HD Heads-Up: August 10-16

Welcome to my big fat gypsy fist.

Buried in the early hours of Wednesday morning is Gypsy Blood (TV One, 12.35), a no-punches-pulled HD documentary about the violence of traveller life that was Bafta-nominated for best factual photography.

“This is very different side to the Irish Traveller and Romany Gypsy communities from the one we saw in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings,” said The Guardian.

“That was about the flouncing and frills; this is about the fighting and the fists.”

Agreed The Mirror: “After the frivolity of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, this is the other, uglier flipside of traveller life.

“Leo Maguire’s film has earned the trust of two families to capture many other brutal aspects of the culture that are a world away from bling-laden brides.

“Bare-knuckle boxing, cock fighting, hunting with dogs, shooting rabbits – this is a world soaked in blood and aggression where to be a man means boasting of fighting to the death if necessary, and where little boys want to be just like their daddies when they grow up.”

The scenes of violence towards animals and children drew more than 1000 complaints when it screened in Britain 18 months ago (and was watched by more than 2.1 million viewers, or double the average audience of Channel 4’s 10pm slot).

“This was not for the faint-hearted,” warned The Times while acknowledging the documentary showed the gypsy men and boys as they are: “Fierce, proud and unsentimental. The men may bloody one another’s noses, but there are many kinds of violence. Cuts, unemployment, homelessness. At least Gypsies believe in a fair fight.”

It’s not clear if TV One is screening an edited 50-minute version of the original 72-minute documentary or is scheduling it in two parts but it looks like the former.

Ahead of Gypsy Blood, the network will replace The Closer, which end sits run on August 6, with spin-off Major Crimes in the 11.00 Tuesday slot.

“As before there is a nice balance between social drama and personal business, the tragic and the comic, exaggeration and authenticity,” said the Los Angeles Times of the premiere.

TV Guide echoed this, but with a caveat: “With most of The Closer’s original crew staying on, it’s almost business as usual — though with [Kyra] Sedgwick no longer at the centre, replaced by Mary McDonnell’s inscrutably smug and unsympathetic Capt Sharon Raydor, the franchise can’t help but be diminished.”

The New York Times’ verdict wasn’t as favourable: “Feels like a reasonably sharp black-and-white copy of The Closer, but fans of the franchise are likely to miss the colour provided by Ms Sedgwick’s vivid performance … Pleasant in its details but hollow at its centre.”

Also starting Tuesday is Cause of Death: Unknown (TV One, 8.00), the latest factual series from Greenstone, which it will be hoping rates better than its more recent commission, Showtime.

According to the publicity, “Cause Of Death: Unknown explores cases where the circumstances of death may initially appear to be one thing – but the investigation ultimately reveals something quite different.

“Each episode follows a multi-layered investigation in which police officers, investigators and scientists have worked together to unravel the truth.”

Cases include:

  • a diplomat who’s discovered dying from a single stab wound, in a supposedly secure residential compound;
  • two people lose their lives when a home-built plane plummets minutes after take-off – but why was the experienced pilot so disoriented?
  • a young Japanese student is found floating in a river metres from his home – tragic mischance or foul play?
  • a boat drifting aimlessly had two experienced fishermen aboard – one dead, one in critical condition, unable to tell investigators what happened.

Also new of note in HD for the week starting August 10:

❑ TV One kicks off its English Premiere League soccer coverage on Sunday with a season review at midday, followed by a Goals of the Season 2012/13 special

❑ The season premieres of Coastwatch (TV One, 7.30 Tuesday) and Cougar Town (TV2, 9.00 Wednesday)

❑ The series finale of Hit and Miss (TV One, 11.05 Wednesday) and the series premiere of cross-dressing sitcom bomb Work It (TV2, 12.00 Wednesday)

❑ The season finales of Coasters (TV One, 7.30 Saturday), Dishing Up Australia With Al Brown (TV One, 8.00 Saturday) and The Voice Australia (TV2, 7.30 Friday)

❑ The network movie premiere of The Tourist (TV2, 8.30 Sunday), and re-runs of Going the Distance (TV2, 9.35 Saturday) and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (TV3, 7.00 Sunday)

Home and Away screens for the last time on TV3 (5.30 Friday) before switching to the same weeknight slot on TV2 from August 19.

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