HDTV Highlights: September 15-21

Networks

Modern Family (TV3, 7.00 Sunday, R) ✭✭✭✩

Mitchell plants the seed in Jay’s head that he thinks one of Jay’s old buddies, Shorty, might be secretly gay. Chazz Palminteri guest stars.

The Big Bang Theory (TV2, 8.00 Sunday) ✭✭✭✭

Sheldon gets to square-off on the bowling alley against nemesis Wil Wheaton while Leonard’s miffed when Penny doesn’t respond the way he hoped after he says he loves her.

The Invention of Lying (TV3, 8.30 Sunday, R) ✭✭✭

Ricky Gervais’ movie directing debut opens as a novel and engaging take on a parallel universe in which lying doesn’t exist, until one overweight, snub-nosed loser exploits his discovery for romantic and career conquests. But then the screenplay he wrote with co-director Matthew Robinson sacrifices its fable-esque magic for broad, religious satire that’s not inventive enough to sustain even barely 90 minutes. Jennifer Garner and Tina Fey co-star. (2009)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (TV3, 8.30 Monday, R) ✭✭✭

The first in a new prequel franchise barely scratches the surface of what might have been with sharper scripting and more emphasis on mythology than mayhem. Still, it’s good fun in a “Thank God It’s Friday” kind of way, with the sensational stunts and visual effects offsetting a storyline that demands leaps of logic beyond even the mutant hero’s sprightliness. Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber and Danny Huston star. (2009)

Southland (TV One, 11.05 Tuesday) ✭✭✭✭✩

Sammy and Nate get into a deadly gang confrontation; Ben makes a series of rookie mistakes; and Lydia works a gang homicide that leads to an unorthodox killer.

Underbelly: Badness (TV3, 8.30 Wednesday) ✭✭✭✭

Taskforce Tuno cultivates a dangerous and unpredictable informant in their hunt for Terry Falconer’s killers. “It is only the second episode, and I have my doubts that this small high can last but Badness is certainly a marked improvement over the last forays into the world of Underbelly. It helped that this episode centred around manic, paranoid, former biker now police informant Frank O’Rourke played with compelling conviction by [Kiwi] Aaron Jeffery. If the entire episode had just been Jeffery sitting in the back of a car telling his tales about Anthony Perish to the cops it probably would have been even better than it was.” — Change the Channel.

Fringe (TV2, 10.35 Thursday) ✭✭✭✭

The Fringe team on both sides fight a common cause and developments are made regarding the Cortexiphan children. “Worlds Apart brought the parallel universes to a breaking point as Fringe ramps up for a potentially cataclysmic season (but not series!) finale.” — Entertainment Weekly.

SoHo

Boss (Sky 10, 8.30 Saturday) ✭✭✭✭✩

“In Ablution, Kane begins to demonstrate that it’s no longer business as usual in the mayor’s office – though some things like cameras and microphones hidden in the office and home of Mona Fredricks, point to just how difficult it can be to loosen one’s grasp on old vices.” — Screen Rant.

Hell on Wheels (Sky 10, 8.30 Sunday) ✭✭✭✭

“It  took a season and a half, but Hell On Wheels has finally gone ahead and told a story that’s actually, properly about building a railroad. Even more promisingly, the episode that does so places Bohannon front and centre, dropping the McGinnes brothers and Joseph subplots for the episode in order to place all the focus on the two protagonists, Cullen and Elam.” — The AV Club.

The Newsroom (Sky 10, 8.30 Monday) ✭✭✭

Will keeps a long-standing therapy appointment; Sloan pushes too hard during the Japanese nuclear crisis. “It’s become clear that, the less time is spent on its characters’ personal lives, the better The Newsroom is. Bullies spends enough time on the news to make it somewhat interesting, but the continued tedium of the other half of the show threatens to derail things.” — The Huffington Post.

Strike Back (Sky 10, 8.30 Tuesday) ✭✭✭✩

Agents Scott, Stonebridge and Richmond stave off a hostile onslaught in Mogadishu by Waabri and his associate, Asmara; in London, Section 20 gets a new leader.

When I Knew (Sky 10, 8.30 Wednesday) ✭✭✭✭

Candid, funny and heartbreaking, this documentary focuses on men and women of all ages who invoke the exact moment in their lives when they knew that they were gay.

If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise (Sky 10, 8.30 Friday) ✭✭✭✭

“Spike Lee returns to New Orleans, the scene of his post-Katrina documentary When the Levees Broke to assess what might be called the damage being done by the recovery. He also assesses the actual recovery, the illusory recovery, the psychological recovery, and the assault on the recovery that is the BP oil spill — an unfortunate and unavoidable late addition that, though not specifically related to Katrina or the following flood, fits his larger themes of class war and bad luck and enlarges his portrait of a land that can seem beleaguered by God or cursed through voodoo but which most definitely shows the scars of human mismanagement, corruption and greed.” — Los Angeles Times. (Part one of two.)

Sky Movies/Greats

Cedar Rapids (Sky 20, 8.30 Tuesday) ✭✭✭✭

The Hangover’s Ed Helms heads this delightful albeit ribald comedy about a small-town, buttoned-down insurance salesman who goes for a walk on the wild side when he attends his first convention. Cedar Rapids is more mainstream than director Miguel Arteta’s previous film, Youth in Revolt, but has enough of the same maverick spirit to turn what could have been a ho-hum Hangover-ish romp into a quaint, quirky comedy with a premium on wit and character. John C Reilly and Anne Heche co-star. (2011)

The Debt (Sky 20, 8.30 Wednesday) ✭✭✭✩

Jessica Chastain (The Tree of LifeThe Help) plays the younger self of former Mossad agent Helen Mirren, whose fame as a spymaster is jeopardised when it emerges the Nazi war criminal she apparently killed 30 years earlier is alive. The first hour of largely flashbacks, in which Chastain dominates, is the most suspenseful and intriguing; the second suffers from a far-fetched resolution that not even Mirren can make convincing. Sam Worthington and Tom Wilkinson co-star; John Madden (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) directs the Matthew Vaughn-Jane Goldman (Kiss-Ass) screenplay. (2010)

Premieres But Not Premier

Wild Hogs (Sky 22, 8.30 Saturday) ✭✭

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Sky 20, 8.30 Sunday) ✭✭

It Waits (Sky 20, 10.30 Sunday) ✭✭

Conan the Barbarian (Sky 20, 8.30 Monday) ✭✭

Napoleon Dynamite (Sky 22, 8.30 Wednesday) ✭✩

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