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Author: Debi Enker
Date: 21/08/2011
Words: 580
Source: SHD
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: The Guide Television
Page: 23
Packed to the Rafters Fake or Fortune? Monet Winners & Losers Artscape:Carnival


Packed to the Rafters

Seven, 8.30pm RATING: 3/5

When this popular domestic drama took a break in March - six episodes into its fourth season - it was to make way for Channel Seven's new local series Winners & Losers. At that point, the Rafters were poised to farewell daughter Rachel (Jessica Marais) as she prepared to head to New York.

This episode is Rachel's long goodbye. There are tears and hugs and bonding, as well as mum Julie (Rebecca Gibney) fretting, fussing and doing loads of washing.

It's a familiar dose of Rafter life, loaded with love and squabbles. The addition to the cast of John Howard, as the possibly penitent jailbird father of Dave (Erik Thomson), has been a good move as he provides an edge that the drama often lacks.

Fake or Fortune? Monet

ABC1, 8.30pm RATING: 4/5

Constructed as a detective story, the first episode of this four-part series casts journalist Fiona Bruce and art expert Philip Mould as the sleuths. Their mission is to determine the authenticity of an artwork that might have been painted by Claude Monet.

Dogged octogenarian David Joel has spent 18 years battling to have it recognised by the Wildenstein Institute, which has assumed a position as the art world's arbiter of genuine Monets. As Bruce notes, "Monet means money", so there are potentially millions at stake.

The sleuths gather evidence and chase clues, travelling to Paris and Cairo, consulting experts, employing state-of-the-art technology to examine brushstrokes and markings on the frame, and tangling with French customs agents. Eventually, they front the forbidding facade of the Wildenstein building to present their case.

Bruce describes the art world as "glamour, wealth and intrigue" and this good-looking, cleverly constructed opener offers an illuminating insight into its workings.

Winners & Losers

Seven, 9.30pm RATING: 3/5

No surprise that the first season of this gal-pal comedy-drama bows out with a wedding - that of a radiant Bec (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith), wearing a great gown but afflicted with an unfortunate hairdo, and the formerly commitment-shy Matt (Blair McDonough).

Before the big event there's a boisterous hens' party; Sophie (Melanie Vallejo) wrestles with the idea of declaring her love for Doug (Tom Wren); and Jenny (Melissa Bergland) announces a new course for her life. Finally, there's a twist in the tale that's destined to rock the newlyweds and their friends.

Through the first season, the series has been too reliant on caricatures - scheming ex-wife, true-blue Aussie family, flamboyant gay confidant. It plays too broad and soapy and the characters have yet to be invested with enough nuance to give them a full-bodied life. The show will need to lift its game for its second season.

Artscape: Carnival Queen

ABC1, 10.05pm RATING: 4/5

Produced, directed and shot by Amy Gebhardt, this impressionistic documentary is a study of the process of putting on a show.

The production is Finucane & Smith's The Carnival of Mysteries, which co-creator and performer Moira Finucane describes as containing an array of sometimes conflicting impulses: "dark, epic, personal, abject, celebratory, sumptuous, sinister".

Gebhardt follows the Carnival from an early gathering of the performers through rehearsals to the performance. Although there's no narration, the film becomes an admiring account of artists at work and, in the case of Finucane and her partner, Jackie Smith, an insight into how they combine family life with their calling.

Worth a lookInsight: Tampa 10 Years On

(SBS One, 7.30pm)

QI (ABC1, 9.35pm)

Hung (Seven, 10.30pm)

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