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The Sydney Morning Herald

TV previews

Author: Sacha Molitorisz
Date: 28/01/2002
Words: 698
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: The Guide
Page: 10

Nine, 7.30pm

The title of this repeat is ``The Girl who Hits Joey". Alternatively, you might remember it as ``The Party at Ross's Place to which No-One Comes". Or, perhaps, ``The Fight between Monica and Chandler about Commitment". The thing is, it's much more accurately described as ``The One that's Really Quite Dull and Unamusing until the Climactic Resolution, which is Actually Rather Sweet, though not Nearly Enough to Save the Episode as a Whole from an Insipid and Irritating Predictability".

Now that Friends is on the wane (the cast are making noises that the new series will be their last), may I be so bold as to suggest a new Aussie sitcom: Mates? With a theme song by Paul Kelly, it stars Rachel Griffiths as a well-meaning innocent, Sophie Lee as a saucy seductress, Deborah Mailman as the bright spark, Russell Crowe as a hard-drinking womaniser, Matt Day as the sensitive guy and Noah Taylor as himself. Oh, and Bryan Brown as a dangerous but likable rogue. I reckon the world is ready.

As for Friends, I've seen more than enough, even without ``The Girl who Hits Joey" repeating on me like a dodgy hot dog.

Malcolm in the Middle

Nine, 8pm

A repeat, too, but a good one, from the show that Nine is already heartily promoting ahead of its new series premiere next month. And why not? Malcolm is one of the freshest, funniest situation comedies to emerge from the United States since Ronald Reagan.

South Park

SBS, 8.30pm

Tonight, Kyle is demoted to Kyle #2 after the arrival of a New York cousin with the same name. This East Coast Kyle is neurotic, annoying and funny imagine an eight-year-old Woody Allen. So he's bound to be mercilessly teased. But Kyle #2 hits on a plan to protect his unpopular relative: he'll pay Cartman to hold the abuse. Watching Cartman wrestle with his obnoxious, insulting instincts is pure joy. I laughed out loud for 30 seconds at one particular classroom scene.

Meanwhile, Mr Garrison is fed up with arrogant, incompetent airline companies. Quite simply, he's as inconsolable as a jilted Ansett customer. So he invents a new mode of transport: IT. Quiet, fast and fuel-efficient, IT is also extremely painful to use though not nearly as painful as your average airport experience.

Now in its fifth series, Matt Stone and Trey Parker's South Park is as relevant and hilarious as ever. Now there's an unexpected plot twist for a sitcom that smacked of an overhyped fad that would vanish as quickly as it emerged.

Dial W for War

ABC, 8.30pm

Tantalum is not, despite its name, a marital aid. Instead it's the stuff used to make capacitors, tiny switches vital for the functioning of mobile phones, digital cameras and just about everything else with which you and I enjoy modern life. Except, maybe, marital aids.

It turns out tantalum can found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a very big, very poor country in Western Africa. That's where one elderly, impecunious man walks for two and a half hours to reach the mine where he works, unaware that the tantalum he is unearthing may be used to make aeroplanes fly. And he's barely paid for his backbreaking work. In short, he's being exploited; but Prince Willy, a tribal leader who would be president, is agitating for more mining profits to wend their way into local pockets.

Lately, Congo has been suffering through civil war, lava flows and killer explosions. Unfortunately, this British documentary presents more grim news.

Home and Away

Seven, 7pm

Will is missing. (Another Will, that is, not Prince Willy.) So, too, is young Max's dad. Meanwhile, Leah (Ada Nicodemou) is trying so hard to be a good mum that she's forgetting she may occasionally need some sleep.

Presumably, the plot is strong enough to keep this stalwart soap's many fans interested. And I'm glad, for the sake of all those involved in its making, that it is so popular. But so are cigarettes. In other words, I'd rather have them all working on something else.

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