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The Age

Critic's view - August 24

Author: farah farouque
Date: 20/08/2009
Words: 590
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 32
Journey to the Edge of the Universe

Channel Seven, 7.30pm

THIS is a documentary that never fails to hold attention, even if you are not a space buff. The subject is big  it's a travelogue of the universe  but it also offers a close encounter of a different kind. I refer to a magnificently portentous voiceover, which I gather from the credits is provided by a Royal Shakespeare Company alumnus called Sean Pertwee. While the vision of unexplored space, constructed into a seamless journey courtesy of NASA's Hubble telescope, is quite spellbinding, it's the voice-of-God narration rendered in a silken British accent that will really keep you heavily invested. David Attenborough, with your Life on Earth, eat your heart out. The highly dramatic script is at times poetry and at other times pure soap. But it's so-oo enjoyable. Venus here is no mere planet, she's the "sister from hell", according to the Bard Pertwee. Similarly, the sun doesn't just shine, it's there to behold "in all its mesmerising splendour". The red planet Mars, meanwhile, is "red and dead"  or is it really? Yes, the prospect of extra-terrestrial life is given a good airing, too. And entering the realm of Titan, one of the multitude of moons that apparently revolves around Saturn, Pertwee speculates about whether we could move here when Earth gets hotter. I presume the people who researched the script have a sound scientific basis for this contention, other than say, George Lucas, because no expert actually appears to the naked eye. It's all vision and voiceover. The truth is, despite the credibility of this Canadian-British National Geographic

co-production, the doco's accessibility makes it feel like a movie you might see at a multiplex. Thanks, Mr Pertwee, I'd give you four stars.

Talking Heads

ABC1, 6.30pm

ANGRY Anderson, aka Gary Anderson, for me is forever linked to the halcyon days on Neighbours when he provided the theme song for Scott and Charlene's soap wedding of the century. For viewers who worship at the altar of Ray Martin, he was also a go-to-guy on The Midday Show in the 1980s. Now that's a man for all viewers. The singer and charity worker is a good subject for profile by consummate interviewer Peter Thompson. Having been through a bit of therapy, Anderson is obviously not going to hold back when the questions are put to him. He canvasses a difficult relationship with his dad, drug and alcohol abuses in his angrier youth and shows his softer side by revealing how fatherhood changed the direction of his life.

City Homicide

Channel Seven, 8.30pm

THIS cop show is competent enough but I've never found the plots especially inspired. True to form, there's another storyline ripped from headlines  this time there's "homage" to the Liverpool murder of preschooler James Bulger, who was lured away to his horrible fate by two older boys in the early 1990s. But is it all going to be murder-by-numbers in Melbourne when a kid goes missing in the suburbs after buying an ice-cream? Sergeant Stanley Wolfe (Shane Bourne), one of the show's triumvirate of standout characters (the others are female cops played by Nadine Garner and Noni Hazlehurst) urges caution to the troops. The po-faced criminal profiler Senior Sergeant Claudia Leigh (Tasma Walton, straining under a severe hairstyle), is all gung-ho, while Senior Constable Simon Joyner (Daniel MacPherson, sans sidekick Sonia Kruger) seems keen to cast aspersions on single motherhood while sussing out the missing toddler's links to two pre-teen bullies. Appropriately, the episode is subtitled "The First Stone".

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