Tonight in HD: December 16

SoHo Highlight: Mildred Pierce (Sky 10, 8.30, 5.1) Parts three and four: In the wake of tragedy, Mildred opens her new restaurant and reconnects with Monty, whose lethargy tests the bonds between Mildred and Veda. “There’s a very slow pacing to Mildred Pierce but not one that should come as a surprise to fans of HBO, which lets its creative people tell full stories,” The Hollywood Reporter observed. “And yet, you begin to wonder when events will accelerate or explanations will be given. Neither occurs much in the two years encompassing part three. But part four suddenly lurches forward four years and circumstances have improved greatly for Mildred.” The Australian dubbed Mildred Pierce “TV realised as a novel and in minute period detail. This is costume drama of a kind American TV has largely avoided. Fortunately, this seems to be changing. Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, alongside this year’s 1950s BBC newsroom thriller The Hour, are mining living memory. And that means the period detail has to be lovingly attended to. Here, [director Todd] Haynes has created a world we have seen a million times in the movies of the era, but it still seems authentic, from the banally pretentious suburban architecture to the diner waitresses’ perky caps.” ✭✭✭✭

The Graham Norton Show (TV3, 8.30)

Friends (TV2, 6.30, R) Joey and Chandler take Ross to a hockey game to keep his mind off Carol. ✭✭✭

Shortland Street (TV2. 7.00, F) Season finale: Ula tries to cover her tracks; Daniel and Jill try to prevent a catastrophe; Hunter has blood on his hands. ✭✭✭✭

The X Factor USA (TV3, 7.30, 5.1) The US voting results. ✭✭

The Graham Norton Show (TV3, 8.30) Graham chats with Bradley Cooper about being voted sexiest man alive, Jessica Biel about being the sexiest woman, and Gavin and Stacey’s James Corden about having a sexy photo spread. ✭✭✭✭

The Bachelor (TV2, 10.25) The stakes are high for Brad as he leaves on an emotionally charged trip to visit the final four women’s home towns.

NCIS (TV3, 11.15, 5.1, R) The body of a Marine leads Gibbs and McGee to the NCIS OSP division in Los Angeles, where a murder investigation quickly climbs to a matter of national security. (Part one.) ✭✭

CSI: Miami (TV3, 12.15, 5.1, R) Filmmaker and musician Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses, Halloween) directed this episode, in which Horatio and Delko travel to Los Angeles when a secret from Jesse’s past may allow a killer to go free. ✭✭

Sky Movies Greats: Payback (Sky 22, 8.30, 5.1) Mel Gibson plays a thief-cum-killer hellbent on revenge after his junkie wife and sadistic crony con him out of $70,000 in loot and leave him for dead. But a slug of whisky and 100-percent proof surgery by a backstreet abortionist land him back on his feet ripe for payback – even if it means taking on the Mob. Packed with perverse miscreants, like Lucy Liu’s dead-eye dominatrix with a machine-gun, Payback is a fierce, no-frills yet stylish and ingenious shoot-’em-up that will have you recoiling in horror when not rocking with laughter. (1999) ✭✭✭✭

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