HD Highlights: July 18

SoHo Premiere: The Newsroom (Sky 10, 8.30, 5.1) For one night only — Aaron Sorkin’s talky take on the cable new business that US critics have both roasted and toasted. SoHo was going to launch the series this month but rather than risk it getting lost amid Olympic Games headlines, has opted to hold it until next month. In the meantime, it’s teasing us with the pilot, which sounds as long-winded as Sorkin’s overrated The West Wing. TV Guide  acknowledged The Newsroom was “eye-rollingly full of itself. But it’s also recklessly full of wit, passion, anger and humour–and timely purpose.” The New York Daily News agreed: “In between the romantic dramas, a lot of sharply written comedy and some long passages of news-wonk stuff, it aims to make viewers do a little thinking.” But The New Yorker said it “treats the audience as though we were extremely stupid” while The Washington Post lambasted it for characters who “never stop speechifying to one another, replacing believable dialogue with that unmistakably Sorkinesque logorrhea of righteous self-importance. It’s a puppet show with Sorkin as the only hand, expressing his displeasure with the tenor of public discourse.” ✭✭✭✭

The Slap (TV3, 8.30) TV producer Anouk leaves the BBQ more appalled by seeing Hector flirting with Connie than Harry slapping Hugo. Crikey! warns of a “change in dramatic tension and tempo” from the premiere, “with a slower and more personal focus”. Change the Channel was more blunt: “The Slap is still easily the best made Australian drama of the year thanks to some wonderful camera work and some really strong acting; it’s just a shame that it’s such a chore to sit through. Word is that the book is more of these ‘miserable people and their miserable lives’ so I’m not really looking forward to where we go from here as this episode was pretty bleak stuff.” ✭✭✭✭

Sky Movies Premiere: Father of Invention (Sky 20, 8.30, 5.1) Said The Hollywood Reporter of this Kevin Spacey dud, about an ex-con inventor who tries to rebuild his business and redeem his reputation: “Comedies don’t get much more unfunny than Father of Invention, a lame and somewhat preachy comic take on a father trying to get back into his daughter’s good graces.” 10,000 BC’s Camilla Belle, Heather Graham, Johnny Knoxville and Virginia Madsen co-star. (2010)

Sky Movies Greats Premiere: The Hills Have Eyes (Sky 22, 8.30, 5.1) Cartoonish sums up the preposterous splatter violence of this grisly re-make of the Wes Craven classic. Monk’s Ted Levine heads a bickering extended family whose mobile home breaks down in a desert where mutated victims of nuclear testing prowl for prey. What ensues is suitably atmospheric but more brain-addled than bloodcurdling. Piranha’s Alexandre Aja directs; Nikita’s Aaron Stanford, Cinema Verite’s Kathleen Quinlan and Cougar Town’s Dan Byrd co-star. (2006) ✭✭

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