of weary despondency. If there’s anything positive to be taken away from this, it’s the realisation that Britain’s B-list celebrities are no wittier than ours. – Greg Hassall

Before the Game, One, 10.45pm

The AFL panel show has survived the move from Saturday to Thursday nicely. It remains 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.

Paul KalinaMovies

Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman (2004) Seven, noon

As the literary editor for the Los Angeles Chronicle, Rose should have seen it coming. Middle-aged, happily married for 25 years and oblivious to the realities advancing upon her, she floats through piles of fiction. It’s a smackaface moment when her husband, Nathan, the paper’s editor, tells her he’s leaving for the inevitable younger woman – in this case, Rose’s assistant and protege, Mindy. Ouch! What next!? Turning the SMH into a tabloid? Off with their headlines! You can tell Nathan is a bounder because he talks about taking the paper in a ”new direction” going forward into the realms of quality journalism, integrity, vision, multiplatform synergy and commitment. Less is more and let’s burn down the village to save it! Does Rose join the First Wives’ Club, turn cougar or fall back on trusted friends until an old flame appears out of the blue?

I Do (2006) SBS Two, 10.05pm

Charlotte Gainsbourg’s tough fragility is nicely utilised in this formulic romancer, which has more depth and substance than similar American flicks. Fortysomething Luis Costa (Alain Chabat) is being pressured by his elderly, control-freak mother to marry. He is a professional nose – a perfume creator with rather more couth than Patrick Suskind’s Perfume hero, Grenouille. Luis prefers being single but to get the family off his back he hires the savvy Emma (Gainsbourg) to masquerade as his fiancee – charming his siblings and mum but agreeing to do a runner on the day of the wedding. You can see it coming and it duly arrives but there’s a secondary plot involving Emma’s need for the money and her own desires. The idea of contractual obligations in business and private matters sustains well – even if the outcome is never in real doubt. Comedy veers towards farce but restraint and a tender riff in the finale get the film home enjoyably.

Moliere (2007) SBS Two, 11.40pm

A semi-farcical account of the life and times of Jean Baptiste Poquelin, the revered 17th-century playwright. Moliere is obliged to pretend to be a pious cleric during his stay at M. Jourdain’s chateau so as not to arouse the suspicions of his employer’s yummy wife, Elmire (Laura Morante), while Jourdain plots the seduction of yummy young widow, Celimene. A spirited retread of Shakespeare in Love features Romain Duris in the title role.

Doug Anderson

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