HD Heads-Up: December 27-January 2

TV One goes to the dogs — and pythons — in the new year while TV2 and TV3 unleash more movies in HD.

Leavening the onslaught of summer repeats in the week starting December 27 are HD specials The Great Fire (TV One, 8.30 Sunday-Monday), Monty Python Live (TV One, 8.40 Wednesday), best-in-show challenge Top Dog: Clash of the Poodles (TV One, 8.40 Tuesday), and animal welfare documentary Help! My House Is A Zoo (TV One, 9.40 Tuesday).

TV2 and TV3 do have New Year’s Eve specials: the former premieres Peter Pan Live! and the latter Graham Norton’s 2014 New Year’s Eve Show, with guests Liam Neeson, Eddie Redmayne, Anna Kendrick, Bradley Wiggins and Eurovision winner Conchita.

Other HD highlights include Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion (TV2, 6.00 Thursday), stripped re-runs of The Big Bang Theory’s fifth season (TV2, 7.00 weeknights), and another chance to see the first half of season two of The Blacklist (TV3, 10.20 Sunday) ahead of new episodes in the new year.

The re-runs also will precede The Block Unlocked in a new late-night slot after it bombed on Saturday evenings.

As for The Great Fire, “If you know what’s going to happen in advance, how do you maintain the tension?” asked The Guardian.

“ITV’s latest blockbuster, tries to offset this lack of surprise by extending what is essentially a run-of-the-(flour)-mill period drama into a romance, a spy thriller, a disaster flick, a political fable and the Great British Bake Off gone horrifically wrong.

“Still, despite this combustible combination, the opener was surprisingly limp, until the fire itself showed up and lit a match under the action.”

Other critics concurred — “Despite its large cast of large characters this drama rarely fizzled” (The Telegraph); “the real history of the Great Fire should have been drama enough” (Daily Mail) — but The Independent argued: “A dramatisation of the 1666 fire could easily have been London’s Burning in breeches.

“Instead, [it] skilfully interweaves real historical characters with fictional additions to create a cross-section of Restoration London.”

The Flying Circus troupe’s first stage show since 1980, which was released last month on Blu-ray, is a triumph of nostalgic genius that ignites a Last-Night-of-the-Proms fervour for old favourites.

Classic routines that are still the benchmark for British sketch comedy are lightly reworked, others are dressed-up as extravagant song-and-dance numbers, and while everyone expects the Spanish Inquisition, not so surprise cameos by the likes of Stephen Hawking.

Other coming attractions in HD include:

  • Pearl Harbour (TV2, 7.00 Saturday)
  • Johnny English (TV3, 7.00 Saturday)
  • Immortals (TV3, 8.05 Saturday)
  • The Wolfman (TV3, 11.05 Saturday)
  • The Informant! (TV2, 1.25am Sunday)
  • Tyler Perry’s – Why Did I Get Married Too (TV2, 3.25am Sunday)
  • High School Musical (TV2, midday Sunday)
  • Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (TV3, 7.00 Sunday)
  • Vampires Suck (TV3, 8.45 Sunday)
  • The Hangover (TV2, 8.30 Monday)
  • Hot Tub Time Machine (TV3, 9.05 Tuesday)
  • Open Season (TV2, 5.20 Wednesday)
  • We Bought a Zoo (TV3, 7.00 Thursday)
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember (TV2, 9.45 Wednesday)
  • Macgruber (TV2, 11.40pm Wednesday)
  • William and Kate (TV One, 10.05am Thursday)
  • Encino Man (TV2, 12.10pm Thursday)
  • The Last Song (TV2, 1.55pm Thursday)
  • Teen Beach Movie (TV2, 4.05pm Thursday)
  • Meet the Frockers (TV3, 8.05 Thursday)
  • The Avengers (TV2, 8.30 Thursday)
  • Spider-Man 2 (TV2, 7.30 Friday)
  • Identity (TV2, 10.05 Friday)
  • The Dirty Teacher (TV2, 11.50 Friday).
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