When We Rise – Saturday 8.30pm on SBS
Aussies Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths head an all-star cast in this eight-hour miniseries about the birth of the gay rights movements. Written by Academy Award-winning Dustin Lance Black, and also starring Mary-Lousie Parker, Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell, the docudrama opens in 1971 and travels through the next four decades of protests, bashings and the AIDS crisis. This began in the US on February 27 and the first two episodes were made available to watch in advance on SBS On Demand. You will only see Guy Pearce briefly in the first part as he introduces the story (and then gets played by a younger character in flashback) and that means Rachel Griffiths won’t appear until her lesbian character ages on too. Recommended.
Feud – Sunday 8.30pm on showcase
How delicious does this look? Susan Sarandon playing Bette Davis and Jessica Lange is Joan Crawford as the Hollywood legends go for the jugular during the making of classic movie Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? Throw in Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanely Tucci, Alfred Molina and our own Judy Davis and this is the most exciting TV event of the year for me (until Twin Peaks in a couple of months). Producer Ryan Murphy is so confident of its success he has already announced that Season 2 will be about Charles and Diana – let the fighting begin!
The Biggest Loser: Transformed – Tuesday 7.30pm on TEN
Has this weight loss reality show been transformed? Well, yes and no. There are now two teams instead of four and the contestants are now just overweight instead of morbidly obese. The humiliating weigh-ins also appear to have gone and that’s a good thing – but once everyone starts exercising (which in the first episode involves kayaking across Sydney Harbour Heads where a shark turns out to be a dolphin) it all becomes very familiar. The tenth series in 2015 did not set the ratings world on fire so it will be interesting to see if the audience will return this time round.
Bullied 8.30pm ABC on Tuesday
Ian Thorpe hosts this controversial show in which students are rigged with camera backpacks to record the bullying they regularly endure. Once the footage has been collected, it feels like it will never stop being replayed as the victim, family members and fellow students (but no teachers) all have to watch it over and over again. There is barely enough material here for a half-hour show, let alone a one-hour format, and is 8.30pm on a school night the best way to expose the subject matter to its intended audience? Thorpey hasn’t had much luck with TV in the past, and while the intention of this show is to be admired, it’s a chore to watch.
The Missing 7.25pm BBC First on Sunday
The second series of this acclaimed BBC drama repeats its premiere episode from last week straight before the second one airs at 8.30pm. Now with all-new cast (except for series one’s Tcheky Karyo playing Julien Baptiste again), this one is slightly confusing to follow with dual timelines and multiple locations like Germany and Iraq. But there is no denying that this is a class act and worth sticking with, particularly with actors Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey.
Mediaweek editor James Manning spoke with David Morrissey on a podcast earlier this month. Listen to it below.