Love in wartime: Anzac Girls.FREE TO AIR
The Block Glasshouse, Nine, 6.30pm
Imagine how (much more?) dull The Block would be if everything ran smoothly – if tradies turned up on time, everyone got eight hours’ sleep a night and if the colour of their bathroom grouting wasn’t a crucial factor in scoring points and cash. Tonight we’re halfway through this series, in which the five teams are transforming a former office block into apartments. It’s the big reveal for the teams’ staircases and powder room/laundry combinations, and tensions are mounting, tears flowing and barely anything is going to plan. Chris and Jenna are seriously behind schedule and manage to elicit possibly the bitchiest comments yet from judges Darren Palmer, Shaynna Blaze and Neale Whittaker. Host Scott Cam also announces a new challenge for the teams tonight, involving the Block pop-up shop, which nobody is going to like.
Anzac Girls, ABC, 8.30pm
It’s now 1916 and our nurses have been seconded to a makeshift British hospital in Rouen, France, where they encounter a cool welcome from their British counterparts, who chastise them for lining up tea cups with their handles akimbo. Alice (Georgia Flood) is pining for Harry (Dustin Clare), while Olive (Anna McGahan, arguably the best actress here), finds herself attracted to Dooley (Brandon McClelland), despite her insistence that a war zone is no place for love. In seeking to bring history to life through the personal stories of the nurses – we don’t, of course, see battle scenes – Anzac Girls strays a little too far into soapie melodrama territory.
Castle, Seven, 9.45pm
A rare episode where Castle (Nathan Fillion) is not an implausibly integral part of the police action. Kate (Stana Katic) is called in, told specifically to leave Castle at home, and asked to go undercover posing as a woman who has been working with a high-level drug ring (Kate happens to look like her and speak fluent Russian, a requirement of the gig). The woman she’s posing as has turned police informant and was poised to meet the drug ring’s boss before attempting suicide. The gig sounds straightforward enough but quickly goes awry when Kate is kidnapped and must ditch her wire. Kate finds herself face-to-face with a powerful enemy from her past. It’s a tense episode with both Castle and the show’s usual humour taking a back seat.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), 7Mate, 7.30pm
In this third episode of Gore Verbinski’s exhausting pirate trilogy, the creative juices have rundry, but Geoffrey Rush is insplendid form and Tom Hollander’s Lord Beckett is adelight.
Return Home (1990), ABC 1, 12.55am (Monday)
When Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, the title became the catch-cry for all those anxious about returning to a familial place, fearful that they will find nothing as they remembered it– or, far worse, exactly as they remembered. The journeying-back story has not gripped Australian culture as powerfully as it has others. We prefer to talk about people going off to explore some exotic new place, often never to return, from Gallipoli and Burke and Wills to Wolf Creek. A glorious exception is writer-director Ray Argall’s Return Home, where Noel (Dennis Coard), a successful insurance broker, travels from Melbourne to his home town of Adelaide. There, his brother, Steve (Frankie J. Holden), runs a service station in an area of constant change, commercial aspirations born in America overtaking the fading suburbs where Aussie values once proudly ruled. It is a bittersweet journey for Noel, who must confront the things that drove him away and also embrace what has always remained true. Return Home is a film of great purity of feeling, a subtle masterpiece from a director who, if Australia were kind to its filmmakers, which it rarely is, should have made 10 features by now. But let’s not complain about missed opportunities and instead celebrate the fact that Return Home exists at all. Heck, it even bears comparison with Sydney Pollack’s Bobby Deerfield, where you know Bobby (Al Pacino) has made a life-changing decision when he first acknowledges the existence of family. Near the end of Return Home, Noel looks at a photo of his childhood in his Melbourne office and you know a similarly bold stand will be taken. Maybe you can go home again after all.
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