HD Highlights: July 23

Season Finale: Modern Family (TV3, 8.00, 5.1, F) Gloria’s bilingualism comes in handy on Mitchell and Cameron’s quest to adopt another child; Jay and Manny help Lily get ready for a dance recital. “It only took the whole season, but Modern Family closed things out this year with easily the best episode of the season,” said TV Blend. Paste magazine noted “a number of surprises for viewers, not the least of which was an added element of pathos with Mitchell’s and Cam’s struggles to adopt a second child”.  The funniest if most gratuitous product placement of the season after the Disneyland episode is Cam observing the new Toyota Prius is so roomy you can put two carseats and a pig in the backseat: “It’s a unit of measurement we use on the farm.” Meanwhile, the first Modern Family table read of the new season is set for Wednesday NZ time, “but it’s not clear that the stars of ABC’s top-rated comedy will show up,” The Hollywood Reporter reports. “In what has become one of the highest-stakes TV contract renegotiations in years, the six adult actors have yet to secure new contracts with producer 20th Century Fox Television for the series’ upcoming fourth season.” ✭✭✭✭

Network Movie: 12 Rounds (TV3, 8.30, 5.1, R) It’s tempting to dismiss 12 Rounds as a movie for “dum-dums”. It may have been one of 2009’s silliest action flicks but it’s also a slick throwback to director Renny Harlin’s Cliffhanger heyday. The hero is a New Orleans cop (John Cena) desperate to outwit a fiendishly inventive thief with a grudge who’s kidnapped his girlfriend. The brain-teasing time bomb of a plot is fatally preposterous but the movie’s Hurricane Katrina energy and stunning Big Easy locales keep you going one more round. Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen co-stars. (2009) ✭✭✭✩

SoHo Highlight: The Pillars of the Earth (Sky 10, 8.30, 5.1) King Stephen defeats Maud; Aliena and Richard search for a way to start over; Alfred proposes marriage to Aliena, infuriating Jack. ✭✭✭✩

Sky Movies Premiere: 13 (Sky 20, 8.30, 5.1) Before getting a luckier break in Brighton Rock, Sam Riley starred in this low-budget Russian roulette spin on dog fighting. It’s a blood-curdling premise — gamblers bet on which desperate contestants will beat the odds — but ultimately doesn’t amount to more than the sum of its surprisingly high-calibre cast, which includes Jason Statham, Ray Winstone, Ben Gazzara, Mickey Rourke, 50 Cent, True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard and Dexter’s David Zayas. Director Gela Babluani directs a Hollywood re-make of his superior 2005 French directorial debut, 13 Tzameti. (2010) ✭✭✩

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