Project people: Charlie Pickering, Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar.
FREE TO AIR
The Project, Ten, 6.30pm
At the time of previewing, Peter Helliar had not yet joined The Project team in place of Dave Hughes, which meant that Charlie Pickering was the only male on the panel, flanked by Carrie Bickmore and two guesting presenters, comedian Kitty Flanagan and ex-radio host Jo Stanley. The dearth of men only highlighted the severely dolled-up state of the female panellists. Flanagan, in a shirt and blazer, was more demure, but both Bickmore and Stanley looked ready for the Portsea Polo on the weekend. They’re entitled to want to look good, but when their hair, makeup and jewellery distracts me from what’s coming out of their mouths, I think it might be time to tone it down a little. But The Project remains an easily digestible blend of news-lite and laughs.
Confessions of a Wedding Planner, ABC2 (final), 8.30pm
The name for this BBC series is a bit misleading: these are not confessions as such, but a glimpse into three very different weddings, with the respective planners providing commentary that is for the most part more diplomatic than candid. An expat Aussie turned Bollywood actor in India turned Hindu wedding planner in the UK is the most interesting character, at one point admitting that he believes in neither marriage nor religion. It’s a revealing insight into some foreign traditions, such as the Jewish custom to station the huppah (wedding canopy) outside as a reminder of the blessing God gave Abraham that he’d have as many children as stars in the sky.
David Starkey’s Music and Monarchy, SBS One, 8.35pm
With his horn-rimmed glasses and hoity-toity, imperious manner, historian David Starkey strikes you as the sort of person you wouldn’t want to be stuck in an elevator with. He is, however, the perfect, erudite host for this BBC four-parter on how the monarchy has shaped British music. Starkey guides us through the operas and oratorios of Handel and King George I’s appreciation for the German-born British baroque composer, culminating in a concert celebrating the centenary of the musician’s birth.
19 Kids and Counting, Discovery Home & Health, 8.30pm
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, you may be blissfully unaware, are an American couple hell-bent on having as many children as humanly possible, all for the glory of God. Michelle has so far given birth to 19 kids (two of them since this reality series began in 2008), and she’s praying for a 20th. Jim Bob, Michelle and almost all of their children live in a huge house outside a small town in north-west Arkansas. And all the kids have names beginning with the letter J, including poor 20-year-old Jinger, who is the black sheep of the family on account of her wanting to move to a city some day. Perhaps the saddest sight in this series was that of Jinger talking about her modest dream, only to be told that God might have other plans for her, and for her to concede that she needed to work on her ”contentment”. Ugh. Anyway, tonight eldest son Josh and his wife, Anna, are excited to reveal that they’re expecting their third child.
Celebrity Come Dine with Me Australia, LifeStyle, 9.30pm
It’s the celebs that make the show, and the effervescent Maria Venuti is just the woman for the job, bringing diving champ Matthew Mitcham and TV presenters Sophie Falkiner and Luke Jacobz up to her level of uninhibited exuberance. Good fun.
Assassins (1995) Nine, 11pm
Assassins – which is definitely not a Stephen Sondheim adaptation – was the first produced screenplay for Andy and the then Larry Wachowski, who sold it for $US1 million in an era of ludicrously escalating action movies, and quickly moved towards launching their eventual directorial debut, The Matrix. It is a knowing retread, alert to Jean-Pierre Melville’s existential French gangsters and John Woo’s masculine codes, in the story of an ageing hit man, Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone), whose desire to exit his profession is complicated by a final job where he’s in competition with a manic prodigy, Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas), whose sociopathic success fantasies require him to kill his idol. Julianne Moore is Electra, the lone computer hacker Rath chooses to protect rather than kill, and in Richard Donner’s workmanlike film, whose comparatively small scale now looks almost quaint, she does her job with a succession of reaction shots to the feuding boys who just can’t share the spotlight.
Constantine (2005) Action Movies (pay TV), 8.30pm
Constantine, a supernatural comic book adaptation, brings to life a Los Angeles where the legions of Heaven and Hell move among us, each trying to sway human souls. Along the way we get cameos from a sly, androgynous Archangel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) and even Satan himself (Peter Stormare), albeit modelled on Elvis Presley’s huckster manager, Colonel Tom Parker, but the Lord – apart from a burst of bright light – is absent. It’s a fitting reflection of a film that alludes to matters of faith, as demon hunter John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) and a sceptical police detective (Rachel Weisz) attempt to preserve the spiritual balance, but ultimately pledges allegiance to special effects. The production, helmed by recent Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence, is well designed and smoothly shot, but as the chain-smoking antihero, Reeves is all surface tones without a hint of the anguish that should lie beneath. He’s more placid than angry.