HD Heads-Up: August 9-15

From Agent Anna to bogan babe — TV One will replace Agent Anna on August 14 with a new Australian vehicle for star Robyn Malcolm, Upper Middle Bogan.

It went to air to largely laudatory reviews nearly a year ago on the ABC and has been renewed for a second series.

The Sydney Morning Herald said “one of the best new Australian shows of the year manages to generate some terrific and telling humour from our social stratification.

“Created by the prolific (and improving) Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope, Upper Middle Bogan is the story of a doctor, Bess Denyar (Annie Maynard), whose manicured eastern suburbs life is upended when she meets her real parents, a McMansion-dwelling outer-suburban couple, Julie and Wayne Wheeler (Robyn Malcolm and Glenn Robbins).”

Upper Middle Bogan is a ripper,” The Australian agreed, “the kind of narrative comedy we don’t see enough of.

“It’s a little bigger than most ABC1 comedies without overreaching. And it hits a socio-political moment, the comfort of middle Australia, without being mean-spirited.”

According to The Guardian, “Upper Middle Bogan takes a unique Australian spin on the class anxieties that drove a Brit classic such as Keeping Up Appearances – unlike Hyacinth Bucket’s forced pomposity and desperate attempts at upward mobility, these characters aren’t fighting their true nature, just trying to figure out who they are.”

Returning 9.40 the same night for a six-week run, and for the first time in HD, is The Kumars.

The chat show-sitcom hybrid was hit on the BBC from 2001-2006 but for their revival of Sky 1, the Kumers no long live in Wembley at No. 42.

They’ve moved to Hounslow, where a divorced Sanjeev Kumar is hosting his TV show from behind his father’s minimart.

“Despite their lengthy absence from our screens, the set-up – straight-man son and irritating (to him at least) family members – still works,” said The Independent while The Daily Telegraph thought the premiere “warm, obvious and occasionally unpredictable, and as such was jolly good fun”

Conceded The Stage: “Despite being incomprehensible to me, I find the show entertaining enough, especially if the guests play along with their hosts and don’t try to compete with them.”

The Daily Mail says the format — celebrities being grilled in a faux-domestic setting — was startling for its time.

“The show was devised by actor and writer Sanjeev Bhaskar, after a disastrous if hilarious evening when he took a girlfriend home to meet his parents.

“They subjected his date to a series of excruciating questions, leading him to wonder what would happen if celebrities were grilled in the same way.”

Broadchurch’s Olivia Colman, Daniel Radcliffe and Chevy Chase are the inaugural guests.

TV3’s Graham Norton Show replacement, starting August 15, The Michael McIntyre Chat Show, was almost hounded off the screen when the BBC launched it in March.

Thundered The Daily Mail: “Is this proof the TV chat show is dead? Trade Descriptions inspectors should be alerted.

“To call comedian Michael McIntyre’s new TV venture a chat show is verging on criminal.”

Pondered The Guardian: “The Michael McIntyre Chat Showwhere did it go wrong?

“The producers of the comedian’s ailing show are clearly trying to revamp it to play to his strengths. What do Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross have that he doesn’t?”

“McIntyre wasn’t an incisive, intrusive interviewer, preferring a matey approach with much joshing and chortling,” The Telegraph argued.

“All jovial enough but ultimately, this was a chat show with too little chat.”

Viewers seemed to agree, with 400,000 deserting McIntrye in his first two weeks on air.

But the BBC was staunch in its support, claiming it was “doing rather well in the ratings” and ordered a second series due to screen shortly in the UK.

McIntyre’s fortunes seemed to improve with the third episode’s coup — Nigella Lawson’s first TV interview since separating from Charles Saatchi — and a retooled format.

“The comedian may not have stormed the ratings with his first show, but he gets big guests and is improving fast,” Radio Times said.

“As long as his confidence grows McIntyre has the ability to be a chat show for years to come and laugh in the face of his early reviews.

“If you don’t believe me look up what the critics said about Graham Norton when he started. They weren’t all kind then either.”

Reviews of a new miniseries were mixed when it screened on Channel 4 two years ago.

TV One’s Secret State, which will air 10.30 Sundays from August 10, hard on the heels of TV One’s Rugby World Cup 2011 docudrama, The Kick, was promoted as an update of A Very British Coup from the same scribe.

The Guardian dubbed it “a modern thriller with the brass neck and trousers to address hot-potato global skulduggery while harking back to such brooding, labyrinthine classics as Edge of Darkness, State of Play and, indeed, A Very British Coup 

“It takes approximately six minutes to realise you could reverse an oil tanker into the gulf between what Secret State thinks it is (important, good) and what it actually is (cobblers with exploding CGI bells on).

“It’s difficult to convey just how splutteringly ludicrous the whole thing is.”

“It was easy to sink into its familiar tropes and be swept along by the plot,” The Independent observed of the four-part conspiracy thriller starring Gabriel Byrne, Gina McKee and Charles Dance.

“It’s just that you could feel your buttons being pushed. The highbrow veneer and comparison with superior offerings in the same vein (State of Play, Homeland) made that all the harder to take.”

But The Telegraph thought it “involving, if not always wholly convincing drama … Still, the good far outweighed the bad, and all the complex scene-setting meant that, even by the end of an action-packed first hour, it felt like the real story was only just beginning.”

TV3 will screen part one of INXS — Never Tear Us Apart off the back of The X Factor Australia on August 14 (which also will air Fridays from that week). Aussie critics hailed the miniseries as “powerfully and unflinchingly told” (Herald Sun), “astonishingly good” (The Australian) and “impeccably cast, extraordinarily told … raw and disarmingly honest” (Sunday Telegraph). The Channel 7 broadcast drew 2.24 million views and the Blu-ray will be released late next month … Watch for season premieres of Ice Road Truckers (TV3, 7.30 Saturday) and Sullivan & Son (TV2, 11.25 Wednesday) … Going head to head on Sunday are the network premieres of What To Expect When You’re Expecting (TV2) and Little Frockers (TV3) … Other coming attractions in HD include Music and Lyrics (TV2, 7.00 Saturday), License To Wed (TV2, 9.10 Saturday), Greenberg (TV3, 10.40 Saturday), Adventureland (TV2, 11.00 Saturday), Scream 4 (TV2, 10.40 Sunday), Cowboys & Aliens (TV3, 8.30 Monday), The 40 Year Old Virgin (TV3, 8.40 Tuesday) and The Switch (TV2, 9.00 Friday).

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