HD Heads-Up: February 1-7

It looks like TV3 will be facing a double-barrelled assault from TVNZ when the networks spice up their Sunday night schedules next month.

First there will be the great foodie TV face-off, when the latest, new-look season of MasterChef NZ goes head-to-head with TV3’s culinary newcomer, The Great Food Race, from February 2.

And at 8.30, TV3’s hot new drama The Blacklist will have to quickly bed itself in before fending off Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD on TV2.

Although the latter’s start and slot have still to be announced, advance advertising schedules have it slated for 8.30 Sunday from mid-February.

While these are notoriously unreliable, such a strategy would fit in with TV2’s promotion of another fantasy drama, The Tomorrow People, as coming soon to Sunday night.

Hawaii Five-O fans also will be buoyed to learn their haphazardly scheduled series is being given it best prospects yet of becoming a hit with season three being scheduled as the 9.30 Sunday lead-out for The Blacklist.

The Blacklist, which starts the same week TV One resumes Person of Interest and The Following from 8.30-10.30 Monday, has been a breakout triumph in the US and should deliver TV3 a cutting-edge drama with popular appeal — think lighter shades of what airs on SoHo.

As The Hollywood Reporter observed, “It’s a procedural – which viewers really love, but there’s an over-arching element to the premise as well that makes it intriguing without making it overly complicated.”

It’s just resumed in the US “still strong” after taking a mid-season break and already has been renewed for a second season.

The series stars James Spader one of the FBI’s most wanted — until he turns himself into the agency to help thwart terrorism. But what’s his real agenda?

Entertainment Weekly dubbed it “top-of-the-list escapism” and the New York Daily News “a fast-paced mystery that’s just plain entertaining“.

But while The Washington Post acknowledged the pilot was stylish and swiftly paced, “that’s all it is, and despite some intriguing plot twists, there’s not a lot of motivation to keep coming back.”

Lead-in The Great Food Race — think Amazing Race meets MasterChef — initially will run for 90 minutes but later in the season will drop back to an hour, opening up 7.00 to the long overdue return of The Simpsons.

Sunday night also will see TV One welcome back Offspring for its fourth season.

In a surprise move, given how previous seasons have been scheduled, the network has awarded it the 8.30 slot, ahead of the premiere of Betrayal.

Betrayal sounds like a juicy soap — a lawyer’s wife begins an affair with an attorney, unaware he will be opposing her husband in an upcoming high-profile murder trial — but the US reviews were lousy.

Quipped USA Today: “Sex, treachery, murder: Betrayal is a show with everything — except decent writing, believable characters, and anything else that would provide a reason to watch.”

Concurred Variety: “Even with a closing twist that introduces a narrative hook beyond mere adultery involving a murder trial, the show already has a strained feel in its piling on of happenstance and near misses.”

Offspring isn’t TV One’s only new Aussie drama that week. It’s also going back to 2010 to launch the legal drama, Rake, the first two seasons of which already have aired on Sky’s Rialto channel.

While the third season screened only last year on ABC, one wonders if TV One’s belatedly picking up the first merely to spoil TV3’s acquisition of the US TV re-make starring Greg Kinnear.

Whatever the motivation, it’s encouraging to see the network committing to premium HD drama in primetime (8.30 Wednesdays, ahead of Hostages).

In other HD programming news of note:

  • Home and Away returns for its season premiere (TV2, 5.30 Monday)
  • Having their network movie premieres are Next Three Days (TV2, 12.10am Sunday), Gnomeo & Juliet (TV2, 7.00 Sunday) and How Do You Know (TV2, 8.30 Thursday)
  • Back for re-runs are Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest  (TV2, 7.00 Saturday), Analyze This (TV2, 10.05 Saturday), Prom (TV2, midday Sunday), The Princess and the Frog (TV2, 4.05 Sunday), The Fourth Kind (TV2, 10.30 Sunday), Pathology (TV2, 12.20am Sunday) and Date Night (TV3, 8.30 Monday)
  • Underbelly: Badness is the next in the Aussie crime franchise to be repeated (TV3, 11.10 Saturday)
  • Pet Hoarders (TV3, 9.30 Thursday) is a documentary about people whose lives are overrun with animals
  • TV One will pre-empt Seven Sharp, Coronation Street and Come Dine With Me for live HD coverage of the IRDB Sevens on Friday
  • Best of the The Graham Norton Show (TV3, 9.30 Friday) is a sampler of highlights from season 13, with appearances by Michael Douglas, Bradley Cooper, Sandra Bullock, Russell Crowe, Samuel L Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lewis Hamilton.
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9 Responses to “HD Heads-Up: February 1-7”

  1. I find it annoying when they put the good shows up against each other … the viewers are the losers 🙁

  2. Not an issue for viewers with MySky or similar. Can easily record two shows at the same time.

  3. Well, this sucks with Coro being pre-empted for the Sevens and now we miss a whole week instead of just one ep as in previous years before the time slot change. Can’t the Sevens be played on TV2 for the evening session on Friday and I doubt TV One will screen extra eps to make up for the missed week. Coro fans never catch a break. TVNZ should just hand it over to Prime.

  4. Not a bad line-up and good to see some of the current US series getting aired at last. If US ratings are anything to go by, The Blacklist should be pretty competitive against Agents of SHIELD, and from what I can tell seem to be really targeting two different demographics. Also: I must thank you Philip for the chuckle, I’m assuming you meant IRB Sevens, but there is an amusement factor in the tax dept sponsoring rugby :).

  5. @Trevor: Agree … sort of but how do you define ‘good shows’. One man’s trash is another’s treasure and vice versa and all of that. Similar genres will kill each other I agree and The Food Race will struggle against MasterChef.
    @Phil: I am 90 percent sure I’ve seen a billboard with Agents of SHIELD coming to Sundays around, so looks like the advanced schedules are spot on (in this case at least).
    And also Phil, a question on behalf of my mother: will the weekday episodes of Coro remain on in the week of the Sevens/after? Ie. will Friday viewers miss a week of content that will only be shown on weekdays. Not sure if it’s your area of expertise but figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.

  6. Your mother (and the rest of us) need fear not — TV One will no doubt it fill the weekday slot with reality piffle for that week has just advised will air an hour of Emmerdale that week.

  7. I’ve already seen S01 of The Blacklist, and confirm it IS indeed worth the watch (although disappointing to see that James Spader is playing Alan Shore in this TV series as well??!! No change in mannerisms or delivery at all … which is disappointing considering he is obviously capable of playing more than one character – I’m thinking ‘nerdy professor’ on the original Stargate movie here).

  8. D’oh!!! Thanks for spotting the mistake, Nigel J. Put it down to many years dealing with the IRD as a sole trader!

  9. I do agree with you Leo and why not schedule the ruby on TVNZ 2 and reschedule Coronation Street in its time slot where the older folks prefer their British fix.

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