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4 Dec 2018

Australian Story will screen a two-part homage to former PM Bob Hawke. Photo: David BarthoFREE TO AIR

Australian Story, ABC, 8pm

With the barrage of TV eulogies for the late Gough Whitlam and a recent episode of Kitchen Cabinet devoted to Bob Hawke, the past fortnight has become the season for reminiscing about two of modern Australia’s most revered prime ministers. Now comes a two-part homage to former PM Bob Hawke. Told with Australian Story’s typical blend of first-person recollection, archival footage, heartfelt sentiment and sweeping historical overview, part one covers Hawke’s childhood, meteoric rise through the trade union movement and the personal challenges that stood in the way of his ultimately successful bid for the prime-ministership. There’s hardly an element of the extended Hawke clan’s story that hasn’t been told by now, but that’s not a problem for this emotionally charged episode which paints such a vivid, humane and rounded portrait of a towering and inspirational figure.

Opening Shot: Gaycrashers, ABC2, 9.30pm

The last time stand-up comedians Joel Creasey and Rhys Nicholson performed in the west Victoria town Colac they were the butt of homophobic slurs and threats. Now they’ve returned with a film crew in tow in a bid to address what they see as Colac’s homophobia problem. Gaycrashers is the first of five short films in the ABC’s Opening Shot season, where emerging filmmakers have free reign to tackle a topical social issue. Gonzo-style, Creasey and Nicholson gatecrash the town’s pub, farms and timber mill with their ambassadorial if unconventional mission for tolerance and equality. But in a pleasing twist that isn’t evident from the outset, the pair are forced to confront their own methods and, yes, prejudices.

Homeland, Ten, 9.30pm

Despite middling ratings and an increasingly unfriendly time slot, Homeland’s fourth season is shaping up to be its best. Approaching its midway point, the show’s writers have yet to show their hands on  storylines and characters: Saul is kidnapped deep inside Taliban territory, presumably to be held as ransom; Aayan is dead, and Carrie is calling the shots on a mission going off the rails. Best of all is the way that the uncomfortable personal relationships are a microcosm of the  hostility of national security agencies.

Paul Kalina


Dinner for Schmucks (2010), ONE, 9.30pm

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Hollywood cannot successfully remake French films. It is an epic roll call of disasters, with French comedies doing worst in the hands of their trans-Pacific transgressors. However, all universally acknowledged truths have their exceptions and Dinner for Schmucks is one.

Francis Veber’s original Le Diner de Cons is the story of a wealthy publisher who invites friends to dinner every Wednesday, but with a proviso: they must take turns in inviting someone hopelessly incompetent for the pleasure of witnessing their extreme discomfort.

Jay Roach’s Dinner for Schmucks turns the publisher into a ruthless magnate, Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood), while the “con” is Barry Speck (Steve Carell), an IRS employee with a passion for dioramas featuring tiny mouse dolls. When Barry is hit by the car of Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd), who works for Lance, Tim sees this gauche nerd as his ticket to a higher standing in the corporate tower.

The film begins with a scene of excruciating comedy, obsequious executives outwardly commiserating about a fired superior, but inwardly plotting their own management rise by any means imaginable. Those in the corporate world may have empathy for such characters, but the rest of us will be imaging ways to consign them to Mars.

This squirmingly uncomfortable tone is now set for the rest of the film, but bad behaviour can be funny – as long it occurs in a movie and not in real life.

The Fugitive (1993), GEM, 8.30pm

One of the defining Hollywood thrillers of its decade, Andrew Davis’ The Fugitive is a superb remake of the cult television series about a doctor falsely accused of murder and the dogged policeman on his tail. Leads Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones have never been better, the slowly emerging friendship between the pursuer and the pursued quite brilliantly done.

Scott Murray 

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