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Date: 23/01/2011
Words: 1168
Source: SHD
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Television
Page: 5

Restaurant in Our Living Room

10.30PM, 7TWO

If Restaurant in Our Living Room has any broader point to make (and it doesn't), it's that opening a restaurant in your own house and serving three courses to about 50 diners is exactly the kind of hell you'd expect. The show is essentially that scenario. and a competition between two couples with guests paying what they think the meal is worth and whoever gets the most cash wins. The first episode pits a cheerful, chubby pair against a feline yuppie and her husband/beauteous simpleton. The star is the narrator, Robert Webb (of British sketch comedy duo, Mitchell and Webb), who is always on the spot to punctuate gaucheries or pompous affectations with an "Oh dear", "Yeah, ya think?" or "That's aubergine to you and me". Flights of ego in the human species can make for an embittering viewing experience, so it's lucky he's there to take the pith out of the behaviour of the show's contestants.


Home and Away


Home and Away wrapped up 2010 with a runaway bride, a stand-in wedding, a pregnancy confession and Alf (Ray Meagher) being led away in handcuffs for the murder of Penn Graham (Christian Clark). All that was missing from the drama was a funeral. Cue the first episode of 2011 and the year opens with a memorial service for a beloved Summer Bay resident, held on a cliff overlooking a sparkling sea. Morag (Cornelia Frances) is back but even her hardened heart is showing signs of strain as she deals with the loss of someone dear to her and Alf's arrest. With the cast dressed in black funeral garb it makes for a sombre opening to the year but not everyone is down in the dumps. Bianca (Lisa Gormley), the runaway bride, and Liam (Axle Whitehead) are blissfully removed from the drama at a campsite love-nest somewhere far away from the beach and the diner. Happiness, however, does not make for good soap fodder and the lovebirds can only avoid the Summer Bay vortex for so long.


What's in that Pill?


Who knows? That seems to be the only answer this BBC documentary can provide. Using case studies examining some of the most commonly prescribed medications today, the program is more of a general health check on the social status of medicine than a news flash. That said, the case studies are intriguing and doubtless you will have used at least one of the drugs examined by the program from anti-depressants and anti-cholesterol medication to painkillers and antibiotics. Interviews with health professionals debating the benefits and risks of popping pills are interspersed with interviews with people who have used, or misused, the drugs examined. Such as ADHD drugs used by "normal" people as a concentration aid, the over-prescription of erectile dysfunction drugs and the addictive dangers and questionable necessity of codeine in over-the-counter medication. Thankfully the program avoids alarm bells and instead makes salient points about how social attitudes to medicine have changed and how risk, like illness, is relative.


Costa's Arnhem Land Odyssey


To agree to be covered in mud, wrapped in bark and placed face down in a marsh all in the name of "natural relaxation", you'd either have to be passionate about nature or a little bit crazy. Costa Georgiadis (pictured) is both. In his latest offering, Costa takes us on a tour of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, meeting the locals (both human and plant varieties), learning about indigenous culture and helping to plant a garden at a local school along the way. Part gardening show, part travel doco, the program is a real potpourri, with Costa running us through people, places and plants as fast as his bare feet can carry him. Once you get over his pirate look, he is a charming host and his enthusiasm is infectious, giving the show a community feel that will keep you watching.


Ashes to Ashes

8.30PM, ABC1

On one level, this is a classic period drama, only the period is an early 1980s cop shop resplendent in bakelite phones and a smog of cigarette smoke. On the beat there are plenty of burn-outs and politically incorrect asides. This is all fine guv', if it wasn't for the science-fiction sub-plot getting in the way. This week, DCs Drake and Hunt are on the trail of a serial arsonist, set against the backdrop of Margaret Thatcher's 1983 re-election in the aftermath of the Falklands War. For the uninitiated, Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) was once a police officer in 2008 who was shot and woke up in 1981. In this episode she again employs the benefits of hindsight and modern psychology to catch the culprit but her existential angst over how she ended up in shoulder pads and metallic eye shadow is distracting for all but the most devoted fans of this series and its BBC One predecessor, Life on Mars. Ashes to Ashes wrapped up last year and the ending was, to all reports, weirder than a '80s episode of Dr Who.



8.30PM, ABC1

The larger-than-life Robbie Coltrane returns to the role that suits him best  a police officer struggling with personal demons  but the narrative in this British miniseries moves even slower than its star actor. Murderland, which refers to a psychological condition where the victims or witnesses become obsessed with a crime, tells the tale of a mystery surrounding a woman's murder from the perspective of three of the primary characters: the woman's then-teenage daughter Carrie (played as an adult by Amanda Hale and as a teenager by Bel Powley), Detective Douglas Hain (Coltrane) and finally the victim, Sally (Lucy Cohu). On the day of her wedding 15 years after the crime, Carrie decides she must know what happened to her mother and seeks out Hain to help her find the truth. Much of the story is told through flashbacks and the three perspectives make for tedious repetition. While the slow camera work lends it a film noir feel, it had this reviewer lingering over the fast-forward button.



4.30PM, GO!

Welcome to the wonderful world of Palm Beach, Florida, where there is drama in every drawing room, kisses only happen at sunset and the most important decision you'll have to make on any given day is which bikini top to wear. Here everybody is either filthy rich, a surfer or both. This is the world of long stares and over-sharing that Privileged places you smack bang in the middle of. In this episode, brainy protagonist Megan (Joanna Garcia) struggles to complete a biography of her boss, cosmetics mogul Laurel Limoges (Anne Archer), all while trying to navigate the lifestyles of the rich and the brainless and sort out her own relationship troubles. The point of difference here is Megan's outsider perspective. This allows the writers to subtly mock the "rich weirdos" she works for, a rarity for dramas such as these. It's addictive and surprisingly difficult to turn off. You have been warned.

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