True Story with Hamish & Andy/Here Come The Habibs – 7.30pm Monday on Nine
On a recent Mediaweek podcast, James Manning and I wondered which commercial network would be the first to try something different at 7.30pm instead of a tired reality format. Nine has now taken the bait (with The Voice down to once a week) and so Mondays at 7.30pm, once the powerhouse timeslot of US sitcom Friends, it is now hosting Hamish and Andy in a – wait for it – totally original concept! What happens is, a regular person sits down with the pair to tell a funny story, they interject with amusing questions, and the comedy is ramped up even further with all-star re-enactments. While dragged out just a little bit, this is the best thing Hamish and Andy have ever done. And followed by the Season 2 premiere of Here Come The Habibs!, this will be the perfect double. Fresh comedy can out-rate boring reality if done well, so more of this, please.
Wanted – 8.40pm Monday on Seven
Australia’s biggest new drama of 2016 returns to answer the cliffhanger ending of last year with Lola (Rebecca Gibney) and friend Chelsea (Geraldine Hakewill) now travelling the world in search of Lola’s kidnapped son. It’s an ambitious follow-up but one that continues to strain credibility. Nevertheless, the first episode, set in Thailand, has some genuinely nail-biting moments even though some of the cliches are as dodgy as the fake electronics on sale in the markets. At least TV Week has another reason to put Stephen Peacocke on its cover (Home and Away’s Brax, in case you missed his record number of appearances), even though he doesn’t appear until the show moves to New Zealand (and given how the “wanted” ladies travel to Thailand in an illegal shipping container, I can’t wait to see what their next mode of transport will be). TV Week is super excited though and writes that “the drama is more intense, the stakes are higher, Stephen Peacocke’s hair is longer and the scenery is more, er, scenic”. Someone at TV Week is clearly, er, taking the piss so more of this too, please.
David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema – 8.30pm Tuesday on ABC
There isn’t enough time in the day to watch most TV shows twice but this is something I could, and will watch again, repeatedly. Iconic film critic David Stratton takes viewers on a journey of Australian cinema, starting with the new wave of now classic movies from the 1970s. Every major name in cinema, from A-list actors through to celebrated directors, chimes in with their thoughts and the result is nothing short of compelling. What a perfect series to take over this timeslot after Craig Reucassel’s hugely successful War On Waste. This is just as important, albeit in a different way, and one can only hope that it rates as well too.
Ronny Chieng: International Student – 9pm Wednesday on ABC
The first series commissioned from Aunty’s recent Comedy Showroom series improves on its pilot by bringing in some new characters. Malaysian student Ronny is still living in his uber-organised uni dorm when the arrival of an American party boy (Patch May) causes them to run foul of a college administrator (Adrienne Pickering, who hopefully will have more to do in future episodes). There are a couple of cracker moments in this first episode, with Ronny’s scene-stealing Asian roommates, his meddling Mother who calls on FaceTime, and the Aussie yobbos led by Doctor Doctor’s Dave Eastgate. This wouldn’t have been my first choice from the six sitcom pilots on offer, but based on this first episode, the re-tooling shows there is more potential.
Redwater – 8.30pm Wednesday on UKTV
I was unable to preview this due to an internet issue and to say I am disappointed is an understatement. Kat (Jessie Wallace) and Alfie (Shane Richie) have been a staple on EastEnders for nearly two decades and this show is described as not a spinoff but a standalone “gothic” drama. When last seen in Walford, Kat had been told by a nun (played by Ab Fab’s June Whitfield) that she also gave birth to a twin son after passing out having had a daughter. Thanks to this outlandish plot twist, Kat and her husband are now residing in a seaside Irish town to look for her now grown lad. The BBC is going for a Broadchurch vibe with this mystery series, but I am also intrigued by those who are likening this to British cult movie The Wicker Man. Redwater, I can’t wait to meet you, especially with Irish actresses like Fionnula Flanagan (Lost) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Commitments) on board too.