Tonight in HD: November 6

SoHo Highlight: Boardwalk Empire (Sky 10, 8.30, 5.1) US critics toasted the return of this top-shelf Prohibition drama even more lavishly than they did the original. “It’s essential viewing,” gushed The Hollywood Reporter. “All of the promise of last season looks to be realised with impressively deft storytelling, beautiful cinematography and impeccable acting.” Concurred the Boston Globe: “With season two, the drama has fully come to life, with moments of savagery, hypocrisy, and bittersweet loyalty that make it a must-see show. The first six new episodes are spellbinding, as they pick up the story of Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson, his decreasing number of friends, and his increasing number of enemies in the thick of Prohibition.” Quipped Variety: “The show doesn’t just go down smoothly; it’s good to the last illicit, intoxicating drop.” Among the wowsers was New York Magazine. “Why does HBO’s mob period drama often feel like a beautifully tailored empty suit?” it asked. “Some television shows are empty because they are built that way, like the easy-bake procedurals and gimcrack sitcoms on network television. The fact that they’re repetitive isn’t a criticism; it’s half their appeal. Boardwalk Empire’s emptiness is something else, the crest of a troubling trend of shows throughout cable television, seemingly ambitious series whose lacquered looks crack apart when you apply the slightest pressure.” Season two opens with a double-episode. ✭✭✭✭

Raising Hope (TV3, 7.00)

Hellcats (TV2, 5.30) Things get messy when the girls’ volleyball team challenges the Hellcats to a flag football game. Meanwhile, Marti pretends to be sick to attend a conference with Julian. ✫✫✫

Raising Hope (TV3, 7.00, 5.1) Jimmy meets another single dad who is similarly lacking a social life, but their potential friendship hits a snag after Jimmy learns he’s a client of Virginia’s housekeeping service. “It’s like they’re Ken and Barbie and we’re the Potato Heads,” she says. Blog critics thought this “one of the best” /  “strongest episodes to date” while the AV Club’s B-rated review called it “exhilarating and audacious“. ✫✫✫✫

Mike & Molly (TV2, 7.30) When Samuel loses his job and apartment, Mike offers to let him stay at his place…with interesting results. ✫✫

The Middle (TV2, 8.00) Axl and Mike face off when Mike punishes his son by forbidding him from playing on the final school basketball game of the season. ✫✫

Movie: The Exorcist (TV2, 10.25, R) The daughter of an actress becomes possessed while on location with her mother in Washington, DC. The French Connection’s William Friedkin directs Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J Cobb and Linda Blair in a benchmark horror that will have you clutching your catechism. This is the original theatrical cut whereas the Blu-ray for sale in NZ is the 2000 extended director’s edit that Friedkin says he did as “a favour” to screenwriter William Peter Blatty. (1973) ✫✫✫✫

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