Light Touch: Frisky Business.FREE TO AIR
The British, SBS One, 7.30pm
As someone who has studied English medieval and renaissance history, I was excited to review this series on the past 2000 years of British history. That excitement died once I started watching.This episode explores the terrifying and revolutionary Tudor era, followed by the bloody Stuart monarchs, whose incompetent rulers led England to civil war.Various British celebrities add their two cents, including Helen Mirren and Ben Kingsley, which distracts rather than adds to what’s going on.The 16th and 17th centuries are among the most drama-filled periods in history – religious reformation, the birth of the printing press, Shakespeare and civil war – and yet this series has managed to make them seem boring. If Queen Mary I was watching, she’d surely have the producers burnt at the stake.
Frisky Business, SBS2, 9.20pm
Anything with the word ‘‘frisky’’ in the title has my attention and this documentary on one of the world’s largest sex toy businesses certainly doesn’t disappoint.Cameras follow the ins and outs of Lovehoney, the Bath business that receives more than 3000 orders daily from across the world for items that excite, titillate and, er, stretch the imagination.Devoid of smut, this informative series shines a light on humanity’s most basic desire in a non-judgmental way. Lovehoney’s staff are as amused as viewers as to what they do for a living, with the returns department particularly delightful when they read aloud customers’ reasons for returning (sometimes used) products. The narration is perfectly British, voicing the equivalent of having a poker face. Her tone is that as if she’s talking about a stapler, especially when every fourth word is about phallus-shaped items.
The Project, Ten, 6.30pm
There are two types of people in Australia: those that enjoy The Project’s cheeky take on news and entertainment and those that think it’s putrid drivel. I belong in the first camp and why not? The mixture of news, entertainment and water-cooler topics is a good alternative to the ‘‘straight’’ news. The rotating call of hosts works, with Waleed Aly a standout.Co-host Carrie Bickmore possesses the rare combination of being professional and having a wicked wit. In a TV landscape lacking a variety or late night show, this offering helps fill the gaps.
Entrapment (1999), Gem, 8.45pm
Ever since the appearances of A. J. Raffles (1898), Arsene Lupin (1905) and Fantomas (1911), thieves have been tremendously popular heroes of mass culture. Detectives may solve the crimes and generate most of the attention, but there is an undeniably delicious thrill in reading about someone getting away with theloot. For a long time, however, criminals were not allowed to be celebrated in cinema, censors and other moral guardians insisting that they be brought to justice and punished before the end credits.In Entrapment, Sean Connery plays Robert MacDougall, the world’s most charming Scottish crook (as opposed to its most famous secret agent). He lives in an idyllic castle beside an idyllic loch, surrounded by the most precious of objects, but with no romantic companion. This may be the Achilles heel that thief Virginia Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) can exploit to get close to him.Entrapment is renowned for two sequences. One is where Virginia practises her craft in a black catsuit, which is widely considered to be greatly erotic, but is spoiled for some by an ill-fitting garment that rucks in most unsightly ways. The other is a robbery at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which can be a tough ask of viewers suffering from vertigo, despite the overuse of CGI.Directed at a brisk pace by Jon Amiel, with charismatic stars who work beautifully together, this is an inconsequential but fun heistmovie.
House of Pleasures (2011), SBS One, 11pm
Paying for sex may soon be illegal in France (the Senate is still deciding), but a fascination with prostitution as drama on television (Maison Close) and the big screen (Bertrand Bonello’s House of Pleasures) continues unabated. The latter is, at first glance, a pretty and nostalgic trip back to an early-20th-century brothel in Paris. But dark themes emerge, and the issue of whether women should be free to ply this most ancient of trades is left unresolved.
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