HD Heads-Up: January 4-10

TV One will premiere the fourth season of HD police drama Southland on January 7 at 10.50 with two new recruits.

A pre-Elementary Lucy Liu joins the LAPD for 10 episodes as John Cooper’s new partner, Officer Jessica Tang, while on the beat for this season and next, as Detective Ruben Robinson, is Haven’s Dorian Missick.

Southland’s penultimate season aired two years ago in the US, and was the second to screen on cable channel TNT, which picked up the show when NBC axed it after two seasons.

“It’s a bloody good, gory hour,” the Boston Herald raved of the season premiere, ”and I don’t know how Southland will top this. But I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.”

“People who write about television for a living often get asked what their favourite show is,” said the Wall Street Journal, “and some of us blurt out Southland.

“Other series may be amazing, and AMC’s Homeland surely has raised the bar for TV drama.

“But Southland, named after the Los Angeles region where this intense police series is set, deserves a category of greatness all its own.”

Key to the show’s success is a preoccupation with character as opposed to plot; it’s far more concerned with cop culture than with specific cases,” argued Slant magazine.

“The first season was held back by the sprawling cast and the broad strokes it necessitated, but the restrictions of a cable budget forced the producers to streamline, leaving us with four regular characters who’ve gained considerable dimension.”

The network premieres of Toy Story 3 (TV2, 7.00 Sunday) and Billy T: Te Movie (TV3, 8.45 Sunday) spearhead a week-long slate of free-to-air HD debuts, including Jonah Hex (TV2, 10.00 Saturday), The Losers (TV2, 11.40 Saturday), London Boulevard (TV2, 1.30am Sunday), Conan the Barbarian (TV2, 8.30 Tuesday) and The Back Up Plan (TV3, 8.30 Wednesday).

Also in the HD movies mix are re-runs of 2012 (TV2, 7.00 Saturday), The Reader (TV2, 8.30 Wednesday), You Again (TV2, 8.30 Monday), Alpha & Omega (TV2, 4.15 Sunday), Slumdog Millionaire (TV3, 8.30 Tuesday), Sex and the City 2 (TV2, 8.30 Thursday) and Underbelly: Infiltration (TV3, 8.30 Thursday).

Premiering the same week are the HD documentaries With Strings Attached (TV One, 9.40 Saturday), in which singer/songwriter Tiki Taane puts together a concert at Wellington’s Old St Paul’s Cathedral, and The Man Who Ate Himself to Death (TV One, 8.30 Tuesday).

“With so many programmes covering the topic of obesity, it takes a lot to stand out,” said The Independent of the latter.

“Channel 5 attempted to do so by following one of the world’s most obese men, Ricky Naputi of Guam, as he tried to lose weight in time to have surgery.

“The documentary dealt with the issue with more tact than the title would suggest … The parting message was an important one: he was not the only one in that tragic situation, and far more preventative measures need to be taken before food addiction takes over people’s lives.”

Lastly, in The Year That Was (TV2, 9.40 Wednesday), Billy T award-winner Nick Gibb reflects on 2005.

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