We trawl the TV guide so you don’t have to
This week we are watching Magic City, The Daily Edition, The Simpsons and Django Unchained.
Magic City – Tuesdays at 9.36 pm on Soho (Foxtel)
The 1960s are beginning, more or less, and Miami is home to mobsters and sharks, and just across the water from Cuba, where Castro’s rebels have taken over. This very decent period drama mixes the cool fashions of Mad Men with a bit of Sopranos action and sleek Cubans mixed with showgirls. What’s not to like?
The script is good, bad guy Ben ‘The Butcher’ Diamond is genuinely dangerous, and there are some interesting and funny moments to offset the heavy plots.
I always like playing ‘Who-has-the-better-agent?’ when watching a new show and it seems beautiful former Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko (from Quantum of Solace) has it all over Australia’s former Packed To The Rafters starlet Jessica Marais in this department. Our Jess’s character, Lily, is married to The Butcher, which is an, um, unusual relationship, so she is rarely on the screen without being naked or having sex, while Kurylenko as the fading showgirl wife of our hero, Ike, stays clothed and gets better dialogue. Oh well, gotta start somewhere, Jess, and she definitely looks pretty va-va-voom. This is definitely the kind of role to get noticed in, but it’s no Planes.
Verdict: Kicks the Hell out of Miami Vice.
The Daily Edition – Channel Seven, daily at 2pm
So, at 2pm every day, Channel Seven pumps out The Daily Edition. Don’t be confused, this is not a Daily Show with Jon Stewart spin-off, it’s basically a mid-afternoon attempt at The Panel, which hasn’t been able to escape the clutches of the disease known as Daytime TV. It has no less than four hosts. Sally, the brunette, is a famous cancer survivor, mother and inspiring woman; Monique, the blonde (this sounds like ABBA already) is a veteran TV journalist and presenter; Kris is an ex-rugby league player, famous model and speaks with a British accent; and Tom Williams is one of Seven’s resident blokes, whether on The Great Outdoors or whatever else they need a bloke for. This is a rare show where the himbos have to try and keep up with the ladies. Everybody laughs loudly at the slightest joke (of which only Sally seems capable of landing a genuine zinger).
Given that it’s crazy talk to expect four hosts to carry an hour of mid-afternoon telly, there are also endless special commentators and at-desk guests about every topic, mostly bloggers blinking in the sunshine, and at least one or two interviews. The only requirement is that you know how to tut-tut. The puffy topics (on the day I watched: home-wrecker websites, public proposals, watch out for online scams!, wardrobe malfunctions in Hollywood, raunchy music videos) are really just an excuse to endlessly show near-nude celebrities, or Miley Cyrus nude, or models near nude, while tut-tutting that that kind of thing is appalling and shouldn’t be happening. Show it again to make sure. And one more time, in slow motion. Appalling. Even Sally Pearson, a genuine athletic star, found herself discussing female athletes who get their kit off for marketing, while video rolled of Stephanie Rice wearing not much.
It’s strange but it’s not the real business at hand. That happens in bursts of exactly three-minute’s duration (I timed it, to the second), as advertorials rave about vacuum cleaners, a legal firm, cosmetics, or whoever else has ponied up some cash for the time-honoured, ‘If you call right now, RIGHT NOW, you also get …’ while a blonde woman and a non-Tom bloke gush in the background, ‘Wow, what an amazing deal! That is fantastic! I can see why you say it’s incredible!’
And so The Daily Edition disappears in a puff of smoke, even before we consider that the daily dash for cash competition is cheap and nasty. When I watched, poor John Wood, a veteran and accomplished actor, got wheeled out right at the end, to plug a new stage play, and the credits rolled while he was still trying to talk. Because who would want to spend time with John Wood rather than watch a plugged vacuum sucking rice off a carpet, right?
Verdict: Who watches this stuff? Really, I’m curious. Who would possibly watch?
The Simpsons – Endlessly on Ten and Fox8
As far as I can tell, there are 12 or 13 timeslots repeating The Simpsons on Fox8 or the Ten Network (currently showing carbon-dated episodes) most days. This might answer one of the great mysteries of science: what fills the dark matter that comprises most of space? Clearly the answer is Simmos re-runs. Still good, though. So, so good.
Verdict: It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen them, they are still awesome.
Django Unchained – Premiere and Premiere +2, Wednesday and Thursday, 2pm and various times
You’re either a Tarantino fan or you’re not. This film, set in the American south a couple of years before the civil war, when white landowners could still treat black slaves as meat, is as violent and confronting as Tarantino fans expect. But it’s also funny, as well as dangerous and exciting. With Jamie Foxx, as Django, and Christoph Waltz, backing up brilliantly from his first Tarantino outing in Inglourious Basterds, this is a good one. Look for Samuel L. Jackson as you’ve never seen him and Australia’s John Jarratt, riding his Wolf Creek fame, in a small but colourful role.