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The Sydney Morning Herald

Sunday August 15 - tv previews

Author: Louise Schwartzkoff
Date: 09/08/2010
Words: 574
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: The Guide
Page: 22
Offspring

Ten, 8.30pm

The first episode of this new Australian series does some stumbling around as it establishes the complex web of relationships in the Proudman family. Obstetrician Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie) is the steadiest member of a chaotic family. She has a wastrel brother, a loudmouthed sister and a psychotic ex-husband. Then there is her feisty mother, separated from her father, who has just had a baby boy with Nina's friend and colleague, Cherie.

It is a hefty backstory to plough through before we get to the real action but the strong cast, including Deborah Mailman, Eddie Perfect and John Waters, maintain the energy. Towards the end of the episode, once the characters are established, it relaxes into a quirky and honest drama.

Criminal Justice

ABC1, 8.30pm

The opening scenes drag but it is well worth sticking with this two-part thriller. The slow accumulation of humdrum detail makes the bloody catalyst all the more shocking. For the first half hour, Joe Miller (Matthew Macfadyen) seems like a nice bloke doing his best to support his depressed wife, Juliet (Maxine Peake). He brings her roses, cooks spotted dick and makes sure she takes her medication. But something is not right. Juliet handles the roses like poison ivy and seems terrified when she forgets to buy custard at the supermarket. The tension is almost unbearable by the time we discover the evil at the heart of their marriage.

In the cavalcade of crime drama on television every week, Criminal Justice is a standout. Where most focus on the courtroom, it explores every facet of the British justice system. We watch as the police gather evidence and the solicitors battle to understand the situation. We see suspects struggling to maintain their sanity in prison. With a sophisticated script and strong performances - especially from Peake as the ever-trembling Juliet - Criminal Justice proves that crime drama can still be powerful and original.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Nine, 8.30pm

After 10 seasons, the CSI juggernaut is running out of material. Tonight's episode steers clear of the crime scene investigators to focus on the half-hearted sexual tension between two minor characters. Trace technician David Hodges (Wallace Langham) and DNA technician Wendy Simms (Liz Vassey) sidle around each other, hinting at their passions with a series of vomit-worthy double entendres. The flimsy plot is made even more tedious by a series of disruptive flashbacks.

Mad Men

SBS One, 9.30pm

From its animated opening credits, Mad Men is as slick and sexy as the most meticulously planned advertising campaign. The first series established a group of richly textured characters clustered around a brilliant ad man, Don Draper (Jon Hamm).

In series two, which picks up two years later, the actors slide back into their roles as easily as the sex-bomb, Joan (Christina Hendricks), slips into her curve-hugging red dress.

There is no more mystery about Don's seedy past but the ongoing battle of the sexes provides more than enough momentum. Don continues to tiptoe over the cracks in his marriage, while his frosty wife, Betty (January Jones), has a rare moment of self-reflection when she runs into an old friend who is now a call girl.

At this stage, it looks like the secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) will provide the most intriguing storyline of series two. After placing her illegitimate child up for adoption, she returns to the office, steering her way through the masculine egos with intelligence and charisma.

 
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