HD Heads-Up: February 22-28

Late-night political machinations will abound when TV3 at last debuts House of Cards the same week it belatedly resumes new episodes of The Borgias.

House of Cards will screen 10.25 Sundays and would have made a fabulous double-bill with House of Lies had TV3 not off-loaded this acclaimed series on to Four.

But hopefully the network will run season two of House of Cards, which Netflix will launch online this weekend, on the back of season one.

A re-make of the ‘90s British drama of the same name, it stars Kevin Spacey as a House Majority Whip who, with his wife (Robin Wright), wreaks retribution on those in the party who nixed his Cabinet appointment.

The Hollywood Reporter called the groundbreaking Netflix commission “as slick and stylish as anything on HBO or Showtime” while the San Francisco Chronicle said “it’s easy to overlook some of the credibility gaps because the writing is otherwise so fine, as are the direction and the performances”.

Summed up The New Yorker of binge-viewing it online: “I found the first two episodes handsome but sleazy, like a CEO in a hotel bar.

“Yet by Episode 5 I was hypnotised by the show’s ensemble of two-faced sociopaths.

“Episode 8 was a thoughtful side trip into sympathy for Spacey’s devilish main character, but by then I was exhausted, and only my compulsive streak kept me going until the finale — at which point I was critically destabilised and looking forward to Season 2.”

But across town the New York Times thought while it was a delicious immorality play with an excellent cast, “the tempo is slow and oddly ponderous — a romp slowed down to a dirge”.

And the New York Post castigated the series for being “about as inside-the-Beltway as Fiji, and Fincher’s main plan to compensate for the stupidity level is to have the gentlemen whip off their glasses and the ladies whip off their clothes” (David Fincher directed the first two episodes).

Season two of The Borgias starts 11.20 Monday, two-and-a-half years after the first season went to air.

It’s a maddening strategy of TV3’s to test the patience of niche drama fans by re-running earlier seasons ahead of new episodes.

It did this with The Good Wife and Hawaii Five-O, and is about to do it with Blue Bloods.

Season one, which aired primetime on Saturday nights, is being repeated post-midnight Thursdays from February 27 – even though season four already is nearing an end in the US.

Meanwhile, TV2 continues to smarten up off-peak weekend viewing with a new young adult drama, Twisted.

It will screen 2pm Sundays, on a double-bill with the like-minded Pretty Little Liars, and concerns the homecoming of troubled teen Danny after serving five years in juvenile detention for killing his aunt.

“There is something queasy, but also ingenious about tagging the ‘hero’ with such a blatant past,” observed the Los Angeles Times. “Still, Twisted isn’t Bates Motel, or even Pretty Little Liars, though in many ways it wants to be.

“A cynic might think Twisted is a bald attempt to capitalise on the success of Pretty Little Liars while possibly adding a Y chromosome to the mix. The non-cynic might see in Danny yet another metaphor for the alienation and ‘otherness’ many teens feel.

“And in these days of zombies, werewolves and vampires, a garden-variety child murderer feels almost … quaint.”

In other HD programming news for the week starting February 22:

  • Ice Road Truckers revs up for its sixth season (TV3, 7.30 Saturday) and re-runs of The Great Food Race will revert to off-peak (TV3, 3.30 Saturday)
  • This Means War (TV3, 8.30 Monday), The Little Mermaid (TV2, 6.50 Sunday) and Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows (TV3, 9.00 Friday) have their network movie premieres while back for re-runs are Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (TV2, 7.00 Saturday), The Soloist (TV3, 10.30 Saturday), Last Night (TV2, 12.15am Sunday) and Final Destination (TV2, 10.30 Sunday)
  • Playground Murder Plot (TV3, 8.30 Wednesday) is a documentary about how a 12-year-old helped a 15-year-old to kill his stepfather
  • Miranda Hart and Julie Walters guest on The Graham Norton Show (TV3, 8.30 Friday).
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2 Responses to “HD Heads-Up: February 22-28”

  1. Wish we would get one of those US chat shows like The Tonight Show in NZ, they look like fun 🙂

  2. Those shows have been tried in NZ and no one watched them. How can HOC be billed a “Netflix original series” when it’s copied off the UK series of the same name? :p

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