Monday, September 17

FREE TO AIR

Dawn Porter: My Breasts Could Kill Me, ABC2, 8.45pm

DAWN Porter, the most irritating presenter on TV right now, redeems herself in this unexpectedly moving account of people dealing with the trials and aftermath of cancer. Unlike other episodes of her lifestyle series where she ''turned'' lesbian, cancer is a topic in which she has a genuine personal investment. It claimed the life of her mother (and great-grandmother) before she was seven years old and now, as Porter approaches 30 and the age her mother died, she confronts for the first time the heightened risks she faces. And so, while meeting a handful of stoic women (and one man) in various stages of illness, her breasts are screened and her blood is checked for the presence of the BRCA gene, which prompts her to consider the possibility of having a pre-emptive mastectomy as many carriers of the so-called cancer gene do to reduce the risks of developing full-blown cancer. It screens in two parts, and the conclusion next week is no less compelling.

Underbelly: Badness, Channel Nine, 8.30pm

THEIR taskforce disbanded, Jubelin (Matt Nable) and his sidekick face challenges that have nothing to do with Anthony Perish (Jonathan LaPaglia) and his band of psychotic thugs. It's a waiting game in which eventually something will give - a careless whisper, a serendipitous coincidence, let alone a lucky break. Given how little actually happens, it's surprisingly tense and taut.

Derren Brown Investigates, SBS One, 8.30pm

AS RADIO listeners might recall, an interview many years ago by ABC 774's Jon Faine with famous psychic John Edward didn't work out too nicely. British illusionist and entertainer Derren Brown, on the other hand, manages to tease out many of the sticking points that separate the sceptics from the believers in the first episode of this three-part series. His quarry is Liverpudlian Joe Power, a medium who specialises in contacting the dead. By understanding the tricks of the trade, such as cold reading and ''Barnum statements'', Brown manages to dissemble much of what takes place in a typical psychic reading.

Can of Worms, Channel Ten, 8.30pm

THOUGH things are always clearer in hindsight, one does wonder if any executives in television land are slapping themselves right now for not having had the good sense to sign up Chrissie Swan earlier. She was good on The Circle, but as host of this panel-discussion show she is coming into her own with her quick wit, charm and warmth. Unlike many other TV presenters, Swan doesn't preen, overplay the chumminess with her guests and audience, pretend to be enjoying herself when she clearly isn't, or gild the lily when a funny situation arises (her flirting with English model Kris Smith a couple of weeks ago was priceless). Can of Worms Mark II is a vast improvement on the original, which always felt like an audition for the panellists rather than an opportunity to playfully engage in discussing issues that are both topical and an insight into the thoughts of the guests, tonight's being Chris Judd, Tara Moss and Dave O'Neil.

PAUL KALINA


PAY TV

Tony Robinson's Time Walks, History, 7.30pm

TONY Robinson heads to Melbourne, and it's an odd but generally interesting bag of stories he pulls together. There's the obligatory visit to Young & Jackson's to see Chloe, then a trip to the hat shop beneath Flinders Street Station to learn about how ladies' uncovered hat pins slashed people's faces so often that the council had to issue an ordinance against them. Other highlights include a visit to St Patrick's Cathedral to see a gargoyle that a stonemason recarved in the likeness of Jeff Kennett. Some segments work better than others, but it's well worth a look.

Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Arena, 7.30pm

Some decent laughs, especially from the subplot in which Mad Men's Kiernan Shipka prepares to do a body-swap movie with James van der Beek.

Disease Detectives, Discovery Home & Health, 7.30pm

Inside a medical-research facility.

Strictly Kosher, LifeStyle You, 8.30pm

British-Jewish reality.

BRAD NEWSOME


MOVIES

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Showtime Comedy (pay TV), 6.35pm

JOEL and Ethan Coen are highly skilled at evoking dark worlds - too skilled at times - but if they are ever asked to present a solitary work for admittance to a higher realm (Orson Welles once said he would proffer Chimes at Midnight), then the Coens might well consider O Brother, Where Art Thou? Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney), jailed for practising law without a licence, escapes with two inmates from a chain gang in the US in the 1930s. His first name is no accident for, though he says he is after buried treasure, like Homer's hero he is trying to get back to his besieged wife. Ulysses' adventures are both humorous and tragic, in a bitter-sweet tale that unsettles as much as it amuses. The convicts' final confrontation with death is quite chilling; the resolution one of the most awesome moments in cinema. Even a critic who passionately dislikes Coen brothers' movies has to admit that this is a jewel.

Bridesmaids (2011), Showtime Premiere (pay TV), 8.30pm

PRODUCER Judd Apatow's demented universe is usually male-centric, which makes Bridesmaids a welcome insight into the female lot. Pity, though, about the relentlessly foul language.

SCOTT MURRAY

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