The best show on TV next week is Ms Represented with Annabel Crabb (Tuesday on ABC). This fascinating history about women in Parliament, with hilarious and gobsmacking insights from pollies like Julia Gillard, Julie Bishop, Sarah Hanson-Young and Penny Wong, is fun and informative and could not be more timely.
Some of the usual ABC-bashers are already trying to discredit those women who took part, when criticism should actually be directed at those who were invited to participate but declined (oh hi Pauline Hanson). Ms Represented is smart and entertaining, do not miss.
Sometimes I scratch my head at being the odd man out when every other critic starts raving about a new show, which brings us to The White Lotus (Monday on FoxShowcase). Foxtel is not exaggerating when they say the new HBO series is “critically acclaimed”. Look closely though and some reviewers do admit that the new HBO series may “struggle to reach a larger audience”.
The White Lotus could end up like Enlightened (2011), a comedy-drama with Laura Fern that I really liked. It too was critically acclaimed, but then cancelled due to low ratings. Sadly, a similar fate awaits this pointless new series set in Hawaii.
Mercado on TV rates The White Lotus a more pretentious version of The Love Boat, only slower and more boring. The only reason anyone would keep watching this to the end is the cast, which includes Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britten, Steve Zahn and Australia’s Murray Bartlett. All are wasted.
Luckily, HBO has another new show next week that is much more gripping. Journalist Ronan Farrow wrote the best-selling book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, and then he turned it into a podcast. Now it’s a TV series about Harvey Weinstein’s sordid history of sexual abuse, and those in power who protected him.
Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes (Tuesday on Binge) looks like it was filmed the same time as the podcast was, with endless close-ups of the microphone cords and control buttons. Things improve when Rosanna Arquette appears in the second episode, but it is the fourth episode that is a must-see for Mediaweek readers as it looks into the vast media cover-up.
Time (Sunday on BBC First) is the latest drama from writer Jimmy McGovern and it stars one of his regulars, Sean Bean, playing a first timer in a men’s prison. The other lead role is a prison guard played by Stephen Graham, and when you add in actresses Sue Johnston and Siobhan Finneran in supporting roles, that is as good as a British cast can get.
TV series about men’s prisons are usually pretty grim, so don’t expect Jimmy McGovern to lighten things up. At just three episodes, Time isn’t as memorable as Oz (1997, Binge) but it is more believable than Prison Break (2005, Netflix) or Punishment (1981, 10), the disastrous all-male version of Prisoner that starred Barry Crocker as the Governor (plot spoiler: he yelled every line of dialogue).
See other Mercado on TV columns here.