Tonight in HD: June 18

SoHo Premiere: The Pillars of the Earth (Sky 10, 8.30, 5.1) The succession of England’s crown is in doubt and causes King Henry’s daughter and nephew to compete for the throne. Don’t expect this medieval malarkey starring Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen and Sarah Parish to measure up to Game of Thrones (which it preceded in the US). Nonetheless, top critics thought it  the salt of the earth mini-series wise. The New York Post said it was a “beautifully done” adaptation of the Ken Follett best-seller: “This requires commitment, it requires paying attention and it has few cartoonish interludes to give the audience a breather. It also reminds us the value and satisfaction we can find in a complex production executed well.”  Variety praised the strength of the female roles and said “the whole exercise would be worth the price of admission (or rather, subscription) simply for the cobra-eyed McShane” while the Los Angeles Times pointed out the adaptation is more melodramatic than the book: “It makes you anxious for the safety of its serially imperiled heroes, some of whom will not make it to the end, and compels you to stick around if only to see the villains at long last get their comeuppances.” But Entertainment Weekly thought it “more confusing than intriguing” and The Washington Post “overwrought and wearying“. Part one of eight. ✭✭✭✭

Movie: X-Men (TV3, 8.30, 5.1, R) Anna Paquin and Hugh Jackman play mutant superheroes who are ostracised by fellow Earthlings amid a McCarthyist politician’s crusade to displace them as citizens. Opposing him are two mutant factions: the one led by Patrick Stewart believes in a peaceful solution; the other, headed by Ian McKellen, is ruthless and warmongering. It’s a surprisingly thoughtful scenario for a popcorn blockbuster, even if it is swallowed up by a swift succession of f/x-driven action sequences that impress with their inventiveness but limit character development and dramatic scope. (2000) ✭✭✭✭

Home & Away (TV3, 5.30) Jett confesses to mugged Marilyn; Gina and the police find Jett’s mother dead; Alf is rushed to hospital. ✭✭

Friends (TV2, 6.30, R) As the friends prepare for big changes in their living arrangements, Monica and Rachel reminisce – but they’re not all good memories. ✭✭✭✭

Shortland Street (TV2, 7.00) Vasa has a change of heart; Bella’s dreams are dashed; Murray drops the bomb. ✭✭✭

Last Man Standing (TV3, 7.30, 5.1) The Baxters get a bill for the injuries a teenage prankster sustains on their property. ✭✭

Modern Family (TV3, 8.00, 5.1) Election day dawns and the family rallies for last-minute campaigning. ✭✭✭✭

Criminal Minds (TV One, 8.30, 5.1) The BAU go up against a gang of bank robbing serial killers, and the stakes are raised when one of their own becomes a hostage. ✭✭

Desperate Housewives (TV2, 8.30, 5.1) Julie becomes concerned over Susan’s parenting skills; with Carlos resigning from his high-paying job, Gaby tries to land her own high-powered position in order to keep up her lifestyle. ✭✭

Person of Interest (TV One, 9.30, 5.1, F) Season finale: The FBI close in on Reese, who is trying to protect a psychologist from one of her patients; Finch receives a visit from an old friend. ✭✭

Revenge (TV2, 9.30, 5.1) 2002 in the Hamptons: Emily, who is still Amanda, is reckless until Nolan leads her to read her father’s journals, thus sparking the genesis of Amanda’s ultimate plan. ✭✭

Bones (TV3, 11.25, 5.1, R) Angela’s psychic predicts there are multiple bodies buried under a fountain. Cyndi Lauper guest stars. ✭✭

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