Andrew Mercado’s TV Guide: A powerful miniseries + Shaun Micallef is back

TV critic Andrew Mercado’s rundown on what to watch on the box this week


Poldark – 8.30pm Sunday on ABC

One of the enduring moments from the first series of this British drama was when star Aidan Turner did some farming on his Cornish property – with his shirt off. It caused such a fuss, the actor shied away from getting his gear off, much to the dismay of his many fans. So when the BBC’s promo for the third series briefly showed a topless man washing in a stream, some viewers got excited until a closer inspection showed it was actually a new hottie splashing about. That keeps Poldark free to be dark and smouldering, particularly with a wedding and birth happening. This season premiere topped the ratings last Sunday in the UK so airing here just a week later means the ABC is now better at fast-tracking BBC drama than BBC First on Foxtel is.

Guerrilla – 9.35pm Sunday on BBC First

This powerful six-part miniseries from Sky is about a radical British black power movement formed against a disturbing system of discrimination and police brutality in London, 1971. Executive producer Idris Elba (who has just announced a fifth series of Luther next year) also has a co-starring role, but it’s lead actress Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) who has copped the most controversy for being an Indian woman playing black. But regardless of this casting, this is still compelling and fascinating stuff, and another brilliant and satisfying British drama.

Shark Tank – 8.30pm on Ten

It’s ironic that as the third season of this show begins, sharks really are circling Ten as it goes into voluntary administration… again. Perhaps it would be fitting to have Ten management plead their case in front of this show’s judges and see if Boost Juice’s Janine Allis, recruitment expert Andrew Banks, RedBalloon’s Naomi Simpson, internet pioneer Steve Baxter and vet Dr Glen Richards are willing to put their own money up. They would certainly have some better ideas for Ten’s future than some of the “experts” who chimed in after the collapse, with both Fred Nile and Rita Panahi blaming the network’s woes on the “lame left-wing” politics of The Project. What followed from Panahi’s “readers” was a sewer of online comments bashing Waleed Aly, so given News Ltd also just took aim at Carrie Bickmore’s charity work (reporting that she was becoming as “arrogant” as her co-host), perhaps Peter Helliar should watch his back too. 

Mad As Hell – 8.30pm on ABC

It’s always sad when Charlie Pickering and co finish up for another year, but Shaun Micallef is back with his special brand of absurdity to take over. Sadly, his premiere will struggle in the ratings as it goes up against State of Origin, Criminal Minds on Seven and the season finale of This Is Us on Ten. So despite the ABC winning several 8.30pm timeslots recently with Four Corners, David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema and The Weekly, nothing can beat that football game on Nine.

Building Australia – 8pm on ABC

Host John Doyle hosted this charming series for Foxtel’s History Channel back in 2013 and it’s a lovely fit for the ABC on Friday nights. Doyle has a good time exploring Aussie-made terraces, Queenslanders and weekenders, but his delivery verges so close to his iconic Rampaging Roy Slaven character, it leaves you uneasy that he is constantly taking the piss. Nevertheless, this is worth a watch before settling in for the requisite British crime drama that will follow at 8.30pm.

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