TV highlights for Thurs, Feb 20




The Checkout isn’t done with exposing companies that rip off and trick Australian consumers – clearly, there’s a lot more shonky business to expose yet and audiences have proved eager to lap it up and find out just how they are being scammed. The Chaser stalwarts Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel are back with a second season to poke fun at and embarrass those who don’t heed the saying that the customer is always right. Armed with its irreverent style and humour, the team have successfully turned what could be a dry subject into something that is both entertaining and truly informative, giving customers the upper hand.


British historian and art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon and revered Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli wrap up their Italian cultural adventure tonight in the northern region of Piedmont, which boasts a beautiful landscape featuring mountains and thriving forests. The good friends’ level of expertise lifts this travelogue above mere exclamations, with the art and cookery bent proving to be pleasingly entertaining and intelligent. The pair go truffle hunting and prepare a decadent breakfast with their riches straight from the soil. Andrew explores the baroque architecture which characterises Turin and the pilgrimage site of Sacro Monte in Varallo is explored.


Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel. The late Douglas Adams’ literary favourite finally materialised in this bright, booming, bizarre film that perfectly captures the essence of his tales. Martin Freeman (Sherlock) plays the Brit everyman who hitches a ride to outer space with his incognito alien buddy (Mos Def) just before the destruction of Earth. Hooking up with the last remaining female human (Zooey Deschanel), the trio becomes involved in the wild schemes of the galaxy’s zany president (Sam Rockwell). A wonderfully wry sci-fi comedy with jaw-dropping effects and shrewd pondering of the “meaning of life”.

xXx: THE NEXT LEVEL (2005) – GO!, 8.30pm

Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Samuel L. Jackson. Owing to a contract dispute, Vin Diesel did not reprise his role of knucklehead secret agent Xander Cage for this sequel. Clearly not the man to fill Diesel’s boots (c’mon, we’re talking about a tubby, pioneering rap star who’s better known for clipping hair in Barbershop), Ice Cube plays ex-Navy SEAL Darius Stone. Poached from prison by the shadowy Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), Stone is inducted into the xXx program and forced to stop the assassination of the US president. This desperately mindless action spectacle is so bad – we’re not talking “gangsta” bad – it’s funny.

STAYING ALIVE (1983) – ELEVEN, 9.30pm

John Travolta, Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Hughes. When not plotting how to get Rocky Balboa back in the ring for another sequel, Sylvester Stallone wrote and directed this monstrously entertaining camp-athon. Many people forget that this is actually a sequel to Saturday Night Fever. Yep, Tony Manero (John Travolta) becomes a Broadway dancer! Keep an eye out for an amusing blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Sly, and an ear out for his brother Frank who shares an equal, but entirely forgettable, number of songs with The Bee Gees on the soundtrack. Perplexing, but then again, most of the ’80s was.

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