US drama embarks on another gripping run

16:00, Oct 05 2012
Homeland star Claire Danes

How good does telly get?

At the moment we have the pleasure of watching the second series of Homeland (TV3, Mondays, 8.35pm) and it is superb - easily as good as the first series.

To be fair, there's only been the one episode so far, but it was every bit as enthralling as past ones. It is fitting that the programme started just a week or two after both stars, Claire Danes as Carrie and Damian Lewis as Brody, the former US marine who is now a spy, won Emmys for their roles.

Worse still he is a Congressman and a strong contender to be a potential vice-president. Is his character based partly on Mitt Romney? Who will stop him? Why won't anyone believe poor old Carrie?

That is what much of the plot is about, but you do have to remember this is the US, the country that led Europe 10-6 in the Ryder Cup last weekend, before losing to Europe. Fact can be stranger than fiction.

Homeland is one of those rare do-not-miss programmes.


Getting back to the "fact is stranger than fiction" theme, TV3 had a good scoop with Sarah Hall's interview of Anna Guy, sister of Scott Guy and estranged wife of Ewen Macdonald, the man accused of murdering him.

Trouble was it elicited little in the way of new information and Anna batted away the $64 question "did the jury get it right?" with ease. I'm not sure it was a great idea to show interviewer and interviewee having a big hug and tears the last time they met. There needed to be more persistent questioning.

In other interesting moves on the telly, the Shopping Channel (Channel 18, Sky) started this week and I have to admit I found it fascinating . . . for the first four minutes. It was only fitting that L'Oreal Paris brand ambassador Eva Longoria was imported specially for the launch. The former Desperate Housewives star was the guest of honour at a special dinner on Wednesday night, but for much of the day that was all presenter Monty Betham was interested in, he was so excited. Other than that there wasn't a whole lot going on.

Expensive goods you don't need, probably can't afford, being sold by people you vaguely remember were once famous for doing something else, like Monty, and Dancing With the Stars co-host Candy Lane. You'd have to be a desperate housewife or househusband to watch this lot.

One thing that's always worth watching is New Zealand's Got Talent (TV One, Sundays, 7.30pm). It keeps getting better and better and is a programme not to be missed. The highlight of last week's episode was the 21-year-old real estate agent from Invercargill, who had a wonderful voice. Mrs B thought he could go far and said she wouldn't mind if it was in her direction.

But the week before, the single best act of the series so far was the young South Korean woman Ji-Ye's satirical song Ching Chong. It was a delightfully funny parody of the stereotypical Asian student and if anyone other than an Asian had sung this self-deprecating satirical song, any number of race relations conciliators and commissioners would have been set loose on the offender. In case you missed it here is a taste of the hilarious song by Ji-Ye:

“I moved to New Zealand from South Korea.
I came here to get a good career.
When I went to my intermediate school it was quite horrible.
People bullied me cause I'm an Asian.
They called me Ching Chong but I kept on playing ping pong.
Oh, why oh why did you call me Ching Chong now I have to be a ping pong champion,
oh why oh why did you call me a Ching Chong."

By the way, she was also a brilliant pianist and sang pretty well too. Mrs B and I absolutely loved it. Who says we've lost the ability to laugh at ourselves? More please!

Finally, Mrs B is a keen golfer and there are no prizes for guessing who turned into a night owl last weekend. She was watching the Ryder Cup, of course, and on Monday morning I joined her to watch the drama unfold. The incredible finish - the US lost despite playing on their Homeland - showed there is no substitute for the unscripted, unpredictable drama that live sport produces. Former European team captain Sam Torrance was a superb commentator who made no bones about who he wanted to win and we had no problem in cheering for the non-Americans with him. It was brilliant telly, and honestly I didn't mind cooking the meals, making fresh coffee and running room service to the sofa to she-who-must-not-be-disturbed when Rory is playing.

She does the same for me when the All Blacks are playing - yeah right!