Channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 July, 2011, 12:00am


If you're one of those people who don't believe men can multitask, check out the line-up on the small screen this week: a retired boxer trying to make ends meet while holding on to his pride, a clueless singleton raising a baby while getting sweet on a neighbourhood cutie, and a computer nerd juggling the demands of international espionage while attempting to patch things up with an ex-girlfriend.

Of course, women can do it better - as science has proven - but at least these guys are making an effort. And, of course, all the drama - and comedy - comes from watching the characters struggle to keep two or more priorities in focus without going cross-eyed.

Intense family drama Lights Out (FX; Tuesdays at 11pm) finds former boxing champion Patrick 'Lights' Leary (above right; Holt McCallany, Burn Notice) at a crossroads when he loses his life savings and means to support his wife, Theresa (Catherine McCormack; Braveheart, Spy Game). Leary must decide whether to take on a job as a debt collector or launch a comeback that, while potentially lucrative, would put his health and relationship with his family at risk.

Despite its landscape of thick-necked, grunting men and occasional violence, the series is surprisingly heartfelt in its treatment of a family man's search for his identity and integrity. While the drive to make money - and the incompetence of his business manager brother, Johnny - sometimes weighs too heavily on the ageing fighter, Leary's ability to feel and act out the full emotional spectrum makes him easy to root for.

Raising Hope (Star World; Mondays at 8pm) is not your run-of-the-mill American sitcom - the premise and opening minutes are so zany they could be a safe-sex announcement on acid.

After the execution of a serial killer turns Jimmy Chance (newcomer Lucas Neff) into a single father overnight, the live-at-home loafer turns to his dysfunctional parents (played by comedienne Martha Plimpton and Burn Notice's Garret Dillahunt) for help raising his six-month-old baby. Newcomer Kate Micucci displays particular comedic promise as Shelly, the kooky cousin of Chance's love interest, Sabrina.

For viewers with a well-developed sense of political correctness, Raising Hope may have too many baby-mishandling scenes, senile grandma jokes and other gross gags. For everyone else, Raising Hope is a refreshingly irreverent and hilariously trashy envisioning of American family life.

Finally, geeky spy Chuck (AXN; Mondays to Thursdays at 9.05pm) returns for his third season of awkward espionage - with enhanced powers for kicking ass. After connecting himself to Intersect 2.0 - the United States government's fictional intelligence database - computer nerd-cum-secret agent Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi; Tangled) has instant access to various combat, language and musical skills. But before he can convince the government to make him a full-fledged spy, he must get over his break up with Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and learn to control his emotions and new abilities.